You have to be in tune with Scottish politics to understand this one…

July 30, 2016









By Chris Cairns –

Via Wings over Scotland.


The real Spanish veto threat

July 22, 2016

Reblogged from ‘Wee Ginger Dug’, someone who REALLY knows about Spanish attitudes towards Scottish independence.

I wasn’t going to blog today because I’ve got a bad case of manflu, which is like a regular cold only with additional histrionics, drama, and attention seeking. So very much like the La…

Source: The real Spanish veto threat

Class 73s on the Highland line.

July 22, 2016

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For the first time in ages, I have been able to catch up with the Highland Line Sleeper, the 1S25 Euston-Inverness service. I had heard reports that double-headed Class 73/9s had finally taken over from Class 67s to hear that they tend to overheat on the steeply graded Highland Line. The current traction arrangement north of Edinburgh Waverley as of July 21st is to use GBRf Class 66s for traction with a single Class 73/9 tucked inside to provide power for the train (Class 66s are freight locomotives and unable to provide power for on-train systems).

I was not sure of meeting this particular working on this beautiful morning (unfortunately, I was not heading off into the mountains but to a photo-shoot in Kirkaldy). 1S25, the northbound Caledonian Sleeper service from London Euston, managed to loose 85 minutes between Willesden West London Junction and Watford Junction on the night of 20th July when I checked its progress the night before. It must have been a lively ride up the West Coast Main Line because it appeared to make up 70 minutes by the time it arrived in Edinburgh Waverley! Arrival in Aviemore the next morning was eight minutes early, nearly catching me out (the south bound 1B08 06.50 Inverness-Edinburgh was 15 minutes late at Aviemore which allowed the 1S25 to advance against it and cross at Aviemore instead of Kincraig loop).

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In a way, it is fascinating to see such a Southern Region thoroughbred in regular service here in the Highlands, despite the awful modifications made to it. Still, it retains its third-rail collector shoes (and flash guards) and the boxy but classic shape of the class is still there to be seen. Class 73s in their original form had it where it counted – under the body! The Caledonian Sleeper is a long way from this Class 73’s  original home in the south and the Highland line is a very different situation for such locomotives, no matter how well they have been rebuilt, compared to the third-rail routes of the former Southern Region.

Night photography at East Croydon

July 20, 2016

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Staying with the theme of recent posts, that of night photography on Southern Region territory, East Croydon was a particularly good spot for available light imagery of the intensive flow of trains that use the Brighton line. The lighting at East Croydon is just right, with the platform lights of Platform 3 below the roof level of the train. Those on the platform on which the photographer is standing (me!) are not causing too much reflection on the side of the train. The picture is of a ‘4 Big’ slam door EMU working a fast Victoria to Brighton service calling at East Croydon only (headcode 4).

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The second picture, taken on the same wet evening, is a Class 319/1 dual voltage EMU in original condition. It was working a fast Bedford to Brighton service which calls at Gatwick Airport as well as East Croydon. Note the pantograph vehicle which enables the unit to operate over the 25kV AC electrified Midland Main Line north of the Thameslink tunnels which link the third-rail network south of the Thames with the 25kV AC OHLE line to Bedford to the north of London.


Night shots – Orpington circa 1990

July 19, 2016

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Low light and night photography using available light is often the only way to continue taking photo on a winter day when the daylight hours are far too short. Regular colour slide film can struggle to cope with long exposure photography resulting in particularly high levels of grain, problems with hot spots of light (from platform lighting), colour balance and various other aberrations. This pair of shots taken at Orpington on a wet winter night are not too bad – at least they are reasonably sharp. Photoshop helped with colour balance and other plugins assisted with excessive grain. The picture is of ‘2EPB’ and ‘4EPB’ suburban units berthed between runs at the end of the evening peak.

Oh for a decent DSLR in those days. I was young, could not afford a top notch camera and slide film was eked out as that too was expensive, even though it was pretty poor in performance. You did your best at the time!

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Another Class 205 DEMU at Crowborough…

July 18, 2016

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Headcode 88: London Victoria – Uckfield via Oxted with No. 205028 leading a second Class 205. This is a three-car Class 205 DEMU ‘Thumper’ which regularly saw use on the direct London services serving Uckfield (with No. 205018 and 032), of which there were two a day in each weekday peak.

The shot was taken on a cold January night  – I love the challenges of low light photography, be it under station canopies as in the earlier shot of ‘4 Cep’ 1602 or in complete darkness as seen in the Crowborough shot above. My night imagery is not always successful – the failure rate is pretty high. Part of the problem (and challenge) of photographing railways at night is having enough time to get a couple of long time exposure shots in before the train starts to move…or someone walks in front of the camera, not realising you are in the middle of a 28 second shot or there’s too much flare from station lighting.

I will be updating ‘Brexit’ and iScotland/IndyRef2 related stuff on my Facebook page from now on:

‘4 Cep’ (41)1602 at London Victoria.

July 18, 2016

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As a bit of light relief from ‘Brexit’ politics and where Scotland fits in with the EU at this time and in the future, I have taken to trawling through some of my slide collection to look for images of BR (SR) slam door EMUs. The picture is of ‘4 Cep’ No. 1602, one of Ramsgate Depots ‘Magnificent Seven’ fleet of ‘4 Ceps’, a term coined by the small band of enthusiasts that chased them all over Kent in their last years of operation. This shot was taken in November 2002 shortly before this small fleet of survivors of very run down units was finally withdrawn together with the remaining ‘3 Cep’ in the (41)11xx number sequence.