I've added more images to my Local Railway Photos Page 2 and 3 and I will shortly sort through my wagon photos and add new ones to existing sections.
Some news to report is that the new Freightliner HIA hoppers are now in traffic running from Tunstead and the refurbished FLHH JGAs can also be seen in the area. Perhaps this means that the LaFarge PGAs and Four FLHH HHA hopper have now been replaced with the new wagons. I will have to go up and see what is running at present.
Hello, whilst I have not had the opportunity to update the website for a while, I have made occasional visits to Peak Forest and Earles Sidings since my last news update. The PGAs continued in service until the introduction of the refurbished JGAs that Freightliner Heavy Haul (FLHH) has acquired and quickly returned to traffic with an overhaul and repaint at W H Davis. These JGAs will mainly work the West Burton flow but information suggests that they have been used on Freightliners other new flow.
The contract to move limestone from Tunstead to Ratcliffe Power Station was awarded to Freightliner and started running with green engines from sometime in May. It still operates using the BLI JGA hoppers and GE Capital KPA hoppers but has been seen with the new FLHH JGAs. Booked to run Tuesdays and Thursdays at present.
Another new FLHH flow that may originate from RMC Dove Holes is stone in MJA twin bogie box wagons to Luton. Similar flows exist to Hitchin and Lincoln from Dove Holes.
Peak Forest is the place to be if you want to see members of the remaining class 60 fleet which have been severly affected by EWS so-called master plan. Such is the intensive and heavy services that operate out of the Peak District area means that most services are in the hands of the remaining class 60s - you could in theory see 25-50% of the active fleet in just one day alone. Class 66s tend to be used on the shorter services like the Dowlow-Ashburys stone, Bredbury and Northenden GMWA Binliners and the Enterprise feeder services. Putting it into context, the 2500+ tonnes Tunstead-Northwich loaded Brunner Mond JEAs would need two class 66s to sucessfully haul it otherwise the trailing load would have to be reduced by at least 10 wagons to 1550 tonnes !
Yes, those squeaky rust-buckets are back in town ! That is the motley collection of CAIB owned ex-Yeoman and ARC liveried wagons which were used on the Tunstead-Northwich limestone traffic. They have now returned to the Peak District following the commencement of a new flow for Freightliner Heavy Haul to convey crushed limestone from BLI Tunstead to West Burton power station for Gas De-sulphurisation use. This is not a new flow as it was previously operated by EWS using their ex-National Power JHA/JMA bogie hoppers on a split Drax and West Burton power stations service. The service runs each weekday except Wednesday and there is an additional Saturday morning departure from Tunstead (perhaps held over from Friday evening ?).
I observed 66608 with 32 of the PGAs arriving at Peak Forest on the 17th March. The wagons are still in the same shabby colours with patches and after a few years in and out of storage look a bit worst for wear. Later at 1430 the train was noted awaiting its booked departure slot from the recently reinstated loop at Peak Forest. The train finally departed at 1705 and not long after, 66615 arrived with 18 MJA FLHH open bogie box wagons. These wagons are paired together by means of a permanent bar coupling. This train is another new flow which serves Lincoln and Hitchin from RMC Dove Holes.
Also noted on this day was the loaded Tunstead-Ratcliffe BLI JGAs/GE KPAs; Bletchley-Peak Forest RMC empties; empty BLI Cement JGAs returning to Tunstead; Ashburys-Dowlow empty MEAs and Dowlow-Peak Forest loaded return MEAs and the Acton-Peak Forest empty Hanson JHAs.
I have received news that the BLI Cement service to London Willesden commenced on the Monday 17th January with the second train running on Friday 21st. Although the service is booked to depart Tunstead at 2302 it does not arrive at Willesden until the following morning. At present the Monday-Tuesday outward train is booked to run out from Tunstead via Hazel Grove then Northwich and down to Crewe where it runs down the WCML to London arriving at 0517. The Friday-Saturday service is currently subject to diversion via Bescot and Coventry away from the Trent Valley route which is closed for engineering works each weekend. This arrives later at 0557. The return trip on a Tuesday departs Willesden and runs back the route it came whereas the Saturday return is I believe booked to run from Willesden via the West/North London lines to gain the Midland Main Line near Cricklewood then run all the way to Dore where it turns off to take the Hope Valley line back towards Tunstead. This may alter to run back via the diverted route to Stafford.
Another development has seen the start of the Northwich Salt Mine Stabilisation scheme. The first train of Fly-ash ran from the Potter Group terminal at Selby to Winnington on Tuesday 25th January and was conveyed in 14 MBA bogie box wagons and hauled by a class 66. A mechanical grab was used to unload the wagons. Footage of this was shown on BBC North-West. It would seem that the train was routed via Diggle, Man Victoria, Warringto BQ and Hartford. The other inbound flow of cement is believed to be coming in by road. EWS is having 16 former TEA bogie petroleum tanks owned by VTG, Elf and BP Oil refurbished at Marcroft Stoke for the brine traffic from Winnington to Middlewich. These are being numbered in the 870001-016 series and coded CTA in pool 3029. Seven of the wagons had been completed by the end of January and they are outshopped in EWS Maroon livery. More info will be added soon.
The flow of stone from Dowlow to Northenden has started operation on Wednesdays only at present. If the times have not altered then it may run in these slots as 6H61 1354 Dowlow to Northenden arrive 1608 and passing Chinley North Jnc. at 1545 and Hazel Grove HL Jnc. at 1556. The return times are 6H64 1926 Northenden to Peak Forest arrive 2107 with a run-round at Skelton Jnc. 1940-2015, pass HGHLJ 2040. There was also a 6H53 Dowlow d.1715 to Northenden a. 2005 and return 6H64 Northenden d. 2340 to Peak Forest a. 0106 rr Skelton Jnc. 2354-0024, pass HGHLJ 0041 service listed in the WTT.
It has been reported that Freightliner have been route learning for a new flow of stone from Topley Pike to Liverpool Edge Hill, though it is more likely to be Tunstead as quarrying at Topley Pike is severly restricted. This service is reported to have started running in November 2004.
Some recent developments concerning the Sundays operation of the Brunner Mond limestone hoppers to Northwich. Late last year, Network Rail gave notice to EWS and Brunner Mond that they wanted the Sunday service to cease operation. The main reason was due to the problem of routing the train when the WCML weekend engineering works were in force. Information from a colleague suggested that the last Sunday service would operate on Boxing Day, 26th December 2004. That day was cold and crisp with a covering of snow on the ground. Knowing that the signalboxes along the route weren't due to open until 2pm, the opportunity for a photograph of the last Sunday operated hoppers was not to be missed. Sadly, operational misunderstandings at EWS Control meant that the train only left Peak Forest at just gone 4pm and it didn't pass Hazel Grove until about 4.45pm by which time it had gone dark.
To compensate for the loss of the Sunday service, it is intended to operate an additional train on Tuesdays or Thursday afternoons in the same timeslot as the afternoon trains booked for Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Thursday would seem to be the favoured choice as it is nearer the weekend but time will tell.
In the week between Christmas and New Year all weekday services were booked to run twice per day but a late change saw the Sunday service reinstated and hence the final Sunday hoppers ran on the 2nd January 2005.
I have not had any confirmation to say that the BLI Cement tanks have started the new Willesden service as yet nor any further news of the Northenden stone flow. The Northwich salt mines stabilisation scheme should start sometime this year and at the moment the only inbound commodity will be fly-ash with cement coming in by road. Outbound tanks of brine will be sent to Middlewich for processing.
A Pathfinder railtour is due to visit the Buxton area on Saturday 26th February. It is booked to run with just seven coaches top and tailed with EWS class 37s. The tour starts from Birmingham then runs to Crewe, Chester, Liverpool, Manchester, Rose Hill Marple where the tour reverses before travelling via Guide Bridge, Stockport, Whaley Bridge and arriving at Buxton. After a short break the train continues and traverses Ashwood Dale then past Tunstead and Peak Forest before plunging into Dove Holes tunnel. After rejoining the mainline at Chinley, the tour heads back to Crewe via Hazel Grove, Northenden, Northwich and Middlewich. Guess who is already booked on this tour...... ?!! Should be fun.
I've not had many chances to goto Peak Forest as of late and I apologise for the lack of news. The BLI cements seem to have settled down into a regular slot running to a two-weekly timetable whereby in week one the tanks run upto two times to one terminal e.g. Walsall on Monday and Friday and once to the other terminal i.e. Leeds on the Wednesday. In week two the two terminals swop so that Walsall is only served once and Leeds served twice. Both services have been running with a maximum of 27 tanks but more recently this has been reduced to around 15 tanks. When the third terminal at Willesden is completed soon, the wagon utilisation will be recast again so that two trains will run on each day Mon, Wed and Fri serving two of the three terminals.
The RMC stone flow to Acton Yard in west London has gained permanent pathing headcodes : 6M34 ThO Acton - Peak Forest (arr mid afternoon) and 6V58 ThO 2202 Peak Forest - Acton (arr Friday morning). Booked to operate with a rake of Foster Yeoman JHAs with a class 60 or 66. Another new flow that has just started from RMC Dove Holes is a Freightliner Heavy Haul service to Hitchin running as 6E99 Peak Forest - Hitchin and thought to depart on Wednesday evening and arrive at Hitchin on Thursday morning. The return working seems to lay over at Barrow Hill before continuing onto Peak. This train uses the MJA bogie box wagons and could be a replacement for the ill-fated service to Wymondham.
It would seem that two Class 08 shunters owned by RT Rail have been moved to Brunner Mond at Winnington in readiness for the new subsidence stabilization scheme which is due to start soon. It is believed that the cement will be brought in by road not rail but the fly-ash will be brought in using the PFA coal containers possibily from an Aire or Trent valley coal-fired power station. The Northenden terminal has been tidied up and some attention given to the trackwork and points, so this may start receiving stone from Dowlow in the near future.
Almost all of the trackwork at Peak Forest has been renewed during the past two months at the weekends but the area remains under traditional semaphore signalling.
Photos of the demolished bridge can be found here along with recent photos of freight in the Peak District area.
A quick note on my visit to Peak Forest and Great Rocks today (Wed). One major event which has occured in this area is the removal of the Occupation Overbridge between Peak Forest South and Great Rocks. This was Bridge No. 90 in the Midland Rly register and was locally known as Upper End Bridge but also nicknamed Pipeline bridge by virtue of the ICI pipeline which ran across it on framework. There are two reasons for its removal firstly that it was no longer needed since the pipeline was seemingly disused and secondly that it was in the way of a scheme to bring the Up and Down Through Siding back into regular use. This line fell into disuse after it was discovered that a drainage culvert had collapsed beneath the track. The track had been replaced and renewed as part of a scheme to improve this section of line which has suffered from flooding. So, by repairing the culvert and raising the trackwork to a higher level would mean one thing. The bridge would be in the way and so it was decided to remove it. My informant tells me it wasn't as straight forward as you might think, since the bridge was actually owned by Tarmac/BLI who took over the land from ICI Mond. Eventually some agreement was made and the bridge was demolished sometime around 31st July/1st August weekend. The drainage repair and trackworks will start soon and last four weekends so it should be something to look out for. I will post some pictures of the site of the bridge. One advantage is that you can now see trains approaching from the Great Rocks or Peak Forest directions.
More photos of the BLI Cement tanks obtained; ex-NP coal hoppers in use on afternoon Tunstead-Bredbury stone flow, West Burton-Tunstead stone flow also using mix of ex-NP limestone and coal hoppers; Freightliner 66610 shuttling PGAs and HHAs from Earles Sdgs to Dowlow and back; Hanson JHA hoppers arrived at RMC Dove Holes behind 66123 for loading - new service from/to Acton, west London; 60 on 6F67 Enterprise and more to come !
A visit to Chinley South on the afternoon of Wednesday 18/8 produced an unexpected
selection of wagons including two rakes of the former National Power hoppers
now owned by EWS. First up was 60074 at 1550 on what I believe was a Drax to
Tunstead (from Sheffield direction) working with the following 16 hoppers in
19414/419/415/401/417/418/416/408/411/405/400/19609/658/19412/407 and 410 so 14 JHAs and 2 JMAs.
About ten minutes later 60021 appeared with another rake of ex-NP hoppers heading towards Chinley/Manchester and stopped on signals for ten mins;
19632/660/681/666/642/653/671/640/662/611/628/630/638/631/667 and 645 so 16 JMAs.
Does anyone know what working this was - all were empty. I did hear of a trial load of coal/coke to Tunstead using HTAs a month or two back. Could this be related. Answers please !
Later at 1657, 60012 crawled past with the empty 6M82 Walsall-Tunstead JGA
cement tanks which were:
11706/710/716/715/723/728/724/727/701/719/707/703/720/722/704/725/711/712/717/729/730/721/705 and 718 which is 24 tanks.
I was fortunate to see the 6F67 Dowlow/Peak Forest to Warrington Arpley 'Enterprise' service pass through Hazel Grove on Tuesday 24th August behind GWR Green 60081 which had a mix of 6 JAA and JIA bogie covered hoppers in tow, then empty TTAs, 2 RMC JHAs 17224 series and tagged on the back were two EWS BRA covered steel carriers ! I don't know what these two BRAs were doing but it certainly made it even more worthwhile the wait.
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