All Aboard!

Recently I’ve been looking through and digitising old photographs, slides and negatives of my train spotting days dating back to the late 1970’s and also video footage from the late 80’s/ 90’s. Although they are universally terrible in framing and execution and with an inability to hold a camera straight and a penchant for over using the camcorder zoom function, nevertheless they evoked a sense of nostalgia. Modern computer photo editing and techniques might easily enable me to straighten an image or edit video footage to a more acceptable duration I pondered.

But what to do with all these pictures and hours of video? The answer brings me to this website; The Railway Dog. Why a dog? Well, because my constant companion these last couple of years has been my blue merle cockapoo; Yoshi and I couldn’t think of a better name for a web page. Yoshi has a tendency to bark at moving trains, so on more recent video, he is very much in evidence on the audio track!

To kick off, the images below are my first photographs of a train, in this instance The Railway Pictorial Publications Railtours (RPPR) Silver Jubilee Special Railtour which ran from London Paddington via Bristol Parkway, Westbury and Yeovil Pen Mill to Weymouth before returning to Paddington by means of a visit to Cranmore on the East Somerset Railway. The motive power was formed by a pair of immaculately turned out class 31 Brush Type 2 locomotives; 31414 and 31416 and my camera was a Kodak 110 loaded with a slide film courtesy of my brother. Dorchester being my home town, I saw the special working pass through Dorchester West on its outward journey. In those days I would not have been interested in capturing the train on the return leg, as I had already seen and ‘copped’ the locos.

31 414 and 31416 working the RPPR Silver Jubilee Special Railtour – Dorchester West 14th May 1977
31 414 and 31416 working the RPPR Silver Jubilee Special Railtour – Dorchester West 14th May 1977
31 414 and 31416 working the RPPR Silver Jubilee Special Railtour – Dorchester West 14th May 1977
31 414 and 31416 working the RPPR Silver Jubilee Special Railtour – Dorchester West 14th May 1977

As you can see, no thought was given to leaving the end of the platform and getting images from the trackside. A practice that quite rightly just wouldn’t happen today.

31416 was cut up in October 2001 at EMR Kingsbury, but 31414 survives

Below is a more recent outing – a brief visit to Westbury, Wiltshire on 21st October 2021. In reality it was a trip out to capture the debranded LNER HST power cars which top and tail Network Rail’s New Measurement Train (NMT), but due to flooding in the Exeter area the schedule was disrupted and the train had already headed off to Salisbury prior to our arriving at Westbury.

The following week, the NMT was scheduled to visit Dorchester and Weymouth, but was instead diverted to Salisbury via Eastleigh and Southampton following the derailment in Fisherton Tunnel. Finally, after a drive to Gillingham, North Dorset on 18th November 2021 we were greeted by 43290 and 43274 in charge of the 1Q23 0556 Reading to Salisbury working.

The New Measurement Train is a specialised train which assesses the condition of railway track so that engineers can determine where improvements or remedial work is required. The train has been specially converted from Inter-City 125 sets consisting of two Class 43 power cars and five or six Mark 3 carriages. It can check the conditions most main lines and some secondary routes operating on a four weekly cycle. In January 2020, Network Rail announced the awarding of an £8m, five-year contract to Loram UK for the maintenance of the NMT and will see the train being maintained in Loram UK’s Derby facility.

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