First, last and full circle

THE next time anyone says there’s no variety any more, or that our hobby has become somehow less interesting, they need to be reminded of months like this, which has seen a diesel loco break unlikely new ground; the dispersal of a unique EMU collection; and a return to classic stamping grounds of a type celebrating its golden anniversary.
The new ground for a diesel was the Isle of Wight of all places. The island missed out on dieselisation due to its particular restrictions on suitable rolling stock – meaning steam was replaced by ex-London Underground electric trains in the 1960s, and the only diesels ever sent there were shunters for engineering duties.
All that changed at the end of September when the Isle of Wight Steam Railway hired in a Class 33 for its three-day diesel gala – surely the most powerful loco ever to work on the island. There was a time when I would have said this was one of the last barriers that modern traction had to break down, but now it seems that nothing is impossible and who knows what might happen next?
In contrast, the Electric Railway Museum near Coventry has staged its last ever open day. The museum had noble ambitions, and the exhibits included many sole-surviving examples of EMU classes long gone, so it is a shame its licence could not be renewed by the local council. New homes have already been found for much of the collection, but the sad thing is they will be scattered across the country.
Interest in Class 50s has always been high – and no less so now that they have notched up 50 years since first entering traffic. Back then it was to help speed up journeys on the northern half of the West Coast Main Line, so it was a triumphant return at the beginning of October as a railtour sponsored by our sister title The Railway Magazine took Nos. 50007 and 50049 back to Glasgow for the first time in many years.
What a sight and sound they made thrashing over the border at speeds of up to 100mph. And, importantly, the many that were on board, at stations, and along the lineside only go to prove that the interest is very much still there.

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