West Somerset Railway Association Station Jottings

You may recall that I have been talking about High Speed Trains, old and new. I am informed that the new type will be taking over the services completely in September 2018, so you can expect to see the new type on driver training trains on GWR West Country up to May next year.

Changes are also afoot in the West Country signalling as more of the control of signalling moves to the West of England Signalling Centre at Didcot, Oxfordshire. Cornwall is the next area to be converted from semaphore signalling to colour light. Additional signalling is due to go in and the remaining mechanical signal boxes are to go: a sad sight and sad day as another part of our railway heritage disappears. However, we are so lucky for so many people hereabouts have preserved the West Somerset Railway where we can still do these things and we thank those who welcome us aboard the footplate and to the inner sanctums of the signal box, not forgetting the engineers and technicians who maintain them. Thank you, Mike, John, Mr Champion, Sid and the signing-off engineer for the entire scheme!

I am showing a recent picture of Royal Scot and its support coach in the rain coming over what in railway terms is called a ladder crossing, which means it has taken Royal Scot from the down goods loop onto the down main line then over to the up main line before crossing onto the Minehead branch. This was highlighted in the press recently as ten years ago for six weeks and three times a week, a train ran from Minehead (Butlins) to Taunton and Bristol. You may wonder why I mention these two trains? It is because those people who did not want to see the railway die fought to save it and this most vital link that the picture depicts so that trains can run to and from our branch line onto the National Rail Network. Throughout the summer, this vital link will be used to the full. Watch out for more steam-hauled trains to arrive and depart from Bishops Lydeard and there will also be steam on the main line through Taunton to various parts of the West. The changeover in the signalling between Plymouth and Penzance will, by putting another pair of colour light signals up/in, allow a further train path for trains to run to and from Plymouth to Penzance and back.

Whilst I talk of changes, two other things come to mind: St. Erth Station is being upgraded for an improved service and parking for the St. Ives branch, the other is that diesel multiple units used around the Paddington - Reading area will be cascaded down to Bristol for use in the area so the local trains you ride in now will change in the future as electrification has taken place between Didcot and Paddington and the units are released. I will write further on these matters as information is released and electrification progress towards Bristol which, as I said before, appears a bit sporadic although they have now completed the changes to Bath station so things should speed up. They are also quadrupling the tracks from Bristol Parkway to Bristol Temple Meads and there is even talk of having four platforms at Bristol Parkway, which now has two, to ease congestion there.

On the railway, things continue as normal all the locos are repaired and running but I understand that one loco suffered three broken springs at once, which is most unusual. Thankfully, like a car, the offending wheel needs to be jacked up, but there is much heavy lifting involved and cramped conditions do not make this an easy job, and one gets very dirty. Yes, I have been there! 

All is in place for the Flying Scotsman days from 5th – 12th September excepting the Friday (8th). Trains depart from Bishops Lydeard at 10 am and 2.15 pm and arrive back at 1.25 pm and 6.05 pm. As I mentioned in my last jottings there are some evening runnings behind Flying Scotsman. On behalf of the WSR, I would ask readers not to trespass on the railway during this event

Ian Aldridge
Railway Correspondent

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Bishops Lydeard
Bishops Lydeard