Sunday, 11 December 2016

Norfolk Diesel Gala Part Two

In Part One (click here) we had a Class 47, an even shorter Short Set, some blurry 68's and an extremely good looking Norwich Red Line Gemini.

I have always said I will explore the Norwich Network more thoroughly once there are decent buses on it. The Blue Line was done years ago, I've done the entire Purple Line through necessity more than want, done more of the Yellow Line than intended due to getting lost, and the Green Line between Norwich and Brundall. The rest is a void in my education. Now there are a couple of Geminis on the Turquoise Line that stands a chance but I decided on Thursday to do the Red Line back to Thorpe as long as it was a Gemini. Luck was in as 36192, minus front fleet numbers First please note, arrived and I embarked on a route that must take a considerable time to learn. It's not scenic in the slightest and wild horses wouldn't get me doing it on a President but it's one to tick off the list, and the Gemini gave a decent ride.

I now appeal to the Head of Engineering at First Norwich (Chris pass this on please). Using current industry buzz words the "customer journey experience" would be much enhanced if rubber strips could be applied to the inside of what used to be known as "blind box doors" to stop the incessant rattling that the ill fitting doors produce. Wright's fault not yours but it would show consideration for passengers that many operators lack involving minimal cost.

Anyway my luck was really in. Due to traffic congestion caused by temporary lights in Thorpe the 24's were not going to their usual (and my) destination of Sainsbury, and so I ended up at the alternative terminus in Dussingdale which gave a great photo opportunity and chance to natter to the extremely friendly driver, who dropped me back off as close to Sainsbury as possible. So not only great pics but pics at a spot few will get.

First Norwich ex Leeds Volvo B9tl Gemini2 36192 BN12 JYS at Dussingdale
The nearside view
In case anyone is wondering what front fleet numbers I'm referring to here is a much more identifyable 36189 in Castle Meadow. Not 100% in focus as it was a quick rush job to get the pic.

36189 sporting the front fleet numbers
After another excruciating journey back to the car on another Streetlite (it's not the driving but the ludicrously jerky braking system) it was over to Wymondham for the Network Rail Test Train. Knowing what locos were on it in advance made it a must, although sadly I also knew it wouldn't be the regular driver. My old friend 37057 was returning together with a 37 I have wanted to see in the flesh for a long time - the Intercity liveried 37254. A few minutes early in the gathering gloom at 1530 the train glided through the station and was held at the signal just ahead, which meant some good growl as she pulled away.

37057 leads the test train through Wymondham
With the impressive 37254 on rear

The idea was to head back to Yarmouth and meet up with Tim to see the test train there, but I had used up enough petrol, needed a windscreen washer bottle the size of a swimming pool and knew I was seeing it later at Darsham so drove home. What a mistake as Tim got a photo opportunity one can only dream of. On the same platform as the test train with its two unique 37's arrived the Class 68 hauled set. This led to a glorious face off between 37057 and one of it's youngest pretenders, the over 50 years younger 68025.

37057 giving 68025 the look                             pic (c) Tim Miller
Which the 68 returns with interest                             pic (c) Tim Miller
To see these magnificent beasts together really is a collectors item, and at a very unlikely location. Didn't even know Great Yarmouth had permissive working (two or more different trains on one platform). But a great birthday present for Tim!

The two trains together at Great Yarmouth                         pic (c) Tim Miller
And so, kicking myself for not seeing that, back in Suffolk I headed to Darsham for my usual 37 thrash video. By this time the test train was running a bit late, and that had rather unfortunate consequences.

Safe to say I wasn't amused. Even less amused that despite sending the bid to Greater Anglia I haven't heard a peep from them, when Virgin Trains East Coast gave a chap a trip to New York when one of their trains bombed his video of the Flying Scotsman. Will try again!

So that meant my already long day was extended well into the night as I returned to catch the test train returning back towards Lowestoft. The time is 0130, and it's eerily quiet. I heard the train approaching at least 3 minutes before I saw it, but on the return trip it just glides through so no aural treat. Nice acknowledgement from the driver though, who must get constantly bewildered by nutters out in the dead of night videoing trains!

37254 glides through Darsham looking rather ghostly
37057 looking equally spooky

And that completed a long but highly enjoyable day. So enjoyable I'm thinking of taking this up as a hobby! My thanks to all the people I nattered to during the day, as well as the locos for still being around, a testament to the quality of their build.

A quick reminder to please vote for the blog at the National Blog Awards 2017 - full details here.

Have a good week.


  1. Top posts!I got an acknowledgement at Beccles later too,those drivers can be as bad y'know. As soon as the test train stopped they were out snapping pics alongside me.Had a natter at Yarmouth too nice blokes! It has been established that 37254 is the first 37 in that livery to grace Vauxhall station but that a few 47's would have done due to the frequency and prolific Saturday services from all over the country in the 70's and 80's

  2. Much as I like the 37s and Mk 2s, it does seem a bit bonkers to have 200 tons of locomotive propelling 70 tons of coach around the Norfolk countryside! Wouldn't class 20s have been more economical (assuming they have the right electrical connections)?

    1. Oh my word you know how to float my boat don't you! 20's are about the only loco I'd accept replacing the 37's. The 3rd coach has been replaced so back to normal length now and rather special loco replacing 37419. Pics and vid on Monday I hope.