January/February/March 2018.

The East Coast Main Line (ECML) is a 393-mile long (632 km) major railway link between London and Edinburgh via Peterborough, Doncaster,
Wakefield, Leeds,York, Darlington and Newcastle, electrified along the whole route. Services north of Edinburgh to Aberdeen and Inverness use diesel trains.
 The main franchise on the line is operated by Virgin Trains East Coast.

The route forms a key artery on the eastern side of Great Britain and is broadly paralleled by the A1Trunk Road. It links London, the South East and
 East Anglia, with Yorkshire, the North East Regions and Scotland. It also carries key commuter flows for the north side of London.

 It is important to the economic health of several areas of England and Scotland.

 It also handles cross-country, commuter and local passenger services, and carries heavy tonnages of freight traffic.

 Roger Carvell is a rail enthusiast who contributes much of the local content to this website. He lives in Hitchin, on the ECML, but
on this page he reports on news and movements on this historic line, close to his home and heart.



March 20th 2018.

The 17.05 HST from Leeds to King's Cross last Saturday night (17/03/2018), already half an hour late,

battles through a driving easterly wind of fine snow, below freezing point. On the right, Great Northern 365514 runs into the up platform
ecs, after being cancelled, forwards, beyond Hitchin to Peterborough, due to 'a member of train crew being unavailable' to take over.

will then reverse into the up yard to await control instructions.
Meanwhile, the passengers were given taxis to complete their journeys, or, as one photting chum told me, go and wait in MacDonalds until the
next down Peterborough stopper in an hour.


Despite the weather (and probably against my better judgement!) I went out
, on March 1st, to see if any decent railway snow scenes might materialise.
No sun but there was a GWR delivery to North Pole depot from Doncaster Carr, So here it is, straight out the box, 800034, running on 25kV
instead of diesel, surprisingly.

Virgin East Coast were having plenty of cancellations but train 1E03, 06.26  Edinburgh to King' s Cross (but actually started at Newcastle to to points
failure at Edinburgh) battled through with an HST on March 1st 2018.

Great Northern/Thameslink seem to be managing, and here is a King's Cross to Cambridge non-stop on March 1st 2018, flying through Hitchin with a pair of
Class 387 Electrostars, creating its own snow storm!



I have assembled some images for the ECML page as follows. The
February half term visit of the Ffestiniog locos and combined FR/WHR
road show was a definite highlight at King's Cross. The statue of Sir Nigel Gresley looked on with approval no doubt.

Hunslet quarry tank 'Hugh Napier' belongs to the National Trust at Penrhyn Castle, while similar 'Velinheli' hails from the
Steam Railway in Cornwall. Both are now back at Porthmadog.
Napier' is in full working order while 'Velinheli' requires reboilering at Boston Lodge.

Hugh Napier


The FR coach is No.10, a replica of Ashbury-built No.10, built in 1869, which was scrapped before World War Two, but the new version
does incorporate some original door handles and foot board brackets.
It was originally designed as a first class coach but quickly downgraded as there was little appetite for first class travel on a quarryman's wages.

All the exhibits were trucked down the Euston Road (a wide thoroughfare that seemingly never sleeps) in the early hours of Sunday February 11th and
 unloaded through the station entrance onto temporary
track panels laid across the concourse by FR volunteers.

  The show was perfectly timed for families visiting the capital over the half term break.

General view of the show.

(All photos were taken on February 13th 2018) Roger Carvell.

On the way home from King's Cross , the passenger train information display on my Class 387 emu seems to have taken on a
 'mumsy' message

 Mind you, it was cold outside.


The ECML ran well in cold January, with little major disruption. No
steam, of course,
in fact nothing going puff throughout the national network.

First off is a close view on January 5th of Grand Central's latest acquisition, 180106, seen approaching Hitchin on an up Bradford to King's Cross service.
 Note the train branding! It had only been
released from First Great Western days before.
  Grand Central has
actually managed this 180 for some time, but sub-leased it back to GWR for continuation of their own services out of Paddington until enough
new Hitachi Class 800s were available.

Not long after, another Great Western Railway train passed through; two in an hour on the East Coast Main Line! Brand new Hitachi bi-mode
800024, under diesel power, switches from up fast to up slow at Hitchin, en route from Doncaster Carr to North Pole depot in west London.

The use of hired-in Class 90s to cover for VTEC 91s continued into January. Blue DB 90034 is seen arriving at Stevenage on January 8th
with the 14.08 King's Cross to Newark Northgate. The driver, having got out and stood on the platform to watch station work, has got the
'right away' and quickly climbs aboard and 90034 leaves, heading north to its next booked stop, Peterborough.

By the 23rd of January, hired-DB 90019 was also in action, seen here at Hitchin South on a King's Cross to Leeds diagram. It would be back
to London in just a couple of hours.

The weekdays Wembley to Barrington quarry trains resumed after the Christmas break, and this operation continues to attract photographers
anxious to capture 'heritage' diesels in main line freight operation.

On a very gloomy January 8th, Rail Operations Group's 56301, a few minutes earlier than booked time, heads through the up platform at
Hitchin at 13.10- a nice change from a constant procession of emus. en route back to Wembley with the spoil empties.

Better weather happened on the 19th of January, and word came through via texts that 47813 had gone down the Cambridge branch to
 Barrington with the
outward, loaded, train at about 05.35.
 Here she is, sparkling, right time, 13.22, on the way back to Wembley, passing the recently completed landscaping at
Wymondley, a mile south of Hitchin.
 At least in this photo, no one
could see the unfortunate yellow graffiti tagging, sprayed on the other side, which occurred while
 47813 was parked at Clapham Junction
yard over Christmas.

Turning over the history cards for this locomotive, it was delivered to BR (WR) in March 1964 as D1720- a remarkable-and lucky-survivor.
The writer was still at school in Flint!