Posted in Railways on Sunday 4th December 2005 at 11:34pm


In the words of one wistful crank on the unit back from Cardiff tonight: "I probably won't ever go to Rhymney again". Despite the apparent melodrama in this statement, an era will end next Saturday, and today we celebrated in style.

Out on the first train from Highbridge at 0905 after some deliberation and, now I think about it, some foolishness about not going to South Wales today. Hugely inconvenient times meant a long wait at Temple Meads and missing the first two trains off Cardiff. Met up with more Somerset cranks at Bristol and set off on the delayed 1040 to Cardiff, a mega-158 combo of no less than eight cars! Received some worrying family news after setting off, which left me a bit torn as to where to be for the remainder of the day. Took advice and stuck with it however, and after a quick run through the tunnel arrived in time to stock up on provisions before the 1156 to Rhymney arrived.

37425 'Pride of the Valleys' awaits departure from Caerphilly
37425 'Pride of the Valleys' awaits departure from Caerphilly

In order to try to vary our traction, and to travel with all the sets out working today, we started with a short hop to Caerphilly in the company of 37425 and 37419. Excellent running in bright sunshine, with a chance to take photographs on arrival. Somewhere on this trip we passed the 33 hauled set - something we seemed to do a lot, as we chased it up and down the valley! A short wait after the 37s had left for 37411 leading 50049 back to Cardiff Central. While we waited, a slightly aggrieved normal decided to ask what was so special about the train which "had completely ruined her day" - I think she was surprised by the vociferous answers she received! Once aboard, more speedy running with a check near Queen Street, then about half an hour to wander Cardiff and wait for the next train back up the valley.

We expected the same set in reverse, but were pleasantly surprised to see the 50s had been swapped at Canton, producing 50031 and 37411 back up to Rhymney. Once again, a fantastic run. Debated bailing at Bargoed for the Crompton, but once again it passed us seconds before we arrived! So, up to Rhymney with this set - and a delay awaiting the arrival and departure of a service train which arrived late and then had to clear the single line as far as Bargoed before we could move - the shape of things to come when DMUs rule this line perhaps?

37411 'Caerphilly Castle' at Cardiff Central
37411 'Caerphilly Castle' at Cardiff Central

Not a hope of a decent picture of the 50 at Rhymney due to truly huge crowds and lots of security and British Transport Police marshalling us around. Stayed with this set back to Caerphilly. A quick change of platforms here, in perfect time to see ex-DRS 33207 now in West Coast Railway Co. colours arriving with the set we'd been chasing all day. Hopped aboard for a spirited run back up the valley to Rhymney. No chance of pictures at Rhymney as the light began to fail, and just like always when I'm in the valleys, the rain began to fall. Good to see some traditions don't change.

Another DMU related delay at Rhymney with a similar wait before 47854 arrived back from the headshunt for our last trip back down to Cardiff. In my view, perhaps the best run of the day speedwise, despite the gloom turning into full darkness by the time we arrived back at Cardiff.

33207 on arrival at Cardiff Central
33207 on arrival at Cardiff Central

Watched 47854 lead the stock off to Canton before boarding the 1900 back to Bristol. The delay at Rhymney meant missing the 1830 and a long wait for a train home, but I was cold and happy with the day, despite the crowds and the light preventing much in the way of photography. The atmosphere was celebratory throughout, and I bumped into quite a few folks I knew during the day. A fitting send off for the last diesel-hauled daylight service trains in the national timetable.

Soon after arrival in Bristol, I was evacuated due to a full scale security alert at Temple Meads with armed police herding lots of angry punters off the concourse and into a cold and exposed spot on the approach road. There was it seems, a report of a male carrying a firearm in the station, which meant a full search by machine gun toting officers. So all stop through Temple Meads, with trains stacking up on the approaches. The process of searching and checking the platforms took quite a time, and the sound of some ECS moves in the station convinced people their trains were leaving without them which caused a near riot - which the young Police officer in situ dealt with very well. Finally got away on the 2107 about 55 late. A cold and tiring end to a fantastic day in the valleys.

I probably won't ever go to Rhymney again either.

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Posted in Railways on Friday 2nd December 2005 at 10:51pm


Once again, managed to slip out of work for a while for one of D1015s now almost regular visits to Weston. Arrived a little after 1100 to find Western Champion awaiting the departure of a unit from platform 2. A chance to get some shots, despite poor light and bleak skies. A fair turn out of enthusiasts for a weekday morning too. The 'Dunster by Candlelight' tour has become an interesting annual event now, but today was perhaps not quite the event which last year produced!

D1015 awaits departure on 1Z52, the 'Dunster by Candlelight' excursion
D1015 awaits departure on 1Z52, the 'Dunster by Candlelight' excursion

Bang on 11:11 D1015 thundered out of the station, leaving a trail of clag in its wake. Exhilarating stuff, and a reminder of why I go out in the cold when I could be safely tucked into my warm office! Other rail users have not been quite so lucky today.

Later, after another delayed Wessex journey home, I was wandering back from the Coopers Arms when I heard the tell-tale sounds of the Western passing on it's return trip. If I'd planned my times better I could have watched it pass Highbridge at speed. Still lots to get used to in my new location.

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Lost::MikeGTN

I've had a home on the web for more years than I care to remember, and a few kind souls persuade me it's worth persisting with keeping it updated. This current incarnation of the site is centred around the blog posts which began back in 1999 as 'the daylog' and continued through my travels and tribulations during the following years.

I don't get out and about nearly as much these days, but I do try to record significant events and trips for posterity. You may also have arrived here by following the trail to my former music blog Songs Heard On Fast Trains. That content is preserved here too.

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