Following derailments on the UP main between Low-Level and West Bromwich, the old Graham Farish track was removed and relaid to smooth the transition between baseboards. This has resulted in improved running across the joint.
With the recent return of modern trains (2012?), a nasty incident was reported on the northern approaches into Birmingham Snow Hill. A London bound Wrexham and Shropshire express derailed on its approach into Platform 3. No casualties were reported and the Head Gangster has dismissed questions about poor track quality!
The reason for the derailment remains under investigation.
To increase seating capacity, trials of a NSW double decker Tangara EMU were undertaken on Banbury Connections earlier this year.
The Tangara ran superbly under battery power as it navigated the line between Shrewsbury and Chester General.
Banbury Connections management will make a decision about introducing double decker trains to bolster capacity on the railway later in the year.
A couple of videos and photos of the test run can be found below.
Following the donation of a sand wagon by Mick, the new wagon has been put into service and is seen delivering sand from Gosport to the sand drying plant at Sheffield shed. The wagon joined a Gosport to Great Central oil working.
Following months of work, the Sheffield Victoria to Manchester Piccadilly Electrification Program has been completed.
Electrification was undertaken exclusively with Triang Catenary while we utilised a combination of original Triang and scratch built masts.
Two Triang EM2s have been fitted with fine scale wheels and eight pickups to adhere to modern railway standards and have performed admirably since being pressed into service earlier this year.
A video is below.
The third sleeper train on Banbury Connections, running between London and Scotland, has been fully commissioned.
A Dapol Stanier Brake Second kit was acquired. Unfortunately, the maroon colouring on the kit looked a bit too plum. Rectifying this was more complex than first thought and required three coats of rail match BR Maroon. On the positive side, the coach, complete with a new paint job, lining and crest looks superb. Dad also insisted on the interior seats being painted!
The two LMS 69' sleeping cars were also reliveried from LMS to BR. From our biased perspective, this is a substantial improvement. Given the high level of resistance on the white metal bogies of the 12 wheel sleeper, the other sleeper was an 8 wheeler which has been re-bogied with Lima bogies already, had its under frame replaced with a Hornby 69' restaurant car body. This has resulted in superior operational reliability and performance.
To make way for the Sheffield to Manchester electrification, the diesel depot, which has been inappropriately located around the turntable for many years has been moved to a new site on the northern end of the station. This allows Deltics coming off the London trains to be refueled for the return trip whilst an electric locomotive takes the train to Manchester. The diesel refueling facilities at Sheffield have been relocated to the diesel depot, making space for the electric locomotive storage siding.
A picture of the EM2 in the electric siding (previously the diesel refueling bay) and the new diesel depot is below. The diesel depot received a significant upgrade with new brick and concrete sides to replace the Hornby printed sides.
The engine shed, half a Triang northlight, which was previously located where the diesel depot now stands has been moved to the locomotive roads around the turntable and supplemented with a second engine shed kindly donated by Mick.
Much to the sadness of Triang lovers, the engine shed has been modified to look more prototypical and the missing roof vents were replaced with cardboard ones.
A picture of the new shed following these modifications can be seen below.
It has been five years since Banbury Connections' last major extension from Wolverhampton to Birkenhead and Shrewsbury (connecting to Machynlleth).
Following a couple of years of planning, Banbury Connections is pleased to announce its latest extension plan which includes the addition of London Paddington Station and the GWR main line to Cornwall. This will be achieved by widening and lengthening the shed by another metre, enabling the addition of a second London terminus and mainline to Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance.
A map of BR in 1962 with the existing and proposed lines on Banbury Connections is presented below.
For some time Banbury Connections has had insufficient canopies/awnings at many stations and goods loading platforms due to the high cost and difficulty in obtaining new canopies.
In a recent visit to our local model store, All Aboard, a very large pack of 16 second hand canopies was obtained at a very favourable price enabling Banbury Connections to improve facilities in several locations including Rugby Central, Leicester Central, Chester General, Birmingham Snow Hill parcels platform, Cleethorpes fish dock and Marylebone goods.
A Hornby overall roof was also acquired with plans for this to be installed over the concourse at Birmingham Snow Hill in the future.
Pictures can be found below.
Gosport Corporation Tramways has recently been responsible for a number of injuries amongst the Banbury Connections operating crew. The tramway's masts at the Anchor Inn end of the line have small steel protrusions where the steel rod for holding the electric wire goes through the far side of the pole. Whilst, prototypical in design, they have proven a hazard. This has resulted in a number of blood drenched operators. In response, Banbury Connections has installed a number of plastic "insulators" to protect our valuable operators from future harm.
Here is a picture of some of the brass gantry masts in place at Sheffield Victoria before they were permanently installed.
In an attempt to bolster economic activity during these difficult times, Banbury Connections management has made initial investments into electrifying the mainline between Sheffield Victoria and Manchester Piccadilly.
Following many years of diesel operation, electrification was not only seen as a means of boosting realism but improving (or complicating) the operating experience for Sheffield operators who are now required to undertake an additional locomotive change.
Overhead masts donated to Banbury Connections many years ago were supplemented with a number of lengths of donated catenary. A donated locomotive has its wheels changed to run on fine scale track and an additional four pickups added. This enabled scoping works to be undertaken regarding the feasibility of electrification.
Following the success of the first locomotive, a second locomotive was acquired at a favourable price and modified to run on fine scale track. While the second locomotive had a damaged body, it turned out to have an excellent mechanism. With eight pickups and fine scale wheels, the locomotives have performed admirably on the railway and are a testament to the quality of model trains built over 50 years ago.
A video of test runs and pictures of initial catenary installations can be found below. More updates will follow with the catenary at Sheffield completed using a combination of original Triang and brass masts. I'll upload another video and some pictures once the electrification project has been completed.
Banbury Connections General Blog
The Banbury Connections blog looks at issues of significant interest involving the railway and its staff.