History, Medway, Railway, Railways, Train, Trains

Medway Stations 3 – Chatham

Part 3 of my small potted history of my local stations contained within the Medway area.

Chatham station on its current site opened on the 25th January 1858 by the London, Chatham & Dover Railway.  This only took the line towards Faversham initially.  The station at this time comprised of 3 running platforms, one serving the ‘down’ line towards Faversham.  The other was an island platform serving 1 ‘up’ line and the other serving trio of loop sidings.  Above the lines, a road bridge crossed, which has stairs down to the platforms and the station building, at this stage at platform level.  The picture below shows a train on the ‘up’ line in 1939 (c)David Glasspool.

chatham 1939

The station is situated in a tight cutting, and flanked either end by the Chatham and Fort Pitt tunnels, seen below in two photographs from 2004 and 2006 (c)David Glasspool (the top being Chatham Tunnel)

Chatham_Tunnel

Chatham_fort pitt

Full running from Victoria to Ramsgate was realised from 5th October 1863.  Around this time a major remodelling of the station took place.  The main change was the addition of a main booking hall over the tracks on the road bridge, and the demolition of the original booking hall on the platform.  The sidings were mostly removed at this time, however two still remained adjacent to the ‘up’ and ‘down’ platforms respectively.

Electrification arrived in July 1939, including electric lighting to the platforms.  The mechanical signals were removed in 1959, replaced by 3 colour aspect signals, controlled from the new power box at Rochester.  Two years later, new buildings on the ‘up’ platform were completed and the station has not really changed since, except the replacement of the signals during 2013-2017.  Here is the station building photographed in 2004 (c)David Glasspool.

Chatham_2004

Chatham_2006

All photographs are not my own, but (c)David Glasspool.

For more detailed information on Chatham Station, head to Kent Rail Website.

To view my railway videos please visit Rainham Rail Enthusiast on YouTube.

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Many thanks for reading, I’ll blog again soon.

History, Medway, Railway, Railways, Rainham, Train, Trains, UK

WW2 – Upchurch railway disaster

A short re-telling of a local story.

On August 16th 1944, a V-1 ‘doodlebug’ rocket was chased by a Spitfire pilot from Dover.  After many unsuccessful attempts to shoot it down, he eventually managed to tip it with his wing, but unfortunately instead of landing in an empty field, the missile landed under the bridge of the railway line at Oak Lane, Upchurch.

It was found that a railway worker sheltering under the bridge was killed instantly.  The bridge was totally demolished in the explosion, and unfortunately the 1535 Victoria to Ramsgate was speeding towards it, having just left Rainham.  Despite the best efforts of the driver, the train encountered the now demolished bridge.  Amazingly the main cab jumped the gap but the tender fell into it and the first few carriages were heavily damaged.  In fact the 4th coach ended up straddling the gap completely.

In total 7 passengers lost their lives, they came mainly from the from the front two carriages.  Many were severely injured, and were taken to several nearby hospitals.  Miraculously the driver and fireman survived.

Being as this was the mainline through to the coast and up to London, after the investigations and clear up were completed,  a new bridge was constructed in November 1944 at a cost of £3,800.

Four pictures follow, the first from the Daily Mirror (Dated September 14th 1944) the second which has come from Rainham History website . The third and fourth are (c) Bob Ogley, and show the locomotive being transferred back to the tracks, and the bridge as it is today (picture c.1990)

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Please also visit My YouTube channel for railway related videos, including Mistydale Model Railway .

Many thanks – I’ll blog again soon.

History, Medway, Railways, Train, Trains, Trainspot, UK

Medway Stations 2 – Gillingham

Continuing the potted series on my local stations, the next one on the ‘up’ line from Rainham is Gillingham.

The station was originally opened as ‘New Brompton’ in January 1858, the main station building being situated on the ‘Down’ platform, being similar in structure to the one at Rainham.  This was demolished in 1973 and replaced by prefabricated buildings, housing staff accommodation.

A goods yard was provided on the ‘down’ side, to the east of the station. This had two eastward-facing sidings, one which ended behind the ‘Down’ platform. The second passed through a 45ft long goods shed.  In 1877, after an act of parliament the previous year, a branch line to the north was provided to gain access to Chatham Dockyard.  This passed through a cutting and over a bridge, terminating at the Dockyard.  It was around this time that a substantial goods shed with 3 lines was placed adjacent to the ‘up’ line to the east of the station.

In 1912, the name changed to “Gillingham”, and a year later the first of many re-models started.  Firstly the addition of a third set of rails next to the “up” platform, creating the now familiar island configuration of the ‘up’ platform.  Below is shown the “A” signal box, next to the up platform.  This remained in operation until the early 1970’s.

Gillingham_A_Box_1972

The Gillingham “B” signal box is below, next to the level crossing.  Also at this time the footbridge from which this photo was taken was built.  The spur to Chatham Dockyard can be seen on the right.

Gillingham_2004_4

An extension to the electric section of railway, from the already electrified section as far as Swanley, was agreed in 1935.  This would bring third rail operations as far as Gillingham, and the works were completed in 1939.  As previously talked about in the Rainham section, it would be almost 25 years until the rest of the south and south-eastern network would be electrified.  An EMU (Electric Multiple Unit) depot to the east of the level crossing was established, and EMU stabling commenced shortly after, something it continues to do today.

The 2nd station building, situated on the bridge over the railway is seen below.  It remained like this until a major reconstruction in 2011, when a new glass façade was built.

Gillingham_2006_2

1200px-New_Gillingham_Station_Front

In the early 1990s, a scheme centered around the “Networker” program meant a new building was built to the west of the level crossing signal box on the ‘Up’ side.  This building was meant to contain a new signalling centre, however after its completion in 1994, the building remained empty, only to house a railtrack archive centre.  Eventually though, due to the start of the ‘East Kent Re-Signalling Scheme’ in 2012, the building was fitted out with equipment.  It is now the main signalling hub for the North Kent area, with only a few signal boxes on the fringes of the area operational (including Folkestone and Minster).  It is known as the ‘North Kent Operations Centre’.

Pictures used here are not my own, but are from the following site, and owned by David Glasspool : (except the new Gillingham Station façade, (c) Wikipedia

Kent Rail – Gillingham

Videos of the rail network can be seen on my YouTube Channel

Many thanks for reading and stopping by, I’ll blog again soon.

Freight, Future, Grayling, Railway, Railways, Train, Trains, UK

UK Railway future overview

On Wednesday 29th November 2017, the government of the UK announced its vision for the future of the UK rail network.  After reading the publication myself, I will outline some of the proposals below.  Note these are only proposals, even though much press speculation in the UK before this publication hinted at an actual announcement of line re-openings and the such, none were set in stone in the report.

The all important funding question had pretty much been answered in October 2017, when the government announced that £34.7bn had been set aside for funding between 2019-2024 (in England and Wales, Scotland provides any investment separately).  This didn’t mean however that recently deferred projects, such as electrification would now go ahead.  Instead the report says there is a need to “prioritise and invest in essential work on the existing infrastructure”.  This may give some hope back to these projects, such as electrification to the south west line, but doesn’t specifically say so.

The issue of Network Rail, the organisation which looks after the infrastructure of the railway such as tracks and signalling was addressed.  The overall impression given by the report is to try to make Network Rails’ operation more regional, instead of centralised.  It is noted that this is where most problems have occurred because of the lack of local knowledge when planning engineering works.  By working closer with the Train Operating Companies (TOCs) in their specific region, and giving more control to the local teams, it is hoped a more streamlined and efficient timetable of works can be achieved on time.

The report also touches on developments in track signalling.  In what seems to be a hint at a major overhaul in the future, digital systems could be implemented.  These include:

  • c-DAS (connected-Driver Advisory System). A way to inform the driver en-route about potential route changes or speed restrictions in real time.
  • ETCS (European Train Control System).  Eliminates the need for trackside signalling, instead moving everything to the drivers cab.

Of the two listed above,, ETCS would only be implemented when current signalling comes to the end of their life.  This would mean a long wait for such a system here in Kent, as we have only just seen the end of the East Kent Signalling project.  However in 2015 funding was approved for ECTS signalling in Ashford, Kent, although an exact timetable is still to be approved.

With regard to “new” routes, the only concrete route planned is the previously announced restoration of service between Oxford and Cambridge, which will be undertaken by the East West Rail Company.  Other routes are discussed very briefly and are still deemed to be in proposal stage.  These include

  • Bristol to Portishead
  • Bristol to Henbury
  • Exeter to Oakhampton
  • Bere Alston to Tavistock

From a local point of view, many were hoping that the Uckfield to Lewes line would be mentioned in the report.  It isn’t, however after a question by Lewes MP Maria Caulfield Chris Grayling replied that “I would be delighted to see the route reopened, and I hope that the consortium pursuing the project will prove successful.”.  This presumably means that other national line reopening’s can be revisited, providing funding and feasibility can be achieved.

Ticketing was addressed in the report, with a definite lean towards “Smart Ticketing”, such as tickets on mobile.  Smartcard technology for short distance journeys, such as TFL’s Oyster Card, could be implemented on some routes.  Personally I still like a paper ticket, as the smart ticket relies on mobile connection and more importantly battery life!

It was good to see accessibility to the railway get a (albeit brief) mention in the report.  Access for all to the rail network is essential for everyone, regardless of any disability.  Not just step free access, but proper training for staff to deal with customers with accessibility needs.

Investment in Wi-Fi technology was also mentioned, with at least £35 million set aside for trials.  Many networks do have Wi-Fi enabled trains, and it is good to see that investment here was forthcoming.

As far as the franchises go, the company which controls the much maligned Southern Rail, Govia Thameslink, could be broken up.  Much has been said in the Media about this franchise, so my suggestion here is to access a search engine, read for yourself and make your own mind up!  As far as my region, SouthEastern, is concerned, a new joint team of Network Rail staff and TOC will take responsibility.  This is in conjunction to the paragraph earlier about Network Rail integration.  The new franchise here is due to be announced in 2018.  Other prospective franchises are detailed on page 36-38 of the report.

As a rail enthusiast, I have always felt that freight carried by rail is an integral part of the UK economy.  I was therefore glad to see a continuation of 2016’s rail freight strategy in the report.  This includes provision to provide funding for improvements to rail freight up to 2024.

In conclusion, the report does include many great ideas which, if implemented, will improve the UK Rail network.  Integration between the TOCs and Network Rail is a sensible move, as is the proposed improvement to track signalling.  It unfortunately stopped short of headline line re-openings, but did hint at willingness to do so.

The full report can be read HERE

Videos of mine can be found on my YouTube channel, Rainham Rail Enthusiast .  Thanks for reading, I’ll blog again soon.

 

 

 

 

Freight, Freightliner, Railway, Railways, Train, Trains, Trainspot, Trimley

Trimley (St Mary) – a hidden gem

Whilst looking for a place to spot Freight coming up from Felixstowe in 2014, I decided that the station in the village of Trimley St Mary would offer some great views of traffic coming up from the docks.  On visiting this small Station for the first time, I loved the location, however was perplexed at how the station building was in such a state of dis-repair.  It was then I decided to find out more, and stumbled upon a community effort to re-instate the building as a community hub.

Delving deeper into the history of the station, I learnt that the duel platform station did indeed have a working ticket office up to 1967, and had a working signal box up until 1988. Signal control is now carried out from Colchester.  The view east towards Felixstowe is shown below, where a class 66 is hauling an intermodal service, and a Abellio Greater Anglia service is leaving towards Felixstowe.  A further picture shows another intermodal service heading towards Felixstowe from the Footbridge overlooking the level crossing.

What I have not photographed (rather surprisingly) is the station building, which is a fantastic example of a “new Essex Style” building, and according to the Trimley station website is “one of only two to be built outside of Essex”.  It was conceived by the architect WN Ashbee, who also designed the station at Felixstowe.

Only Platform one can be accessed now.  The level crossing is monitored by CCTV and is fully automatic.  The footbridge really only acts as a short cut should the barriers be down, but does offer great views both east and west along the line, particularly west, where you can get great photos of the freight approaching the station.

Many walks can be found around the station, one especially which follows the line down to the Port of Felixstowe, very pleasant on a nice day.  A pub (the Mariners Freehouse) is a 15 minute walk away, and serves a very nice lunch (go up station road, turn left and keep on going!), as well as a newsagent at the same location which provides the usual snacks. A link to the Pub website is here :

The Mariners Freehouse Trimley

I highly recommend this location, as you can jump on a train to Ipswich the same day and view the Freightliner depot, as well as sample the delights of this small village and its station.

Please visit the Trimley Station Community Trust website to know more, they can be found at :

Trimley Station Community Website

Videos of my time at Trimley can be found on my YouTube channel, Click the link below.  Thanks for reading, I’ll blog again soon.

Rainham Rail Enthusiast Featuring Mistydale Model Railway

High Speed, History, HS1, Railway, Railways, Southeastern, Train, Trains

High Speed 1 – Phase 2 10th anniversary

The 2nd phase of the HS1 line was completed 10 years ago today (14th November), so here is a small history of this section, which I personally benefit from.

The 1st phase of HS1 was completed on 28th September 2003, and connected the Channel Tunnel to Fawkham Junction, located just past Gravesend.  This junction acted as a way to get Eurostar trains on and off the existing rail network, and these trains would then terminate at Waterloo.  However planning had always been in place for a further section of high speed rail which would terminate at St Pancras.  The award of the Olympic games to London hastened the need for the completion of this further section.

Connecting with the existing High Speed line, a new station, Ebbsfleet International was constructed.  This was in preference to a new station adjacent to the M2 between Chatham and Rochester, which was thrown out on environmental grounds.  Further up the line, via two tunnels, a new station at Stratford was built.  This would serve the Olympic park.  Also it would serve as a connection between the high speed line and an extensive national rail and underground service at the existing Stratford Station, which is a 10 minute walk away.

The line then goes through another tunnel, eventually terminating at one of 3 new platforms at St Pancras International – next to the platforms for Eurostar services.  Although these are adjacent, you are not able to gain access to Eurostar from these platforms.

This second section of line was opened on 14th November 2007, and marked the completion of HS1.  However only Eurostar services used the line to begin with, but plans were in place to enable the residents of Kent to benefit from the new line.  A fleet of high speed trains were built by Hitachi in Japan.

The design of these was based on Hitachi’s 400 series “Mini-Shinkansen” and “A-Train”, and were given the designation of a class 395 unit in the United Kingdom.  However the more common “Javelin” name is used for the units, which was given to them because of their affinity with the London Olympics.  The trains were built in japan and shipped to Southampton for final fitting.  In all there are currently 29, 6 car sets currently running on the Southeastern / CTRL HS1 network.

The trains are 6 car, with 340 seats per train.  A quick coupling system allows running of two sets at once, and this was used for almost all of the shuttle trains between Ebbsfleet International and Stratford International during the Olympics.  This configuration is also expected to be used more widely in the future, as all domestic stations on the route have been changed to accommodate 12 car trains.  This includes the new station at Rochester, and the new platforms at both Rainham and Strood.

The new “Javelin” began full service on December 13th 2009, and although initial take-up was slow, it is now a very busy service, both on the Ashford and Kent coast Via Medway routes.  A “Roundabout” service which officially runs as “St Pancras Intl to St Pancras Intl” runs from London, through Medway to Ramsgate and Folkestone, then up through Ashford and up to London.  To Avoid confusion, the route is however split up into sections on route boards at stations.

The Journey times between Kent at London have been cut by up to 45 minutes between Ashford and London, and the convenience of connections to the north of the country at Kings cross and St Pancras has made the line very popular.  Trains from the Kent coast via Faversham and Strood connect to the line at Fawkham Junction, where the trains move from third rail to pantograph operation.

Stratford International station has been criticised for being something of a white elephant, as only the Southeastern services stop there.  Plans have been talked about for some while to bring the German ICE trains to use the route, which would stop at Stratford International.  There is however no agreement still on when, or even if, these services will start (although in March 2017, Deutsche Bahn announced they would like it to start in 2020).  The station is still well used however, and the regeneration of the Olympic Park and Westfield shopping centre enable it to still be a viable station on the network.

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Videos of mine relating to Railways, can be found on my YouTube channel, just search “Rainham Rail Enthusiast” in YouTube.  Thanks for reading, I’ll blog again soon.