Warley MRC Exhibition

Dad and I went to the NEC on Saturday to visit the Warley Model Railway Club’s annual exhibition.

Very good it was too. It was absolutely packed as usual. Strangely they only seemed to use 3/4 of the hall, but there was as much stuff there as normal. Trouble was the hall was a bit badly laid out in places so there were a few crushes.

The 12 inches to the foot ‘models’ this year were a couple of industrial Hunslets.

100_2577 (Medium)

This one was built in 1971 (a very good year!) and the other in 2005.

I ended up with some Triang TT stuff and a couple of Video 125 DVDs. Good day out really!

Local Rail Services 2

After I'd received the reply to my e-mail from East Midlands Trains , I thought I'd reply –

Thank you for your reply.

I have to say that I'm not over confident that the Crewe Derby route is going to be treated as a priority. You talk about the fact that ‘We will link stations progressively over the next few years and this will enable passengers to speak directly to an information controller….' Being cynical and based on the fact of the lack of investment and interest in the route by previous companies, I feel that the Crewe Derby route stations will be amongst the last to receive these improvements!

Of the 70 ticket machines you talk about, will Longport be included?

I also hear on the grapevine, and please correct me if I have misheard, that you are to run the single coach Class 153 units on the route, thereby reducing the seating capacity and moving the two car units to other areas.

My final worry is that you are expecting local authorities to pay for the upgrading of your stations! Why should they pay to improve your facilities when it is in your interests to improve services etc. to increase passenger numbers?

I'm sorry if this all seems a little negative, but local train services in North Staffordshire have been eroded away over the last 15 years or so and your predecessors seemed to treat this area as an inconvenience!

Yours sincerely

And the reply –

Thanks again for your email.

We will not be installing ticket machines into the Longport station.

We are proposing to run single coach Class 153 units on the Crewe-Derby route from December 2008, however, this has not been finalised. We are currently consulting with stakeholders on our proposed December 2008 and their feedback may have some bearing on this decision.

We do have funds to undertake station improvements however, we are also looking to local authorities to assist. We will be looking to invest in stations where we can make a valid business case for it.

Kind regards
David Horne
Mobilisation Director
East Midlands Trains

That reply doesn't exactly instil confidence does it? The trouble is that it's an East Midlands franchise serving the West Midlands / North West. Time will tell I guess, but I'm not holding my breath for improvements.

Local Rail Services

I e-mailed East Midlands Trains last week to find out what they were planning with regard to our local train services. Here is the e-mail I sent –

Dear Sir,
I would be interested to hear what your company is proposing to do to improve the Crewe to Derby service and the stations along this line.
As the majority of this service is in the North Staffordshire and South Cheshire area, I am somewhat surprised that it is being run by a company whose main area of focus is the East Midlands. In the past, Central Trains and to a degree Regional Railways treated this service and its stations as an inconvenience and little or no investment has been made in the route. A lot of people in the North Staffordshire area aren't even aware that there are open stations at Longport or Longton!
In fact, one of the stations, Etruria, was closed two years ago. It is also noticable that the majority of stations currently operated by Central Trains (the exception being Kidsgrove) are unstaffed. Most of the stations are in a poor state of repair, although some new shelter facilities have been installed at Longport, but this was not financed by Central Trains! The stations do not provide a welcome to the travelling public – your potential customers!
Can you reassure me that the level of service you will provide, the state of the stations, the staffing of the stations and the publicity of the route will be improved when you take over the service?
Yours faithfully

And this is the reply –

The level of service will be broadly similar to that operating today, but from December 2008 there will be some changes to train times in conjunction with major timetable changes across the country. We have been told exactly when our trains can operate throughout the day by Network Rail.

East Midlands Trains (EMT) intends to deliver improved ambiance at all stations by investing in deep cleaning, painting, improved CCTV Help Points and signage.  The CCTV and Help Points will be connected to a new Information and Security Centre collocated with the new integrated control at Derby.  We will link stations progressively over the next few years and this will enable passengers to speak directly to an information controller to obtain accurate and up to date information.

 Further enhancements may be possible if local stakeholders are able to provide additional funding and a number of local authorities have already stated that they wish to join with EMT to improve stations.  

 We will also be installing over 70 ticket vending machines across our network.  Staffing levels will remain as now but our management arrangements will be developed to ensure that stations are kept clean and provide a welcoming environment for passengers.


Hmm, can't say I'm too reassured to be honest. I've got a copy of the new proposed 2008 timetable 😉 so I'd better take a closer look to see what's planned!

Train Driver!

Today I’ve been to the Churnet Valley Railway’s scenic railcar weekend and rode up and down on a class 104 DMU and a Derby Lightweight single car DMU (Iris). It’s quite interesting to actually be able to see out of the front!
It was also nice to travel on older trains which sounded ‘proper’ and had a bit of character.
I always find it interesting when on a preserved railway, how quiet the carriages generally are (DMUs and hordes of screaming kids excepted). The thing is there is no air conditioning or engines under the floor. At least with a first generation DMU the engines chug along and rattle a bit!
But best of all, I got to finally drive a locomotive!! The owner of 37075 was letting people drive up and down the station yard at Cheddleton. Apparently, I was quite good at it!
Must get myself on a full driving day sometime! Smile


Been a bit lazy recently!

Went to the Llangollen Railway's steam gala weekend a couple of weeks ago with Mum & Dad.


The weather behaved and we had a rather good day out! The railway put on a good selection of locomotives and we all took loads of photos! Mum has even asked to borrow my digital camera after using it all that day for when they go to China! Mum and digital photography is an interesting thought!!!

Virgin Lose the Cross Country Francise

Wow! Virgin have lost the Cross Country franchise to Arriva!

One thing that struck me straight away is that they're promising to reintroduce HSTs! That's something Virgin were determined not to do and when they've hired one in they've apologised about the fact!
I'll be fascinated to see if they improve the services and also the number of seats on the trains!

Longport Station 2

Seems like some money is finally being spent on Longport Station see here. 

This is good news. However, it is noticeable that it is not Central Trains who are funding the work, but North Staffordshire Regeneration. Strange really as it was Central Trains who have not spent any money on the stations and made them unstaffed halts since they have had control of them. Having said that, they lose the franchise on 11/11/07, so it will be interesting to see what the new London Midland company and the new East Midlands franchise will do. They can't be worse than Central – can they?

Etruria and Longport

I've just noticed there is a comment on this post I made last year about Etruria station. I never did receive a reply to my letter. I suppose my MP didn't think it was worth bothering with as there is nothing that can be done now.
This still doesn't remove the fact that local public transport in this area is poor (to be polite). As mentioned in a previous post, Longport station is supposed to be having money spent on it to improve its condition. As far as I can tell after visiting it on two separate days last week that amounted to 2 new waiting shelters. One of which had some of the local Chavs in it sipping on their cheap lager! Tell them that people stand on stations for a hobby and they'd take the p**s! It's a great place to hang tho innit?
I digress! I still get the impression that no one in the Government or the Train Operating Companies really care about North Staffordshire. Longport still has a train to Stoke / Derby and Crewe every hour and the 2 trains to Manchester within half an hour of each other in the mornings and one at night from Manchester, but that's it. Hardly intensive is it? The Stoke – Stafford local service is still a bus and will be until 2009 (I think). There is a proposal for a Crewe – London service via North Staffs in 2009, which will stop at Alsager, Kidsgrove & Stone as well as Stoke, but although that will be quite useful, we still need a service for the local stations to Manchester. Well, to be honest we need a decent local service full stop!
Eighteen months ago I wrote to Central Trains about their awful service in this area and they replied that it wasn't their fault, it was the DfT's. This is despite the fact that they operated the services and asked for Etruria to be closed!
As an indicator of the Central Trains' attitude to this area, in a reply I got, I was told of the wonderful new Desiro service from Birmingham to Liverpool. Very good I replied, but as it doesn't come anywhere near North Staffordshire (well it does, but straight through as there are no stations between Stafford and Crewe!), what use was it to me? They didn't reply to that!
Central Trains are to lose their franchise in the next 6 – 12 months! 


Just got back from Shrewsbury. I was intending to have lunch with Carol, but Superdrug struck again, and she wasn't able to get out for lunch.
While waiting at Crewe, it occurred to me how boring it now is! The diesel depot is closed and I didn't see one loco moving through the station. All Pendolinos , Voyagers , 175s , 170s , 158s , 153s & 323s . Dull, dull, dull. No wonder there was hardly anyone spotting.
I came across some pictures from 20 years ago, they showed new and refurbished locos coming off the works and loads of variety in locos and units!
Pendolino @ Crewe

Vintage Trains



We went to The Midland Railway, Butterley yesterday. A good day out for the enthusiast, not quite so for the the wife of one! Herself prefers the ones with the longer journey and better scenery!

It was good, however, to be able to travel in the Victorian Train. We went in a 4 wheel 3rd class coach. It was beautifully restored, but it would have been somewhat uncomfortable on long journeys!

Longport Station

Seems like Stoke City Council is trying to remind people that Longport and Longton stations still exist. There are posters on bus shelters round Hanley etc. to advertise the fact, which is to be commended.

All very well and good except that neither are, of course are, in Newcastle as it's a different Council. Longport is the nearest station to many people in the Borough.

Big Journey

While sorting out my old photographs today, I came across the ones I took 20 years ago today (Sgt Pepper taught the band to play…..!).
It was this day that I caught the following trains

  1. Etruria to Stoke
  2. Stoke to Euston
  3. Kings Cross to Edinburgh
  4. Edinburgh to Glasgow Queens Street
  5. Glasgow Central to Crewe
  6. Crewe to Etruria!

That was a great day’s line bashing. Couldn’t do it now of course, because Etruria is now closed and I don’t get free travel on the railways any more so it’d cost me a fortune!

Great day though!

Name a Train

Looks like one of the train operating companies is to name a locomotive with a Scouting name.
Naming a locomotive with a Scouting related name is not a new idea.

In the 1930's the London Midland and Scottish Railway named one of it's Royal Scot locomotives, number 6169, The Boy Scout. They also named one, number 6168, The Girl Guide.
In the 1950's British Railways named a Britannia class locomotive, number 70045, after the then current Chief Scout, Lord Rowallen.
I'm interested to know which TOC it is. How about 'The Scout'?

Settle & Carlisle

I'm quite surprised that Virgin are replacing trains between Preston and Carlisle by buses and not by diverting the trains by the S & C .
Although it would take a bit longer, it would be better than having to heard people onto a bus. I guess it has something to do with not having enough locos available – privatisation what a good idea!