Genoa – when road building gets out of control.

August 17, 2018

A time comes when road planning and building has to be better controlled – the impact that this one bridge in Italy has had on local people even before its collapse (whatever the reasons) is quite unbelievable. Look at the pictures on RTÉ here…

Engineers and planners have to take more responsibility over road design and even that is apparently not the case even today when one looks at the awful proposed routes for the Nairn bypass and lack of concern for local road users. Local people simply don’t count as far as engineers and planners are concerned – build roads regardless of the cost, environmentally and socially. Roads need a great deal of careful environmental evaluation, particularly major trunk routes through densely populated urban areas, particularly where they impact on ordinary people.

Maastricht and the Limburg Region of the Netherlands, at least, recognised and managed a totally unacceptable situation with the A2 (E25) which divided the eastern segment of the city from the rest for years with this solution:

Since its completion, the city of Maastricht has been transformed. Will the Italians, for the sake of the local people, be prepared to come up with such a forward-looking and innovative solution to that awful bridge?


13th August.

August 14, 2018

13th August 1905 was an important day for Norway – it held an independence referendum after a constitutional crisis arose which effectively dissolved the union between Norway and Sweden. Whilst there was some hard negotiating after the vote, Sweden eventually recognised Norway’s independence. 113 years later and Norway is flourishing. There’s another oil-rich nation close by with a similar population size but a less challenging geography which, if the folk could just see it, could also flourish equally as well. All it takes is to get all of the powers of a sovereign independent state to the Scottish parliament at Holyrood and I am sure the people of Scotland would do the rest.

Old style DRS livery on No. 37 261.

August 13, 2018

Another N gauge model which is a smart move by Graham Farish is the re-issued Class 37/0 Series 2 as No. 37 261 finished in original DRS colours. This model will fit nicely in a layout theme based on privatisation from around 2004 when it ran in the depicted livery after its short spell with West Coast Railways. Traffic included nuclear flask traffic and Autumn rail head treatment trains (RHTT). It was later re-liveried with DRS ‘compass’ markings and some changes to its external fittings on the bonnet fronts.

It’s a poplar livery for Class 37s making this both a useful model and one that will be desirable too.

Posing on Dudley Heath for photographs: the model has NEM coupling pockets, directional running lights and a 6-pin interface socket. The bonnet front detail, including the long hand rails, are correct for the locomotive when finished in the featured version of DRS livery.

Six-axle drive and a frame mounted motor with twin flywheels gives the model a lot of haulage power – more than enough for a short train of FNAs (in multiple with another locomotive), Network Rail test train or RHTT workings. As a point of interest, during the 1980s this locomotive, together with No. 37 260 became firmly established as Scottish Region locomotives being allocated to Inverness in 1982 after a short spell at Eastfield. No. 37 261 was equipped worked the Far North and Kyle line trains on a regular basis and was named ‘Caithness’ in June 1985.

Catalogue number is 371-471 with a release date of August or September 2018. Priced at £129.95.

“Evening Star’ – Class 66-style!

August 13, 2018

Due for release about now (August/September 2018) is the Graham Farish N gauge Class 66 finished as GBRf No. 66 779 ‘Evening Star’. Named after the 9F locomotive of the same name, the choice of name was made with this particular EMD Class 66 being the last to roll off the production line in common with the last BR Standard 9F No. 92220 which was also the last steam loco to be built by BR. The model is supplied with an authentic livery, detailing parts and a full set of etched nameplates. The real No. 66 779 is destined for the National Collection when it is finally retired from service in around 40 years or so – that’s if there is any freight traffic left in the UK for it to work.
The model is based on the more advanced Class 66 design with the modifications applied to the low-emission version of the locomotive. The full size locomotive was delivered in February 2016.

The model is one of six different Class 66s featured in the Graham Farish 2018 catalogue which includes DB Schenker No. 66 101; EWS No. 66 111; Freightliner No. 66 416; Colas Railfreight No. 66 846; DRS No. 66 434 and the featured model of GBRf No. 66 779. A great choice for the modern locomotive enthusiast.

Dudley Heath is a useful layout to pose models on under the OHLE. Whilst the base livery of BR loco green is dark and risks blending in with background scenery, the various livery embellishments such as lining and markings sets this model off nicely. It is equipped with working lights, 6-pin DCC interface, all-wheel drive, NEM coupling pockets and additional fittings supplied in the box including the lower sections of the buffer beams. The ‘heritage’ or ‘celebrity’ livery will make the model attractive to collectors as well as modellers.

Catalogue number is 371-398 and with a suggested retail price of £134.95.

New addition to the Class 47 fleet…

August 7, 2018

Bachmann’s model of No. 47 209 ‘Herbert Austin’ (31-663) is a very useful model for renumbering to other Class 47s in the Railfreight Distribution fleet, featuring a common underframe tank, cab head code box light and boiler port arrangement. Strangely enough, there is a spare Bachmann model of No. 47 365 ‘Diamond Jubilee’ in the collection which has the correct underframe tank and other detail combination to model No. 47 209 in life extended condition, leaving me to renumber and weather the featured No. 47 209 (31-663) to another Class 47 in mid-life condition whilst retaining the nicely applied RfD livery. Both will go into service on my Folkestone East layout. The rolling road seen in the first picture is an excellent KPF Zeller product distributed in the UK by Ten Commandments Models.

37 049 ‘Imperial’.

August 7, 2018

A touch of Trainload Freight Coal colour is due soon from Bachmann in the form of Class 37/0 No. 37 049 ‘Imperial’ (32-790) as it ran in Scotland in the late 1980s, having been allocated to Motherwell in the mid 1980s after a long spell on the Eastern Region. The real loco worked trains relating to the coal and iron ore flows to Ravenscraig steel works, at one time being renumbered in the special pool where Class 37s carried 37 3xx numbers. The approximate date for this model is 1988-89 with red backed nameplates and round instead of oval buffers.The model is an interesting one, with split head code boxes and modelled end door detail.It was not long before the real loco’s appearance was changed with black headcode box covers, black backed nameplate, Motherwell depot plaques and round buffers. It did not run for long in any variation of Trainload Coal livery before its allocation to Immingham and repainting in Engineers yellow grey livery.



July 29, 2018

As I become a little older but not that more mature, the wander-lust becomes stronger, more compelling. Once again, Sarah and I were drawn to Europe, this time with a trip to the most unlikely of destinations: Maastricht in the Limburg region of the Netherlands; the northern part I know from my childhood days. A beautiful city with a fascinating history and a compelling position in Europe, both in terms of the European project (EU), which I fully support, and geographically.

As a break from my usual photographic work, I took a small pocket camera and wish I hadn’t – far better results would have been achieved with my big Canons, with large lenses with their large glass elements. However, I was supposed to be on holiday and it was hot – those cameras are heavy whilst the pocket one fitted neatly, well, in a pocket!

There’s something compelling about European culture, as diverse and rich as it is. The Vrijthof in Maastricht – café culture takes on a whole new meaning in this part of the world.

Another good reason to visit Masstricht in July are the André Rieu concerts with the JSO – just a perfect way to spend nearly three hours in the Vrijthof on a hot summer evening…perfect music, fantastic atmosphere and the JSO is a great orchestra. This year, the concert opened with a big favourite: ‘Dark Eyes’.

Unfortunately, this trip has not put a lid on the wander-lust, not even for a short while. Europe beckons and as in the famous Kraftwerk song ‘Europe Endless’, it is  On changing trains in Utrecht Centraal on Platform 18 for a Maastricht service, we heard an announcement for the 15.07 ICE to Frankfurt Main HbF calling at Arnhem, Oberhausen, Duisburg, Dusseldorf, Köln HbF, Frankfurt Flughafen and Frankfurt Main HbF – arriving on Platform 19. Makes you think…there’s a lot to explore and most of it can be done by train and trans-Europe train travel is normal and affordable.

We returned to the news that Brexit has descended into further chaos – a sharp contrast to the relaxed and confident atmosphere of the Europeans. It makes the wander-lust all the more compelling. I am now not sure what the future holds for us in a post-Brexit UK…