The Anonymous Widower

Volunteers Launch Conversion Of First Hydrogen Shunter

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railnews.

This story is a good example of how universities, companies, heritage railways and volunteers can work together to deliver useful projects.

Some of the Beeching Reversal and other projects seem to be following a similar model and if it works well, this can only be a good thing to improve the railway.


April 23, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Beeching Reversal – Project Wareham – Complete The Link

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

A Visit To The Swanage Railway describes an enjoyable visit I made to the Swanage Railway, just after the first part of Project Wareham had been completed.

This was my conclusion in that post.

There is a lot of potential to improve services on the Swanage Railway.

I suspect that if South Western Railway and the Swanage Railway got into serious discussion, there will be a solution, that would be beneficial to both parties and all those who live and work in or visit Swanage and the Isle of Purbeck.

This page on the Swanage Railway web site describes the project.

Completing Project Wareham

I can find very little on the Internet about what is proposed in the completion of this project.

So perhaps, the proposal is to start a project to see what could be developed on the Swanage Railway to the benefit of residents, commuters and visitors.

Hourly Trains

From a railway point of view, I suspect the most important thing, is to make it possible for an hourly train to connect from the Swanage Railway to the South Western Main Line.

This would enable the following.

  • Residents along the route to commute to or go shopping in Poole and Bournemouth.
  • Better public transport connections to the local councils at Dorchester and Warham.
  • Better visitor access to the Isle of Purbreck and especially the Swanage Railway.
  • Development of some possible housing and industrial sites.

There could be a lot of beneficiaries.

What Trains Would Be Used?

The Swanage Railway seem to be proposing running heritage diesel multiple units on connecting services. They have a Class 117 train and a Class 121 train, that were built around 1960, that have been fully-refurbished for the service.

These would be fine for the service and I suspect to cut emissions, they could be run on biodiesel.

I also think that if the service was successful, that more trains would be needed.


  • The South Western Main Line is fully-electrified.
  • The Swanage Railway is only 5.5 miles long.
  • South Western Railway probably want to go to an all-electric fleet.
  • Battery electric train technology is improving rapidly.
  • South Western Railway will probably be running battery electric trains on other services in their network.
  • The route might be suitable for Vivarail’s ideas, like the Pop-Up-Metro.

I believe that South Western Railway could connect Wareham and Swanage with a battery electric train charged on the main line.

I’m sure that Bombardier, CAF, Hitachi, Siemens or Stadler, would be able to supply a suitable battery electric train to replace the company’s Class 158 and Class 159 diesel multiple units.

Where Would The Trains Run?


  • The obvious route is between Wareham and Swanage, but as I showed in A Visit To The Swanage Railway, the timings might not be friendly to an hourly shuttle.
  • Changing trains is something that discourages regular passengers.
  • I believe a service to Poole or Bournemouth may be more attractive to passengers.
  • Some passengers might even like the occasional service to London.

I can see an innovative timetable being developed containing elements like these.

  • One train per two hours (tp2h) between Swanage and Wareham, run by the Swanage Railway. using a heritage diesel multiple unit.
  • One tp2h between Swanage and Poole or Bournemouth via Wareham, run by South Western Railway, using a modern battery electric multiple unit.
  • Some services might extend past Bournemouth to Southampton or Salisbury.
  • Early morning and late night services between Swanage and Bournemouth.
  • At least one train per day in both directions between Swanage and London Waterloo.
  • Services would be seven days per week.

I believe that the more comprehensive the service, the more it will be used.


After my visit in November 2018, I said this.

There is a lot of potential to improve services on the Swanage Railway.

I stand by what I said and feel that comprehensive services between Swanage and Wareham can be developed for the benefit of residents, travellers and train companies.

August 1, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Restoration Of A Daily Train Service On The Keighley & Worth Valley Railway

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

The route starts at Keighley station, which is shown in this Google Map.

Keighley station is effectively a double station.

The basic plan appears to be to run daily passenger services on the heritage railway between Keighley and Oxenhope via Haworth.

But there is a lot more than meets the eye.

Commuter Use

The Wikipedia entry of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway has a section called Commuter Use, where this is said.

On weekends – in particular Saturday mornings, local residents who live in Oxenhope, Haworth, Oakworth and Ingrow catch the early morning diesel service to Keighley, returning later on steam hauled services. During the weekday outside of the summer months, locals instead use the local bus services.

It then says that studies have been done to investigate the railway’s use as a commuter route.

Heritage Use

There are attractions in the area to attract everybody.

In addition to the major centres of Leeds and Bradford, these stations are worth a visit for the sites they serve.

Haworth for the Brontes

Saltaire for the World Heritage Site of Salts Mill and the Hockneys.

Skipton for the Settle and Carlisle Railway.

LNER To Skipton

LNER run a single daily service to Skipton, that calls at Keighley and Shipley and it is rumoured on Wikipedia, that they would like to run more services.

My feeling, is that the company wants to run pairs of five-car Class 800 or Class 801 trains to Leeds, where they will split and go on to places like Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Skipton.

Skipton And Colne

This project appears to be a favourite of Governments, as I suspect it solves problems across the North. I last wrote about it in May this year in Colne – Skipton Reopening Moves Closer.

Short Breaks In Yorkshire

Is Yprkshire and Leeds and Bradford in particular, making a bit for the short break market?

It all fits!

What Needs To Be Added To The Keighley And Worth Valley Railway?

If the railway is going to run a regular commuter or tourist service on the route between Keighley and Oxenhope, the following issues must be covered.

Rolling Stock

The railway has an extensive collection of rolling stock, which include a couple of diesel multiple units, that should be able to handle the service.

I would think, that if they wanted something more modern with a heritage feel, that a battery electric version of one of Vivarail’s Class 230 trains would fit the bill. They could run using Vivarail’s Pop-up Metro concept.


The stations on the railway seem to be in good condition, but I’m sure to handle commuters for Leeds and Bradford, there may be some updating required.


There must be through ticketing.


I don’t feel that this would be the most expensive of schemes, as the major expense of an interchange station between the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway and the Airedale Line is already built.



July 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Beeching Reversal – The Aston Rowant Extension Of The Chinnor Railway

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

This Googlr Map shows the location of the proposed Aston Rowant station.


  1. The motorway junction is Junction 6 of the M40, where it joins the B4009.
  2. The hotel at the top of the map, which is marked by a pink arrow,  is the Mercure Thame Lambert.
  3. A road passes the hotel and goes South East parallel to the motorway.

The original Aston Rowant station, appears to have been in the triangular piece of land to the East side of the road.

Wikipedia gives a plan for the future of the Aston Rowant station under a section called Future, where this is said.

There were reports in 1997 that the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway (CPRR) wished to extend its operations to Aston Rowant. A joint venture between the CPRR and Chiltern Railways was also proposed whereby the national rail operator would construct a new station at Aston Rowant to allow frequent weekday commuter services along the Icknield Line to connect with main line traffic through to London Marylebone, leaving the CPPR to run heritage services at other times. The scheme, which would cost around £3m, would seek to take advantage of Aston Rowant’s location near junction 6 of the busy M40 motorway.

There doesn’t seem to be any more details on the Internet, but I could see the full scheme having the following.

  • A car-park by Junction 6 of the M40.
  • Minimal station facilities.
  • A shuttle train to Princes Risborough station using a diesel or battery Class 230 train or perhaps a heritage diesel.
  • At weekends, it would act as parking for the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway.
  • Given Adrian Shooter;s historic connections, this could be an ideal place for using Vivarail’s Pop-up Metro concept.

It could be a deal, where everyone’s a winner. Local commuters, Park-and-Ride users, the CPRR and Chiltern Railways could all benefit.


This is a simple scheme and I suspect the biggest problem could be getting the planning permission.


July 2, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Mid Norfolk Railway Completes Work On ‘First For UK’ Railway Level Crossing

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Advent.

These are the introductory paragraphs.

The Mid Norfolk Railway has finished work on the refurbishment of the level crossing on Yaxham Road at Dereham.

The work is a first for the Mid Norfolk Railway as the technology has never been used at such a busy crossing on the entire rail system.

The new level crossing has been completed using a system that has been developed by Edilon Sedra, a Dutch railway infrastructure company.

By all accounts it appears to be a job well done,

It also appears Network Rail and Transport for London are very interested in what has been done.

Could this be, because it looks like the work has a fifty year maintenance-free lifespan?

This Google Map shows the site.

Note the single track railway running North-South under the flyover.

As you can see from some of the pictures in the article, the actual level crossing is under the flyover. Not the easiest place to work!


This appears to be another successful co-operation between a heritage railway, Network Rail and local interests.

Following on from the co-operation between the Mid-Norfolk Railway and Greater Anglia over train storage, that I wrote about in Aerial Pictures Show New Trains Housed In Mid-Norfolk, could the rebuilding of the level crossing be part of a larger scheme to allow Greater Anglia to use Mid-Norfolk rails to run a commuter service to Dereham?

June 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Thoughts On Very Light Rail

The article on Railway Gazette International, which is entitled Very Light Rail Research On Track, a list of thirty-five rail lines, that could use the technology are given.

These are some of my thoughts.

Multiple Working

These are some examples of branch lines, where very light rail my be used.

  • Cromer  to Sheringham – 226,000
  • Liskeard to Looe – 118,000
  • St Erth to St Ives – 750,000
  • Twyford to Henley-on-Thames – 771,000
  • Maidenhead to Marlow – 300,000
  • Slough to Windsor & Eton Central – 2,024,000
  • Watford to St Albans Abbey – 167,000


  1. The first station is on the main line and the second is the terminus of the branch line.
  2. The figure is the number of passengers, who used the terminal station in 2018-2019

The numbers have quite a range and I’m sure that a single eighteen metre vehicle carrying 56 seated and 60 standing passengers, will not be big enough, even if it runs at a frequency of four trains per hour (tph) on some routes.


So I am convinced that the vehicles must be able to work in multiple.

One picture on this page on the Transport Design International web site, shows the vehicle with a coupler.

Increasing Passenger Numbers, Festivals And Sporting Events

Forecasting passenger numbers on a new rail service, is a very inexact science. I talk about London Overground Syndrome, which seems to occur regularly.

There are also the problems of festivals and sporting events of various kinds, where perhaps for a week or so traffic is much higher.

Extra very light rail vehicles can be added to the trains as required or even drafted in at times of high demand.

Automatic Coupling And Uncoupling

They must also be able to couple and uncouple quickly and automatically, as needs vary throughout the day and to rescue a stranded unit.

Transit Mode

Suppose a large event, like say the Open Golf was taking place near a station with an inadequate train service and for the duration of the event, a dozen very light rail vehicles were to be running a shuttle to the nearest major rail hub.

A method must be developed to bring the vehicles to the event. I suspect Rail Operations Group, who are the experts in rolling stock movements would have a simple solution, perhaps by using a diesel locomotive to tow them to and from central warm storage.

It could probably be argued, that a capability to build temporary stations is needed.


These very light rail vehicles are prime candidates for automation.

I can envisage a lot of routes being run automatically, with the driver in a supervisory role, very much as the Victoria Line has been run since it opened in 1968.

  • At each station, when they had ascertained that the passengers had all left and boarded the train safely, they would close the doors and activate a control to start the vehicle.
  • It would then move to the next station and stop in the right place.
  • The doors would then be opened automatically or by action of the crew.

Dear old Vicky has been doing this for over fifty years!

I also think, that with automation and CCTV, a system could be devised, where the driver stays in one cab all the time.

This would speed up operations.

Procedures For Running On Shared Tracks With Freight, Private And Heritage Railways

These suggested routes for very light rail are either freight, private or heritage railways.

  • Bodmin Parkway to Bodmin General
  • Kidderminster to Stourport
  • Ashington to Blyth
  • Sheffield to Stocksbridge
  • Paignton to Brixham
  • Totton to Hythe

I’m sure procedures can be devised, so that all traffic can run safely.


February 3, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Visit To The Swanage Railway

Yesterday, I noticed this article on Railnews which was entitled National Rail Trains To Score Heritage First.

This was the first two paragraphs.

Scheduled National Rail trains will run on a heritage railway tomorrow for the first time.

South Western Railway is launching Saturday services to Corfe Castle on the Swanage Railway, and Corfe Castle has been restored to the national stations database.

So I thought, I’d be on the first South Western Railway train on a scheduled service into Corfe Castle station on the Swanage Railway.

I caught the 08:25 train from London Waterloo to Weymouth and I alighted at Wareham station to catch the 11:12 train to Corfe Castle.

These pictures illustrate my trip.

I have various observations.


I came down from London, so I had to pay for that ticket, but train tickets to Swanage from Wareham cost me five pounds for the South Western Railway leg and ten pounds for steam haulage.


Everything was very professional and there seemed to be a high-level of communication and good humour between the staff of South Western Railway and the volunteers of the Swanage Railway.

Swanage Railway were operating a steam-hauled shuttle along their line between Norden and Swanage stations and as the pictures show, both companies were able to run their own services, without interrupting the other.

Does Swanage Need A Year Round Train Service?

After my father retired, my parents went to live in Felixstowe.

It certainly didn’t work for me, as it was not the sort of place, a late teenager, could amuse himself, especially as all my friends were in London. As we hadn’t sold the house in London, I was usually to be found there.

I don’t know Swanage and I don’t know what it is like to live there!

But I do remember a short film on the BBC program Tonight in the early 1960s.

They were talking about long-distance commuting and they used as an example, a guy, who had moved his family to Swanage and was leaving home very early in the morning to go back to London for his work.

He was very happy with the arrangement, but the last shot of the film was after the reporter had asked his two teenage daughters what they thought of it all. Their faces said it all and I can remember my mother made an acerbic comment.

I wonder what a year round hourly service would do for Swanage?

Felixstowe has a year-round hourly rail service to Ipswich, but then Felixstowe is over twice as large as Swanage.

On the other hand, Felixstowe also has a fast dual-carriageway road connecting it to the rest of East Anglia.

Providing An Hourly Service To Swanage

Unlike many rail schemes aiming to create a new branch line, a lot of infrastructure is already in place.


Yesterday, the following services were running.

  • A roughly hourly steam service between Norden and Swanage stations, run by the Swanage Railway.
  • A two-hourly service diesel service between Wareham and Corfe Castle stations, run by South Western Railway.

The track, which is a mixture of single and double track, seemed to cope well.

Interestingly, there is a mothballed oil terminal at Furzebrook, which was used to export oil from the large field at Wytch Farm. It is connected to the Swanage Railway between Norden station and the South Western Main Line.

As development and exploitation of oil fields is a very unpredictable process, I suspect that the Northern section of the Swanage railway is kept in very good condition by Network Rail, just in case Furzebrook has to reopen.

Norden Station

Norden station is the Northernmost station on the Swanage Railway.

This Google Map shows the station.

The map clearly shows the single platform, the Purbreck Mineral and Mining Museum and the Swanage Railway Park & Ride.

The Wikipedia entry for Norden station, says this about the car park.

A large car park, provided by Purbeck District Council, allows the station to function as a park & ride facility for the tourist centres of Corfe Castle and Swanage

Could this car park, also be used by local residents wanting to commute to or go shopping in Poole or Bournemouth?

Corfe Castle Station

Corfe Castle station is a well-built station with two platforms and a footbridge, that is as good if not better than many rural stations.

Harman’s Cross Station

Harman’s Cross station is a two platform station, without a footbridge.

It appears from the Google Map of the area, that new houses are being built in Harman’s Cross.

Swanage Station

Swanage station is the terminus station with two platforms.

As the pictures show, the platform used by the steam train is long and would certainly take an eighty metre long train.

Operating As A Single-Track Branch Line

I suspect that on days, when the heritage railway is not in operation, that the Swanage Railway could be used as a single-track branch line.

So perhaps, a diesel multiple unit could run a passenger shuttle along the branch. Operation would be little different to any of several diesel-operated branch lines in the UK.

Surely, if the CAA can allow Loganair to use Barra Airport, which is a beach on the island of the same name, then the ORR must be able to write a sensible rule book, to allow an hourly passenger service between Wareham and Swanage.

This picture shows Zwickau Zentrum station in the centre of the German town of Zwickau.

It is the simplest station, I’ve ever seen in a town centre. The diesel multiple unit appears to come into the city under the following rules.

  • A sensible speed.
  • Orange lights flashing.
  • Two crew operation.

Effectively, the train service in Zwickau is run like a tram and even has an unusual three-rail track, that it shares with metre-gauge trams.

Note that as the Swanage Railway is a heritage railway, the speed limit is only 25 mph anyway.

As yesterday showed, South Western Railway and the Swanage Railway are able to operate a practical shared service on days, when the heritage railway is in operation.

Connecting To South Western Main Line Services

As was demonstrated yesterday by South Western Railway’s Class 159 train, operation between Corfe Castle and Wareham stations, is not the most difficult of operations.

Two things help.

  • The South Western Main Line is not the busiest of routes through Wareham station.
  • There is a cross-over to the West of the station.

These allowed the Class 159 train to use one of the through platforms to turnback.

Would this continue, if say the Swanage Railway wee to run an hourly shuttle between Corfe Castle and Wareham stations?

Look at this Google Map of Wareham station.

Is there space on the Northern side of the station to add a bay platform, to allow the shuttle to terminate in its own platform?

When I returned from Wareham to Waterloo, I just missed a train and I had to wait thirty minutes for the next train.

Looking at the Google Map of Poole station, there would appear to be a large amount of space around the station,

The Wikipedia entry for Poole station, also says this.

In 2004 proposals were drawn up for the current station buildings and footbridge to be replaced as part of redevelopment plans for the old goods yard. A hotel was to be built on the site of the current station building, however as of 2010 these plans have not progressed.

So would it be feasible at some time in the future to terminate a Swanage service in a bay platform in the much larger town of Poole?

There are certainly possibilities to use Poole or even Bournemouth stations as a terminus of a service to Swanage station, that would also increase the frequency on the South Western Main Line between Bournemouth and Weymouth.

How Long Would A Train Take To Go From Wareham To Corfe Castle And Back?

Looking at yesterday’s figures on Real Time Trains, the following times were achieved yesterday.

  • Wareham to Corfe Castle – 21 minutes
  • Corfe Castle to Wareham – 26 minutes

Yesterday, the trains were waiting for a long time at Corfe Castle station, to fit with their two-hourly timetable and that of the steam trains on the other track.

If you add in sensible turnback times at Wareham and Corfe Castle, I doubt that a round trip could be done in an hour, making it difficult to run an hourly shuttle between the two stations.

How Long Would A Train Take To Go From Wareham To Swanage And Back?

Using yesterday’s figures and the quoted times for steam trains between Corfe Castle and Swanage stations, we get the following times.

  • Wareham to Corfe Castle – 21 minutes
  • Corfe Castle to Swanage – 22 minutes
  • Swanage to Corge Castle – 20 minutes
  • Corfe Castle to Wareham – 26 minutes

Or a total of 89 minutes plus how long the turnround will be at Swanage station.

I have a feeling that timetabling an hourly service could be difficult.

What Rolling Stock Can Be Used?

If the trains travel for more than a few miles on the South Western Main Line, being able to use the third-rail electrification would be useful.

But they would also need to be self-powered on the Swanage Railway.

So perhaps, a bi-mode would be ideal.

As they have rather a heritage flavour, perhaps a Class 769 train would be ideal?


There is a lot of potential to improve services on the Swanage Railway.

I suspect that if South Western Railway and the Swanage Railway got into serious discussion, there will be a solution, that would be beneficial to both parties and all those who live and work in or visit Swanage and the Isle of Purbeck.


May 27, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Between Exeter And Paignton

When I got to Paddington in the morning, I found that my 10:00 train to Exeter St. Davids was going on to finish its journey at the resort of Paignton.

So as I had a few minutes, I bought myself a Devon Day Ranger ticket, from the Ticket Office at Paddington. It cost me £6.60 and meant I could start my Devon expoloration without wasting time buying a ticket in the county.

I took these pictures of my trip to Paignton.

These are some thoughts on what I saw and did.


This Google Map shows Paignton station and the road I walked down to the sea-front.

I remember that when I came in 1966, I took an open-topped bus To Brixham and back. It was a new Leyland Atlantean and it doubled as a tourist bus and local transport. In the winter they put a top on the bus.

I wonder, if they still do the same in Torbay.

The Starcross And Exmouth Ferry

There is a ferry between Starcross station and Exmouth.

Edginswell Station

Wikipedia has an entry for a new Edginswell station.

This is said.

Edginswell railway station is a proposed station in the Edginswell area of Torquay, Devon. The station would be located on the Riviera Line between Newton Abbot and Torre stations. Edginswell will be the location of employment and housing development and the new station will support this development. The station would also serve Torbay Hospital, The Willows retail park and the Torquay Gateway development area.

Plans for the station are being developed by Network Rail and Devon County Council.

Sounds good!

The Dartmouth Steam Railway

Paignton station is also the terminus of the Dartmouth Steam Railway, which goes a distance of nearly seven miles to Kingswear station for a ferry to Dartmouth.

When I visited in 1966, it would have still been part of British Rail.

Mainline rail tours still run between the National Rail network and the Dartmouth Steam Railway to travel down to Kingswear.

Developing The Riviera Line

The whole railway from Exeter to Paignton via Newton Abbott is called the Riviera Line and after the blockage of Winter 2014 at Dawlish and the subsequent rebuilding, the difficult bits are probably in the best condition that engineers could achieve.

Trains along the line from Exeter to Paignton are approximately half-hourly, but I do wonder if from Newton Abbott to Paignton more trains could be run in perhaps the summer months or at weekends.

But surely this biggest plan is this listed under Plans, in the Wikipedia entry for the Riviera Line. This is said.

In 2009 the Association of Train Operating Companies identified Brixham as one of fourteen towns for which the provision of a new railway service would have a positive benefit-cost ratio. This would be an extension of the Great Western Railway service beyond Paignton to Churston station on the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway, which would then act as a railhead for Brixham. It would also serve other housing developments in the area since the opening of the steam railway, and may require the doubling of that line between Paignton and Goodrington Sands.

This Google Map shows the Goodrington Sands and Churston stations in relation to Brixham and Berry Head.


The stations are on the Western edge of the map, with Goodrington Sands at the North.

The ATOC report was written in 2009 and since then railway technology and attitudes have moved on.

  • Signalling has improved, so mixing heritage services with schedule ones, isn’t as difficult as it used to be.
  • Health and Safety have now developed rules that are based on risk and are less draconian.
  • Train operating companies and heritage railways work together much better and realise that they’re all part of the same network and one company’s passenger is often another company’s too!

But the biggest development is trains that are used on the national network, that don’t look out of place on a heritage railway.

  • Paignton is served by InterCity 125 trains. Could these be extended to Churston, as perhaps a short four-car formation?
  • The unparalleled Mark 3 coach will soon be available in short rakes to be hauled by vintage diesel and steam locomotives.
  • Some of the older diesel multiple units like Class 150 trains, could become available.
  • There is also two rebuilt electro-diesel units; the Class 319 Flex and the Class 230.trains.
  • Battery train technology would also be a serious option.

Rolling stock will not be a problem.

I would think, that if there was a proper meeting in a local hostelry, that the outcome could be that there was a local service of four trains per hour between Goodrington Sands to Exeter.





April 5, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment