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Seeing Double


Published on 15th July 2018

With driver training and testing on the new Hitachi Class 800 and 802 Bi-mode units in full swing, Friday 13th July 2018 saw to diagrams passing Taunton within two minutes of one another.

First to pass south was nine car set No.802101 operating 5Z22 09:22 London Paddington - Plymouth, next to pass through was Class 802 pair No.802001 & No.800002 operating the 5Z83 09:39 Laira - London Paddington diagram. The 28th July will see the introduction Class 800/802 diagrams for passenger use south of Taunton.

To view the gallery, please click here.

(Photo: S A Ginn)

(Photo: S A Ginn)



 The Royal Scotsman heads West

(Photo: Simon Harling)


Published on 10th July 2018

The Royal Scotsman normally luxury sleeping and dining train spends the majority of its life touring Scotland as its name suggests.

However, since GBRf have been operating the train more imaginative and forward thinking has seen it take occasional forays to other far-flung parts of the UK mainline. Tuesday 10th July 2018 was an early start with the train leaving Gloucester at 04:17 for the slightly less than glamorous location of Newton Abbot. The purpose of the tour was to provide passengers with an early morning breakfast with a view of the South Devon Sea Wall. The southbound trip passed Taunton at 05:54. Having run around the train at Newton Abbot the two dedicated Royal Scotsman locomotives No.66743 and No.66746 formed the 1Z80 07:23 Newton Abbot - Bath Spa leg of the unique dining experience. The pair is seen climbing Whiteball with breakfast very much consumed taking passengers to their Bath Spa destination.


 Testing Times for Class 37

Published on 10th July 2018

Former DRS Blue Class 37 No.37612 (now owned by Harry Needle) spent a day stabled in Taunton on the 10th July 2018.

The locomotive has been operating a series of Network Rail test trains in the South West. As testing is mainly carried out at night the locomotive is pictured stabled (in the what could be described as a nature reserve) in the tamper sidings behind Platform 1. The locomotive is booked to depart Taunton on Tuesday 10th July with the 21:38 to Penzance.

(Photo: Chay Farzaneh)


Hot Freight Action


Published on 9th July 2018

On one of the hottest days on record in the Taunton area, Sunday 8th July witnessed two morning freights heading north within ten minutes of each other.

Captured passing Creech St Michael and Silk Mills on the 8th of July 2018 was former DRS Class 66/4 No.66413 operating 6Y97 08:15 Lipson Junction - Westbury returning the long welded rail train from an overnight rail drop. Following close behind was Freightliner Class 66 No. 66593 '3MG Mersey Multimodal Gateway' hauling 6Y15 09:18 Fairwater Yard to East Somerset Junction with partner No. 66592 'Johnson Stevens Agencies', the pair were transporting the Network Rail HOBC to an engineering blockade to carry out ballast cleaning work.

(Photo: Ashley Harris)

(Photo: Ashley Harris)

(Photo: S A Ginn)



GWR Class 165 appears at Taunton

(Photo: 50006Neptune)

Published on 9th July 2018

GWR Class 165s began to make their appearance in the South West during W/C 2nd July.

It's believed the first Class 165 (in passenger service) to visit Taunton was on Tuesday 3rd July. However this example was captured on Saturday 7th July 2018 having arrived with the 2C83 16:54 Bristol Temple Meads - Taunton service No.165119 is pictured at Taunton. The two-car variant of the Class 166 then worked the return 2U28 18:08 Taunton - Bristol Temple Meads stopping service.


Nine Car Class 800/3 Diagrams to start 28th July 2018


Published on 8th July 2018

Following recent testing and driver training on the nine-car Class 800/3 Hitachi IET sets, Summer Saturday diagrams with the class will start to operate on 28th July 2018.

Three diagrams will initially operate using the class.

1C75 08:18 London Paddington - Paignton (Taunton 10:39), returning 1A84 13:08 Paignton - London Paddington (Taunton 14:45)

1C78 10:18 London Paddington - Paignton (Taunton 12:35) returning 1A88 14:50 Paignton - London Paddington (Taunton 16:12)

1C83 12:18 London Paddington - Paignton (Taunton 14:36), returning as 1A91 17:00 Paignton - London Paddington (Taunton 18:31)


The new diagrams will be the first booked passenger trains using the Class 800 fleet south of Taunton into Devon.


40 Years Ago - Taunton Sleeper Fire

(Photo: )

by Jeff Treece
Published on 6th July 2018

40 Years ago was the date of one of the worst rail disaster in ever to occur in the South West.

Local resident Jeff Treece recalls the tragic events of the terrible night. The Taunton Sleeper Fire happened on the 6th July 1978 when Sleeping carriages on the 'up' overnight sleeper from Penzance caught fire. The train stopped by Fairwater Close which at least did enable the fire service and other emergency services to access the line relatively easily. It could have been much worse if the train had stopped well out in the sticks where access would have be very difficult indeed. The coaches were at some stage dumped in the bay platform on the Railway Street side of the Station as I recall seeing there about 8.30am that morning on my diverted way to work. All train services had been suspended and although Staplegrove Road was buzzing with activity when the train stopped and the air was filled with acrid smoke. Cause of the fire was a pile of bed-linen which had been placed on a heater in the end vestibule (which had inadequate guards). When the heater came on after the train was connected up to the locomotive's power supply, the linen caught fire although clearly, the loco had been on the train from Penzance. I guess maybe the linen was moved en route or some other fault developed with the heater - eg linen prevented adequate ventilation and heat built-up etc. It was the smoke from this, in a confined space, that caused the carbon monoxide that killed ten passengers. The Fire Brigade did complain about locked doors hindering access to fight the fire. That was a separate issue to do with saving property rather than life and following the fire Somerset's Chief Fire Officer (Nigel Musselwhite) made a series of recommendations to radically improve the design and fire safety of sleeping carriages which were incorporated into a new design and build. Sadly, Nigel died a few years ago. According to the Official Report, the train came to a stand adjacent to Fairwater Close at about 02.41. The first Police vehicle arrived at 02.52: the first Ambulance at 02.54 and the first Fire Brigade appliance at 02.55
To read more on this terrible event please visit our Memories Page


Diverted Cement

(Photo: Simon Harling)

Published on 4th July 2018

Colas Rail Freight Class 70 No.70810 emerges from Somerset into a wet Devon on Wednesday 4th July 2018.

It's incredibly rare to be able to capture the southbound loaded cement into Cornwall as it normally passes Taunton during the early hours, however, on this occasion, the train was running later because of the Severn Tunnel engineering closure and was therefore diverted via Gloucester. The locomotive is pictured at Whiteball during an equally rare summer downpour which brought some respite from the recent heat wave.

To view the gallery, please click here.


IET Testing & Driver/ Crew Training


Published on 4th July 2018

Hitachi IEP Class 800s and 802s are becoming an all more common sight in the Taunton area.

While the Class only generally operate a handful of services between Taunton and London Paddington each day, testing and driving/ crew training of the class south of Taunton has been increasing rapidly ahead of their introduction later this month on more long distance services. Two such workings on Wednesday 4th July were No.800302 working 5Z05 08:26 Stoke Gifford - Goodrington & 5Z06 13:15 Goodrington - Stoke Gifford. Class 802 No.800001 operated the 5Z86 04:54 Laira - Southall and 5Z87 10:56 Southall - Penzance diagram before returning to Laira.

To view the gallery, please click here.

(Photo: Simon Harling)

(Photo: S A Ginn)



Sulzer Power for the English Riviera Express

(Photo: Brian Garrett)

Published on 1st July 2018

Saphos Trains operated their second summer charter in the South West on Sunday 1st July 2018.

Because of the ongoing heat wave, the decision was taken with Network Rail to place veteran Class 47 D1935 (No. 47805 'Roger Hosking MA 1925-2013 ') inside steam locomotive No. 34046 'Braunton' and provided the majority of the power to reduce the risk of stray embers from the steam locomotive. With Network Rails undergrowth in the south-west in full growth and unkept combined with such dry weather conditions, the chances of fire were too high. With the weather having clouded in the for the first time in a couple of weeks (due to localised rain and thunderstorms which were forecast) horses graze in their paddock seemingly oblivious to the history passing them by at Creech St Michael as the locomotives haul the 1Z27 09:06 Bristol Temple Meads - Kingswear 'The English Rivera Express' with the Class 47 powering the train west.


To view news stories from June 2018, click here, or for news from August 2018, click here.