66734 ‘Platinum Jubilee’
We kicked off our four day Platinum Jubilee Weekend when we popped into Eastleigh to see newly outshopped GBRf EU Class 66 conversion No. 66734. The locomotive, previously No. PB04 when in use in Europe, has taken the identity of Class 66/7 No. 66734, which was written off in a landslide adjacent near Loch Trieg in 2012, and is the 100th member of the class acquired by GBRailfreight.
To mark the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty The Queen, the engine has been given a special purple and silver livery, with the Platinum Jubilee logo and Union Flag on the bodyside. The engine has been named ‘Platinum Jubilee’, and although it currently carries vinyl nameplates, these will be replaced by cast versions in time.
After our brief visit to Eastleigh, we headed off to Didcot Railway Centre for an evening photographic event run by TimeLine Events who had arranged for Great Western Railway Castle Class 4-6-0 No. 4079 ‘Pendennis Castle’ to be in steam for a number of scenarios around the site. You can read about our earlier visit to Didcot when No. 4079 was relaunched into service here.
TimeLine events specialise in recreating scenes from past eras using convincing re-enactors wearing authentic period dress in credible locations. Joining one of these events has been on my bucket list for a while now. We were a little late on arrival and once we had gained access to the railway centre, we quickly joined in the spirit of things. I really enjoyed the evening and the photographic opportunities and would attend another similar event in the future. I wasn’t totally satisfied with my resulting images and another time I would mount my camera on a tripod and try a variation of settings. As it was, this time around I hand held the DSLR and this certainly shows on shots taken later on in the evening.
Although not the prime reason for attending the evening, I very much enjoyed seeing ‘Pendennis Castle’ in steam as she moved around Didcot and being turned on the turntable. Here’s a video showing a little taste of the evening:
Over the weekend Yoshi and I made a couple of visits to our local heritage railway in the Purbecks where dedicated Swanage Railway volunteer, Malcolm Munro, had spent a week crafting two special headboards marking the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Headboards are carried on trains to denote a special service or working and in the days of steam were a regular sight, including two famous Dorset related examples; The Bournemouth Belle and The Royal Wessex. The silver and red Platinum Jubilee headboards were carried by locomotives operating the Swanage Railway’s steam trains between Thursday 2nd June and Sunday 5th June 2022.
With SR 4-6-2 West Country Class No. 34028 ‘Eddystone’ on holiday at the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway, steam services at Swanage were in the capable hands of SR 2-6-0 U Class No. 31806 and SR 4-6-2 Battle of Britain Class No. 34072 ‘257 Squadron’. Class 33 No. D6515 (33012) ‘Lt Jenny Lewis RN’ was in action on Saturday evening with the dining train.
I was fully expecting a quiet time with local out of the ordinary main line workings over the bank holiday period and was pleasantly surprised to discover a GBRf route learner had been conjured up when I checked my emails on Saturday morning. So it was a hurried five minutes collecting cameras together and persuading Yoshi to jump in the car before setting off to view Class 66 No. 66755 ‘Tony Berkeley OBE’ working 0Z20 0813 Eastleigh East Yard to Weymouth. Over the weekend there had been several of these driver training workings set up, but in actuality only one ran each day on the Saturday and Sunday
Over the course of the Saturday and Sunday runs we managed to catch the light loco in a number of different settings – narrowly avoiding missing a shot once or twice because of passing passenger trains, as can be seen in the video below:
The evening of Monday 6th June 2022 saw a test train and a heritage diesel working pass through the east of our area. The first was BR Green Class 33 No. D6515 from Swanage hauling Network SouthEast Class 50 No. 50026 ‘Indomitable’ heading to Dereham to pick up “slim’ Class 33/2 No. 33202 ‘Dennis G. Robinson’ before onward working to star at The Keighley & Worth Valley Railway diesel gala being held Friday 10th June through to Sunday 12th June 2022.
The Class 33/ Class 50 combo was followed later by the monthly Colas test train top and tailed by Class 73 electro-diesels No.’s 73963 ‘Janice’ and 73962 ‘Dick Mabbutt’ working 1Q51 1115 Derby RTC to Eastleigh east Yard via Weymouth
We took the opportunity of an airport run to meet Yoshi’s aunty who was flying into London Heathrow to bookend our Platinum Jubilee weekend with a quick visit to see an Elizabeth line train at the T5 railway station. The staff were amazingly friendly, helpful and accommodating allowing us to onto the platform to take photographs of one of the Alstom Class 345 Aventra trains as well as explaining technical and timetable details. The Elizabeth line was officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen accompanied by HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex on May 17th 2022 when a commemorative plaque was unveiled at London Paddington station a week in advance of the route opening to passenger services on May 24th.
Initially know as Crossrail, the Elizabeth line is operated by “MTR Elizabeth Line” as a concession of Transport for London between London Paddington and Abbey Wood. The Class 345’s have already been running between Paddington, Heathrow Airport and Reading in the west and between London Liverpool Street and Sheffield to the east prior to the central core opening for service. There are 70 trains, some seven carriages in length and others with nine carriages which were designed and built by Alstom in Derby. They are maintained by Alstom at Old Oak Common depot in west London. It is planned for the company to maintain the trains for the next 32 years as part of a rolling stock and provision contract.
On the day of our visit around 4,000 London Underground station staff were on strike with most services being severely disrupted so the Elizabeth line may have been busier than normal during our visit. The RMT union says it is protecting jobs and the pensions of its members which are being reviewed. TfL says jobs are not under threat. Later this month, more than 40,000 railway workers across 13 railway companies, including South Western Railway and Great Western Railway, will walk out as part of a three day national strike on 21st, 23rd and 25th June after talks about pay and redundancies collapsed.
That’s all from us at therailwaydog.co.uk for this week. Thanks, as always, for reading. My regular reader ( you know who you are ) will no doubt recall the first Railway Dog blog entry where I shared the first railway photographs I ever took, which to continue the jubilee theme, were from 1977 and show a Silver Jubilee special excursion passing through Dorchester West on its way to Weymouth. You can read more about this and see the images here.