It’s a sunny but chilly day here in Nottingham and we’re all getting ready for day 2 of the Community Rail Network annual conference. I’ll be photographing/blogging through the day before heading home after the conference finishes later this afternoon….
We’ve kicked off with a briefing on the new Great Britain Railways structure and plans from Sarah Williams, Community Rail Lead, GBR Transition team.
Now we have CRNs Deputy Chief Executive Brian Barnsley talking about the growth of CRN and the challenges for the future.
10:00 following the first talks there was a busy and active Q&A session. Here’s Maisie Axon from Siemens Mobility posing one.
It’s 11:45 and the conference has broken up into three workshops to discuss ‘planning in uncertain times’. There’s been some really interesting discussions but it’s not all been doom and gloom by any means as can be seen by this light-hearted suggestion board and picture of CRN’s Denise Havard at one of the workshops.
The conference is now over for another year. It’s been a great event and I’ll add a few more pictures later. Right now I’m beginning the trek back to Yorkshire after bidding adieu to some old community rail friends who decided to wait for their train at the Micropub on the station which is located in the old wooden taxi office on the South side of the building. I’m taking the ‘scenic’ route via the Robin Hood line to Worksop in order to do some photographic reconnaissance. I’ve not taken pictures along the central and Northern sections for many a year so this was a good opportunity to have a look. My chariot is another ex-Scotrail 3-car Class 170 and it’s well loaded.
The first section of the line proper parallels the NET tram system which provides an interesting contrast in transport modes.
After a delay caused by the fact the line’s single-track towards Hucknall so we had to wait for a Southbound service to clear the section we finally reached Hucknall where the tram tracks end. Now we’re on our own over old railway infrastructure that’s a shadow of its former self due to de-industrialisation and the mass closure of colleries. That said, the line hits a bit of a rural oasis after escaping Hucknall’s clutches. Well, until we hit Newstead – formerly called Newstead Colliery Village where the proliferation of Silver Birch trees (the first coloniser of old industrial sites) tells a tale.
There’s not much to see at Kirby-In-Ashfield where a line trails on from the left and we’re back on double track, because the station’s situated in a cutting. At Sutton Parkway, the station’s sat in the middle of an modern industrial estate but at least it provides more passengers.
The shift between new housing. industrial dereliction and pockets of green continued as far as Mansfield where the the original station stone built building survives on the Worksop platform. Nothing original survives on the opposite side – and I’m not just talking about the station! The town’s undergone various phases of redevelopment and not all look successful or aesthetic!
We’ve arrived at Mansfield Woodhouse which used to see Robin Hood services terminate. The old goods shed was converted to provide shelter for trains which used a spur off the main line. Now only a few peak hour services from Nottingham end their journeys here.
At Shirebrook an original building survives as a ‘business centre’ but the fans of sidings and old locomotive depot that serviced coal trains are long gone. Only the old Midland Railway signalbox that guards Shirebrook Jn lives to tell the (much quieter) tale…
Now the line becomes rural once again until it hits Cresswell where we encounter semaphore signals a very derelict and abandoned old station building and a new(ish) basic station just to the North of the original. There’s even an ancient wooden-post semaphore signal here, a rare survivor nowadays.
I’m beginning to regret not having brought my rail atlas. This section of line’s unfamiliar so trying to piece together the railway’s geography is difficult. Where did some of these severed sidings and abandoned lines go to or serve? I’ve no idea…
Sorry – another break in the narrative as I was too busy in the real world! Approaching Worksop was fun as the still-extant sidings that once used to be full of coal wagons now have a very different purpose. Rail businessman Harry Needle has leased them from Network Rail and invested millions in re-fettling them and making the sites secure. They’re an ideal vehicle storage centre and there’s plenty of stuff needing his services for a variety of reasons. My train passed off-lease LNER Mk3 loco-hauled coaches, a variety of off-lease Class 321 EMUs, plus brand new Alstom (formerly Bombardier) Class 701 and 720 trains waiting to go to the TOCs that ordered them. There’s also a few heritage locos and coaches, plus a brace of Class 92 electric locos up on jacks as they’re sans bogies. It’s a very surreal sight.
I had chance to mull this over whilst I had a pint in ‘The Mallard’ the friendly, cosy little pub on the station where I spent a pleasant time chatting to people before getting my train North-Westwards…
I’m now heading for Leeds on a Northern Class 158 from Lincoln. The train’s been busy throughout the trip, firstly to Sheffield, but now on the way to Leeds. We had a crew-change at Sheffield and the young woman who took over as conductor is excellent. She’s not afraid of the intercom or public speaking. Her explanation of why we’re late (tresspassers) was spot on and struck just the right note.
I’m now back at home and lounging with a beer before hitting the sack. Today’s been a fascinating and diverse one that’s left me with lots of pictures to edit and words to process – starting first thing tomorrow morning. But, I’ll leave you with one last picture from yesterday’s trip on Crossrail now that the embargo’s expired. Here’s a driver’s eye view of the new railway seen from the cab of a Bombardier built Class 345 as the train’s sat at the platform at Paddington. I don’t know about you, but having spent a lot of time in modern train cabs there’s one thing that really catches my eye. It’s the Screwfix style 3-pin plug socket above the driver’s head!