Wednesday, 14 December 2011

The North Wind Doth Blow

Well allright, it came from the West but boy did it blow and rain on Monday night.
The problem with an old building is always the roof but ours stood up to the storm force winds pretty well, with only two cracked panes out of the 4000 odd up there.

Its a big roof and keeping it in good order is a bit like painting the Forth Bridge (used to be). Each of the four bays has 800 8 x 3ft panes of glass, whilst the overall roof area is 40,000 square yards.

On the ground, the Works looks more and more like an MPD, with 57s and 73s in every corner. We expect to see more of them as the cold weather starts to bite later in the week.

All we've got to do is last out the storms that are forecast for the weekend

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Happy Birthday to us, Happy Birthday to us, Happy Birthday dear Eastleigh Works, Happy Birthday to us.

On the 11th December 2006 the first train to arrive at the newly reopened Eastleigh Works, courtesy of GBRf and Angel Trains.

The train consisted of 4 x 153 , numbers 302, 308, 355 and 374

We will have to celebrate this in 2012 I think

Monday, 5 December 2011

adieu to old friends

Last week we said goodbye to the 150s we have had in store. Smart looking units, its a nice way to start the 60th month since I first took the place on. Back then it was 153s and 158s from Wales and Wessex that turned up, shortly before Christmas 2006.

It was a very different site then, with new shiny transit vans infesting the place like parasitic growth, and rusty rails leading into eerily quiet workshops. Contractors were busy ripping out tracks at the back end of the Works and there were still a few Alstom bods holed up in the main office building.

Of course its easy to be wise in hindsight, and I always thought that the Works had a good future. Yet despite all of that, I don't really think I gave much thought to how things would pan out at Eastleigh, other than thinking that it had a good chance of survival, even if it didn't make any money.

The truth is of course that a good idea has its own momentum and its sometimes easy to forget just how green I was back then. I didn't know anybody at Arlington Fleet or Siemens and was just concentrating on storing 442s and 15X units for my friends at Angel.
Now the Works is once again a proper engineering centre and storing units seems to be a little straightforward and run of the mill, compared with the great things that happen in the main shops.
I never thought that I would get underground trains on site and yet last week I was happily driving an ex Victoria Line unit up and down the yard under its own power.
I also didn't anticipate the recession of 2008, or the fact that Eastleigh would have to stand on its own two feet from 2009 onwards, rather than be a satellite of our Shoebury operations.

The transit vans are long gone, the demand for posh vans having never recovered from the Banking crash of 08. Shoebury is now a clear of any commercial activity and staggers on under the dead hand of MOD management. Yet Eastleigh continues to grow from strength to strength.

I'm all toured out, having shown 4 groups around the Works in as many weeks. Its quite enjoyable showing people what we do, although it is getting harder to find the time away from the daily grind to do it.
Apart from the enthusiastic amateurs, I also enjoy showing potential customers around the place and last week we had a particularly satisfying reaction from one of their engineers. He did a perfect demonstration of jaw dropping when he looked into the front of Bay 4 and saw just how huge the place is. When I showed him another three bays like it his reaction was just as marked.
" I didn't think places like this still existed" was his comment.

Sums it all up for me, that

We all knew that there was a lot of interest in the work that goes on here at Eastleigh Works, hence this blog and the decision in 2011 to operate guided public tours. However, none of us really expected the interest to be a high as it is. We recently announced our first four tours for 2012 and all were fully booked within just four days!

Unfortunately this means we have a lot of people who have been unsuccessful in applying for tickets and who will be receiving letters shortly explaining this. We have to limit numbers to a manageable level or the visit takes too long and with the Works so busy it's already eating into the working day to provide the tours in the first place.

The up side is that all the people I've spoken to and those who've emailed and written following their visits have enjoyed it and many want to come again....we must be doing something right.

Let's not forget that the reason we've done these tours is to raise money for the Mayor of Eastleigh's charities and we're proud to say that we have raised over £1000 in 2011. Thank you to everyone for your support in this.


Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Firstly I should apologise to everybody over how long its been since my last post ( confession?). I'll say three Hail Marys and hope to be forgiven

The reason is (of course) because we are run off our feet down here as the work continues to come in. Looking over the 12 months since we started this blog we have taken on more staff, laid more track and renovated more buildings and yet we never seem to have enough space. As of next week the yard is officially full until something moves out to make space for new arrivals.

Not that anybody is complaining here. The growth in work allows us to invest in the infrastructure in order to create business in the future. Even the impending world financial meltdown doesn't seem as if its going to harm us here (touch wood) as the spend spend spend school of running our railways notices how much cheaper it is to make older but good reliable vehicles work even harder for their money.

And its nice to know that people are starting to sit up and take notice of what we are doing here. I met up with the council's economic development people on site and they were frankly a bit lost for words at the scale of the growth in business on site. The expansion of the area now in use for railway work here is pretty impressive. In the past 12 months it has almost doubled to the extent that there is only one small part of the main building that is not in use.
For those who came to the Eastleigh 100 event, the area where the stalls were is now being refurbished to allow carriage and wagon overhauls, courtesy of new lines being installed out the back of the Works, where the old traversers used to be. The groundwork has been done and the panels are stacked up ready to be laid.

Even the old Bosh shop has a big hole in the outer wall for a line to be laid over a new deep inspection pit that is being built. The rails are on site and the new pit wall is being constructed next week.

Some of my favourite news is the pending arrival of two new 30 ton overhead cranes for installation into Bay 2 by Arlington. What odds could you have got for this back in 2006? I also am proud of the installation of a short length of 4th rail that allows us to power up underground cars at the Works, something else that nobody could have predicted. I've spent a happy afternoon learning how to make the various automated announcements work on 72 tube stock, another first for me.

The appearance of two old standard stock tube cars for dismantling is a bit sad. These two cars are in NSE livery, having been brought back to the mainland from the Isle of Wight some 20 years ago. These ancient vehicles were converted from standard LuL cars at Eastleigh Works in the 1960s so they have a connection with the Works that goes back a long way. Parts from these two cars will be used to create a working train of standard stock for London Underground so its not all bad news.
The tiny KOf shunters are creating a bit of a stir. We're sworn to secrecy but we may even give them a chance to stretch their legs next year. There is just the small matter of getting them running properly first but one of them is very nearly there.

I'm very conscious that the 5th anniversary of the reopening of the Works is looming this December and we will announce some really good news to coincide with that.
In the meantime we have decided that the theme for the 2012 calendar will be the first five years, highlighting some of the vehicles that have played there part in our recent history.
As before we will be selling copies of the calendar via our website so please contact us via if you want one.

I've just seen a 66 on load 8 come past under the window so its time to go and do some shunting in the dark. Still at least its not raining.........

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Another Busy Week

As each week comes and goes we just keep getting busier!

We had our second public tour on Thursday 20th which went down well with the 27 participants. All being well, we should be releasing tour dates for early 2012 in early November.

With the recent departure of 73119 we've seen 08933 in use as second shunter as part of its testing following repairs. We've also received, on loan from Northumbria Rail, two ex DB (German Railways) Kof Class 323 shunters. These are a lot different to normal British designs so should attract some attention once up and running.

Big news at the moment is Network Rail's investment in new 'Snow Trains'. Eastleigh's playing it's part in this with modifications and repaints to the three De-Icing GLVs and NR's recently acquired Class 57 locomotives, all of which were (briefly) on site on Thursday 20th.

Another 'first' (at least in this era of the Works) is the expected arrival of a railtour (1Z37 Routes and Branches III) into the Works later today, top 'n' tailed by Class 37s. Expected to be onsite for less than 10 minutes!

As always, you can see the goings on on my photo website


Monday, 26 September 2011

All change

Well, the news is out and I'm afraid its true. Our celebrity loco 73119 Borough of Eastleigh is leaving us for pastures new.
However, whilst I will be sad to see it go, its actually very good news for the loco which will be joining the GBRf fleet hauling services trains over the south of England.
Given that we purchased 73119 as a non runner some years ago, the fact that it can enter service with a freight operator at short notice is a sign of how much the condition of the loco has been improved under our care. The engineers from GBRf came to view the loco some days ago and commented that it was better than quite a few of the others in their operational fleet.
So why sell it?
Well the truth is that we don't have the length of line to do justice to a 90mph loco, despite the fact that its been a good performer with us. I've always believed that the best way to "preserve" a machine is to use it for what it was intended and by selling 119 we are ensuring its continued maintenance over the coming years.
So whilst we are all sad to see it leave us, you can be sure we will be seeing it again over the coming years as it does the job it was designed for. It's come a long way from the water logged loco that had spent years in the north of Scotland with its cab windows open to the elements.

We have several plans in the pipeline for a replacement loco, more suited to our activities. Watch this space

I'm also glad to announce that the first of the Charity Works visits was a success, both for the visitors and for us. All parties agreed it was a good day all round and we raised £100+ for charity. The remaining dates for the rest of the year are filling up nicely and our target of £1000 in 3 months is likely to be surpassed.

We also welcomed two new residents to the Works this week. Eastleigh built Merchant Navy class 35005 Canadian Pacific has come home to stay with us, whilst we can add a new class to the list of vehicles that have been to the Works since it re-opened in in 2006, with the arrival of the first of what will be a few class 150 DMUs on Friday. It promises to be a busy time in October with numerous mainline runs for trains based at the Works, as well over 50 more vehicles arriving.

Having spent the summer laying new lines and repairing the roof of the main shops, we can now get on with doing the work that pays our wages. I will try to do more regular posts as there will be a lot happening between now and Christmas (There, I said it)

Meanwhile thanks for the continued interest in our little corner of the railway world.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Want to Visit the Works?

You asked and we listened! Each month for the rest of 2011 we will hold guided visits around the Works. If these are successful then we'll continue into 2012.

Full details can be found on the KRS Website

Much has changed since the Eastleigh 100 celebrations so take the opportunity to come and find out for yourself.

Only 20 places are available on each visit so download your application form and apply now to avoid disappointment.

A charge of £10 per person will be made with all proceeds going to the Mayor of Eastleigh's charities.

We look forward to seeing you.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

New Sidings

The School Holidays normally represent a bit of a quieter time with staff taking much needed Holidays to recharge their batteries and spend time with their families - even the MD has had some time off!

Despite this, work has still been going on completing the new sidings, both inside Bay 5 and outside at the south end of the site. These will shortly be completed and give us an additional 250 metres of under cover siding space and another 200 metres of outside siding space and if the commercial demand is there then more track can and will be laid.

Bay 5 is already host to five sets of underground cars and one of the external sidings already has six bogie tanker wagons on it! We try not to let the grass grow under our feet, or should that be tracks!

It's worth keeping an eye on the KRS website, especially the Latest News section (, as that is updated regularly and will often be the first place you'll see new developments.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

End Of An Era ( and start of another )

It was with a bit of sadness today that we moved the last remaining traverser at Eastleigh Works for its final journey. At one stage there were at least three on site, one at the London end (perversely labelled no 2, although referred to as number 1) and two more at the Southampton end of the site.

These last two were chopped up during Alstom's scorched earth policy when they were retreating from site in 2006, but the last one soldiered on to live under KRS operations. Despite a hiccup when a demolition lorry managed to bring down the catenary stanchions, it remained in working order, albeit little used in recent years.

Why so?

Well, for moving large volumes of single vehicles, a traverser is a jolly useful bit of kit to have around. The problem is that most of our trains are now either in fixed car formations or only need to cross over the traverser to the opposite line. In this case it becomes a hindrance to shunting, somehow always managing to be in the wrong position.
The writing was on the wall when we laid a turnout into Bay 4 to allow longer trains to access a road that previously could only be reached by the traverser. This meant that it now couldn't reach the other two roads so we plain tracked them as well.

The discovery of tin worm in the deck supports in 2008 didn't help. Although the main structure was still sound, the cost of re-decking a piece of kit that we didn't need meant that it just sat in position on the road into Bay 5 ( the former C1 road)

What has finally killed it is the winning of a contract to maintain tube trains on site. The traverser has a series of idler rollers between the rails that are high enough to foul the centre shoe of these trains, and as the new storage sidings for them are on the line served by the traverser, it had to go.

We've seen it off in dignified style though. This morning at 7.30 we connected it up and drove it to the end of the lines to a position where it will be cut up. It worked perfectly, despite not having moved since Eastleigh 100 in May 2009. A small audience of us watched it happen and solemnly agreed that they knew how to build things in England in the past.

It's not all doom and gloom though. Within 12 hours the space where the traverser was sitting has been fitted with new shiny concrete sleepers (with Gucci Pandrol Fastclip fixings for those who know or care about such things).

We have used the down-time created by the civil engineering necessary to install the new sidings, to sort this whole section of track out in one fell swoop.
When its all finished in a couple of weeks we will have two newly built turnouts and over 200 metres of covered road, in what was once a derelict space.
The approach tracks will be smooth and level and quite up to the job of repeated shunting of underground cars

So sadness of the loss of an old bit of Works history, but combined with new installation and growth in our business. If it had to go, that's a pretty good reason.

Monday, 27 June 2011

KRS Website Updates

After a bit of a lull, so much going on there's not been time to keep the News page updated!

Now bang up to date, the KRS Latest News page gives an insight into what's happening and links to some pictures and videos

With so much more in the pipeline I'll try and keep the News page updated more regularly.


Saturday, 25 June 2011

All Change please

June is turning out to be an interesting month in our corner of Hampshire. Not only has Test Cricket arrived at the nearby Rose Bowl (it rained, quelle surprise) but there has also been a game of musical chairs with the rolling stock at the Works.
The Observer Corps contingent on Campbell Road bridge have seen a variety of comings and goings, some by rail and others by road. Apart from the usual swap over of wagons for repair and overhaul, we have also seen some long stored wagons leaving for further use. Freightliner,DBS, DRS and GBRf locos have been on site to collect rolling stock and a number of wagons have been scrapped for component recovery.
Even one of our long stored 508s had a day out to Working recently, in company with the sparkling Arlington liveried translators and a GBRf 66.

But perhaps the most telling sight has been the delivery of ex Victoria Line tube stock by road. Unlike previous deliveries of mainly derelict vehicles, these ones are straight out of service and in good condition.
Without going into commercial details, we are expecting quite a few more of these over the coming weeks and are preparing the site to accept them, including providing new sidings. Although this is not the first time we have laid new tracks, in the past this has been limited to putting back pieces of line removed by Alstom. Now we are investing in some serious new facilities including 250 metres of under cover roads in what used to the the Works machine shop. Two brand new turnouts are being manufactured in Wales for us and these will arrive on site shortly.
To be honest the old machine shop area (or C1 road as it was recently known) has been a bit of a dead space for us since it was stripped of useful equipment in the Alstom closing down sale. Now a 120 x 15 yard space has been prepared for the new roads to be installed, with one hundred years of accumulated dust and rubbish being removed.

Less spectacular but just as useful, we are also reinstating two sidings at the bottom end of site that used to serve no2 traverser (long gone).
The investment by Knights Rail will top £100K for these new works and is a further sign of our confidence in the business at Eastleigh. I've even moved into a new office in the main office block. Of course its a complete coincidence that the room is the one that Mr Drummond had for his own use in 1909 (yeah right). It is very useful to be able to look out of the window and see what is going on in the yard.

So its all go at the Works, with new trains coming in and other long standing residents leaving us. One I will be both sad and happy to see leave this week is the NRM owned 306 unit, which is going back to the heart of the Great Eastern. We've even managed to get it moved by rail which means it will enjoy a scoot on its old stamping grounds through Shenfield on Tuesday evening. My first job on BR was working on these (we called them rattlers) so its good to have been able to help this historic survivor find a good home. I will of course have to visit it at the famed Chappel Beer Festival in September. Only for research purposes, you understand.

There's still a lot to do in the coming weeks. The contractors move in shortly to start digging up the floor to take the new tracks in the C1 road and our forgotten ex MOD Ruston LSSH will be seeing the light of day for Arlington to do their magic on it. Having used an 08 recently I appreciate what a good design the Ruston is and two are always better than one.

So a long post this time as there's been a lot of news to cover. We've got a visit by the great and good from the NRM coming up shortly and maybe even some more steam news in the offing. Meanwhile its back the mundane work of sorting out the latest leaks in the roof (I blame the cricket for the weather) and doing our bit to keep the trains running in the south of England, just as the place has done for 100 years.

Monday, 6 June 2011

And now for something completely different (cue a large foot descending from Heaven)

Two things happened in May 2001 that were personal milestones for me and that had a direct bearing on the long journey that eventually ended up with me taking on the deserted Works, with its rusty tracks and rows of Ford Transits back in 2006.

Firstly on 11th May I said my last farewells to my Dad at his bedside, after he had been through a long illness. It was Dad who first kindled my interest in railways as a kid. He had grown up a stones throw from Kings Cross in the 1930s and had seen all of the Gresley pacifics, P2s and even no. 10000. I was dragged along to just about every fledgling preservation centre in the 1960s and was just old enough to remember being shown steam at Waterloo in 1968. Little did any of us know then..........
In fact if you look closely at the crowd shot of 4472s non stop run departure from Kings Cross there is a short trousered lad who looks surprisingly like me.

As they say in the King James Bible, in the midst of life we are in death, and I'd like to think that my old Dad will be looking down approvingly at what we are doing at the place that maintained and built the engines I saw on the narrow platform ends at Waterloo all those years ago.

Well played old un

Another happier date was the 10 year anniversary of the founding of Knights Rail Services Ltd which passed on 31st May. Unless you have run your own business you can't really understand how proud you feel when dates like this come along. Lots has changed since we started, not only with Knights Rail but also with the whole rail industry. A colleague of mine suggested that putting my own name on the business was a dangerous move because if it went bust people would associate it with me personally. I disagreed and with hindsight I think I was right. Having my name up there on every letter, invoice, bill and contract made me focus on how important it was to make the thing successful. I still marvel at how often other companies change their name. Perhaps if the directors had their own names in the company they might be in it for the longer term.

So a different sort of post this time; a bit more reflective than usual.

Normal service will be resumed shortly as we come to terms with what looks like being a crazy time for us as business takes off. Too much to write about here (always leave em wanting more Darling) but you know its a good sign when we are laying new lines both inside and outside. Oh and for a clue, watch the number (not the length) of conductor rails on site

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Getting Back To Work

The bumper period of bank holidays has almost passed and we can now get back to the mundane job of earning an honest crust at the Works.

The biggest recent news is the christening of the new extended Arlington area in bay 3 by the arrival of the Speno grinder for its annual overhaul. For those of you who remember the Works under it previous owners, or who saw it during the E100 celebrations, this is the former wheelshop area which was left as a large derelict area full of deep holes in the floor after Alstom had sold all of the equipment.
Arlington has spent large amounts of money relaying the tracks and filling the holes and consequently now has a workshop that is over 250 yards long.

The Speno grinder has been a regular sight on the network over the past few years and has previously used Effingham Junction's former carriage washing shed for maintenance. However its a complicated bit of kit and working under a low roof with no cranes had made this a difficult operation. Originally we planned to let Speno use a track in bay 4 near where Siemens carry out their unit overhauls but once they saw what was possible at the Works, the job just snowballed and it made sense to put it into the Arlington area. A joint team from Arlington and Speno has been working on the grinder which has been split into its constituent vehicles (try doing that with jacks !) and is undergoing extensive overhaul.

I showed a BBC filmcrew what was happening in the shop from one of the overhead cranes and they were completely dumbfounded at the amount of work that was going on.

"I didn't think that this sort of thing was still done in Britain any more" one of them told me.


The other development on site is the growing presence of class 66 locomotives. On one day last week we had 8 of them on Works, 6 for warm storage, one for fuelling and the last for wheelset and bogie overhaul.

Finally we said farewell to 33012 this week, when it left on its mainline test run to Swanage in convoy with 73136 (an old friend as first loco at the re-opened Works and the newly painted 73205. When I first agreed to let 33012 be overhauled at the Works I had little idea of how good a job would end up being done on it, with help and input from its owning group and many of the companies on site. It looked breathaking in the sun as it purred out on what was to be a troublefree run to Wareham at speeds of up to 75mph.

I'll miss having a Crompton on the Works.

Meanwhile it promises to be an interesting few weeks coming up with deliveries from London Underground expected to feature strongly. Must get round to laying down the 4th Rail

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Sunny Days on the Southern

I have clearly gone into a parallel universe. Not only is the sun shining at the Works in April but also the place seems full of diesel locos

Not only are there people swarming over an 08 in the main shop,but also a shiny Crompton behind it and a slghtly oily 50 behind that. In the yard was a test train with a 31 and 73 top and tailing. Don't they all know its the 21st century?

Outside the DRS 47s have been running up after bringing the boat train down from Jocklandshire. By all accounts it went very well and was fully loaded with punters. Double heading was the order of the day at Eastleigh with double headed DRS 47s, Freightliner 66s and DBS 66/67 combos all running past the gate within a short period.

Excess power units on trains? Don't tell the IEP gurus at the DFT or they'll make it compulsory.

Oh and today is Hitler's birthday. He was another one of those foreign types who wanted to shut the Works ( Well allright, not him personally but his Heinkels had a pretty good go in 1942). Well yah boo sucks to you matey, coz we're still here and you're not.

Excuse me whilst I just play out of this bunker

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Fotopic Replacement

Most people will now be aware that Fotopic, the popular photo hosting service, has ceased to be. No-one seems to know why but the service has been down now for almost two weeks and most railway photographers are opting to setup replacement sites.

My own Fotopic site which chronicled the day to day activities going on at Eastleigh Works has now been replaced by my own photo website which I am slowly building up

It will take quite some time to get the historical collections reloaded to this new site but very shortly I should have all the collections since the start of March 2011 loaded and visible to all. The next task will be to upload all the photos since the start of 2011 and then previous years. It will take a long time but there should be a regular record again once I've loaded the first stage from beginning of March 2011.

Thanks for your patience,


Monday, 7 March 2011

A busy couple of weeks with a Crompton (D6515/33012) overhauled to mainline standards and unveiled to the waiting cameras on 16th February.

Followed on 3rd March by another 'first' for the rejuvenated Works with 'CHELTENHAM' being lifted off its wheels and becoming the first loco to have this done inside the Works since the 1960s

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Its another dull and damp day at the Works and the forecasters tell us this is in for the rest of the week. However there is a noticeable air of optimism on the site as the evenings draw out and Christmas seems a respectable distance behind us.

I've never understood why we put the clock back in Winter. Apart from the real sense of depression that it creates in me, it costs money when at the drop of a hat we need an extra hour of lighting at the Works. If you ever saw the number of light fittings at the Works you would know that this is no small thing. I challenge anybody not to say that they don't shrink a little inside on that night when the drive home in the evening is in the pitch black for the first time. Spring seems a very long way off then and I still don't understand why we do it every year. It can't be the farmers, as they have more lights than enough on their modern plant and even deliberately harvest some crops at night. Scottish school children are also cited as a reason but how many walk to school in 2011 anyway? I'm sure the Scottish Assembly would be happy to do their own thing if it suited them. Where's that blue painted Mel Gibson when you need him?

So please Mr Cameron, can we stick to BST this year? It'll save money, reduce our carbon footprint and make me and all us southern softies much happier. What more reason do you need?

Meanwhile, back in the present, there is a palpable spring (groan) in our steps down here. After years of being derelict there are moves afoot to reopen the former wheelshop area as a general repair workshop. There are some big holes in the floor to fill in but Arlington are biting on the bullet and that can only be good news.
The yard is as full as I've ever seen it and we are having to turn away storage work. The obvious answer to that is to lay more track and we are planning to do just that in the summer. Small piles of sleepers are appearing on site at strategic locations. That will make the Google Earth satellite views even more out of date.

The prospects for 2011 seem brighter than ever before as the word gets around that the Works is a good place to do business. We have almost come to the end of the 444 programme and everybody seems happy with how its gone and are looking forward to the next batch of units to come in. More shunting turns for the ED and 07

The 71A Crompton is due to be unveiled shortly and it looks simply fantastic. I can't believe just how good it looks even though I know how much hard work has gone into it.
We will be even recreating the famous "school photo" taken of what was thought then would be the last Crompton to be overhauled here by BR. I bet the people in that photo never thought we'd be doing another one in 2011.

Yet another reason to feel cheerful

So to quote Spike Milligan

Spring is sprung, the grass is ris
(I wonder where the birdies is ?)

Now back to checking traction motor cases for serial numbers................

Sunday, 6 February 2011

In a move that kept below the radar of the enthusiast grapevine, KRS was able to purchase and take delivery of a Mk2 coach from Serco Railtest at Derby on the 3rd of February.

So given that Mk2s are sat mouldering away on many storage sites (including ours), what is so special about this one?

Well ADB 975290 was known most recently as Serco Railtest's Test Car 6 and was fitted with a large generator set and numerous fittings to make it compatible with such things as HSTs. It was also passed for 125mph running so it far from a run of the mill Mk2.

It started life at Derby Works in 1964 as 13396, one of a batch of 18 Mk2 FKs (corridor first) that were delivered to a Southern region that still used steam locos extensively. As such it was fitted with dual brakes and heating allowing it to be either steam or diesel hauled. Fittingly it was delivered in Southern Region green livery.

These coaches were the most modern on the region and were used on long distance express trains including the boat trains to Southampton. A clue to this can be seen in the brackets still in situ that used to hold wooden boards with the train names painted on them.

Blue asbestos and a reduction in the express trains in the 1970s lead to withdrawal after less than ten years of front line service, but 13396 was fortunate in that it was sent to Derby for conversion into a test train vehicle. This work was completed in 1973 and although the interior was reorganised, much of the orginal polished wood panelling remains.

BR Railtest and Serco continued to maintain the coach to very high standards until early in the 21st century and it remains in good order to this day. As and when time permits we will clean the interior of any remaining asbestos and repaint the coach into its orginal green livery, in keeping with its status as a true Southern vehicle.

In the short term we will use it as a meeting room, whilst keeping it in good order so that it can be put back into mainline use at short notice. A tidy pressure ventilated Mk2 with an onboard generator is a very useful vehicle and we are hopeful that its mainline days are not over.

In the meantime, a little bit of our southern railway heritage has been saved.

Monday, 31 January 2011

A Blast From The Past

Whilst tidying the office today I found a March 2003 copy of Railway Magazine lying around. We'd kept it because it had an article about our first train decontamination operation at MOD Shoeburyness, so I took a time to browse through it and see what a different place the railways were 8 years ago.

Apart from our article illustrated by pictures of 302s, there was a full page spread on Fragonset's facility at Derby outlining their plans for expansion and domination of the spot hire market. As we all know, the future turned out to be very different.

Eastleigh was still run by Alstom and was storing 375s (for Bombardier? I didn't know that) as well as carrying out crash repairs to 423 units 428 and 452.
Next door in the depot Fragonset (them again) collected 73104, 73139 and 33046 for movement to Carnforth.

4CEPs were operating to London Bridge and Virgin 47s were still in service, whilst GNER had a Eurostar set in traffic. Freightliner took delivery of 66564-6 at Newport where the latest class 70 was bent last week.
The last 303s or Blue Trains were sent out of service by a lone piper on December 30th whilst Siemens were using our MOD base for testing 450012 with a 47 derived shore supply.

So on a cold January in 2011 I wonder what the industry watcher of 2003 would
have made of our position now ?

Freightliner ordered more 66s but who would have predicted that we would be storing 4 of them off lease only 8 years later ?

Siemens now overhaul the 450s at Eastleigh Works so I will get a chance to meet unit 12 again soon. CEPs, VEPs and CIGs are long gone and would be completely alien to modern commuters, whilst Fragonset found out that truth and publicity are not the same thing and went down owing money to just about everybody.

Oh and Alstom baled out of Eastleigh Works leaving it to that bloke from Shoebury to pick up the pieces.

My waistline was less than it is now but I have had some fun since 2003

Here's to the next 8 years. Anybody care to make any predictions ?

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Two Major Lifts in Two Days!!

On Tuesday 25th January, 50026 was lifted for a replacement traction motor to be fitted. The following day, Wednesday 26th January, the boiler was successfully lifted off 'CHELTENHAM', marking a milestone in the overhaul of the loco.

Check out the KRS website 'Latest News' section or my Fotopic website (the password will be removed from the latter as soon as approval has been given)

Thursday, 20 January 2011

A busy day today saw 2 trains arrive with wagons for store and repair. The first was hauled by a Freightliner 66 (no I don't know the number) with 21 coil carriers and arrived just after midday. The second followed on a couple of hours later with 14 bogie vans and a potash carrier behind yet another 66, this time from DBS.

This latest influx means that we have run out of siding space for the present, at least until some more stock goes out. We also have 10 or so container flats in each week for routine maintenance and whilst these spend most of their time in the workshops, they do take up room in the yard when they are swapped over.

Although wagon storage and maintenance is neither glamorous or particularly lucrative, it does make up bread and butter work and keeps people in jobs. It also generates lots of shunting for the 07, without which we would be in real trouble.

The 306 unit is safely tucked up inside, sharing its berthing with a 66 undergoing heavy maintenance and the Schools class Cheltenham. As someone who spent his early railway years working on these venerable trains its a sight I never thought I witness again. Nice simple engineering and well thought out interiors that put modern trains to shame. In this 1930s designed commuter train all of the seats line up with the windows and there is plenty of circulating room around the doors, as well as good draft large screens and a heater under every seat.

Compare that with your Voyager or Pendolino

Friday, 14 January 2011

NRM Class 306 no.017 arrives at Eastleigh Works

Class 306 electric multiple unit no 017 arrived at Eastleigh Works on Thursday this week. It is here for asbestos removal by Knights Rail Services. Built in the late 1940s and part of the National Railway Museum collection, this unit has been in secure storage at MOD Kineton for the last few years.

As an Essex boy myself and having lived alongside the line that this unit would have run on in the mid to late 1960s it was quite fascinating watching this being unloaded and shunted through the yard and into the Works.

I also remember seeing this unit in the late 1980s when it was the last survivor of the class and was used on specials and at open days. It must be almost 25 years since I last saw it so it was quite nostalgic watching it once again.