BLOG: Field trips are key


Field trips are a great way to gather information on the full-size railway and a recent journey to the West Country provided the opportunity to do just that and sample a run on Great Western Railway’s (GWR) soon-to-change High Speed Train (HST) fleet at the same time.

GWR liveried HST power car plus rake of First Great Western liveried carriages – February 01 2018

I find it incredibly therapeutic to spend a day or two at a specific location and catalogue information on track layout, platform furniture, renovations, paint schemes, rolling stock, detail differences and even changes to the scene since I was last there. Perhaps a model of the station and sea wall will appear one day, who knows. This activity provides a handy reference guide when I’m looking to model specific features or enhance an item of rolling stock – be it a new identity or something a little more involved.

What a view – Penzance station looking out to St Michael’s Mount – January 31 2018

Penzance is a favourite railway location of mine. Granted, during the winter months it isn’t the busiest of stations, but it represents the south westerly tip of the railway network with a four-platform station, traditional train shed roof and sidings. There is also GWR’s Long Rock depot facility which has recently benefitted from a £20 million extension. This investment came about as a result of GWR’s ‘Night Riviera’ sleeper fleet transferring from Old Oak Common depot in London to the Duchy and the resulting maintenance requirements.

Penzance station’s four platform layout, with traditional train-shed. Note the steel sleepered track.

With camera in hand I set about capturing images of the station and surrounds, noting some interesting details such as steel sleepers in the station area, LED style multi-aspect signals, newly-installed staff walkways and lighting, an extended and remodelled depot building, new depot track layout and more. Rolling stock didn’t escape the camera either with plenty of images captured for future reference.

GWR liveried High Speed Train approaches journey’s end at Penzance – February 01 2018

With a mix of GWR operated ‘Sprinter’ Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs), 2+8 High Speed Trains (HSTs) plus occasional Cross Country ‘Voyager’ units, a regular passenger service operates on the section between Penzance and Plymouth (two-hourly between Penzance and London Paddington). There is also the added variety provided in the daily arrival/departure of the Class 57 hauled ‘Night Riviera’ sleeper service to/from Penzance and the Capital.

Newly extended GWR Long Rock depot building – February 1 2018

BR Mk 3 Night Riviera Brake First Open 17175 undergoes minor attention at Long Rock Depot – January 31 2018

Amongst the photographic opportunities during my most recent visit, a BR Mk 3 carriage was undergoing minor examination, a Class 57/3 was stabled in the holding sidings and the depot’s resident GWR green Class 08 diesel shunter, 08410, was stabled at the Ponsondane end of the depot with two BR Mk 3 ‘Night Riviera’ seated coaches and a Mk 1 barrier vehicle, offering further potential modelling possibilities.

GWR Class 08 08410 stabled at Ponsondane with two GWR Mk 3 Night Riviera vehicles and a FGW Mk 1 barrier coach – February 01 2018

Sadly, my time in the West Country came to an end all too quickly, but I will be back this summer when the scene is likely to have changed further with the introduction of GWR’s InterCity Express Programme (IEP) trains to the route and ‘short’ 2+4 HST formations on some services – the platform stop boards are already in place for the latter.

Interesting signal at Penzance station – note the small traditional repeater

Talking of IEPs, Hornby’s forthcoming ‘OO’ gauge five-car Class 800 bi-mode multiple unit is now out and you can read our full review in HM129, on sale now, on this exciting new addition to the range.

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