London Termini – King’s Cross

Signage in the underground station

King’s Cross; for a lot of people the station symbolises two very different train services. One steeped in history – The Flying Scotsman – the other pure fantasy – The Hogwarts Express. Whilst one is real and the other fictitious, it is fair to say that if you mention Kings Cross to many of the public, they will utter either or both of them.

A brief history

A practical station for a practical railway. That is how the Great Northern Railway saw it when they opened it in 1852. A station with a modest frontage, made from yellow London bricks and a wooden roof, complimented with two 100ft roof spans over the platforms. These roofs being supported by brick pillars, today in the centre of island platform 4 and 5.

Trains enter and leave the station via the Gas Works tunnel, which passes under the Regent’s Canal. A major goods yard for coal was also contained within the station, although this does not remain.

It looked totally at odds with St Pancras next door; that station when opened 16 years later was oozing with grandeur. A clock adorned the front of the building, and quirkily was rumoured to never have the same time showing as that of its neighbour at St Pancras. King’s Cross as a railway station, however, would for the majority of the next 150 years be the more successful of the two.

For all the footfall though, the station remained unloved for a long time. Indeed in the 1960’s, the square out front was partially covered with a new travel centre for British Rail. This however obscured the lower half of the original frontage, and looked at odds with it.

The quick view of the current station

In 2007, work started on a new concourse, and what a unique structure it is. A single rising 150ft “Diagrid” roof, underpinned at its base down 50ft. It spreads out like a metal web, encapsulating the new concourse with its shops and bars. The feeling of space even during the busy periods is amazing, and differing colours are sometimes projected upon it.

The travel centre was removed, enabling the square to be reinstated and the full frontage to again be seen. To the left side of said frontage, an entrance to the new concourse can be seen. Going through this, the superb new roof opens up in all its splendour. Immediately to your right are entrance gates to the platforms, to your left are escalators up to a mezzanine level This contains a seating area and eating and drinking places.

Going back down to floor level via the escalators on the other side of the mezzanine, if you turn right, you will see arrivals and departure boards, and underneath the new travel centre. To the left of the travel centre is the Harry Potter shop, with a photo opportunity platform 9 3/4 area.

Going under the mezzanine, more shops on both sides as you are then greeted with a glazed front, from which you can see St Pancras International. Stairs down to the Underground are also here, one of many access points to the labyrinth of tunnels which form King’s Cross St Pancras underground Station.

Pictures below were taken on 22nd January 2019, and thanks goes to the station manager and Network Rail for enabling me to photograph extensively on that date:

A view to the train sheds from the end of platform 10
The view from island platform 4 and 5, showing the train shed, the centre brick column being obscured by the light fixture.
The gasworks tunnels.
A view down roads 1 and 2, notice platform 0 to the left.
Clock situated on platform 1
A view down to platform 6
The fantastic canopy over the new concourse
The canopy. Note original station building behind.
The Harry Potter shop – the photo opportunity “Platform 9 3/4” is immediately right of this, and is always busy
The fantastic exterior, with the square in the foreground

Here is a video, also taken on the day, from my YouTube site :


Please also visit Rainham Rail Enthusiast on my Facebook page.

Please also visit Rainham Rail Enthusiast on my Instagram Page.


Many thanks for reading – I’ll Blog again soon.

Didcot Parkway Railway Station

P1020863

In September 2018, I visited Didcot Parkway Railway Station, on the Great Western Main Line.  A two fold visit actually, as I also visited Didcot Railway Centre on the same day.  I had wanted to come to this Station for a while, as I had seen on videos that the views were fantastic, and I must say I was not disappointed.

Opened in 1844, just named Didcot, the station was a major hub for the Great Western, with connections available to Oxford (the main reason for the station at time of opening).  There was also a line from here to Newbury and Southampton, however this was closed fully in 1967, passenger services being withdrawn some 5 years earlier.  The oxford line (known as “The Cherwell Valley Line”) still operates, and is accessed by the station as well as the “East loop” for through trains.

The imposing Didcot Power Station is seen looking to the west.  A loop for coal trains used to be in regular use, however after the closure of Didcot A, these ceased in 2013.  Much of the track for this loop has now been lifted, to facilitate construction of new warehouses.

The station was given a new station building in 1985, as well as a 600 space car park.  The station was renamed “Didcot Parkway” at this time.

A major redevelopment occurred in 2012, giving better access for disabled passengers, new CCTV and lighting plus better drainage on site.

Facilities here are the usual toilets, as well as lifts and a small “Pumpkin” Café which although well stocked, lacks a big seating area.

IMG_20180911_170133233

Services are plentiful.  Trains “down” to the West country stop on Platform 1, whilst fast services “up” to Paddington leave from Platform 2. Platform 3 carries primarily trains to Oxford, and Platform 4 carries the trains from Oxford to London Paddington, on a stopping service.  Platform 5 is used if Platform 4 is blocked for any reason, or for terminating trains from Paddington.

To the East of the station, extensive views can be had.  The “East Junction” is also visible here.

P1020853

A view to the west from platform 4 shows the covered area housing the café on platform 2-3.  The construction work here is to lengthen the station platforms to accommodate the longer class 800 trains, which are replacing the HST’s on the routes to the west.  Didcot Power Station is seen to the right in the distance.

P1020854

Passenger traffic is served by the new Class 800 “IET”, HST, 387’s and 165’s.  Vintage locos may also be seen leaving and entering Didcot Railway Centre , although these will most probably not be timetabled movements.

 

Freight is a regular sight at Didcot Parkway.  Intermodal services run regularly through the station, as well as other freight heading to and from Oxford using the “east” Junction.  These operations are mainly class 66, although the occasional class 70 or even 59 may be seen.  Some freight may pass though or be temporarily stabled at Foxhall Junction.

P1020865P1020875

All in all it was a great visit.  Lots of different traction, the only downside was the weather, which was overcast, windy and eventually drizzly.  However, the station is a fantastic place for photography and videography. I will return within the next couple of years, hopefully this time in the sunshine.  Below is a video taken on the day.

 


Please visit Rainham Rail Enthusiast on YouTube

Please visit Rainham Rail Enthusiast on Facebook

Please visit Rainham Rail Enthusiast on Instagram


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

Class 33 – ‘ Crompton ‘ – The Southern Diesel

As far as freight operations go in the South of England, there was only really one workhorse during the 1960’s 70’s and 80’s – the Class 33 “Crompton”.  The nickname came from the electrical equipment manufacturer used in the loco – “Crompton Parkinson”.  Very similar in looks to the class 26, the only difference being the inclusion of a 2 digit headcode indicator between the cab windows.

Originally for sole use in the South East of the region, Kent and Sussex, they rapidly became used throughout the southern region.  They were even used as passenger locos, most memorably on the Weymouth Harbour line.

These passenger services to Weymouth would be in a “push pull” configuration, starting at Bournemouth going down to Weymouth through the streets to the harbour.

The Class 33 has a top speed of 85 Mph, and frequently would work in pairs as “Double Headers” to facilitate longer freight trains.  In Kent, its speciality was primarily hauling freight, although it occasionally rescued failed passenger units.  Because of this, a few were stationed at some locations in the region.  Indeed, when the siding was still at Rainham (Kent), a ’33 could be seen stabled there during the 1970’s.  The loco’s would also provide freight runs further afield, notably cement trains from Cliffe in North Kent, up to Lanarkshire.

In this photo, taken by RMWeb member “eastwestdivide”, two 33’s are seen approaching Strood from the south with a Rake of empty stone carriers from ARC at Allington :

post-6971-0-00774900-1415733865

 (c) eastwestdivide – link Here

These locomotives, along with the British Rail 411 Unit (4 Cep) and variants “Slam Door” were the first trains I saw as a youngster, and the sight of a Class 33 would be extra special.  The noise and smell of these locomotives would fuel my passion for the railway, and as such I have a great fondness for them. They were superseded by the Class 66 in the late 1990’s.

Currently a few remain at Heritage centres around England, and three are owned by the West Coast Railway Company , who provide railtours in the UK.


Please visit Rainham Rail Enthusiast on YouTube.

Please visit Rainham Rail Enthusiast on Instagram.

Please visit Mistydale Model Railway on Facebook.


That’s all for now, thanks for reading and I’ll blog again soon.

Medway Stations 4 – Cuxton

Continuing my look at stations in the Medway area, this time I shall look at a small station on the Medway Valley line – Cuxton.

Cuxton Station was opened in 1856, and from the outset had two lines.  Two platforms served by an level crossing at the south end of the station allowed passengers to travel to Maidstone to the south, and Strood to the North.  In 1862, a signal box was erected adjacent to this level crossing, and is still there today (2018)

In 1931 a small siding was opened to the south of the station, trailing off the “down” line, which served a national business (Besto Co.) making fruit baskets. This was followed in 1939 with a goods loop installed to the north of the station.  Unfortunately, none of these sidings survive today, both having been removed by the end of 1990.

A footbridge was installed at the south end of the station in 1961, adjacent to the level crossing and the Signal box.  A note about the level crossing, as it is still manually closed  by the signalman at the time of this Blog (2018).  A really rare sight, and (unfortunately) I will assume this will become automated at some time in the future.

Two views from Cuxton in 2016 follow.  The first shows a light engine class 66, travelling on the “down” line towards Maidstone.  This view is to the north, and the bridges across the M2 can be seen, the nearest one being the HS1 line.

cuxton a

The second view is to the south, showing the signal box, overbridge and level crossing, as well as a stone train travelling on the “up” towards Strood.

cuxton b

Currently at Cuxton, there is only a PERTIS (permit to travel) machine installed here, the majority of the station buildings being disused for many years.  The station is served at this time by Southeastern, with 2 trains per hour (northbound “up” to Strood, southbound “down” to Maidstone (1 Tph continues to Paddock Wood, the other to Tonbridge). (correct as of June 2018)

A few freight trains run though the day, to or via Hoo Junction (to the north) or to the south, some of which come from or go to ARC sidings just outside Allington in Maidstone.  Freight is mainly hauled by class 66 locomotives, although some class 70’s have also been seen on the line.


Please visit Rainham Rail Enthusiast on YouTube

Please visit Rainham Rail Enthusiast On Instagram

Please visit Mistydale Model Railway On Facebook


That’s all for now, thanks for reading and I’ll blog again soon.

Banbury – Gateway To Almost Everywhere!

In the June of 2017, I visited Banbury Railway station, with a short trip to Heyford.  I had seen many videos from the station with its varied traction, but mainly wanted to see the Chiltern Railway services from London Marylebone to Birmingham,  some of which are class 68 / 67 hauled.  The day certainly didn’t disappoint.

Firstly a little history.  Banbury Railway Station opened in 1850 as Banbury Bridge Street Station, for the GWR.  At first it was just a single line station, but due to popularity was increased to double track a few years after opening.  Goods loops were also installed around the station, notably adjacent to the “up” line.  This also provided access to the LNWR route via another Station, Banbury Merton Street.  Further terminating bays and goods loops followed, cementing Banbury’s importance in the rail network.  In 1948 during nationalisation, the station was renamed Banbury General.

Banbury Merton Street closed in 1960, and with that Banbury General was renamed Banbury.  Some, but not all, of the goods loops around the station have subsequently been removed, and the station now has 4 lines, served by three platforms.

Many freight services pass through Banbury, mainly intermodal workings from/to Southampton.  Below are two images of Freightliner 66 501s working on the “Up” line from Southampton docks towards London.

fl again3fl again 2

The main current (2018) passenger services are as follows :

Chiltern Railways:

3 tph to London Marylebone 
2 tph to Birmingham Moor Street, 1 of which carries on to Birmingham Snow Hill

Cross Country:

Services to Bournemouth, Manchester, Reading and Newcastle

GWR

Cherwell Valley line services to Reading and Didcot Parkway

As you can see, it really is a gateway across a good part of the country!  The two pictures below are of Class 68 locomotives, on loan from DRS, on services to London Marylebone (top) and Birmingham New Street (bottom) for Chiltern Railways.

68 368 5

And here are a couple of Cross Country Voyagers, en route to Manchester and London respectively.

double vomit comet

I have also posted a video to my YouTube channel, and this can be seen below:

The station staff are friendly and are ok with photography / video work, obviously with the rules of the railway always being adhered to.  I really enjoyed my visit here, so much going on with all different types of traction, and hope to visit again in the future.


Please also visit Rainham Rail Enthusiast on YouTube

Please also visit Rainham Rail Enthusiast On Instagram

Please also visit Mistydale Model Railway On Facebook


That’s all for now, thanks for reading, I’ll blog again soon.

Stations Near Me – 1 – Sittingbourne

As a companion to my ongoing series of potted station histories in the Medway area, this blog subsection will concentrate on other stations near to where I live in Rainham (Kent). The first is Sittingbourne.

Sittingbourne station opened on the 25th January 1858, as part of the East Kent Railway (later to be merged with the South Eastern railway to form the South East and Chatham Railway). At this time, trains would terminate at Chatham and a horse and cart would transfer passengers to Strood, where they would join passengers on the South Eastern Railway.

The large and impressive station building is situated on the “up” line, with 2 platforms, the “down” side connected by a subway. Goods sidings at this time were adjacent to the “up” line, to the east of the main station building. In 1860, services to Sheerness-on-Sea commenced via a new line next to the existing down platform, making this platform an island type.

In 1899, a new footbridge linked the two platforms, complementing the existing subway. It was around this time that the station was also re-named “Sittingbourne & Milton Regis”, a name it was to retain until changed back to “Sittingbourne” in 1970.

The Southern Railway took over in 1923, The goods sidings on the “up” line were removed around this time. In its place, a small goods yard was installed to the side of the “down” platform. Serving primarily the paper mills, it also provided stabling for chemical trains going to Sheerness Steel in the late 20th Century.

Electrification at Sittingbourne came quite late in 1958 (the lines further west through Gillingham had been electrified since the late 1930’s). With electrification, the old semaphore signals were removed, with full electric light signals put in their place.

In recent history, a new bridge to the east of the station building was opened in April 2012. This included a lift for passengers. This was a great improvement on the situation before that, which required passengers who needed assistance to be taken across the tracks via a walkway with a member of station staff. A full refurbishment to the toilets and station building was also undertaken at this time, as well as new platform shelters. The subway was blocked in the early 2000s.

The station building is the oldest piece of railway architecture surviving in the area.

Incidents:

Three major incidents have occurred either in or near the station:

1861 : A derailment just outside the station causing 1 death.

1878 : A collision within the station as a passenger train ran into static goods vans. The fault for this was attributed to the goods shunter. 5 People died.

1966 : 18 vans of a freight train de-railed just past western junction on the “Down” approach to the station. This caused extensive damage to the infrastructure and closure of the entire line for two days. Thankfully there were no casualties.


Some information contained is this blog was obtained from the KentRail Sittingbourne Page .

Photographs (c) David Glasspool and Stacey Harris


Videos I have taken can be found on the RainhamRailEnthusiast YouTube Page.

My model railway has a Facebook page, click to view Mistydale Model Railway .

You can also follow me on Instagram : @RainhamRailEnthusiast

and Twitter : @RainhamRail


Many thanks for reading this Blog instalment – goodbye and I’ll Blog soon.

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.  The “A” signal box was next to the up platform.  This remained in operation until the early 1970’s.

The Gillingham “B” signal box is next to the level crossing, and also at this time the footbridge beside the level crossing was built.  The spur to Chatham Dockyard was situated to the west of the crossing, branching off of the ‘down’ line.

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, remained until a major reconstruction in 2011, when a new glass façade was built.

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’.

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

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