News Archive for March 2018

Taunton Easter Rail Replacement.

Replacment Bus Service at Taunton due to signalling being switched over to the Thames Valley Signalling Centre at Didcot from Bristol Panel. Rail replacement coaches operated between Taunton and intermediate stations to Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway over the Easter Weekend 2018. This image of Ridlers (based at Willliton) was taken on 30th March 2018.

(Photo: Brian Garrett)

Published on 31st March 2018

The passenger timetable over the Easter Period at Taunton has been revised with replacement coach transport arranged between Taunton and Bristol.

The reason for the line closure was the switch over of signalling from Bristol Panel to state of the art Thames Valley Signalling centre at Didcot. Network Rail have said that no trains will run to, through Bristol Temples Meads or from the station from 30 March to 3 April. Network Rail said the work is its "largest ever re-signalling project and represents £130M worth of investment in the South West railway infrastructure. The line between Taunton and Weston-super-Mare remained open, while Cross Country operated services between Penzance, Plymouth and Taunton, and GWR operated an hourly service using HST's from London to Penzance. Coaches from various companies then connected passengers with intermediate stations to Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway.


 £2.3M Upgrade for former Railway Hotel

Published on 31st March 2018

The former Great Western Railway Hotel which is located on the south side of Taunton Station is set to re-open having been left derelict since Virdor Waste Management moved out several years ago.

The tired looking building will have cash injection of £2.3M to become a Hotel run by the YMCA. The refurbishment will have 20 bedrooms, a Cafe, Restaurant and communal areas and meeting spaces. The new scheme will also create ten new jobs and twelve apprenticeships. The lower floor will have have small business units available to rent by small firms, or start-ups. Work is expected to start imminently after the final funding of £500,000 from the Hinkley Point C community development fund.

A view of the former Railway Hotel at Taunton Station prior to re-development taken on the 30th March 2018.

(Photo: Brian Garrett)


Colourful Colas

British Rail veteran Class 37 No. 37254 'Cardiff Canton' pushes a Network Rail test train through Taunton on the 26th March 2018 while working the 5Z12 10:17 Exeter Riverside - Derby DTC.

(Photo: Jeff Treece)


With the mainline between Truro and Penzance having been closed for the past week for track relaying work Colas Class 70's returned to Westbury on Friday 23rd March. No.70815 leads partner No.70817 in top and tail formation up Whiteball Bank while working the 6C28 04:00 Truro - Westbury engineers.

(Photo: Simon Harling)



Published on 31st March 2018

Colas Rail Freight undoubtedly have the most colourful livery on the network, their distinctive Lime Green and Orange liveried locomotives have migrated to most parts of the UK railway system.

From small beginnings operating with just three mainline locomotives the company now operates a fleet of 17 Class 70's and a host of Class 37s Class 56s and 60s on bulk freight and infrastructure trains. They can often be found frequenting the rails around Taunton. We have included a couple of images from their most recent appearances in Taunton.


British Rail veteran Class 37 No. 37254 'Cardiff Canton' pushes a Network Rail test train through Taunton on the 26th March 2018 while working the 5Z12 10:17 Exeter Riverside - Derby DTC.


With the mainline between Truro and Penzance having been closed for the for track relaying work Colas Class 70s returned to Westbury on Friday 23rd March. No.70815 leads partner No.70817 in top and tail formation up Whiteball Bank while working the 6C28 04:00 Truro - Westbury engineers.


2018 West Somerset Diesel Gala - Update


Published on 30th March 2018

The 2018 West Somerset Railway Diesel Gala is heading on the right track with the announcement of their event which will run from Friday 8th to Sunday 10th June 2018.

The theme of 'Vintage Diesels to the Seaside' is planned to celebrate the 1970s and 1980s when a great variety of diesel locos were called on to haul holiday trains to the seaside all over the UK. On the Friday and Saturday all services will be diesel hauled with a limited number of steam hauled trains booked for the Sunday along with the diesels.
Guest locomotives attending the event have now been confirmed as Class 20’s 20189 & 20205 (courtesy of Michael Owen) hauling Class 45 No. 45041 'Royal Tank Regiment' (Courtesy of Peak Locomotive Company), Class 50 No. 50035 'Ark Royal' (courtesy of Class 50 Alliance) and Deltic Class 55 No. 55019 'Royal Highland Fusilier' (courtesy of the Deltic Preservation Society). All these visitors carry British Rail Blue livery. GBRf will be providing transport for these locomotives to the WSR from their various locations around the UK.


The DEPG 'home fleet' is hoped to be back to full strength after huge efforts by the volunteers at Williton. Class 14 No. D9526, (making its return to traffic after a heavy overhaul), Class 33s No.D6566 (No.33048) & No.D6575 (No.33057). No.D6566 itself re-entering service after a heavy overhaul. Class 35 Hymeks No.D7017 & No.D7018 will be in action, with No.D7018 making its first public runs after 23 years out of service and a full engine rebuild by the DEPG team. The ever popular Western Class 52 No. D1010 'Western Campaigner' will also be back on the rails with it's twin maybach engines in action. These locos will also be joined by Class 09 D4107 which will operate shuttles between Bishops Lydeard and Norton Fitzwarren.
A big feature of the 2018 event is a brand new timetable, which should bring far more interest and dynamic travel to the discerning diesel enthusiast.
The gala will also be complemented by a Beer Festival which is being planned for the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust site at Washford to run over the weekend. It is planned to have a good number of real ales available from both local west country breweries and some from further afield to cater for all tastes. Food will also be available at the festival. All trains will call at Washford to enable diesel gala visitors to indulge in a pint or two in between their haulage runs. Please note that there will be no car parking available at Washford and all visitors are encouraged to travel by train.

(Photo: Brian Garrett)

(Photo: Brian Garrett)

(Photo: Brian Garrett)


(Photo: Brian Garrett)

(Photo: Brian Garrett)



Class 150/1's nearly at an end


Published on 29th March 2018

The final two car sets of Class 150/1's operating for First Great Western left Bristol St Philips Marsh on Thursday 29th March and traveled to Newton Heath depot where they join their new stable mates and sub class members working for Northern Trains.

Class 150 No. 150130 'Severnside Community RAIL PARTNERSHIP' and No.150131 were the final two car pair to leave following thirteen other GWR examples which have made the same journey. The only remaining Class 150/1's are currently formed up in a hybrid formation with parts of 150/2's. In due course these sets will also be split up. Three car No. 150925 'The Heart of Wessex Line' will revert to two car No.150125 and three car No.150926 will revert to two car No.150126. These two sets will then return to Northern Trains in 2019. The two centre cars 57209 & 57212 will become a reformed to make a new version of No.150209. Northern Trains will then transfer No.150207 from its fleet to GWR. This then finally means that at some point in 2019 GWR's Class 150/2 fleet will be standard once again.

(Photo: Brian Garrett)

(Photo: Brian Garrett)



More GWR HST's 'Off Lease'


Published on 29th March 2018

Two further GWR HST sets went off lease during week commencing 26th March.

On Tuesday 27th March powercars No.43140 and No.43149 worked 5Z43 10:15 Laira - St Philips Marsh with stock (LA09) 42574 42072 42325 42269 42267 between them. On Wednesday 28th March No.43127 and No.43145 followed working the same diagram with stock (LA10) 42288 44024 41134 42276 42576 42275 42277 41130 44032.
Some of the coaching stock will be taken to Ely for long term storage, while those coaches entering traffic with Scotrail will be put through Doncaster Works for door conversions and toilet tanks to be retro fitted.
One coach of particular interest is TGS No.44032 is thought not to be transferring to Scotrail but instead will be transferred to Network Rail for a refit and conversion for use within the Network Rail New Measurement Train.


For more information on exactly which powercars and coaching stock have been taken off lease by GWR and news on all the current HST transfers please see HST-info.co.uk .


 The Royal Train passes Taunton

(Photo: Thomas Courtney)


Published on 28th March 2018

The Royal Train passes through Taunton on Tuesday 27th March 2018 with HRH Queen Elizabeth II on board in both directions.

The train departed from Windsor Eton and Riverside at 23:35 on Monday 26th and travelled through the night towards the South West. The southbound train passed Taunton at 02:43 overtaking down 1C99 Night Riviera service as it did so. The Royal Train then recessed in Exeter Riverside Yard before setting off to Plymouth for a mid morning arrival. Her Majesty The Queen attended the Royal Naval Dockyard in Plymouth for the decommissioning ceremony for HMS Ocean .


The Royal Train remained in Platform 1 at Plymouth and took the rare step of returning The Queen to London. With DB Cargo Class 67's No.67005 and No.67006 leading the way through Taunton the pair haul the Royal Train (Formed of coaches 2920, 2915, 2917, 2916, 2923, 2922, 2904, 2903 & 2921) operting as the 1Z70 14:15 Plymouth - Wolverton. Upon passing Taunton the train took the Berks and Hants route to London. The Queen exited the train at Taplow for the short drive back to Windsor, and The Royal Train continued from there back to Wolverton Works where the coaching stock is cared for.


West Somerset Railway - Spring Steam Gala 2018


Published on 26th March 2018

The West Somerset Railway Spring Steam Gala weekend was held between Thursday 22nd and Sunday 25th March 2018 .

This year's theme for the event is 'Great Western Routes and Branches between 1923 & 1948'. Steam Locomotives visiting the line included the unique USATC S160 No.6046, along with more traditional Great Western locomotives in the shape of GWR 57XX 0-6-T Pannier Tank No.7714 & GWR 14XX 0-4-2T No.1450 along with Auto-trailer No.178 (from the Severn Valley Railway), GWR 4-6-0 Hall No. 6990 'Witherslack Hall' (from the Great Central Railway). GWR 0-6-0T No.9466 completed the visitor line up. These locomotives operated alongside those from the ‘home fleet’ which included GWR Modified Hall 4-6-0 No. 6960 'Raveningham Hall', and GWR Manor No. 7822 'Foxcote Manor'
One of the highlights of the four-day event was the USATC S160 No.6046 hauling a military train, which has been specially prepared, and would of been typical of the sort of trains the class would of hauled during World War 2. The train looked fantastic loaded with jeeps, military equipment and period dressed military personnel. A lot of time and thought had gone into presenting a period train for use on the line which added to the atmosphere. The Quantock Belle dining set was also in operation on selected services, passengers Were able to enjoy a cooked breakfast or lunch on a first come first serve basis.
The event worked incredibly well and it was great to see such a dynamic timetable allowing space for small trains such as No.1450 and its Autotrailer and the Military Freight to mix in with the main services operating over the length of the line. This is exactly the sort of additional interest which provides such enjoyment for those who attended the gala event. It was also great to see the hard work of the newly formed wagon repair group which has been working behind the scenes to breath fresh life into previously stored and unloved wagon types which reside on the line and form up period wagon rakes.
We have included a set of images from various photographers below, and more will be added into a dedicated gallery for this event.

To view the gallery, please click here.

(Photo: Brian Garrett)

(Photo: Phil Izzard)

(Photo: Thomas Courtney)

(Photo: Sclub)


(Photo: Brian Garrett)

(Photo: Thomas Courtney)


(Photo: Phil Izzard)

(Photo: Sclub)





Published on 26th March 2018

While the first three days of the Spring Gala were still recovering from the previous weeks poor weather, the Sunday really did welcome the first day if Spring into the Quantocks, as the sun appeared it bathed the locomotives and coaching stock in clear and crisp lighting. The Sunday afternoon saw some of the best photography and travelling weather for enthusiasts to enjoy. We also captured some of the action on video which has been shared via our Youtube page for your enjoyment.


 Colas Cement

Published on 22nd March 2018

Colas Rail Freight Class 70 No.70812 hauls 24 PCA cement wagons on the approach to Taunton at Norton Fitzwarren working the returning cement empties to Aberthaw as the 6B36 08:16 Moorswater - Aberthaw on Thursday 22nd March 2018.

(Photo: S A Ginn)


Taunton Winter Wonderland Returns!


Published on 18th March 2018

Taunton was plunged into a winter wonderland for the second time in one month on the 18th March 2018 with the arrival of the so called 'Beast from the East - Part 2', having only recently had the largest snow fall in ten years, the latest blast of cold weather arrived on the 17th/ 18th March.

This time the snow fell perfectly to allow the majority of trains services to operate, as many staff were already at work (or operating trains) as the snow fell.


We have provided a selection of snow images below taken in Creech St Michael as the snow was falling, creating what is hoped to be the last Winter scenes before Spring is allowed to arrive.

(Photo: Brian Garrett)

(Photo: Brian Garrett)

(Photo: Brian Garrett)


(Photo: Brian Garrett)

(Photo: Brian Garrett)




Published on 13th March 2018

Rail Operations Group Class 47/8 (and former First Great Western Locomotive) No.47813 transferred the first rake of modified GWR Mk3 coaching stock over night on the 12th/13th March.

The modified coaching stock now features new electric operated sliding doors along with a full internal refit . The 5V24 18:45 (Mon) Doncaster Works to Laria passed Taunton at 01:10 hauling Barrier Car 6340 four refurbished and renumbered Mk3 trailers 48101 (ex 42168), 48102 (ex 42177), 48111 (ex 42093), 49101 (ex 44055) and Barrier Car 6344. The first four car set will now undergo operational tests and training before entering service. Of not is the Guards door in the TGS Trailer will remain as an original 'slam door' and is not electrically operated.


No.47813 later returned north through Taunton having collected an additional barrier vehicle. The 5Z59 15:28 from Laira operated to Leicester with barriers 6330, 6344, and 6340.


Snowy Scenes from Taunton


Published on 3rd March 2018

With a drastically reduced Saturday timetable operating in the South West after Cross Country cancelled all it's workings becuase the points front at both ends of its Central Rivers depot near Burton on Trent, and GWR cancelled the majority of the Taunton - Bristol/ Cardiff stopping services, Taunton was left with HST's operating on the main trunk routes between Penzance and London Paddington.

Network Rail's 'Orange Army' made a great effort overnight to make sure the damage at Dawlish was cleared up which allowed the line to re-opened through to Penzance. We have featured a few of the images captured during the 3rd March 2018 before temperatures increased to allow the first thaw to take place.

(Photo: Sclub)

(Photo: Sclub)

(Photo: Brian Garrett)


(Photo: Brian Garrett)

(Photo: Brian Garrett)



Snow and Ice Grip the South West

(Photo: Brian Garrett)

Published on 2nd March 2018

After heavy overnight snow from Storm Emma, and some of the heaviest snow fall Taunton has seen in over ten years.

The freezing conditions and brutal freezing rain caused havoc across South West.


Dawlish also suffered major damage to the sea wall again with track damaged, railings destroyed and stone slabs lifted. Marine Parade and Dawlish Station were also flooded. The line south of Exeter was therefore closed. One of the only train services operating in the Taunton area on the morning of the 2nd March 2018 was the 2Z63 07:18 Bristol Temple Meads - Taunton service, which in itself was restarted at Bristol due to the original train from Gloucester running 71 minutes behind schedule. The Class 158/9 No.159955 passes contractors clearing the points of snow at Taunton East Junction.


Snow Storm Emma


Published on 1st March 2018

It's perhaps not what you expect on the first day of Spring, but having watched other parts of the UK get heavy snow fall during the week and the inevitable media hysteria and panic buying which accompanies such an event it's perhaps easy to wonder what all the fuss was about.
Even on Thursday morning the predicted snow fall from 07:00 was little more than a light flurry which made many question the Red Weather warning which was issued.

It wasn't until 15:00 that Storm Emma the so called 'Beast from the East' arrived into Taunton. Passenger services throughout the day were subject to alteration and cancellation but on the whole the majority of services were operating, at least until later in the day when the full force of the snow started to hit the South West.


Passing one of the two Network Rail drift ploughs Class 220 No.220032 operates the 1Z48 09:28 Derby - Plymouth service through Silk Mills on the 1st March 2018.


GWR Hitachi Class 802 No.802101 made another trip to Penzance on Thursday 1st March 2018. On the first day of Spring in blizzard conditions as Storm Emma dropped snow and freezing temperatures on Taunton the unit passes 40 Steps entering Taunton Station while working the 5X82 11:10 Penzance - Stoke Gifford test run.


Class 220 Voyager No.220001 (formerly named Somerset Voyager) departs from Taunton with the 1V54 10:03 Darlington - Plymouth service on the 1st March 2018. The Cross Country diagram should of originated from Edinburgh but was cancelled and re-started at Darlington. Running just 26 minutes behind schedule the Voyager passes 40 Steps.

(Photo: Sclub)

(Photo: Brian Garrett)

(Photo: Brian Garrett)



To view news stories from February 2018, click here, or for news from April 2018, click here.