Branch Line Society
Branch Line Society
Branch Line Society
Wed 23 Aug 2017
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Great Western Tracker 23/03/2013

In the first ever railtour joint collaboration between the Branch Line Society and The Locomotive & Carriage Institution, 140 members of both organisations enjoyed a highly unusual day out railtouring courtesy of First Great Western. Despite the weather being against us, the highly successful fixture helped raise just short of £2000 for charity and paved the way for further activity between all three parties.

Leaving platform 12 of Bristol Temple Meads right time, using 3-car Class 150 150927, we enjoyed the blessing of a "higher order" with the train despatch assisted by First Great Western Bristol and the West Railway Chaplin Reverend Alan Thorpe. The Railway Mission benefited from a donation of £500 towards their important work at Bristol Temple Meads as a result of the charter. Once away from Bristol, we were able to enjoy our first highlight of the day by completing both the carriage wash line and carriage line at Bedminster, before reversing and taking the highly sought after Goods Avoiding Line past St Phillip's Marsh depot. Both Class 08 depot shunters were visible as were various "internal user" vehicles including Mark II training coach 5636. The infamous Mark 1 "Cinema Coach" was unfortunately out of sight.

Back at Bristol running nearly 30 minutes early, we proceeded along the "Down Through", before making our way to Yatton to traverse the Down Loop. By now, it was becoming clear that flooding on the Heathfield branch would curtail our progress there but with the assistance of a Network Rail pilot man, we would later reach 1m and 10 chains along the branch. Arriving at Taunton platform 3 early, we took the opportunity for a leg stretch and photo stop whilst we awaited arrival of first change of train crew, travelling towards us from Exeter. Whilst on the platform, news came through of a track circuit fault at Tiverton Loops (formerly Tiverton Junction), meaning we would have to wait until another day to traverse the Down Passenger Loop, but we were reassured all was fine on the "Up" side for our journey back.

With our crew change complete, we set away early for our final pick up at platform 3 of Exeter St David's before proceeding up the hill and into Exmouth Junction Turnback Siding, as far as mile post 170.09. Passengers were concerned that the rarely used Exeter Central bay (platform 1) was occupied by ECS but this was planned so we could access the Turnback Siding. After reversal, we proceeded into platform 1 at Exeter Central for a further photo stop, and repeated the shunt again into the Turnback Siding, before proceeding on to St David's and into Exeter New Yard (Waterloo Yard). With thanks to Network Rail, we arrived via Road 2 and proceeded down the Shunt Spur to the end of line before completing Road 3 to the buffers. It had been planned to traverse Road 1 but this was occupied by a Class 159, deposited there after a driver has sadly taken ill earlier in the day.

Once away from Exeter St David's 12 minutes late, we were able to get the charity raffle underway which, along with a loose change collection and the sale of branded window decals, raised £452 for Railway Children. This was a "top up" to a donation of £1000 raised on behalf of First Great Western and both organisations from the fare box revenue. Proceeding along the highly scenic sea wall, we took the Down Passenger Loop / Platform 1 at Dawlish Warren, observing the Great Western liveried camping coaches still used for holiday makers today and managed by the Great Western Railway Staff Association. Through Totnes, we took the Down Main, where it became apparent that water was running low in the toilet and re-tanking would need to be arranged at Laira TMD. Leaving the main at Laira Junction (243m 28ch), we travelled via Embankment Siding No 5 before calling at Friary Junction Flushing Platform next to the Down Arrival line, having crossover over and back to avoid running through the carriage washer! Here our excellent train crew quickly refilled the toilet tank and we set off after a swift reversal, (back towards Mount Gould Jn), to the end of the line at Plymouth Friary via the Up Departure road.

As if to tease us at this point, we could only look longingly at the Cattewater branch which will be the prime target for the Great Western Tracker 2.0, currently being planned for mid-October. With over ninety people already on the waiting list, the re-run is also likely to be a complete sell out. Returning to and coming to a stand at Mount Gould Junction, the General Secretaries from both organisations took a brief quiet moment to grab a coffee from Martin Hardy who was manning the catering trolley for the day, and did an excellent job of looking his passengers, even if he was somewhat bemused by certain passengers moving back and forth through the train to stand in the 'optimum position'! Many thanks are due to him for his excellent work, including his very competitively priced "meal deals"! Looking ahead we could see the road was set to return back via our outward route through Embankment Sidings, but our Driver quickly noticed this and got the route re-set to run via the rather inappropriately named Speedway Curve with its 10mph speed limit. This gave the opportunity to view the other side of the depot including HST Barrier Coaches, various grounded vehicles used for general storage and wagon 787133 used as an engine carrier.

Our next point of call, Plymouth, was reached only 3 minutes late where we proceeded to traverse both Park Sidings and, as an "on the day bonus" the East End Engineers Siding. Tour participants were also treated to the fine sight of 34067 and 45407 in the station, being the traction for the Railway Touring Company's re-dated "The Mayflower" excursion.

Totnes was to be our next point of call for some highly unusual moves, but we were delighted to take in Hemerdon Goods Loop on the way. On arrival at Totnes, after a brief pause, we completed the West End Siding in full before reversing and running to the buffers at the long East End Refuge, much to the merriment of well-wishers and enthusiasts enjoying Totnes Littlehempston station on the beautiful South Devon Railway, just as a steam train was departing down the branch. At this point, our driver (long-standing L&CI member, and Exeter HSS based Driver, Jon Morton, was noticed waving frantically to his fellow colleagues on the SDR platform, and probably wishing 150927 could emit thrash and clag like his Class 37 which is based on the line). It was a delight to see two ex-BR CCT Ferryvans fully restored (889009 and 889015), being the two "barrier" vehicles that accompanied 150263 / 89001 / 90008 / 91003 and two BREL International Coaches to Hamburg for an exhibition in 1988. Long standing Kitson built exhibit "Carnarvon" was also visible.

Knowing that flooding was now definitely going to restrict us at Heathfield, we made away 11 minutes down and, having collected the Network Rail Pilotman proceeded as expected to approximately 1m and 10 chains where we encountered a temporary stop board and detonators on the line. Good fortune however came our way when Network Rail and First Great Western arranged for us to reverse and run into the former Newton Abbot bay platform 9 now used for stabling the Colas locomotive off the Teingrace to Chirk timber trains, for a 30 minute leg-stretch and photo opportunity, being the former Motorail platform. For many this was the highlight of the day, not so much for the extremely rare track but for the opportunity to visit the rather appropriately named "The Railway" for some well-deserved refreshments! One participant had last departed from Newton Abbot Platform 9 on a passenger train to Moretonhampstead in 1958!

With our first set down at Exeter St David's calling, we set away just 8 minutes down and completed Tiverton Up Loop as expected before arriving at Taunton platform 3 via the crossover (neatly slotting in between two Down direction FGW services) at Taunton West. By default we used the crossover at Taunton East, and then completed Highbridge Up Goods Loop and Yatton Up Loop in accordance with the specification.

Of course, every good tour needs a finale, so we took the Up Relief at Parson Street from the first available crossover and stayed "relief" through to Bristol Temple Meads where we returned the honours from the start of the day and took the Up Through, before reversing at the East Gantry and terminating in bay platform 1 only nine minutes down. With 276 miles and 2 chains under our belts, we waived our good byes to the train crew, stewards and passengers – and promptly started counting the huge pile of booking forms we had collated during the day for the Chiltern Depot Tracker Railtour on Sunday 26th May!

To conclude, thanks must go out to everyone who made this very special charter happen – not least of all Stuart Smith, a Driver for First Great Western at Plymouth, General Secretary of The Locomotive & Carriage Institution and not least a prominent BLS member, who was the original "driver" behind this fixture, along with the input of his good friend Adam Daniels. The list of those to thank is almost endless……

Maps

Great Western Tracker Map Marked Up

Map 1

Map 2

Map 3

Mileage
Bristol Temple Meads Bedminster Carriage Roads Headshunt 0m 68
Bedminster Carriage Roads Headshunt Exmouth Junction Siding 79m 76
Exmouth Junction Siding Exeter Central 1m 18
Exeter Central Exmouth Junction Siding 1m 18
Exmouth Junction Siding Exeter New Yard Shunt Spur 2m 68
Exeter New Yard Shunt Spur Exeter New Yard Road 3 EOL 0m 45
Exeter New Yard Road 3 EOL Exeter New Yard Shunt Spur XO 0m 12
Exeter New Yard Shunt Spur XO Plymouth Friary Down Arrival 51m 49
Plymouth Friary Down Arrival Friary Up Departure Line 0m 34
Friary Up Departure Line Friary Up Dep. Line EOL 0m 64
Friary Up Dep. Line EOL Laira Junction Down Goods 1m 61
Laira Junction Down Goods Plymouth Park Siding No.1 2m 13
Plymouth Park Siding No.1 Engineers Siding Headshunt Points 0m 18
Engineers Siding Headshunt Points Plymouth Park Siding No.2 0m 17
Plymouth Park Siding No.2 Totnes 23m 01
Totnes Totnes West Siding EOL 0m 11
Totnes West Siding EOL Totnes Up Relief Siding 0m 58
Totnes Up Relief Siding Totnes 0m 39
Totnes Heathfield Branch, Emergency Stop Bd 9m 77
Heathfield Branch, Emergency Stop Bd Newton Abbot Motorail Bay 1m 16
Newton Abbot Motorail Bay Heathfield Branch, Clear Points 0m 14
Heathfield Branch, Clear Points Newton Abbot  0m 15
Newton Abbot  Bristol East Jn, Up & Down Relief 95m 75
Bristol East Jn, Up & Down Relief Bristol Temple Meads 0m 15
    276m 2c
Click here to download mileage table (Excel format)

Timings
DMU Used: 150927 (57127+52209+52127)
Route :
2Z11 : Bristol Temple Meads to Exeter Central
2Z12 : Exeter Central to Plymouth
2Z13 : Plymouth to Bristol Temple Meads
DMU Route
57127 Leading Bristol Temple Meads - Carriage Washer Line - Bedminster Carriage Line
52127 Leading Bedminster Carriage Line - St. Philips Marsh Depot Loop - North Somerset Jn - Bristol Temple Meads (through line) - Yatton Down Loop - Taunton - Tiverton (2) - Exeter St. Davids - Exeter Central - Exmouth Jn (Turnback Siding)
57127 Leading Exmouth Jn (Turnback Siding) - Exeter Central (Bay platform)
52127 Leading Exeter Central (Bay platform) - Exmouth Jn (Turnback Siding)
57127 Leading

Exmouth Jn (Turnback Siding) - Exeter St. Davids - Waterloo New Yard 2 - Shunt Spur

52127 Leading Waterloo New Yard, Shunt Spur - Waterloo New Yard 3
57127 Leading Waterloo New Yard 3 - Waterloo New Yard 2
52127 Leading Waterloo New Yard 2 - Exeter St. Davids - Dawlish - Teignmouth - Newton Abbot - Laira Jn - Laira Depot (Embankment Sidings - Mount Gould Jn cross to Up - Friary Jn cross to Down) - Flushing Platform - Turnchapel Branch Jn
57127 Leading Turnchapel Branch Jn - Friary Jn
52127 Leading Friary Jn - Plymouth Friary
57127 Leading Plymouth Friary - Speedway Curve - Laira Jn
52127 Leading Laira Jn - Plymouth Park Siding 1
57127 Leading Plymouth Park Siding 1 - East End Engineers Siding
52127 Leading Plymouth East End Engineers Siding - Park Siding 2
57127 Leading Plymouth Park Siding 2 - Hemerdon Up Goods Loop - Totnes (UPL)
52127 Leading Totnes (UPL) - Totnes Up Siding
57127 Leading Totnes Up Siding - Totnes - Totnes Up Refuge Siding
52127 Leading Totnes Up Refuge Siding - Totnes (East)
57127 Leading Totnes - Newton Abbot - Heathfield Branch (1m 10ch) (3)
52127 Leading Heathfield Branch - Newton Abbot Motorail Platform
57127 Leading Newton Abbot Motorail Platform - Heathfield Branch (Clear of Points)
52127 Leading Heathfield Branch - Newton Abbot
57127 Leading Newton Abbot - Exeter St. Davids - Tiverton Up Loop - Highbridge Up Goods Loop - Yatton Up Loop - Bristol Temple Meads (through line) - Bristol East Jn
52127 Leading Bristol East Jn - Bristol Temple Meads

Notes : 
1) A joint venture between The Locomotive & Carriage Institution, The Branch Line Society and First Great Western, with proceeds going to The Railway Children Charity.
(2) Tiverton Down Loop not covered due to Track Circuit problems after flooding.
(3) Heathfield Branch closed due to flooding after sections of track beyond Teignbridge washed away. After inspection the line was reopened as far as 1m 10ch.

Source : Alan Sheppard

Timings (Booked & actual)
(from Alan Sheppard

M.C Location Booked Actual   Booked Actual M.C
0.00
Bristol Temple Meads 07.40d [P12] 07.40d [P12]   18.55a [P1] 19.04½a [P1]
295.61
0.27
Bristol West Jn 07/41 [CL] 07/41 [CWL]  
0.71
Bedminster 07.42½ ~ 07.45½ [CL] 07.45 ~ 07.48 [CL]  
?
Bristol West Jn 07/47½ [CL] 07/51 [CL]  
1.45
St Philips Marsh H.S.T.D. 07.59½ ~ 08.16½ 07/59  
1.75
North Somerset Jn 08/30½ 08/02  
2.30
Bristol East Jn 08/31½ [DM] 08/03½   18.49 ~ 18.53 19.00 ~ 19.02½ [Up/Dn FR]
295.45
2.60
Bristol Temple Meads 08/32½ [DT] 08/04 [DnT]   18.46 ~ 18.47 [UT] [UDR] 18.55½ ~ 18.57½ [UpT]
?
?
Bristol West Jn 08/33½ 08/05   18/45 [UR] 18/54 [UpR]
294.77
3.51
Bedminster ? 08/06½   ? 18/52 [UpR]
?
4.44
Parson Street ? 08/07   18/43 [P2] [RL] 18/49 [UpR]
?
15.34
Yatton Loop 08.49 ~ 08.57 [DL] 08/19 [DL]   18.24 ~ 18.25 [UL] 18/35 [UL]
283.27
19.40
Worle Jn 09/03 08/24   18/19 18/29
?
22.33
Uphill Jn 09/05 08/26½   18/15 18/24
?
-
Highbridge Loop   17.58 ~ 18.07 [UGL] 18.09 ~ 18.16 [UGL]
267.75
35.76
Bridgwater 09/16½ 08/37   17/51½ 18/01
?
42.79
Cogload Jn 09/24 08/43   17/46 17/55
255.32
47.41
Taunton 09c28½ ~ 09c29 [P2] 08.47½a ~ 09.26d [P3]   17/42 [P2] [RL] 17/50 [P3] [DM]
?
49.09
Norton Fitzwarren 09/31 09/28½   17/35 [RL] 17/46 [UM]
?
57.42
Whiteball 09/39½ 09/35   17/26½ 17/38½
?
61.57
Tiverton Parkway 09/42½ [P1] 09/40   17/23½ [P2] 17/33 [P2]
?
63.39
Tiverton Loop 09.44½ ~ 09.46½ [DPL] 09/41 [DnM] (2)   17.14 ~ 17.21 [UPL] 17.23 ~ 17.27 [UPL]
234.45
77.01
Cowley Bridge Jn 09/59½ 09/53   16/59 17/08
?
78.21
Exeter St Davids 10.02½a ~ 10.06d [P3] 10.01a ~ 10.07½d [P3]   16.49a ~ 16.56d [P5] 17.02½ ~ 17.05½ [P4]
219.63
79.03
Exeter Central 10/08½ [P2] 10/10 [P2]  
80.24
Exmouth Jn Turnback Sdg 10.13½ ~ 10.28½ 10.14½ ~ 10.26½ [Arr Sdg]  
81.45
Exeter Central 10.34a ~ 10.40d [Bay P1] 10p32½a ~ 10p39½d [Bay P1]  
82.66
Exmouth Jn Turnback Sdg 10.43 ~ 10.50 10.43 ~ 10.49 [Arr Sdg]  
?
Exeter Central 10/58 [P2] 10.53 ~ 10.58 [P2]  
84.61
Exeter St Davids 11.00½ ~ 11.03½ [P3] 11.00½ ~ 11.03 [P3]  
85.18
Exeter (WaterlooNew Yard) 11.05½ ~ 11.08½ 11.11 ~ 11.11 (Rd 2 - Shunt Spur)  
11.16½ ~ 11.16½ (Rd 3)  
11.19½ ~ 11.20 (Rd 2)  
85.47
Exeter St Davids 11.10½ ~ 11.12½ [P3] 11.22½ ~ 11.24½ [P3]  
96.12
Dawlish Warren 11.23 ~ 11.35 [P1] 11.37 ~ 11.39½ [P1/DPL]   16/37½ 16/51
?
97.62
Dawlish 11/37½ 11/42 [P1]   16/36 16/50
?
100.45
Teignmouth 11/40½ 11/44 [P1]   16/33 16/44 [P2]
?
105.60
Newton Abbot 11/50 [P2] 11/52 [P2]   16.24 ~ 16.27 [P3] 16.34½ ~ 16.35½ [P3]
199.50
  Heathfield Branch (Clear of Points)   ? 16.14 ~ 16.34
?
  Newton Abbot Motorail Plat   ? 15.40 ~ 16.12½ [P9]
?
  Heathfield E.C.C. (3)   15.33 ~ 16.04 15.32 ~ 15.34 (1m10ch)
194.31
  Newton Abbot   15.11 ~ 15.13 [P3] 15.22½ ~ 15.27 [P3]
190.18
106.18
Newton Abbot West Jn 11/50½ 11/53½   15/10 15/21½
?
109.38
Dainton Tunnel 11/56½ 11/59   15/06½ 15/17
?
114.41
Totnes 12/05 12/09 [DnM]   (14.35) ~ 15.00 15.10½ ~ 15.11
?
  Totnes URS   ? 15.04½ ~ 15.07
?
  Totnes   ? 14p50½a ~ 15p01d
?
  Totnes Up Sdg   ? 14.47 ~ 14.49
?
  Totnes UPL   14.35 ~ (15.00) 14.36 ~ 14.45
?
?
Aish Emergency Crossover 12/18½ 12/22   14/26½ 14/27½
?
126.02
Ivybridge 12/22½ [P1] 12/26 [P1]   14/22½ [P2] 14/24 [P2]
?
130.68
Hemerdon 12/27 [DM] 12/31 [DM]   14.14½ ~ 14.15½ [UGL] 14/18 [UGL]
164.74
?
Laira Jn (243m 28ch) ? 12/38 [DGL]  
153.34
Laira Jn (243m 67ch) 12/31½ 12.40 ~ 12.41½ [Ocean Sdg)   ? 14/11½
160.36
153.67
Laira T&RSMD 12.35 ~ 12.55 12/45 [Through Sdg 5]  
154.08
Mount Gould Jn 13.00 ~ 13.02 12/46½ [CW Avoider][Up]  
?
Friary Jn Flushing Platform ? 12.48 ~ 12.54 [Dn]  
?
Turnchapel Branch Jn ? 12.57 ~ 13.01 [Dn Arr]  
?
Friary Jn (Up Line) ? 13.04 ~ 13.04½ [Up]  
154.65
Plymouth Friary S.S. 13.10 ~ 13.25 13.13 ~ 13.18½ [Up Dep - EoL]  
?
Friary Jn (Up Line) ? 13.26½ ~ 13.28  
155.42
Mount Gould Jn 13.33 ~ 13.35 13/28½  
?
Speedway Jn ? 13.29½  
155.67
Laira T&RSMD 13.37 ~ 13.39 13/30 [Speedway Curve]  
156.20
Laira Jn 13.42 ~ 13.45 13.34 ~ 13.34½ [DGL]  
156.68
Lipson Jn 13/47 13/36½   14/06 14/11
159.68
?
Plymouth East ? 13.41 ~ 13.51 (Sig. P18)   ? ?
?
158.28
Plymouth 13.50 ~ [PRK] 13.53½ ~ 13.57 [PARK 1]  

~ 14.03 [PRK]

14.05 ~ 14.06 [PARK 2]
158.28
?
Plymouth East End Engineers Sdg ? 14.00   ? 14.02
?

Mileages taken from Tour Brochure. Only to be used as a rough guide as it does not take into account additional reversals and has a twenty mile discrepancy in the Plymouth area.

Observations
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