Meeting Reports

Thursday 1st February 2018
'Next Train Gone'
Adrian White (Stevenage)

On 1st February Adrian White from Stevenage presented Next Train Gone. This was a selection of high quality images taken in the UK, Europe and the USA inspired by the photography of Colin Gifford with many taken from unconventional angles with the frontage view not that dominant, a favourite being the going away image depicting a train disappearing into the mist or dark.
We started at Ipswich and toured both the mainline and preserved networks throughout the country including the Severn Valley, Mid Hants, North York Moors and Bluebell lines in particular. A sequence on the SVR showed the variety of views possible from one short length of track in clear and murky conditions. Some images were reflective, some with glint, atmospheric night workings and trains silhouetted against the sunlight .

   A4 class 60009 "Union of South Africa"crossing the Digswell Viaduct with RTC Xmas White Rose special on 14th December 2013   Adrian White
The latter was highlighted to perfection with ECML workings crossing Digswell Viaduct and the GN main line featured prominently in the programme.
The last hauled train on the Croxley Branch was shown together with final workings before overhaul of both A4 Sir Nigel Gresley and the ex GE Class N7 tank engine at Codsall.
Royal Scot was shown at Gleneagles and Kings Cross and St Pancras stations were seen totally transformed from their ugly duckling status.
In Europe, DB steam included double headed Class 01 Pacifics and Class 44 locomotives working scheduled passenger and freight services during one of their Plandalf celebrations, and Swiss Railway workings through The Alps.
In the USA steam workings on The Silvertown Railroad were shown together with many others.
The human aspect was not neglected and featured staff and passengers as the subject, with the railway as a backdrop.

Over four hundred images were featured and the programme is highly recommended to other branches.

Monday 8th January 2018
'My Career - 36 Years on the Railway (from Box Boy to Driver - Images and Anecdotes)'
Andy Denny

On January 8th Ipswich based railwayman Andy Denny presented My Career-36 years on the Railway.
Upon leaving school aged 16 he trained as a box boy in the Ipswich station signal box located on Platform 3. Amongst his many tasks were assisting the signalman, updating the train register and internal housekeeping. After 18 months redundancy loomed as a result of resignalling so upon reaching 18 he opted to train as a guard. Having successfully qualified he covered the wide variety of both passenger, freight, parcels and engineering duties based at Ipswich including shunting local freight yards where sidings had nicknames such as The Bark, Dyke and Two Sisters at Stowmarket. With the trend towards sectorisation and the gradual elimination of guards from many services he concentrated on the local Regional Railways passenger network although he did cover an enthusiasts rail tour over the Ipswich Docks network in 1990.
With privatisation in 1996 he transferred to Anglia Railways and continued as before but in 2000 the company began a recruitment drive for additional drivers and he successfully applied for one of the vacancies. On completion of his training he learnt to drive all the unit classes covering the local rural services but with vacancies occurring in the main line link he transferred because of seniority to the Norwich to Liverpool Street Inter City services driving both Class 86 and 90 locomotives.

   Class 153 153314 at Stowmarket station on a Cambridge to Ipswich journey on 29 July 2003   B. Steele
However about 3 years ago he reverted back to the local rural services link finding the turns of duty more socially acceptable. We saw images of traction types, cab layouts and locations complimented by humorous anecdotes of characters and situations he had experienced over the period and he surprised us when saying the single car Class 153s were his preferred favourites to drive.

Monday 11th December 2017
' Branch AGM - followed by BT Police - their role and operations in East Anglia'
Nia Mellor, Station Commander BTP Colchester.

On December 11th the branch held its AGM. All the committee were re elected for another term except Colin Prime, our Sales Officer who stood down after fifteen years in post to be replaced by Nigel Moffitt.

After a break for festive refreshments we welcomed our guest for the evening, Inspector Nia Mellor, commander of the Colchester area to present British Transport Police - Their role and operations in East Anglia. Her operational area covers Norwich, Colchester, Southend and Pitsea and she outlined the challenges of operating on a reduced budget.
After a brief history of railway policing from the Rainhill Trials through to nationalisation and beyond, the various aspects of policing the modern railway system were described. The ongoing heightened security threat level sees officers, some armed, deployed in front line and covert situations and it was noted that BTP Officers were heavily involved in the aftermath of attacks on Manchester and London Bridge this year. Also, incidents involving fatalities on the network, which cause widespread disruption to services both locally and nationally and distress to many of those involved. Ongoing prevention work involving BTP, The Samaritans, Network Rail and other stakeholders, aims to reduce these by various programmes including intervention and communication with potential victims at an early stage and statistics have shown some success in casualty reduction in this area.
The topic of cable theft was also mentioned but this is now less of a problem following recent legislation outlawing the disposal of this material for cash.
Level crossing misuse is still a problem and despite all the media information highlighting this, some still risk theirs and other peoples lives in order to save a minute or two, especially in a rural area like ours with its numerous automatic crossings.
The evening concluded with a Q and A session.

Thursday 30th November 2017
'Britain on Film - Railways (from the Independent Cinema Office)'
David Clough

On November 30th our guest was branch member David Clough who presented Britain on Film-Railways.
This was a programme of eight films ranging from an 1898 production of scenes at Conway Castle filmed from a trolley being propelled along the track through the archways and station platforms to Railways for Ever (1970), a tribute to the end of steam in 1968 narrated by Sir John Betjeman. Also shown were Snow (1963), an Oscar nominated record without commentary of the rail network during 1962/63 big freeze and Pathways to Perfection (1937) depicting The Flying Scotsman, The Royal Scot, The Cornish Riviera and the Golden Arrow express passenger trains.
Two British Transport productions, The Elizabethan (1954) and Paddington to Birmingham Snow Hill (1962) in 4 minutes, shot from the cab of the Blue Pullman were also seen.
There were two American productions, namely Kiss in the Tunnel (1899), a silent movie using novel (for the time) editing techniques and Railways Today(1947) the latter showing the post war decline in the American passenger network and competition for freight from new road haulage companies.
Some of the above were new to many of us and even the older films had been enhanced by modern digital and colouring methods. Railways Forever, another BTF production, depicted the mania that accompanied the last day of steam and the liberal interpretation of what passed for Health and Safety in that era as regards access to the tracks. Sir John’s suggestion, on observing a passing motorail service, that the best place for cars was perhaps being transported by train over long distances would not be that well received nowadays.

   Bo-Bo 25kV overhead electric locomotive 86217 arriving at Stowmarket station on 1400 Norwich to Liverpool Street on 31st March 2004  

The meeting concluded with film of the Class 86/90 transition on Norwich to London services in 2004.

An excellent programme enjoyed by one of our highest attendances for an afternoon meeting.

Monday 13th November 2017
'Railways of the Isle of Man (1974 - date)'
Geoff Brockett

On November 13th our guest was Geoff Brockett to present Railways of the Isle of Man (1974-date). Geoff has visited the island almost annually since 1974 and showed us the variety of railway lines still operating there. Most are now nationalised and operate between April and October under heritage status with costs significantly outweighed by the economic benefits of tourism although numbers are now on the decline.
From the Manx Electric route between Douglas and Ramsey, The Snaefell Mountain Electric Railway which operates to the highest point on the island and the Manx railway between Douglas and Port Erin, which is principally steam operated, we journeyed over the networks and saw many changes over the period including some of the historic rolling stock used and stations served.
The Snaefell and Manx routes also have an interchange at Maxey station and the islands airport at Ronaldsway is claimed to be the first with its own dedicated railway station.

   Beyer Peacock Isle of Man Loco No 12 at Keristal on the1620 Douglas to Port Erin train   Geoff Brockett
Many open days, centenary celebrations and also the running of mixed trains on some routes were seen together with enthusiast specials featuring unusual traction including small simplex diesel engines and steam locomotives running on the electrified networks.
Some rationalisation at the original stations has taken place including at Douglas and Port Erin where buses now have a presence.
Other networks shown included the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway which covers just under two miles along the promenade and was threatened with closure until reprieved in 2015.
Also The Groudle Glen Railway which until its first closure in 1939 featured a zoo with polar bears and sea lions in residence and has now reopened but animals no longer feature there.

A fascinating insight on such a varied rail network virtually on our doorstep.

Monday 9th October 2017
'Railway Photography 1947 - 1979'
Colin Boocock

On October 9th our guest was Colin Boocock who presented Railway Photography 1947 to 1979.
He recorded his first image, aged 9, of a King Arthur class 4-6-0 at Bournemouth Central in 1947 and much of his early work was recorded in that area and also Colne Lancashire whilst visiting relatives and travelling on the Black 5 hauled Pines Express via Bath to Manchester, the journey seemingly never to end.
The merits and limitations of the various cameras used were discussed and early travels included Cambridge showing a Class B1 in pre nationalisation livery, the ACE at Salisbury, LMS diesels on the SR and The Liverpool Overhead Railway, commenting how the city could perhaps benefit from something similar today.
Ireland was visited many times during the period including the GNR route from Dublin to Cork featuring steam and diesel power and also The Isle of Wight network where the Ryde Pier Head Tramway was still operating.

   Wuppertal suspended overhead city railway   Colin Boocock
Visits to Europe included a RCTS steam operated tour in Austria, The Schwebebahn at Wuppertal, colour images on the Jungfrau network and also the steam hauled boat trains from Paris to Le Havre.
Photography in East Germany could be somewhat difficult, but Class 01 Pacifics on cross border services from Leipzig to Cologne were seen.
   Ex-LNER O2 2-8-0 63955 hauling a light freight train into Grantham station.   Colin Boocock
Colour images included Grantham with a Class A3 Pacific, Monsal Dale viaduct in Derbyshire a route that he hoped will reopen, and the iconic entrance to Inverness steam depot.
The Industrial steam network in the Scottish and South Wales coalfields was shown including an ex BR Pannier Tank commenting was the air was safe to breathe in that environment. The last image was of blue liveried Class 87 awaiting departure on blue/grey liveried stock at Glasgow Central.

A thoroughly enjoyable presentation.

Monday 8th May 2017
Greater Anglia Franchise
Jamie Burles (MD Greater Anglia)

On May 8th our guest was Jamie Burles, MD of Greater Anglia to outline the new nine year franchise which commenced last October.
The major announcement was regarding the rolling stock with a complete fleet replacement strategy over the next three years including 12 car EMUs to replace Class 90/Mk3 Inter City sets on the Norwich to London route, replacement of relatively new Class 379 EMUs on Stansted Airport services, new 3 and 4 car bi-mode units for all local services and a new fleet of 5 and 10 car EMUs for the outer suburban network. Over 1,000 carriages will be built by Stadler in Switzerland and Bombardier at Derby. There will be capacity enhancements at Norwich Crown Point and a new depot for the bi-mode units constructed at Brantham near Manningtree.
The timescale for introduction of the new trains is tight and with the promised service improvements, much will depend on Network Rail to deliver the necessary upgrades required, especially on the main routes to Liverpool Street and also the cross country route from Ipswich to Peterborough, where an hourly service is planned with competition from freight operators for available pathing slots.
The current hourly Norwich to Cambridge service will be extended to Stansted Airport from 2019 and surplus Class 317/321 units from Great Northern have been acquired to increase current capacity on the outer suburban network.
The various improvements regarding service frequency, station enhancements, ticketing etc. were described and planning for the new 2020 timetable is already underway. Greater Anglia will pay a premium of £3.7 billion to operate the franchise with severe financial penalties for any shortcomings within their control.
The evening concluded with a Q& A session with many questions from an above average attendance.

Monday 10th April 2017
Northern East Anglia 1980 - 1985
Richard Adderson

On 10 April we welcomed Richard Adderson to present Northern East Anglia 1980-1985.
The programme featured many of the rural routes in Norfolk, some of which were partially or totally closed and now form part of the Heritage Railway preservation network. We saw many special loco hauled and DMU trains operating on these routes, including part of the former M&GN route via Wroxham and Aylsham, the line to Dereham from Wymondham and the Kings Lynn harbour branch network.
Many summer Saturday holiday extras from the Midlands to Yarmouth were shown, hauled by what would now be heritage traction and also trains such as football specials to Wembley, The Royal Train, a Class 47 adorned with postage stamps to Cromer for the launch of a new lifeboat and rail enthusiast specials. Even Sir William McAlpine`s private saloon coach was seen at Yarmouth station.

   08250 at Norwich Victoria on 13th June 1985   R.J.Adderson

  Much of the infrastructure shown has now gone, including the closed station at Fakenham and the Yarmouth Vauxhall     steam depot and the contrast of Norwich station in the period compared to the present is quite startling, with a marked transformation prior to electrification.
We travelled from Norwich to Yarmouth/Lowestoft visiting many remote stations including Buckenham and Berney Arms and both termini, with converted Class 31 train heating units seen at Yarmouth carriage sidings, and a little used Class 08 pilot at Lowestoft .
   Class 37 loco at Beccles on the final working of the 0717 Lowestoft to Lverpool Street on 12th May 1984   R.J.Adderson

  Our final sequence was the East Suffolk route from Lowestoft to Ipswich before it was rationalised, and showed the final through loco hauled service to Liverpool Street before its withdrawal in May 1984. Also shown was the yellow liveried Leyland Experimental Vehicle (LEV-1) undergoing passenger trials.
The mechanical signalling shown would soon be replaced by RETB based at Saxmundham, with the route also being partially singled.

A very nostalgic evening highlighting how it was back then.

Thursday 23rd March 2017
Signals, Stations and Structures
Robert Warburton

On 23 March our guest was Robert Warburton to present “Signals, Stations and Structures”.
Using a mix of personal and Colour Rail slides, we toured the UK rail network with the train not always the focus of attention. From the unusual bracket signal at Hove featuring semaphore arms and colour lights on the same post, the art deco signal box at Woking and the Arnside and Barmouth viaducts, we saw many subject images throughout the country.
Long forgotten stations such as Dover Marine, Holborn Viaduct and Yeovil Town were shown together with a Class 40 picking up water on Bushey troughs and also the semaphore signal gantries at both Farnborough and Aberdeen.
The Harringworth viaduct over the Welland valley was featured and the Severn Bridge signal box at Shrewsbury, now the largest single manned box on the network.
We saw the Bed Pan units in the Old St Pancras station, the semaphores at Leicester and also the swing bridge and box at Clachnaharry near Inverness.
The Leaderfoot viaduct, which carried the Borders Railway over the River Tweed, was shown and is still extant despite the line closing nearly seventy years ago.
Also shown were the bridges over the Forth and Tay estuaries, the Royal Border bridge at Berwick, the stations at Wick and Thurso and the semaphore signals at Stirling.
The listed box at Eastfield near Peterborough, now the only one on the ECML controlling semaphores, was seen together with Knaresborough box which is located in a terraced house.
The now abolished semaphores at Barnetby and the Retford dive-under were shown together with the eastern portals of the Woodhead Tunnels on the closed trans- Pennine route.

This was a very nostalgic view on our railway heritage.

Monday 13th March 2017
Freightliner - The Inside Story
Peter Graham, Rail Strategy Manager - Freightliner

On March 13th Peter Graham, Rail Strategy Manager presented ‘The Story of Freightliner’.
The company was launched in 1965 following recommendations in the Beeching report and privatised in 1996, being currently part of The Genesee & Wyoming group. In addition to the UK it also has operations in parts of Europe, Australia and the Middle East.
There are two business divisions in the UK with Freightliner Ltd operating about 100 daily intermodal services mainly based at the ports of Felixstowe, Southampton and The Isle of Grain, with Heavy Haul for bulk operations on behalf of private customers and Network Rail.
The majority of trunk and diversionary routes are now cleared for intermodal services conveying the standard nine foot six containers, although the Heavy Haul division has suffered a downturn with the move away from coal for electricity generation.
Although there are fewer intermodal services since 2003, traffic volumes have grown owing to an increase in train service length and domestic intermodal services have been identified as a potential growth area, with Network Rail forecasting that total rail freight volumes could double by 2043.
The Heavy Haul division also operates the Trans Pennine Express passenger services between Manchester and Glasgow/Edinburgh.
Locally, capacity enhancements are underway on the Felixstowe route in order to increase the number of services beyond the 34 currently operated. With capacity constraints on the GE mainline towards London, any extra services will have to use the cross country route to Nuneaton via Peterborough. The list of capacity and re-signalling improvements required on this route were discussed and hopefully will come to fruition in the next control period, including the removal of bottlenecks at Haughley Junction, Ely and Leicester.

The meeting concluded with a Q and A session and we would like to thank Peter for a most informative and enjoyable presentation.

last updated: 12/02/18