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I’m just about to come to the end of scanning my old albums full of UK rail slides as I’ve less than 60 pictures left to go. By chance, the final album is from the years 2000-2001 (I went digital in 2004 but the other albums jumped the queue) and it’s been quite an eye-opener because whilst many of the pictures remained fresh in my mind, a couple were real surprises. The picture they paint is of a railway industry that was still in the early stages of privatisation, with many old train fleets still in service, but also new routes that were attempted but that never survived, either because they were developed purely as ORCATS* raids to poach fare revenue from other operators, or because the trains and the routes they were used on made little commercial sense in their own right. Here’s a couple of examples which I scanned earlier today.

Until I scanned this picture earlier I’d forgotten this service even existed! This is a West Yorkshire PTE liveried Class 158 at Glasgow Central on the 27th March 2001, prior to working the 14.10 to Leeds via the West Coast Main Line to Carlisle, then down the Settle and Carlisle. That’s a long way to go in a 2-car, 90mph diesel unit that wasn’t fitted out to Intercity standards! The service was introduced by the Arriva Trains North Franchise in September 1999 but only lasted a few years before the franchise was broken up. The long-distance routes were hived off into the Trans-Pennine Express franchise, but this one didn’t survive.

Here’s another one from the same year that didn’t last long either.

Thames Trains 165134 stands at Bristol Temple Meads before working the 12.30 to Oxford, which used the Didcot West Curve. Introduced in 1998 but withdrawn in 2003 at the request of the Strategic Rail Authority (90mph units on a 125mph main line weren’t a good use of capacity) these were the only time ‘Thames Turbo’s’ were seen in Bristol until recently. Thames Trains were merged with the Great Western franchise in 2004. Now these units are a common sight around Bristol as they were cascaded to the area following the electrification of the Great Western Main line between Paddington – Reading – Newbury.

Back in 2001 there was a lot of old stock eking out their twilight years a long way from the routes they’d been built for. Here’s another one from Scotland.

305519 stands at Edinburgh Waverley ready to work a service to North Berwick on the 26th March 2001. Built in 1959 at Doncaster works for the former Eastern region these units worked services out of London Liverpool St before many of them were displaced by the Class 315 units built in 1980 onwards. Several ended up being reduced to 3 -car sets working in the North-West operating service out of Manchester Piccadilly to Dinting whilst 5 4 -car sets were sent to Scotland to operate the line to North Berwick which was electrified in 1991. They survived in service until January 2002 when they were replaced with Class 322 ‘Stansted Express’ units which were also cascaded from services out of Liverpool St!

It wasn’t just regional services that were changing either. The Cross-Country network was about to see see a major shake-up as loco-hauled trains were going to be replaced by ‘Voyagers’…

Virgin Cross-Country’s 47844 hauls a service bound for the West Country past the site of Malago Vale carriage sidings in Bristol on the 1st April 2001. With the decline in loco-hauled Intercity fleets and demise of parcels trains many sidings like Malago Vale were redundant. Today the site is covered in houses.

Many old BR built locomotive fleets were in decline with hundreds stored around the country before being stripped for spares and sent for scrap. Sights like this one at London’s Old Oak Common depot were common.

On the 14th April 2001 the former ‘Coronation’ and Van sidings adjacent to Old Oak Common diesel depot are full of stored locomotives, electrification maintenance coaches and Freightliner container flats. From nearest the camera locomotives include. 47535. 33205. 47492. 73132. 73138. 73119. 73141. 73110. 73107. 73114 and several Class 31s.

As you can see from just this small selection, scanning these slides has been an interesting look back nearly 20 years, showing how much has changed in that time. Of course this isn’t the end of the story, I’ve still got albums of foreign railways to scan, including a large collection of Indian steam pictures. Then there’s all the travel shots going back decades – so expect plenty more trips down memory lane!

* Operational Research Computerised Allocation of Tickets to Services

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