Track Machines

AD9127 Winchcome 23 August 2008

Looking very smart in its fairly recently applied coat of red paint, Baguley Drewry rail inspection car AD9127 basks in the sunshine at Winchcombe on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway on 23 August 2008. These quaint petrol engined vehicles were used for general permanent way and engineers inspection use during the 1960s. This picture was taken from on board the 11:15 Cheltenham Racecourse to Toddington train.

ADRC96704 Stoulton 1 December 1984

On 30 November 1984 a broken fishplate caused the derailment of the 1A75 07.05 Hereford to Paddington service near Stoulton. There were no serious injuries, but the coaches were thrown well clear of the track, resulting in the line being closed for several days. The following day, Saturday 1 December 1984, Cardiff Canton's Cowans Sheldon 76 tonne diesel crane ADRC96704 is getting ready to lift the last two remaining coaches. This particular crane was originally built in 1961 as a steam crane. Some idea of just how dull the weather was can be gauged by the fact that this picture was taken on Kodachrome 64 at 1sec f5.6 at midday!

Dr50006 Chinley 19 June 1984

London Midland Region Matisa Neptune track recording unit DR50006 heads west at Chinley on 19 June 1984. These vaguely comical little machines were used to produce a readout of track alignment problems and had the ability to spray paint on the track to notify PW workers of areas that needed attention.

DR72213 & DR72211 Ascot-under-Wychwood 19 June 2017

Heading for display at the Rail Alliance Rail Live 2017 event, Balfour Beatty Rail Services Plasser & Theurer Dynamic Track Stabilisers DR72213 & DR72211 pass through Ascott-under-Wychwood station on 19 June 2017, running as the 6J09 10:14 Woking to Long Marston. This had been running late for most of the way, but was almost back on time here, after missing out its booked stop in Kennington loop. That didn't stop it having to wait for a short while at the signal behind the bushes in the background.

DR73108 Steventon 5 January 2017

The totally illogical way that the Great Western Mainline electfrication is progressing is illustrated here at Steventon, as the line of masts suddenly stops in the middle of nowhere for no good reason. Plasser & Theurer 09-32 RT Tamper / Liner DR73108 Tiger passes by on 5 January 2017, running as the 10:00 Bristol Kingsland Road to Oxford Down Carriage Siding.

DR73108 South Marston 20 June 2017

Plasser & Theurer 09-32 RT Tamper / Liner DR73108 Tiger passes South Marston on 20 June 2017, running as the 6J05 10:00 Bristol Kingsland Road to Reading Triangle Sidings. This was not the angle I was going to use for this picture, but the tamper missed out its booked stop at Swindon, suddenly becoming half an hour early. I hadn't checked, and was not ready in my intended position! However, this view does show the new signals which control the crossover and access to the virtually closed South Marston Industrial Estate branch.

DR73113 Tackley 17 December 2008

Plasser & Theurer 09-3X-D-RT Tamper / Liner DR73113 catches the afternoon winter sun as it heads south down the Cherwell Valley near Tackley on 17 December 2008. For a short distance north of Tackley the railway is relatively unobstructed with trees and on a long curving embankment, which offers a number of excellent viewpoints for southbound trains in the winter.

DR73115 Claydon (Gloucestershire) 25 May 2013

I readiness for overnight engineering works, Plasser & Theurer 09-3X-D-RT Tamper / Liner DR73115 had to move from Gloucester to Ashchurch on 25 May 2013. It seen here passing Claydon (Gloucestershire), less than a mile from its destination. It will however have to proceed straight on to Bromsgrove, in order to cross over onto the up line, before heading back south again.

DR73115 Compton Beauchamp 7 July 2014

With a toot to acknowledge the PW look out man, Plasser & Theurer 09-3X-D-RT Tamper / Liner DR73115 passes Compton Beauchamp on 7 July 2014, running as the 09:02 Didcot Fuelling Point to Swindon Cocklebury. For some strange reason this was not looped at Challow, and was therefore holding up the 1B17 09:15 Paddington to Newport HST, which was closely following it at very low speed.

DR73115 Swindon (Hay Lane) 10 July 2014

Plasser & Theurer 09-3X-D-RT Tamper / Liner DR73115 goes for another ramble around the Western Region! It is pictured here passing Hay Lane (near Swindon) on 10 July 2014, whilst working the 08:30 Bristol Kingsland Road to Bristol Kingsland Road (via Didcot).

DR73117 & DR77907 Wellingborough 11 January 2014

With the tower of St Mary's church dominating the background, a pair of Network Rail Plasser & Theurer track machines head south from Wellingborough on 11 January 2014. 09-3X-D-RT Tamper / Liner DR73117 leads USP 5000-RT Ballast Regulator DR77907.

DR73117 & DR77907 Steventon 16 February 2018

Network Rail Plasser & Theurer 09-3X-D-RT Tamper / Liner DR73117 & USP 5000-RT Ballast Regulator DR77907 pass Steventon in fading light on 16 February 2018, running as the 14:52 Reading Triangle Sidings to Severn Tunnel Junction. For DR77907 this is an almost immediate trip back from whence it came! This is the last pair of masts going westwards without any wiring in the short unfinished section through the village of Steventon.

73220 Circourt 21 February 1993

Plasser & Theurer 07-16 Universal Tamper / Liner 73220 moves slowly along the as yet unballasted down relief line at Circourt Bridge, Denchworth on 21 February 1993, during a Sunday engineering possession of the Great Western Mainline. The relief lines were being reinstated at this time between the site of Wantage Road and Challow stations, although as can be seen here, work on the up relief line had not yet started. 73220 was cut up at York in October 2006.

73223 Ascott-under-Wychwood 17 June 1980

This is my only picture of an item of rolling stock actually using the siding at Ascott-under-Wychwood. Plasser & Theurer 07-16 Universal Tamper / Liner 73223 sits in the siding on 17 June 1980. Ironically I saw this same track machine at work at the same location over a decade later, but by that time the siding had been lifted. After the singling of the Cotswold Line in 1971, the siding was retained to serve a small coal yard, the evidence of which can be seen on the left.

73223 Woodley 14 June 1987

Plasser & Theurer 07-16 Universal Tamper / Liner 73223 ambles along the up main line at Woodley, near Reading on 14 June 1987. This location is on the section of track much frequented by steam photographers in the 1960s (and before) between the deep cutting at Sonning and the embankment that takes the line over the valley of the Rover Loddon and on towards Twyford.

73223 Ascott-under-Wychwood 13 January 1991

Plasser & Theurer 07-16 Universal Tamper / Liner 73223 is pictured at work at Ascott-under-Wychwood on 13 January 1991. Note the three sets of measuring wheels in the foreground used to assess track geometry. On the right of this picture the remains of the former coal yard can be seen, while the posts of a new fence separating the yard area from the line have yet to receive any wire. This is the start of the fourteen mile single track section of the Cotswold Line to Wolvercote Junction.

DR73224 Evenlode 27 November 1988

Plasser & Theurer 07-16 Universal Tamper / Liner DR73224 runs 'wrong line' past Evenlode on Sunday 27 November 1988, during an engineering possession of the Cotswold Line. Although the trackside at this location is still relatively free of vegetation, in the 1980s the roadside hedge was low enough for this picture to be taken from the road. Unfortunately that is no longer possible. The village of Evenlode can be seen in the background, with Manor Farm, and the 13th century church just visible amongst the trees.

73225 Rigg 23 October 1998

Plasser & Theurer 07-16 Universal Tamper / Liner 73225 approaches Rigg on 23 October 1998. Needless to say I hadn't travelled up to the Gretna to Annan line just to see this, but was on my way to the Scottish Highlands, and had stopped off here to see the Carlisle to Eastriggs MoD stores train. This ran 'as required', and clearly on this day, like a lot of others, it wasn't required!

73241 Ongar 24 September 2017

Plasser & Theurer 07-16 Universal Tamper / Liner 73241 stands at Ongar station on 24 September 2017. The Epping Ongar Railway's tamper is non-operational, which is just as well, as the track behind it has been removed, leaving it marooned!

DR73259 Worting Junction 16 July 2001

Plasser & Theurer 07-16 Universal Tamper / Liner DR73259 heads east past Worting Junction on 16 July 2001. Formerly painted in all over yellow, like all BR owned track machines, this machine had recently acquired the slightly impractical mainly white livery of private operator Balfour Beatty.

DR73307 Botany Bay 10 March 2009

Fastline Plasser & Theurer 07-275 Switch and Crossing Liner/Tamper DR73307 heads north past Botany Bay (near Retford) on 10 March 2009, just managing to find a gap in the gathering clouds. The fence in the foreground looks a little insecure by modern standards!

DR73309 Coedkernew 14 March 1997

Plasser & Theurer 07-275 Switch & Crossing Tamper DR73309 is highlighted by a brief patch of sunshine, as it ambles along the down relief line at Coedkernew on 14 March 1997. This machine has subsequently been seen on several preserved railways, including the Severn Valley, Gloucestershire Warwickshire, Pontypool & Blaenavon & Lincolnshire Wolds Railway.

73423 Bardrill 23 April 2003

Jarvis liveried Plasser & Theurer 07-32 Duomatic Tamper / Liner 73423 heads north up the Highland Mainline at Bardrill (near Gleneagles) on 23 April 2003. Bardrill is a seemingly remote spot down a narrow road that sees virtually no traffic, yet as can be seen by the lorry in the background is only a few hundred yards from the busy A9 road to Pert and Inverness.

73901 Kemble Wick 5 March 2010

Colas Rail Plasser & Theurer 08-275 Switch & Crossing Tamper 73901 ambles past Kemble Wick en-route to Swindon on 5 March 2010. A substantial amount of work has been carried out to stabilise the cutting side here, with a new concrete sectional retaining wall replacing the original brick one, and improved drainage. A landslip here caused the derailment of a Class 158 in 2007. The short (400 yard) Kemble Tunnel can be seen in the background. This was built purely to hide the line from Squire Gordon of Kemble House!

DR73905 Brimpton 23 November 2007

Plasser & Theurer 08-4x4/4S-RT Switch & Crossing Tamper DR73905 heads east at Brimpton on 23 November 2007. Note that how in addition to the running number and operator's name (Amey), this piece of equipment, in common with a lot of on track plant also carries the maker's name and model number.

DR73905 Uffington 16 April 2014

Plasser & Theurer 08-4x4/4S-RT Switch & Crossing Tamper DR73905 passes Uffington on 16 April 2014, running as the 10:19 Kemble to West Ealing Plasser Sidings. I had carefully positioned myself underneath this tree especially for this picture, as I realised that the small gap would be ideal for a photograph of this short vehicle.

DR73905 Denchworth (Circourt Bridge) 22 September 2014

Plasser & Theurer 08-4x4/4S-RT Switch & Crossing Tamper DR73905 heads away from the camera at Circourt Bridge, Denchworth on 22 September 2014 with the 10:07 West Ealing Plasser Sidings to Swindon Cocklebury. What is not apparent from this picture is that it is rapidly being overtaken by a HST, which would speed past a fraction of a second after this picture was taken.

DR73905 Shipton 15 September 2016

Colas Rail Plasser & Theurer 08-4x4/4S-RT Switch & Crossing Tamper DR73905 passes through Shipton station on 15 September 2016, running exactly to time as the 6J44 11:00 Honeybourne Sidings to Woodborough. The resident bird population are going to be well fed this autumn, just look at the quantity of hawthorn berries on the bushes!

DR73905 Uffington 19 October 2018

Colas Rail Plasser & Theurer 08-4x4/4S-RT Switch & Crossing Tamper DR73905 passes Uffington on 19 October 2018, running as the 10:15 Rugby to Westbury (via Oxford). Just a few minutes later another tamper passed in the opposite direction, ironically also from Rugby, but this time going to Didcot, via Cheltenham!

DR73906 Fritwell 9 June 2008

Plasser & Theurer 08-4x4/4S-RT Switch & Crossing Tamper DR73906 ambles along the up line at Fritwell (on the Chiltern Line between Aynho Junction and Bicester) on 9 June 2008. Someone was presumably getting bored during some extended engineering possession and decided to decorate the buffers with smiley faces!

DR73907 Fiddington 23 August 2012

With the 981 feet tall Bredon Hill dominating the background, Plasser & Theurer 08-4x4/4S-RT Switch & Crossing Tamper DR73907 heads south past Fiddington on 23 August 2012. Although the sun was trying to come out, the Colas Rail orange livery (in remarkably clean condition for a tamper) certainly brightens up the scene. In my opinion this is one of the better times of year for photography, with the fields of ripening grain amid the various shades of green far more attractive than the monotonous monotone green landscape of June and early July.

DR73907 Bourton 12 August 2016

Colas Rail Plasser & Theurer 08-4x4/4S-RT Switch & Crossing Tamper DR73907 passes Bourton on 12 August 2016. This was running between Rugby and Slough. The West Coast line seems the obvious route, but presumably this would normally have gone via Oxford. As the line was closed for flood alleviation works at Hinksey, this has travelled the long way round via Gloucester.

DR73911 Uffington 23 September 2016

Colas Rail Plasser & Theurer 08-16/4x4C-RT Switch & Crossing Tamper DR73911 passes Uffington on 23 September 2016, running as the 6J45 10:00 Bristol Kingsland Road to West Ealing Plasser Sidings. In contrast to the previous freightliner, which was running half an hour late, this was running half an hour early.

DR73912 Evesham 19 August 2009

A named track machine! Clearly showing its locomotive style cast Lynx nameplate, Plasser & Theurer 08-16/4x4C-RT Switch & Crossing Tamper DR73912 waits in the siding near Evesham signal box on 19 August 2009, prior to moving off to the worksite a few miles to the east.

DR73913 Potbridge 3 February 2007

Plasser & Theurer 08-12/4x4C-RT Switch & Crossing Tamper DR73913 heads east along the relief line at Potbridge (between Basingstoke and Woking) on 3 February 2007. Although admittedly a lot of track machines are of similar appearance, this is one of only two machines on the national network of this exact configuration.

DR73935 Cholsey 14 October 2012

Colas Rail Plasser & Theurer 08-4x4/4S-RT Switch & Crossing Tamper DR73935 passes Cholsey on the foggy morning of Sunday 14 October 2012. I had gone to this location for 60059 on the 6A70 08:32 Didcot to Colnbrook tanks, but after the sun initially started to come out, the fog then rolled back in, and by the time 60059 passed it was so thick that the bridge was no longer visible! Therefore this colourful tamper in the very weak early morning sun is some slight compensation for my early morning walk!

DR73935 Uffington 22 January 2017

Plasser & Theurer 08-4x4/4S-RT Switch & Crossing Tamper DR73935 passes Uffington on 22 January 2017, running as the 6J42 10:00 Gloucester Horton Road to Oxford Down Carriage Siding. Note the frost covered base for a forthcoming electfrication mast in the foreground.

DR73937 Winchcombe 4 October 2003

Balfour Beatty loaned Plasser & Theurer 08-16/4x4C100-RT Universal levelling, lining and tamping machine DR73937 to the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway in 2003. On 4 October, it is seen in the yard at Winchcombe (pictured from a passing train).

DR73941 South Moreton (Didcot East) 12 November 2007

Making a change from the usual bright yellow track machines, Fastline operated Plasser & Theurer 08-4x4/4S-RT Switch & Crossing Tamper DR73941 ambles along the up relief line near South Moreton on 12 November 2007. Note that even here there is new spiked fencing by the lineside. Who on earth is going to clamber down from the road and fight their way through the overgrown wood just to get on the line at this point!

DR75301 Burn 17 October 2013

Volker Rail Matisa B 45 UE tamper DR75301 heads south along the East Coast Mainline at Burn on 17 October 2013, running as the 12:00 Chevington Loop to Doncaster Paper Sidings. Based in Doncaster, Volker Rail performs various specialist rail infrastructure contracts, one of which involved the modernisation of the rail network in the army depot at Bicester.

DR75406 Denchworth (Circourt Bridge) 22 September 2014

Colas Rail Matisa B14UE tamper DR75406 Eric Machell runs along the up relief line at Circourt Bridge, Denchworth on 22 September 2014, running as the 10:00 Bristol Kingsland Road to Honeybourne (via the Cotswold Line). The trees behind the tamper mark the site of a former pond, which was formed when material was dug out to form the nearby bridge approach embankments.

DR75406 Grove 31 October 2014

Friday often sees track machines moving around the network in readiness for weekend engineering work. Such was the case on 31 October 2014, when the Great Western Mainline saw three such moves within a little over an hour. One of these, the 09:33 Severn Tunnel Junction Sidings to Didcot Fuelling Point, is pictured passing milepost 61, near Grove. Unlike the other two workings, which were unsurprisingly routed along the relief lines, Colas Rail Matisa B14UE tamper DR75406 Eric Machell has been allowed to run along the up main.

DR75406 Grove 22 October 2018

Colas Rail Matisa B14UE tamper DR75406 Eric Machell passes Grove on 22 October 2018, running as the 6L83 10:05 Didcot Fuelling Point to Westbury. This was running 50 minutes late, but that was still nowhere near enough to get the sun on the front, hence this going away shot.

DR75407 Shorthampton 4 March 2013

Two track machines traversed the Cotswold Line on Monday 4 March 2013, after use during weekend engineering work. They were both heading north, which was not ideal from a lighting point of view. The Chipping Sodbury to Honeybourne working was still backlit, but approximately an hour later, Matisa B41UE Tamper DR75407 passes Shorthampton in much better light, en-route from Oxford to Worcester.

DR75407 Little Haresfield 29 August 2014

A busy moment at Little Haresfield on 29 August 2014. Matisa B41UE Tamper DR75407 heads north, running as the 10:43 Swindon Cocklebury to Worcester. This has delayed the 1V49 09:07 Manchester Piccadilly to Bristol Temple Meads CrossCountry service, which has just received the green light. It had just crawled past me under adverse signals, as the tamper has just crossed over from the 'Golden Valley' route at Standish Junction, near the bridge in the background. In addition, 60040 was waiting in the loop just behind me, and would follow the Voyager with the 6B13 05:00 Robeston to Westerleigh Murco oil tanks.

99 70 9131 00-8 Milton 8 March 2014

The Windhoff electrification train, with 99 70 9131 001-8 leading, passes Milton on 8 March 2014 with the 09:00 Swindon Transfer to Swindon Transfer crew training run. After a run to Bristol, this consisted of a couple of out and back trips to Didcot.

99 70 9131 001-8 & 99 70 9131 005-9 Bourton 16 February 2014

The bringer of doom (if you're a railway photographer), or the bringer of progress (if you're a passenger). Brand new Windhoff electrification units 99 70 9131 001-8 & 99 70 9131 005-9 pass Bourton on 16 February 2014 with the 6Z09 11:30 Swindon Transfer to Swindon Transfer (via Didcot) crew training run. This was the first of five round trips run during the day. These units (or factory trains, as Network Rail optimistically call them) were to be used for the Great Western Mainline electrification programme.

99 70 9131 005-9 & 99 70 9131 001-8 Shrivenham 16 February 2014

Windhoff electrification units 99 70 9131 005-9 & 99 70 9131 001-8 pass Shrivenham on 16 February 2014 with the 6Z09 11:30 Swindon Transfer to Swindon Transfer (via Didcot) crew training run. I had deliberately chosen this location, as the short train would just fit in the available gap in the bushes, and the side view would clearly show all the equipment onboard the vehicles.

DR76905 Bourton 24 June 2016

The all singing, all dancing, Windhoff electrification units have not been the success that was hoped for. Talk of the Great Western Mainline electrification being completed in record time due to the use of these expensive machines seems a little premature now that the whole project is years behind schedule. DR76905 (99 70 9131 005-9) & an unidentified classmate pass Bourton on 24 June 2016, running as the 04:15 Southcote Junction to Swindon Transfer.

DR76913 & DR76911 Farleaze 10 September 2014

Signs of impending electrification at Farleaze (near Hullavington) on 10 September 2014. Windhoff electrification units DR76913 (99 70 9131 013-3) & DR76911 (99 70 9131 011-7) head east with the 09:57 Swindon Transfer to Swindon Transfer (via Bristol Parkway) crew training run, while on the right a Network Rail track worker pauses while the train passes. He, along with a large gang of chainsaw operators and scrub clearance workers were starting to cut back the lineside vegetation in readiness for installation of the catenary. Note the temporary blue health & safety fencing protecting the workforce. Just to the right of this picture the hawthorn bushes and Rosebay Willowherb were being obliterated as the train passed.

DR76913 & DR76911 Shrivenham (Ashbury Crossing) 2 August 2015

Signs of impending electrification near the site of Ashbury Crossing, Shrivenham, on Sunday 2 August 2015. The capped tops of the piles that have been driven into the ground are clearly visible on both sides of the line, while one of the causes of all this disfigurement, Windhoff electrification units DR76913 (99 70 9131 013-3) & DR76911 (99 70 9131 011-7) passes by with the 19:56 Swindon Transfer to Moreton Cutting.

77327 Rodbourne 19 July 2016

Colas Plasser & Theurer USP5000C Ballast Regulator 77327 passes Rodbourne on 19 July 2016, running as the 7Z09 10:12 Swindon Cocklebury to Bristol Kingsland Road. Unless you falsify history by cloning out the tall radio mast, this location is compromised when a full length train is involved. However, this track machine neatly fits in the gap between the modern infrastructure!

DX77332 Culham 2 August 1991

Plasser & Theurer USP5000C Ballast Regulator DX77332 heads north past Culham on 2 August 1991. Didcot Power Station dominates the background. This 2,000 megawatt coal fired station was approximately half way through its 45 years life when this picture was taken.

DR77901 Fiddington 8 March 2016

Plasser and Theurer USP 5000 RT Ballast Regulator DR 77901 passes Fiddington on 8 March 2016, running as the 11:06 Honeybourne Sidings to Port Talbot Sidings. I did not walk the considerable distance along a muddy track to this location just to photograph this, but just two minutes earlier 37602 & 37605 had passed by with the early running 6M56 13:41 Berkeley to Crewe nuclear flask, and just five minutes before that, 56098 was photographed with the 6Z34 09:46 Cardiff Tidal to Chaddesden scrap empties.

DR77901 Cassington 28 January 2019

Colas Rail Plasser and Theurer USP 5000 RT Ballast Regulator DR 77901 passes Cassington on 28 January 2019, running as the 6L88 10:55 Honeybourne Sidings to Slough Estates. With the perfect angle for the winter sunshine along the southern end of the Cotswold Line, it was just a question of finding a suitable photographic location that wasn't in shadow. I decided to photograph it coming underneath the brick bridge on the Yarnton to Cassington road, which despite the addition of the inevitable palisade fencing, is still a very photogenic location for such a short train.

DR77905 & DR73111 Denchworth (Circourt Bridge) 4 July 2011

Plasser and Theurer USP 5000 RT Ballast Regulator DR 77905 & 09-3X-D-RT Tamper / Liner DR73111 run along the mainline at Circourt Bridge, Denchworth on 4 July 2011, presumably heading back to Didcot from the previous day's engineering possession at Hullavington. DR73111 is one of the various pieces of track plant that is named. A traditional cast nameplate proclaims it as Reading Panel 1965-2005.

DR77907 & DR73113 Cholsey 16 February 2018

Fridays often see the movement of track machine in preparation for weekend engineering work. Friday 16 February 2018 saw three movements through Cholsey station within half an hour. Plasser & Theurer USP 5000-RT Ballast Regulator DR77907 & 09-3X-D-RT Tamper / Liner DR73113 pass through the station, running as the 10:00 Severn Tunnel Junction to Reading Triangle Sidings.

DR77909 Shrivenham (Ashbury Crossing) 15 December 2017

Running over half an hour early, Plasser and Theurer USP 5000 RT Ballast Regulator DR 77909 passes the site of Ashbury Crossing, Shrivenham, on 15 December 2017, running as the 10:04 Lydney Junction to Reading Triangle Sidings. It is passing one of the many worksites that have been established near the line in connection with the staggeringly mismanaged electfrication project.

DRC78235 & DRC78266 Bourton 16 September 2013

Cowans Sheldon twin jib cranes DRC78235 & DRC78266 bring up the rear of the 6M50 07:55 Westbury to Bescot departmental working on 16 September 2013. The two highly colourful Colas track machines are pictured passing Bourton. The train was being worked by 66161. I had photographed the same two cranes, on the same working, earlier in the year, although on that occasion they were at the front, rather than the rear of the train.

DR79257 Bishop Wood 26 July 2008

Seldom photographed in daylight on the mainline, Network Rail Loram C2103 rail grinder with DR79257 leading passes Bishop Wood (between York and Doncaster) on 26 July 2008. The full consist being: DR79257, DR79256, DR79255, DR79254, DR79253, DR79252, & DR79251. This is one of three similar American built modular grinder units at work on the national network. Rail grinders are used to extend the life of lines, by grinding away irregularities and re-profiling the rail. This usually takes place at night and is both noisy and a spectacular display of sparks!

DR79263 & DR79273 Finstock 6 March 2017

Harsco RGH20C rail grinders DR79263 & DR79273 pass through Finstock station on 6 March 2017, running as the 6U03 10:40 Worcester to Reading Triangle Sidings. This was running 20 minutes early, as the HST it should have passed somewhere on the double track section between Ascott-under-Wychwood and Charlbury, was in fact still the other side of Oxford, running 15 minutes late. Some excellent quick thinking by the signaller allowed the track machine to keep running, and to clear Wolvercote Junction with a couple of minutes to spare before the HST needed to access the single line.

DR79723 Denchworth (Circourt Bridge) 10 February 2014

Harsco RGH-20C Switch and Crossing Rail Grinder DR79723 trundles very slowly along the down relief line at Circourt Bridge Denchworth on 10 February 2014, en-route from Reading Triangle Sidings to Gloucester Horton Road. It was following close behind a tamper, which was being held at Challow. This was lucky, as its slow progress meant it did not get in the way of the 6Z08 09:39 Llanwern to Washwood Heath covered steel wagons, hauled by 56094 & 56113, the tail end of which can just be seen in the distance.

DR79273 & DR79263 Cholsey 16 February 2018

Network Rail Harsco RGH20C rail grinders DR79273 & DR79263 pass through Cholsey station on 16 February 2018, running as the 11:00 Swindon Cocklebury to West Ealing. Visible in the background, behind the track machines, is the rather wobbly trackwork of the Cholsey & Wallingford Railway.

DR80211 Denchworth 7 September 2015

Network Rail Stoneblower DR80211 passes Denchworth on 7 September 2015, running as the 10:04 Didcot Fuelling Point to Canton Taff Vale Sidings. A conventional picture would be very backlit, so I opted for this going away shot, hoping there would be just enough room to fit this short vehicle in the small gap between the bridge and the signal gantry. There was, just! It is surprising how quickly this relatively slow track machine seemed to be moving when viewed through a wide angle lens. Note the capped electrification pile in the foreground.

DR80215 Crianlarich 30 August 2016

Network Rail Stoneblower DR80215 waits in the siding at Crianlarich on the night of 30 August 2016, prior to heading out for some work on the West Highland Line. That's what you call a powerful set of headlights!

DR80215 Ascott-under-Wychwood 4 January 2019

Network Rail Stoneblower DR80215 passes through Ascott-under-Wychwood station on 4 January 2019, running as the 6U25 10:20 Oxford Down Carriage Siding to Worcester. It had been held for a few minutes at a signal further back towards the bridge in the distance, As it pulled away there was the biggest cloud of clag I have ever seen coming out of a track machine. A pity the signal wasn't in a more photographable position! In theory there should have been two track machines within half an hour, with the 6Y55 09:30 Long Marston to Chelmsford coming from the opposite direction. I had thought of going to Charlbury to get both in one picture, but the light angle would be totally wrong. In the event, 6Y55 ran two hours late, by which time I was back home!

DR80302 Up Hatherley 16 March 2009

Harsco Track Technologies Switch & Crossing Stoneblower DR80302 heads south from Cheltenham on 16 March 2009. It is pictured passing Up Hatherley. This is one of three such machines currently in service with Network Rail.

DR80302 Shrivenham (Ashbury Crossing) 28 January 2015

Harsco YZA Multi Purpose Stoneblower DR80302 passes the site of Ashbury Crossing at Shrivenham on 28 January 2015, running as the 11:02 Hither Green to Maindee Civil Engineer's Depot. At this particular moment even the HSTs were passing this spot at track machine speed, due to a suspected lineside trespasser in the vicinity!

DR80302 & DR80303 Denchworth 9 October 2015

A pair of Harsco YZA Multi Purpose Stoneblowers trundle along the down relief line at Denchworth on 9 October 2015. DR80302 & DR80303 are working the 6U41 10:30 Woking Up Yard to Swindon Cocklebury. Amusingly this was shown on Realtime Trains as a Diesel Electric Multiple Unit timed at 134mph, which now seems to be the standard exaggerated speed for track machines! The fog had taken until midday to clear, and although I managed to get every picture in the sun, the cloud soon started to build up. This was not quite what the Met Office had forecast!

DR97808, DR97608 & DR97508 Cholsey 16 February 2018

The impressive Network Rail Robel Mobile Maintenance Train (DR97808, DR97608 & DR97508) passes through Cholsey station on 16 February 2018, running as the 11:20 Rugby District Electric Depot to Horsham. The three part unit includes a centre section which allows work to be carried out on the track under cover.

DR98006, DR98013 & DR98002 Badsey 31 July 2017

An interesting working took place over the northern section of the Cotswold Line on 31 July 2017, although because it didn't involve a locomotive, was probably ignored by most photographers! Windhoff overhead line electfrication MPVs DR98006, DR98013 & DR98002 are pictured passing Badsey with the 6Y55 09:08 Crewe to Long Marston. This is probably the closest the Cotswold Line will get to electfrication, and although the similar RHTT & weed killing MPVs have been common visitors to the Cotswold Line for a long time, this was definitely something different, and well worth recording, despite the poor weather.

DX98212 Crianlarich 28 April 1998

Plasser & Theurer GP TRAMM (Track Renewal And Maintenance Machine) DX98212 stands in the sunshine at Crianlarich station on 28 April 1998. These are two part vehicles. The B section nearest the camera is unpowered. The powered A section has a larger crew cabin, as well as a small crane.

DR98221 Didcot North Junction 26 November 1989

Plasser & Theurer GP TRAMM (Track Renewal And Maintenance Machine) DR98221 approaches Didcot North Junction on 26 November 1989. In the background is the inappropriately named Hill Farm, which is surrounded by a totally flat landscape, with not a hill of any kind to be seen!

DX98501 Glen Falloch 6 April 1998

Plasser & Theurer TASC 45 track & service car DX98501 ambles through Glen Falloch, between Crianlarich and Ardlui, on 6 April 1998. This was one of a small fleet of these machines built specifically for work in the Scottish Highlands.

DR98503 Tulloch 11 April 2000

Plasser & Theurer TASC 45 track & service car DR98503 is seen here at Tulloch on 11 April 2000. It was built in 1985 specifically for minor works at remote Scottish locations (Tulloch is certainly remote!). The low sided container underneath the grab could be tilted sideways for dropping ballast onto the line. This vehicle has now been scrapped.

DR98957 & DR98907 Shipton 30 October 2007

DR98957 & DR98907 have just passed through Shipton station with the 3S31 07:38 Kings Norton to Ledbury (via Oxford) rail head treatment train on 30 October 2007. As can clearly be seen, the unit is spraying the rail with water to clear away leaf mulch. This picture was almost blocked out by the late running 08:52 Paddington to Worcester Shrub Hill First Great Western service, which passed a few seconds later.

DR98907 & DR98957 Combe (Grintleyhill Bridge) 16 November 2007

DR98907 & DR98957 are pictured near Grintleyhill Bridge, Combe with the 3S31 07:38 Kings Norton to Ledbury (via Oxford) sandite working on 16 November 2007, heading back to Ledbury, having reversed at Oxford. You would think it would be easy to include autumn foliage in railway photos, but it seems to be very difficult, as the best trees don't seem to grow near the line. Although there is some reasonable colour in the background of this picture, frustratingly there were several large beech trees near where I was standing that no matter how hard I tried to find a different vantage point could not be included in the picture!

DR98958 & DR98908 Wilmcote 22 October 2009

I am wisely sheltering under the canopy at Wilmcote station on 22 October 2009, as MPVs DR98958 & DR98908 pass through with the 3S87 09:10 Kings Norton to Stratford-upon-Avon and return Rail Head Treatment Train. Miserably dull and pouring with rain, but at least this viewpoint shows off the underside of the canopy, which would have been in shadow on a brighter day. Always look on the positive side! The superb Great Western Railway footbridge also helps add interest to the picture.

DR98908 & DR98958 Wilmcote 22 October 2009

In the pouring rain, MPVs DR98908 & DT98958 pass through Wilmcote station on 22 October 2009 with the 3S87 09:10 Kings Norton to Kings Norton Rail Head Treatment Train, just after it had reversed at Stratford-upon-Avon. Wilmcote station retains plenty of Great Western character, with both station building and the small waiting room on the opposite platform still extant and in excellent condition. Incidentally the standard of brickwork on these buildings is far in excess of what you would find with present day construction, which probably explains why they have survived so well. Also, the GWR covered footbridge means I didn't get wet whilst waiting for this train!

DR98958 & DR98908 Kidderminster 5 October 2018

DR98958 & DR98908 approach Kidderminster on 5 October 2018 with the 3S02 08:49 Kings Norton to Kings Norton (via Worcester and Leamington Spa) Rail Head Treatment Train. The Severn Valley Railway's 50035 Ark Royal can be seen in the background.

DR98959 & DR98909 Baulking 27 October 2008

DR98959 & DR98909 pass Baulking, on the Great Western Mainline between Swindon and Didcot, with the 3S32 08:29 Ledbury to Didcot Railhead Treatment Train on 27 October 2008. This location is not much use for a normal length train, as only a short section of track is visible, but is ideal for this working. It is one of the relatively few locations on the GWML where there is a display of autumn foliage in the background, which after all is the reason that this train is operating! The Armco barrier visible in the background is where the Stanford-in-the-Vale road parallels the railway for a short distance. This road was only constructed in the 1970s, when a large fuller's earth quarry was opened nearby obliterating the course of the original road. The quarry closed in 2005.

DR98959 & DR98909 Sapperton 28 October 2008

Clearly demonstrating why it is known as the 'Golden Valley', this view of the Gloucester to Swindon line at Sapperton shows the autumn colours at probably near their best on 28 October 2008, as Network Rail MPVs DR98959 & DR98909 climb the 1 in 60 gradient towards Sapperton Tunnel with the 3S32 08:29 Ledbury to Didcot Railhead Treatment Train. Note the spray coming up from the rail in the centre of the formation as the train lays sandite on the rails. Sapperton Bank was a formidable incline in steam days with banking required for most freight trains. Nowadays there is no freight, but the uncontrolled lineside vegetation since the demise of steam has made sandite trains such as this essential during the leaf fall season.

DR98909 & DR98959 Finstock 24 May 2012

Not as photogenic as the Hunslet Barclay Class 20s that were formerly in charge of weedkilling duties on the Cotswold Line, but interesting nevertheless. DR98909 & DR98959 approach Finstock on 24 May 2012 giving the ballast a good dose of chemicals. Ironically I had previously photographed another member of the Windhoff MPV fleet at this location, on that occasion performing their other function - clearing leaves from the line.

DR98910 & DR98960 Up Hatherley 23 July 2016

Network Rail MPVs DR98910 & DR98960 pass Up Hatherley on 23 July 2016, running as the 06:45 Margam to Kings Norton On Track Plant Depot. It was a completely cloudless morning when I left home, but the sun disappeared as I crossed the Cotswolds, to be replaced by thick fog. Luckily there was no fog here, just lots of cloud! Fortunately the sun soon started to break through.

DR98912 & DR98962 Bourton 31 October 2008

With the giant Honda car factory at South Marston (near Swindon) dominating the background, DR98912 & DR98962 pass Bourton with the 3S32 08:29 Ledbury to Didcot Railhead Treatment Train on 31 October 2008. This is the third occasion within a week that I have gone out to photograph the train, but in each case decided not to wait for the 3S33 13:07 return working from Didcot due to the rapidly worsening weather. In fact this picture gives a false impression of the conditions, as cloud was building steadily and the area behind the factory was the only completely clear piece of sky! The MPV is just passing the crossovers which are used during single line working. The lines here are signaled for bi-directional working.

Dr98962 & DR98912 Finstock 9 November 2008

The problem and the cure! MPVs DR98962 & DR98912 pass a good show of autumn leaves at Finstock on 9 November 2008. The working is the 3S31 09:55 Kings Norton to Ledbury (via Oxford) Rail Head Treatment Train, especially designed to deal with fallen leaves from trackside trees such as these. The leaves looked even more impressive until the sun went in a few minutes before the train was due! Due to pathing difficulties on the single track sections of the Cotswold Line, the 2008 timetable for these trains sees the weekdays workings running during the night, with only this Sunday working running during daylight. Finding a location to include show of autumn leaves on the Cotswold Line is not as easy as you would think from looking at the map.

DR98912 & DR98962 Charlbury (Cornbury Park) 9 November 2008

MPVs DR98912 & DR98962 pass Cornbury Park (near Charlbury) with the 3S31 09:55 Kings Norton to Ledbury Rail Head Treatment Train on 9 November 2008, shortly after its reversal at Oxford. Although one of the few locations on the Cotswold Line that is actually less grown up with vegetation than when I used to regularly photograph the Class 50s in the 1980s, the view from the bridge looked a little bland. I wanted to include the Scots Pine tree in the background, but that would also include a lot of featureless sky in the picture. Both problems were solved by standing on the parapet of the bridge on the opposite side of the road. This included the overhanging beech branches, adding colour to the foreground and covering up most of the blank sky.

DR98962 & DR98912 Shrivenham (Ashbury Crossing) 3 December 2008

MPVs DR98962 & DR98912 pass the site of Ashbury Crossing at Shrivenham with the late running 3S33 Didcot to Kings Norton Rail Head Treatment Train on 3 December 2008. Booked to leave Didcot at 13:07, it hadn't even arrived at Didcot at that time, as its previous working the 3S32 08:29 Ledbury to Didcot ran over an hour late. MPVs are obviously very low down on the list of vehicles to be cleaned, as the smiley face picked out in the dirt on the front still shows just as it did nearly a month previously at Finstock!

DR98912 & DR98962 Yarnton Junction (site of) 7 December 2008

Running 15 minutes late due to a late running First Great Western service (no surprise there then!), MPVs DR98912 & DR98962 approach the site of Yarnton Junction with the 3S31 09:55 Kings Norton to Ledbury (via Oxford) Rail Head Treatment Train on 7 December 2008, the final daylight working over the Cotswold Line for the season. The menace of palisade fencing has even invaded this remote spot. Despite the fact that the fence visible here would hardly be a deterrent to trespassers, the bramble choked former occupation crossing near where I am standing now has a single panel of palisade fencing standing in glorious isolation. You really have to question the logic of this particular waste if money!

DR98962 & DR98912 Yarnton Junction (site of) 7 December 2008

DR98962 & DR98912 pass the site of Yarnton Junction with the 3S31 09:55 Kings Norton to Ledbury Rail Head Treatment Train on 7 December 2008, after an unexpectedly quick turnaround at Oxford. Having arrived at Oxford 15 minutes late due to a late running First Great Western service, it then passed me at Yarnton 20 minute early heading north, presumably due to the southbound First Great Western Turbo service being canceled. The RHTT should have waited for this to clear the single line at Wolvercote Junction.

DR98962 & DR98912 Baulking 10 December 2008

On 10 December 2008 with only a couple more days to go before the end of the 'leaf fall season', DR98962 & DR98912 approach Baulking (between Didcot and Swindon) with the 3S33 13:07 Didcot to Kings Norton Rail Head Treatment Train. Universally ignored by most railway photographers (as of course the early diesels were in the final days of steam), I rather like these vehicles, possibly because nobody else does!

DR98965 & DR98915 Potbridge 11 November 2016

Having just reversed at Basingstoke, Network Rail MPVs DR98965 & DR98915 pass Potbridge on 11 November 2016 with 3S86 05:23 Effingham Junction to Effingham Junction Rail Head Treatment Train. This had previously visited Wimbledon, Shepperton, Kingston, Twickenham, Windsor and Staines. My main reason for visiting this location was to get a picture of 47812 hauling a Class 442 unit from Eastleigh to Ely. However, shortly after taking this picture, the train was reported as cancelled, so it was a 100 mile round trip for a MPV RHTT picture!

DR98917 & DR98967 Swarkestone 9 May 2003

Network Rail MPVs DR98917 & DR98967 head east past Swarkestone on 9 May 2003. This is the only photograph I have of one of these Windhoff built sets running without either weedkilling or sandite tanks installed. The original intention was that they could also be used as a kind of freight DMU, but that idea was never taken up.

DR98923 & DR98973 Moreton-in-Marsh 23 October 2007

DR98923 & DR98973 head south from Moreton-in-Marsh with the 3S31 07:38 Kings Norton to Ledbury (via Oxford) sandite working on 23 October 2007. The station can just be seen in the distance, with semaphore signals in abundance, even for the little used down refuge siding.

DR98973 & DR98923 Chilson 23 October 2007

DR98973 & DR98923 approach Chilson with the 3S31 07:38 Kings Norton to Ledbury (via Oxford) sandite working on 23 October 2007. The Cotswold Line has become very difficult to photograph due to rampant growth of lineside vegetation. This spot was chosen as the unobstructed gap was just big enough for the MPV, and it is one of the very few locations where it possible to get the sun on the front for a northbound train during the middle of the day. The train is on its way back to Ledbury, having reversed at Oxford.

DX74108 Rolvenden 27 May 1991

Even track machines eventually get preserved! 1964 built Plasser & Theurer VKR 05-E tamper DX74108 looks quaint by modern standards. Preserved in 1985, as noted by the wording on the side, it is pictured at Rolvenden, on the Kent & East Sussex Railway on 27 May 1991.

Road Railer Shipton 5 October 1997

Track relaying work at Shipton station on the Cotswold Line, on Sunday 5 October 1997. An Atlas 1604K road rail excavator shovels ballast up to the edge of the newly laid steel sleepered track. Note the mould in place in the foreground for the thermit welding of the rail sections. Unusually, apart from this token ballasting, there was no ballast train in the vicinity, and when the line opened in the afternoon, something I have not seen before or since happened - the passenger train traversed the unballasted track (admittedly at reduced speed).

99 709 515 004-8 Long Marston 23 April 2018

The business end of Railcare Railvac unit 99 709 515 004-8, pictured at Long Marston on 23 April 2018, just after arriving behind 50008 Thunderer as the 6X50 11:40 Toton to Long Marston. The train is seen waiting at the locked gates. It was some considerable time before someone arrived to let the train in. The size of the hose on the back of the Railvac unit shows that it is considerably more powerful than a Dyson! It is used to suck up spent ballast, especially from around pointwork, etc. Note the lines of stored stock in the background, with EMUs 319459 & 319444 in the front.

99709 906005-2 Tulloch 29 August 2018

Off the rails! Geismar sleeper changer 99709 906005-2 is sat in the back of the small engineer's yard at Tulloch on 29 August 2018. This picture was taken in the last few seconds of sunshine before it started raining. Just look how dark the clouds are in the background!

99709 906006-0, 99709 906002-9 & 99709 908002-7 Tulloch 29 August 2018

Geismar sleeper changers 99709 906006-0, 99709 906002-9 & 99709 908002-7 stand in the short engineer's siding at Tulloch on 29 August 2018. These machines are so lightweight, that they carry the warning that they cannot be relied upon to operate spring loaded points.

99709 940018-3 Shorthampton 24 July 2009

Rexquote Gigarailer 180s road-railer 99709 940018-3 sits amid the Rosebay Willowherb at Shorthampton on 24 July 2009. This section of the Cotswold Line is being redoubled with initial work involved in realigned the single track, which was 'centered' at most locations in 1971. As a prelude to all this there has been a massive clearance of vegetation, and indeed this location has never been as clear as this in all the years I have been taking pictures on the line. Obviously work was going on elsewhere, as there was nobody at all around, and although the whole line was closed for the engineering possession, it seemed very strange to see this vehicle parked in the middle of nowhere with nothing happening.