The Anonymous Widower

By God’s Wonderful Railway to Bristol

To many, the Great Western Railway from Paddington to Bristol, Wales and the West is a cut above all of the other lines radiating from London.

As I was brought up close by the main line out of Kings Cross to the North and could hear tha A4 Pacifics and later the Deltic as they picked up speed through New Barnet, my affections are generally towards that route. One of my most memorable railway journeys happened on that line.

The Great Western Main Line differs from the other major lines in the UK as it was built on a grander scale and virtually straight for most of the way to Bristol.  In other words, Brunel got his engineering right. In many ways it was the first high-speed line to be built anywhere in the world. (In fact as much of the line speed between London and Bristol is 125 mph., it meets the European definition of a high speed line.)  Today the workhorses of the line are High Speed Diesel Trains, like the one where I rode in the cab from Edinburgh to Inverness.

But in some ways the line is showing its age.

Renovating the Roof at Paddington

Finally, as the picture shows they are doing something with renovating Paddington. It is long overdue and it’s not much better now, than when I used the station to go to visit Plessey in the 1970s. It has also been announced that the line will be electrified as far as Cardiff. Why this wasn’t done years ago, I have never understood. Perhaps the reason it hasn’t been electrified is that the High Speed Diesel Trains have outperformed even the most optimistic expectations.  But even then it took them so many years to name a power car after the man behind the project, Terry Miller, as good engineers are so undervalued by politicians.

Yesterday, I went with a friend to Bristol to see Ipswich play at Ashton Gate.  We left on time at 10:00 from Paddington and just 99 minutes later we arrived in Bristol Temple Meads. The distance is 118.5 miles, so the average speed was a shade under 72 mph, including stops at Reading, Swindon, Chippenham and Bath.  Not bad for a nearly forty year old train, but it did have the advantage of two men of vision; Brunel and Miller. I have a feeling that the last High Speed Train in regular service might be well in the second half of this century.

April 17, 2011 - Posted by | Transport | , , ,

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