A video of the Hitachi maintenance depot at Stoke Gifford near Bristol Parkway Station for the new Class 800 electro-diesel trains that will replace the elderly HST 125s (Class 43) on the GWR routes from Paddington to Bristol/Bath and Cardiff/Newport/Swansea.
I found the two presenters slightly irritating but the video provides an interesting look at the depot and the trains.
Bristol Temple Meads will be closed for five days over Easter, with most TM-bound trains stopping at Bristol Parkway, Bath or Weston-super-Mare. Buses will fill the gaps. Indirectly it's in connection with the new Class 800 electro-diesel trains with new signalling having to be installed, although we are told the signalling will also bring about general improvement in the Bristol area. We'll see.
It's the latest disruption to hit the Bristol/Bath area over the past couple of years - for example, Bath Spa station was closed for about six weeks at one point - in connection with the electrification of the GWR system between Paddington and South Wales which the government has now decreed will no longer reach Bristol or Bath despite hundreds of millions of pounds having already been spent on enabling works.
The electrification has now reached as far west as Bristol Parkway with trains operating to and from London Paddington under electric power from today. It's only a couple of years late but is anyone surprised, other than it's been completed so quickly? The electrification is due to reach Cardiff.
The local news media have covered the event today. I saw the BBC Tv Points West news bulletin at 6.30 this evening. They had a reporter at Parkway but not a live link.
She told us that the Great Western Railway's main line would be running under electric power from/to Parkway from today but that 'the loop' (her words) via Bath to Temple Meads will no longer be electrified - which anyone interested in the subject knows full well thanks to the machinations of the government whose members decided to axe that section in order to save what is no more than petty cash when held against the projected cost of HS2 (an under-estimate as well for HS2 , as these things always are).
Doesn't the BBC require its reporters to do any basic research into stories they cover?
The Great Western Railway was conceived in 1835 by the Bristol business sector to enable the city to be linked with the capital. The iconic Isambard Kingdowm Brunel was appointed as engineer and he designed and supervised the construction of the Great Western Railway's main line between Bristol Temple Meads and London Paddington via Bath Spa. It was so well laid out and graded that when the 125 mph High Speed diesel trains began operating in the 1970s virtually no improvement was necessary to Brunel's line in order to accommodate the HSTs.
The Great Western Railway's crest comprised the coats of arms of the cities of Bristol and London and remained so after the 1922 Grouping when the Great Western Railway was the only major railway to retain its name.
So where the reporter got the idea that the line from/to Temple Meads via Bath is merely a loop to the main line further to the north beggars belief. In the context of the Parkway line - the one that branches from the GWR's main line at Wootton Bassett then routes via Sodbury Tunnel and on to South Wales via the Severn Tunnel - she made a comment about Brunels' legacy. This line was not built until 44 years after Brunel's death!
On a practical note, does anyone know whether the bi-mode trains have to be stationary to raise and lower their pantographs when switching between electric and diesel power? If that is the case, Bristol Temple Meads trains will either have to stop at Woottoon Bassett junction, or Thingley junction east of Box Tunnel, or run under diesel power all the way to and from Swindon.