October / November / December 2020.

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 now lives in Biggleswade, near the ECML, but 
on this page he reports on news and movements on this historic line, close to his home and heart.



December 22nd 2020.

Heywood's Riley and Son Ltd, who are based in Heywood, have acquired Heritage Painting, a steam locomotive painting company.

Thanks to Rail Advent for this link.

Riley needs a paint shop so timely. Some of the locals who worked for the Great Northern in BR days have learnt that Rileys have restored a Cravens two-car dmu.

 The lads got a tad excited when they learnt that one of the two cars is an ex-Finsbury Park one.

 The Cravens units had asbestos when built which is why they are rare in preservation. The one at Llangollen is a trailer but by heck, they’ve
worked wonders on it.

 From memory, Cravens units weren’t allocated to North Wales at all, but they did appear from time to time.
 Manchester was their patch. Noisy too, the distinctive rasp of the twin exhausts was striking.

 Below are two at Finsbury Park in the mid-1970s.

 The photo above, at Finsbury Park, is taken by an unknown photographer, during pre-electrification works, c1975. It was an eBay purchase.

Finsbury Park or ‘the Park’ to railwaymen is still a major interchange between national rail and the London Underground’s Piccadilly and
Victoria lines as well as the Great Northern service to Moorgate.

 In pre-covid days, many a passenger for either the West End or the City bailed out here to grab an empty tube seat rather than carrying on to
 rather more crowded King’s Cross to change there.
Finsbury Park is also signed ‘alight here for Arsenal football club’ although the Emirates Stadium is a good walk of at least 15 to 20 minutes from Finsbury Park.

The legendary Finsbury Park diesel depot was also within 10 minutes walking distance, home to the mighty Deltics of yore.

  The former depot  site is now low density council housing. Sigh!


December 3rd 2020.

The ECML rail head treatment trains should finish running by the weekend. Every year they are hauled by DB 66s. Anglia region get the best locos, yes, DRS 66s but also
 57s and the much loved 37s, including ‘Concrete Bob’ which used to be quite a celeb loco on the coast.

Below, for the record, is 66099 with 66161 on the rear, spraying the down slow, just south of Biggleswade - not much falling leaf here, it is either open fields or evergreen as here!

The train starts and finishes the day at Peterborough and sprays to Harringay, then out to Royston on the Cambridge branch and then back to Harringay via the
 Hertford Loop or ‘new line’ as generations of Great Northern staff call it - it wasn’t a complete loop off the ECML until after World War One.


December 1st 2020.

Below is a photo of a Class 60, at South Biggleswade' which made a welcome reappearance, after a lengthy gap, on
 the southern part of the ECML.

Devon & Cornwall’s (DC Rail Freight) 60046 ‘William Wilberforce’ heads down the
ECML on November 8th with ‘5Z60’, a Willesden to Chaddesden Sidings, Derby, empty wagon working.

The JNA wagons are almost new and haven’t yet been ‘got at’ by aerosol ‘artists’!



November 20th 2020.


On November 13th 2020 an empty LNER Intercity Train approaching Neville Hill Maintenance Depot Leeds, ran into the rear of of an LNER HST.

The leading HST was travelling at only 5 mph but the following train was moving faster, at around 15 mph, and ran into the rear of the slower moving train.

There were no injuries but both trains were derailed.


The class 800 train (left) and HST set (right) involved in the accident (images courtesy of Network Rail)


November 5th 2020.

Just captured these cleaning blokes, dressed in moonsuits, at Biggleswqade station. They aim a lamp at the ticket machines.


November 1st 2020.

Bounds Green LNER servicing depot, north London.

  On October 9th a remarkable test train arrived from Leicester for a brief visit.
 This train is run by Data Acquisition and Testing Solutions Ltd or DATS for short. The train is seen below undergoing careful scrutiny by a
 member of the servicing staff at Bounds Green, while an Azuma, awaiting its next service looks on.

 The train comprises two ex-EMT hst power cars at each end.
 Coupled inside at each end are two ex-LNER Class 91 locomotives plus a DB red Class 90. A rake of nine Mk3 coaches complete the train.
 The train normally works at night, testing the newly electrified sections of the Midland Main Line, south of Leicester.
 DATS supplies consultancy testing services not only to the rail industry but to industry in general.
 The two power cars suggest the train will also test unelectrified lines.

 I must thank a very good LNER driver friend, Andy Hannah, for providing the photos while on ‘early shift’ at LNER.


October 24th 2020.

Over the weekend of Saturday and Sunday October 17 and 18, King’s Cross station was shut completely for more engineering work to enable the disused east side portal of
 Gasworks Tunnel, disused since 1977, to be reopened with new track, switches and crossings and associated signalling.

Bill Bass, a railway photographer from North London was on hand to put his camera over the wall on York Way on the 17th to record the busy scene.

GBRf 66730 has arrived with fresh ballast and empty wagons to take away spoil in the spit where the old line to Moorgate used to run, a once
useful curve to link the ECML with the City of London.

For added interest, I stood at the very same spot in 1976 to photo one of the last up passenger trains to use the link, seen here at King’s Cross York Road. 31223 awaits the ‘right away’ at
 the single platform, ready to deoart to Farringdon, Barbican and Moorgate. This service was the very last in the UK to use, weekdays only, non-gangwayed BR Mk1 suburban stock, locomotive-hauled.

York Road station was rather inconvenient for most commuters as it was a long walk to the Underground station at King’s Cross itself, and its
 closure went largely unmourned in the 1970s.

By then, commuters off the ECML would use the new Great Northern Electrics service to Moorgate from Finsbury Park via Highbury & Islington, once part of
 London Transport’s isolated part of the Northern Line and transferred to BR ‘s Eastern Region.

Nowadays, the Moorgate branch is run by Govia Thameslink Railway but there is talk of the line transferring to Transport for London.

 The railway wheel comes full circle! Alas the once busy curve, beneath my feet, way back in 1976 remains silent.


October 17th 2020.

No ECML expresses at all today at Biggleswade. There is another big engineering blockade on at the ‘Cross.

 The platform end up signal has probably been on red for fifteen hours or more. Only local trains - Thameslink - as far as Potters Bar where buses await to take
 passengers (if any!) to St Albans and St Pancras.

 Another weekend blockade is planned for later in the year. LNER trains are terminating at St Neots, down the line towards Huntingdon.

 Coaches will take long-distance passengers to Bedford for East Midlands Rly trains to the capital. Hope the hard hats or orange army finish the job in time!


October 5th 2020.

Not a great deal of ECML news except for last Monday’s return LSL private party special from Scotland.
On Thursday Sept 24 LSL at Crewe sent 40155 top and tailing with electric 90001 ‘Royal Scot’ and their selection of Mk1,2 and
 3 lounge, catering and sleeping cars.

On the Friday, Sept 25, the ex-Greater Anglia 90001, restored to original BR InterCity livery, set off for a tour of Scotland via the WCML.

While the private charter toured Scotland with diesel power, 90001, light engine, worked south to York via Edinburgh, to
 await the train’s return on Monday, Sept 28.

Below is 90001 passing Arlesey in glorious sunshine, on the home straight to Euston via the North London Line, with a reversal at
Wembley where 40155 would be waiting to take the train back into Euston- another ECML train that finished at Euston.

The private LSL charter passing through Arlesey. Note the ‘promenade deck’ view point where the gangway used to be.

The empty stock returned to LSL Crewe with 90001 once more at the head, with 40155, shut down on the
 rear, Dead in Train or ‘DIT’ but hanging the tail lamp.


October 5th 2020.

 On Oct 4th 2020 , after so much overnight rain, the heavens relented and I managed to nip out in the afternoon and photo Devon and Cornwall’s 56103, in
gloomy conditions, head up the ECML to Willesden (WCML again!) from Leicester via Grantham.

 56103 is seen cantering just south of Biggleswade, October 4th 2020.