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So there we have it. The Government has announced that the UK is now in ‘lockdown’ due to the Coronavirus – although not in complete lockdown as people are still allowed to be out to do several things. Go to work, go to buy food or – to exercise once a day. The caveats? No gatherings bigger than two people or household groups if everyone lives together. All non-essential shops are to be closed, as are playgrounds and places of worship. Mind you, for some people, clothes shops are places of worship, so for them it’s going to be a double-whammy! All wedding and christenings are off, but funerals are OK – just don’t go to one, unless it’s your own, obviously – although if I had the choice that’s the one I definitely would avoid! You can find the full list of closures and don’ts here in the Governments press release. The police will be given powers to break up any gatherings that don’t conform to the new rules, which will be reviewed after three weeks. I think most of us suspected this was coming. We’ve had the social screws slowly tightened over the past week, but the sights of the weekend, when thousands ignored the calls to self isolate have made it easier for the Government to act as – in general – people agree with the actions they’re taking, despite this being the most draconian cut in people’s civil liberties since WW2 as it will actually save lives.

Tomorrow we’ll see the reaction of the stock markets, although that can’t get much worse as the FTSE100 has already fallen by 3.79% today. The economic damage this pandemic is causing are going to be far-reaching and any resolution is too far in the future to see. The markets have lost 30% of their value in the past month, which is causing a lot of financial pain for many people and companies.

All we can do now is live for the present. That said, most of what I’m doing is living for the past as the present and future’s very much on hold! I finished writing my latest piece on HS2 and the Curzon St archeological excavations for RAIL magazine today so now I’m going to be concentrating on scanning yet more pictures from the 1990s. I always said I needed to find the time to do this, now I’ve had that time thrust upon me – like it or not. I’ve got two albums of rail pictures with me at home, plus another half dozen travel ones containing pictures from around the world. I’m tempted to vary my output. If I’m going to be stuck in these four walls for most of the day it might be a nice distraction to look upon pictures of sun-kissed beaches and exotic locations – or it could drive me batty as I realise what I’m missing out on. Only time will tell!

Here’s a little sample of the latest additions from today.

This scene from 1991 is unrecognisable today. There are the low level platforms at Stratford, East London, which were on the route to North Woolwich, which closed in 2004. The lines now been converted to become part of the Docklands Light railway. The station itself has undergone several reconstructions since. This part of the line is now inside the huge new main station building whilst the area to the left is the terminus of the Jubilee line. Only the inspection saloon and the locomotive (73209) still exist. ‘Caroline’ as the saloon’s been named is based at Derby whilst the loco is operated by GBRf and used on Caledonian Sleeper trains up in Scotland.
Paddington station on the 25th April 1991 was a dingy place. The station roof was dirty and stained – as were many of the locomotives that choked the place with diesel fumes. Network Southeast liveried 47715 was a refugee from Scotland, having been transferred after the end of push-pull services between Edinburgh and Glasgow. 47843 was used on Cross-country services, having arrived from the Midlands. Notice all the parcels trolleys full of mail bags to the right of the train – another sight that’s long gone.

Tomorrow I’ll be ploughing through another batch of pictures from 1991 and also digging out some more modern digital shots for a future RAIL article. I may be confined to barracks, but I’ve no shortage of things to do…