Branch Line Society
Branch Line Society
Branch Line Society
Tue 17 Oct 2017
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Great Western Tracker II 12/10/2013

Three-car Class 150 DMU 150927 was presented for service for the second joint collaboration railtour between the Branch Line Society and The Locomotive & Carriage Institution, when 160 members of both organisations enjoyed a highly unusual day out railtouring courtesy of First Great Western. Unlike March, the weather was on our side this time as the highly successful fixture helped raise just over of £1550 for charity, with £500 being donated to The Railway Mission and £1050 to Railway Children.

Leaving platform 4 of Bristol Temple Meads a few minutes down we unexpectedly reversed on the Down Through as Network Rail has advised there were no facing point locks on the carriage line at Bedminster, and therefore permission was refused. After a prompt reversal we were able to enjoy our first highlight of the day, the highly sought after Goods Avoiding Line past St Phillip's Marsh depot. Both Class 08 depot shunters were visible going about their duties as were various "internal user" vehicles including the Mark 1 Cinema Coach and Mark II training coach 5636.

Back at Bristol running nearly 6 minutes early, we proceeded along the "Down Through", before making our way to Yatton to traverse the Down Loop. Travelling via Weston-Super-Mare platform 1 we arrived at Taunton and took the opportunity for a photo stop, leg stretch and convenience break. Ad hoc comfort breaks were to become a feature of our day! At first it was thought the unit had not been tanked, however it later turned out to be a fault on the flushing mechanism which could not be repaired despite fitters attention later at Laira.

With a booked crew change complete, we set away for our final pick up at the bay platform of Exeter St David's taking in the Goods Reception line at Fairwater Yard and Tiverton Down Passenger Loop on the way. Tiverton DPL was a loss from the March charter due to a track circuit fault so we were pleased to "claw back". After reversal in platform 2, we were able to enjoy an "on the day" bonus with thanks to the local Operations Manager and proceeded into Hyde Park Siding – a real bonus for our passengers.

Our next port of call was Exeter New Yard (aka Waterloo Yard). Having missed Road 1 last time due to a Class 159 being present, we were able to complete all three roads on this visit, again including the shunt spur – what more could we ask for!

Away from Exeter St David's 23 minutes late, we proceeded along the highly scenic sea wall, observing the Great Western liveried camping coaches still used for holiday makers at Dawlish Warren and managed by the Great Western Railway Staff Association. After passing through Totnes we proceeded to Tavistock Junction G.F. to perform a reversal and access Tavistock Junction Down Refuge, this being an addition to our previous visit. At Laira Junction, we travelled firstly to the buffers on Lipson Siding No 3 which was to be used as a secure compound for the Nightstar project. After a double reversal, we took Embankment Siding No 2 and avoided the carriage washer by taking the Up road down to the end of the line at Plymouth Friary.

As if to again tease us at this point, we could only look longingly at the Cattewater branch which remains a target for traversal. As efficiently as ever, the road was set for us to head out towards Plymouth and the theatre box was checked to ensure we "got" the Up road at Speedway Jn, being the required route into Plymouth for many passengers, including a well-travelled guard from Northern Trains and long standing member that was with us for the day for that section of track.

We reached Plymouth No 3 Dock 21 minutes late so a prompt reversal was arranged into the head shunt and continuation into platform 4 for a well-earned leg stretch and comfort break. Departing 1 minute late (due to the slowest coffee machine in the world) we headed further West to Keyham, where we were booked to reverse on the Down and run into the Up Yard siding which maintains a platform face with Keyham station. However, despite repeated efforts, the Network Rail team on the ground could not "get" the points (later revealed as an earth fault) so an impromptu run over the bridge into Cornwall was arranged for a reversal in the Down Platform and Up departure from Saltash. A certain directionality enthusiast from Retford would have been delighted if he had been able to travel with us. This move allowed us still to access the yard in the Up direction, which was duly completed and a photographic stop arranged at the platform whilst Network Rail prepared the road back to Plymouth. Extremely well-mannered local children, fascinated by the arrival of a passenger train in that side of the platform, went home that day with a few souvenirs from the charter, very much to their delight!

Once away, the Plymouth Through Line was completed as were the delights of Hemerdon Goods Loop . On arrival at Totnes, 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, host to a Branch Line Society rare track charter earlier in the year. By now, a further comfort stop was required and we briefly called at Totnes platform 2.

Our next target was the Heathfield branch, being only partially completed in March due to flooding. On this occasion, all was well and we reached the very end of the line before reversing and running directly into the former Newton Abbot bay platform 9 now used for stabling the Colas locomotive off the Teingrace to Chirk timber trains, being the former Motorail platform. As this was a "re-run", it was only fair we delivered this extremely rare piece of track having performed this manoeuvre back in March due to the flooding.

After pausing briefly in Newton Abbot station, Goodrington Sands sidings called, being the highlight of the day for many who participated in the first Great Western Tracker. Routing out via platform 1 at Paignton and back via platform 2, we reached the very end of the line on the sidings reception road just as the light was starting to fade. Departure from Paignton was a mere 10 minutes late, and a lively run to Newton Abbot ensured we got put out in front of a Paddington bound HST, much to everyone's amusement!

With our first set down at Exeter St David's platform 5, a comfort break was again taken and we set away just 4 minutes down. We completed Tiverton Up Loop as expected then took in Highbridge Up Goods Loop on our way to Weston-Super-Mare and Bristol via Yatton Up Loop.

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 took the Up Through, before reversing at Bristol East Jn and terminating in platform 9 only one minute down. With 302 miles and 61 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 Power Haul Tracker on 3rd November!

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, Editor of The Locomotive & Carriage Institution newsletter and not least a prominent BLS member, who was the original "driver" behind this fixture. The list of those to thank is almost endless. First Great Western continue to be impressed with the level of interest in their operations, and as you would expect, discussions are underway as to where we could go next together….

Maps

Map 1

Map 2

Map 3

Mileage
Start Point End Point Miles Chains
Bristol Temple Meads Bedminster Up Main, adj to Pylle Hill GF 0m 51ch
Bedminster Up Main Exeter St David's 78m 55ch
Exeter St David's Exeter New Yard Road 1 0m 19ch
Exeter New Yard Road 1 Exeter St David's Hyde Park Siding 0m 19ch
Exeter St David's Hyde Park Siding New Yard Shunt Spur 0m 60ch
New Yard Shunt Spur New Yard Siding 3 0m 41ch
New Yard Siding 3 New Yard Shunt Spur Crossover 0m 12ch
New Yard Shunt Spur Crossover Tavistock Junction Groundframe 49m 37ch
Tavistock Junction Groundframe Tavistock Down Refuge Line 0m 32ch
Tavistock Down Refuge Line Lipson Siding No.3 1m 64ch
Lipson Siding No.3 'Sea Wall' Loop 0m 29ch
'Sea Wall' Loop Plymouth Friary EOL 1m 42ch
Plymouth Friary EOL Plymouth Dock No.3 2m 69ch
Plymouth Dock No.3 Down Siding 0m 17ch
Down Siding Saltash 4m 37ch
Saltash Totnes 27m 26ch
Totnes Totnes West Siding 0m 13ch
Totnes West Siding Totnes East Siding 0m 58ch
Totnes East Siding Totnes 0m 39ch
Totnes Heathfield ECC EOL 12m 62ch
Heathfield ECC EOL Newton Abbot Motorail Bay/Plat 9 3m 76ch
Newton Abbot Motorail Bay/Plat 9 Clear of points, Heathfield Branch 0m 14ch
Clear of points, Heathfield Branch Goodrington Carriage Sidings Headshunt 8m 73ch
Goodrington Carriage Sidings Headshunt Bristol East Jn 105m 53ch
Bristol East Jn Bristol Temple Meads 0m 23ch
TOTAL   302m 61ch
Click here to download mileage table (Excel format)

Timings
DMU Used: 150927 (57127+52209+52127)
Route :
2Z10 : Bristol Temple Meads to Exeter St. Davids
2Z11 : Exeter St. Davids to Plymouth
2Z12 : Plymouth to Goodrington Carriage Holding Sidings
2Z13 : Goodrington Carriage Holding Sidings to Bristol Temple Meads
DMU Route
57127 Leading Bristol Temple Meads - Bedminster (2)
52127 Leading Bedminster - St. Philips Marsh Depot Loop - North Somerset Jn - Bristol Temple Meads (through line) - Yatton Down Loop - Weston-Super-Mare - Taunton (3) - Fairwater Yard - Tiverton Down Loop - Exeter St. Davids (3)
57127 Leading

Exeter St. Davids - Red Cow L.C.

52127 Leading Red Cow L.C. - Hyde Park Siding
57127 Leading Hyde Park Siding - Waterloo New Yard 1 - Shunt Spur (End of Line)
52127 Leading Waterloo New Yard, Shunt Spur - Waterloo New Yard 3 (End of Line)
57127 Leading Waterloo New Yard 3 - Waterloo New Yard, North Points
52127 Leading Waterloo New Yard, North Points - Waterloo New Yard 2 - Exeter St. Davids - Dawlish - Teignmouth - Newton Abbot - Tavistock Junction G.F.
57127 Leading Tavistock Junction G.F. - Tavistock Junction Up Refuge Siding (End of Line)
52127 Leading Tavistock Junction Up Refuge Siding - Laira Jn - Laira Depot Lipson Sidings 3 (Nightstar Compound) (End of Line)
57127 Leading Laira Depot Lipson Sidings 3 - Laira Jn
52127 Leading Laira Jn - Laira Depot Embankment Sidings 2 - Mount Gould Jn - Friary Jn - Plymouth Friary (End of Line)
57127 Leading Plymouth Friary - Speedway Jn - Lipson Jn - Plymouth Dock 3
52127 Leading Plymouth Dock 3 - Sutherland Road Down Siding
57127 Leading Sutherland Road Down Siding - Plymouth - Keyham - Keyham West G.F. (4) - Saltash
52127 Leading Saltash - Keyham West G.F. - Keyham Yard - Plymouth Through Line - Hemerdon Up Goods Loop - Totnes (UPL)
57127 Leading Totnes (UPL) - Totnes Up Siding (West End Turnback Siding)
52127 Leading Totnes West End Turnback Siding - Totnes - Totnes Up Refuge Siding
57127 Leading Totnes Up Refuge Siding - Totnes (3)
52127 Leading Totnes - Newton Abbot - Heathfield
57127 Leading Heathfield - Newton Abbot Motorail Platform
52127 Leading Newton Abbot Motorail Platform - Heathfield Branch (Clear of Points)
57127 Leading Heathfield - Newton Abbot - Torquay - Paignton - Goodrington Carriage Holding Sidings (Reception Line to Headshunt)
52127 Leading Goodrington Carriage Holding Sidings - Paignton - Torquay - Newton Abbot - Exeter St. Davids (3) - Tiverton Up Loop - Highbridge Up Goods Loop - Weston-Super-Mare - Yatton Up Loop - Bristol Temple Meads (through line) - Bristol East Jn
57127 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, which raised over £1550 for charity, split between The Railway Children & The Railway Mission.
(2) Permission to travel along the Carriage Lines between Bristol East & Bedminster refused by the signalman.
(3) Due to a faulty toilet, additional stops were made at Taunton & Totnes with extended stops at Exeter St. Davids to use the facilities.
(4) Despite several attempts, the ground frame at Keyham could not be operated due to an earth fault.

Sources : Alan Sheppard & Jim Sellens

Timings (Booked & actual)
(from Alan Sheppard

M.C Location Booked Actual   Booked Actual M.C
0.00
Bristol Temple Meads 07.40d [P15] 07.43½d [P4][UR-UM-DM-DT]   20.43a [P1] 20.44½ [P9]
317.17
0.27
Bristol West Jn 07/42 [CL] 07.45 ~ 07.51½ [DT-DM-UM]  
0.71
Bedminster 07.43½ ~ 07.47½ [CL] (East) 07.55 ~ 07.58 [UM]  
?
Bristol West Jn 07/49½ [CL] 08/00  
1.45
St Philips Marsh H.S.T.D. 08.01½ ~ 08.09½ 08/08½  
1.75
North Somerset Jn 08/19½ 08/12  
2.30
Bristol East Jn 08/20½ [DM] 08/13   20.36 ~ 20.41 [UDR] 20.40 ~ 20.43 [UFM]
317.01
2.60
Bristol Temple Meads 08/21½ [DT] 08/15 [DT]   20/35 [UT] [UDR] 20/38½ [UT-UFM]
?
?
Bristol West Jn 08/22½ 08.17 ~ 08.18   20/33½ [UR] 20/37
316.33
3.51
Bedminster ? 08/19½   ? 20/36
?
4.44
Parson Street ? 08/20½   20/31½ [P2] [RL] 20/35
?
15.34
Yatton Loop 08.35 ~ 08.57 [DPL] 08.33 ~ 08.58½   20*09 ~ 20*21 [UPL] 20.18 ~ 20.23½
304.63
19.40
Worle Jn 09/18 09.05 ~ 09.16   20/04 20/10½
300.00
21.62
Weston-Super-Mare 09c21 ~ 09c22 [P1] 09.20½ ~ 09.21½ [P1]   20/01 [P2] 20/07 [P1]
297.58
23.34
Uphill Jn 09/25 09/25   19/58½ 20/05
?
-
Highbridge Loop   19*50½ ~ 19*50½ [UGL] 19/55½
288.30
36.77
Bridgwater 09/36½ [P1] 09/36½   19/44 [P2] 19/48
?
44.00
Cogload Jn 09/42 09/42   19/38½ 19/43
275.67
48.42
Taunton 09.46½ ~ 09.46½ [P2][UDR] 09.47a ~ 10.04½d [P2]   19/34½ [P4] 19c37½ ~ 19c38 [P4]
?
49.30
Fairwater Yard 09.50½ ~ 09.56½ 10/07 [Gds Recp]  
50.38
Norton Fitzwarren 10/00½ 10/09   19/33 19/35½
?
58.43
Whiteball 10/09 10/19   19/25½ 19/28½
?
62.58
Tiverton Parkway 10/12 [P1] 10/22   19/22½ [P2] 19/25
?
64.40
Tiverton Loop 10.15 ~ 10.15 [DPL] 10/25½ [DPL]   19.20 ~ 19.20 [UPL] 19/23½ [UPL]
255.00
78.02
Cowley Bridge Jn 10/28 10/38   19/06 19/09
?
79.22
Exeter St Davids 10.31a ~ 10.34d [P2] 10.41a ~ 10.53d [P2]   19.00a ~ 19.03d [P5] 19.01a ~ 19.07d [P5]
?
-
Exeter St Davids (North) ? 10.55 ~ 10.55½  
-
Exeter St Davids (Hyde Park Sdg) ? 10.57½ ~ 10.59 [HP Sdg]  
79.77
Exeter (WaterlooNew Yard) 10.36 ~ 10.58 (via Road 1) 11.02½ ~ 11.03  
(Shunt Spur) 11.07½ ~ 11.10 (EoL)  
(Road 3) 11.17 ~ 11.18½ (EoL)  
(Rd 1 / Rd 2 points) 11.20½ ~ 11.22  
(via Road 2) 11.24 ~ 11.30½  
80.52
Exeter St Davids 11.00 ~ 11.12 [P3] 11.33½ ~ 11.35½ [P3]  
91.17
Dawlish Warren 11/22 11/48 [DT]   18/48½ 18/52
?
92.67
Dawlish 11/23½ [P1] 11/49½ [P1]   18/47 [P2] 18/50½ [P2]
?
95.50
Teignmouth 11/26½ [P1] 11/53½ [P1]   18/44 [P2] 18/47 [P2]
?
100.65
Newton Abbot 11/32½ [P1] 11/58½ [P2]   18/39 [P1] 18c41½ ~ 18c41½
220.05
-
Newton Abbot West Jn   18/35 18/40½
?
-
Torquay   18.24 ~ 18.24 [P2] 18/34 [P2]
?
-
Paignton   18*15 ~ 18*20 [P2] 18/30 [P2]
?
-
Paignton South   ? 18.20 ~ 18.28  
-
Goodrington C.H.S.   17.47 ~ 18.10 18.14 ~ 18.16½
211.30
-
Paignton   17.31½ ~ 17.41½ [P1] 18.07 ~ 18.09 [P1]
210.62
-
Torquay   17.27 ~ 17.27 [P1] 18/02½ [P1]
208.49
-
Newton Abbot West Jn   17/19 17/54½
203.13
-
Newton Abbot   17.13 ~ 17.18 [P3] 17.52a ~ 17.53½d [P3]
202.55
-
Heathfield Branch (Clear of Points)   ? 17.48½ ~ 17.50
?
-
Newton Abbot Motorail Plat   ? 17.47 ~ 17.47½ [P9]
?
-
Heathfield E.C.C. (End of Line 4m07ch)   16.30 ~ 16.50 17.17 ~ 17.20½
197.79
-
Newton Abbot   16.07 ~ 16.10 [P3] 16.55 ~ 16.56 [P3]
193.23
101.23
Newton Abbot West Jn 11/33½ 11/59   16/05 16/53½
?
104.43
Dainton Tunnel 11/37 12/03   16/01½ 16/50
?
109.46
Totnes 11/42½ [P1] 12/11½ [P1]   (15*42) ~ 15*55 16.34½a ~ 16.44d [P2]
184.42
-
Ashburton Jn   ? 16.28 ~ 16.33  
-
Totnes URS   ? 16.24 ~ 16.26
184.16
-
Totnes   ? 16/22
?
-
Totnes West End Turnback Sdg   ? 16.17½ ~ 16.19½
?
-
Totnes UPL   15*42 ~ (15*55) 16.15 ~ 16.16
183.70
?
Aish Emergency Crossover 11/52 12.25½ ~ 12.27½   15/33½ 16/05½
?
121.07
Ivybridge 11/56 [P1] 12/32½   15/29½ [P2] 16/01½
?
125.73
Hemerdon 12/00 [DM] 12/37½   15*23½ ~ 15*23½ [UGL] 15/55½ [UGL]
167.27
130.15 Tavistock Junction G.F. ? 12.43 ~ 12.46  
?
Tavistock Junction Dn Refuge ? 12.51 ~ 12.53 (EoL)  
?
Tavistock Junction G.F. ? 12.56 ~ 12.56½  
?
Laira Jn (243m 28ch) ? 12/59½ [DM]  
149.51
Laira Jn (243m 67ch) 12.39 ~ 12.41 13/01 [DG]   ? 15/50
162.69
150.09 Laira T&RSMD (Nightstar Compound) 12*45 ~ 13*05 13.06 ~ 13.17 [Lipson Siding 3] (EoL)  
150.47 Laira Jn (c.243m 75ch) ? 13.20½ ~ 13.21½  
151.00
Laira T&RSMD 12*45 ~ 13*05 13.25 ~ 13.29 [Through Sdg 2]  
151.21
Mount Gould Jn 13.10 ~ 13.10 13/32 [Up Dep]  
151.36
Friary Jn ? 13/33 [Up Dep]  
?
Turnchapel Branch Jn ? 13.35 ~ 13.35½  
151.78
Plymouth Friary S.S. 13.18 ~ 13.28 13.39½ ~ 13.42 (EoL)  
?
Turnchapel Branch Jn ? 13.43 ~ 13.44½ [Up Dep]  
?
Friary Jn ? 13/47 [Up Dep]  
152.55
Mount Gould Jn 13.38 ~ 13.38 13.49½ ~ 13.50  
153.00
Speedway Jn ? 13/51 [Up]  
154.01
Lipson Jn 13/40 13.52 ~ 13.56½   15/17 15/49
162.21
155.41
Plymouth 13.45a [Dock 2] ~ 14.06½ ~ 14.07½ [Dock 3]  
155.61
Sutherland Road Dn Sdg ? 14.09½ ~ 14.10  
156.01 Plymouth ~ 14.30d [P4] 14.11a ~ 14.31d [P4]  

15*02 ~ 15*14 [TL]

15.46 ~ 15.46½ [TL]
160.61
?
Keyham 14.34½ [P1] 14/35½ [P1]   14.42 ~ 14.57 [Up Yard] 15p20½a ~ 15p37d [Up Yard]
158.44
158.31
Keyham Sig.P127 14.35 ~ 14.36 ~ 14.56   ~ 14.40 15/18
158.31
 
St Budeaux Ferry Road   ?     15.08 ~ 15.16 [P2]
 
 
Saltash   15.01 [P1]     15.03 [P1]
 

Note : Mileages in table above 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. Also does not include the brief visit to Cornwall.
Mileage of 154.01 at Lipson Jn was via a traversal of the Speedway Curve & a reversal at Laira Jn of 153.33 - That was the route taken on the first FGW Tracker tour, but on this occasion the booked route was to be direct via the rare Up Plymouth Loop Line from Speedway Jn to Lipson Jn.


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