Cross Country Services - Loco Hauled Countdown

With the expected elimination of Class 47 haulage on Cross Country services scheduled for August 2002, I decided to spend time in June 2002 photographing trains on the Birmingham - Bristol route.  I had tried a similar activity in September 2001 but the weather started off overcast and got worse!  This time I was luckier with mainly bright or sunny spells.  Class 47 diagrams were expected to disappear as the summer progressed but by the last weekend in June on Saturdays 6 southbound and 8 northbound daylight workings still remained.  On weekdays there were fewer trains but there were still enough services to attempt to travel to different locations to photograph what was running (if it was on time!).  The Railway Photographers' Guide to UK Photographic Locations helped with possible vantage points and the Class 47 list and an old working timetable allowed me work out timings.  I judged my trip a success and on Saturday 29 June I managed to photograph 13 of the 14 possible workings (missing, on purpose, the horrendously liveried 47829 when travelling between locations).  In total I photographed 13 of the 17 Virgin Class 47s still in service at the time.  It may seem a cliché but we will never see another summer like this one.

Click here for the full image (72kb) I've started with a photo taken a few weeks earlier.  A business trip to London had given me the opportunity to travel back to Edinburgh in three stages and perhaps experiencing my final Virgin Class 47 haulage from York to Newcastle.  47831 "Bolton Wanderer" is seen departing from Newcastle on its return journey south with the 1840 to Bristol Temple Meads on 17 May 2002.


Click here for the full image (96kb) For my Gloucestershire trip I travelled part of the way from Edinburgh on Wednesday 26 June and was able to reach the Birmingham - Bristol line by mid-morning on the Thursday.  Besford is one of the most popular locations on this line (I was there several times and I was on my own only once!) and 47805 "Pride of Toton" is seen heading north with the 1210 Bristol Temple Meads - Newcastle.  (27 June 2002)


Click here for the full image (78kb) A little later the locomotive I really wanted to photograph, 47840 "North Star" passed with the 0846 Penzance - Manchester Piccadilly.  This had actually headed south from Scotland earlier in the week working the 0840 Glasgow - Penzance throughout, which had been a booked working for Class 47s because of engineering work in the Edinburgh area affecting the previous train on the diagram.  (27 June 2002)


Click here for the full image (93kb) I moved further south to a footbridge just north of Aschurch station to photograph 47848 "Newton Abbot Festival of Transport" with the 0840 Glasgow Central - Penzance.  (27 June 2002)


Click here for the full image (102kb) I was staying in Cheltenham and the next day I headed south looking for locations on the way to Bristol.  47805 "Pride of Toton" is seen to the north of Yate with the 0913 Liverpool Lime Street - Plymouth.  (28 June 2002)


Click here for the full image (91kb) 47812 "Pride of Eastleigh" is seen south of Wickwar Tunnel with the 1115 Manchester Piccadilly - Bristol Temple Meads.  This was another popular location with a number of other photographers appearing during the afternoon!  (28 June 2002)


Click here for the full image (114kb) At the same location 47829 heads the 0840 Glasgow Central - Penzance.  This is the one Virgin repaint which I think they could have done without!  And, of course, the sun was out for this one.  (28 June 2002)


Click here for the full image (96kb) Heading back north later in the afternoon 47812 "Pride of Eastleigh" is making for Wickwar Tunnel with the 1535 Bristol Temple Meads - Edinburgh.  (28 June 2002)


Click here for the full image (99kb) On the outskirts of Cheltenham 47805 "Pride of Toton" catches the evening sunshine as it heads north with the 1550 Plymouth - Manchester Piccadilly.  (28 June 2002)


Click here for the full image (109kb) To make sure I made the most of the extra services on Saturdays I devised a plan to head south to Standish Junction in the morning and then travel north of Cheltenham to a number of locations in the afternoon.  Despite some late running I managed to photograph all the services I planned to.  47828 "Severn Valley Railway" heads south at Standish Junction with a set of MkIII coaches in tow on the 0916 Manchester Piccadilly - Paignton.  (29 June 2002)


Click here for the full image (95kb) 47831 "Bolton Wanderer" approaches Standish Junction with the 1004 Paignton - Newcastle.  (29 June 2002)


Click here for the full image (91kb) Another of the Virgin celebrity repaints, 47847 "The Railway Magazine/Brian Morrison" is seen at Standish Junction with the 1015 Manchester Piccadilly - Penzance.  (29 June 2002)


Click here for the full image (82kb) I moved north to Besford in time to see 47812 "Pride of Eastleigh" passing with the 0840 Glasgow Central - Penzance.  (29 June 2002)


Click here for the full image (98kb) Also at Besford, 47848 "Newton Abbot Festival of Transport" heads north with the 1210 Paignton - Liverpool Lime Street.  (29 June 2002)


Click here for the full image (83kb) A little further south at Defford, 47840 "North Star" is seen with the 1303 Paignton - Manchester Piccadilly.  How strange that everyone now gets excited about the sight of a BR blue Class 47!  However, I think that this is the star among the celebrities and Virgin deserve congratulations for ensuring that the Class 47s see out their final days in style.  (29 June 2002)


Click here for the full image (88kb) It was back to Besford for the next photograph (and back to sunshine!) with 47843 "Vulcan", another of the original batch of named Class 47s like "North Star", heading north with the 1535 Bristol Temple Meads - Edinburgh.  (29 June 2002)


Click here for the full image (93kb) 47841 "Spirit of Chester" leads classmate 47854 "Women's Royal Voluntary Service" (not operating as far as I could tell) out of Cheltenham with the 1508 Paignton - Preston.  (29 June 2002)


Click here for the full image (68kb) The final photograph of the day shows 47828 "Severn Valley Railway" clagging away from Cheltenham Spa station with the 1617 Paignton - Manchester Piccadilly.  (29 June 2002)