Pretoria Image: RAILWAY CROSSOVER (2/2): INTERCITY 125

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Union Buildings
Image by Darkroom Daze
Gang of Five Walk, April 15, 2014:
Paddington to Willesden along the Paddington Branch of the Grand Union Canal.

West London Line crosses the Great Western Line, at Old Oak Common, in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.

This view looks southwards, over the wall, from the canal towpath. The impressive truss bridge carries the West London Line over the Great Western Main Line whose tracks lie on Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s original trackbed (c.1830) for his Great Western Railway (originally Paddington – Bristol). The Great Western line runs close to the canal thoughout our canal walk, so it is fitting that Brunel is buried very nearby, in Kensal Green Cemetery where we saw the Brunel family vault.

This Old Oak Common area is going to be part of a major replanning and construction project of a transport hub which includes these existing lines, Transport for London’s forthcoming Crossrail, and the national ‘High Speed 2’ line.



This bridge seems to have been called ‘Mitre Bridge’ though the same name is also routinely used for the parallel road bridge (out of sight to the L) that carries Scrubs Lane over the Great Western Main Line. So I’ve tentatively called this bridge, ‘Mitre Railway Bridge’ to distinguish it. The bridge design is a a Pratt Truss cantilever with three central counter-braced sections. Horizontal trusses join the upper members of the side sections for further strength. The structure is made of rivetted steel sections. Apparently this kind of design is ideal for carrying heavy moving loadings like railways. Indeed, this bridge is often busy with freight, local and long distance trains. I cannot find out when it was built, but it must have been some time after the West London Line was improved in the 1860s. Similar bridges were widely built in Britain and elsewhere in the 1880s-1910s. Out of sight to the L of this view, the truss bridge stops and the West London Line continues over the canal on a much more humble-looking plate girder bridge.



The train is a Class 43 (HST) High Speed Train, configured as a diesel-electric multiple unit, but actually a conventional train powered by two separate locomotives, facing opposite directions, with the carriages in between, and styled integrally with the carriages. These trains were formerly branded as ‘Intercity 125’ trains in the era of state-ownde British Rail. Many people still use this brand name, as I’ve done in the title, even though British Rail no longer exists. I like the usefully catchy name and it was also one that successfully caught the public’s imagination at the time. The Bo-Bo power cars hold the record for the fastest diesel-electric locomotives in the world, with an absolute maximum speed of 148 mph (238 km/h), and a regular service speed of 125 mph (201 km/h). They are now old (built 1975-1982 by BREL Crewe Works) but have proved robust, and continue to give good service. This one is in First Great Western livery. This is a rear view of this train, as it was passing from R to L in this view in the direction of London Paddington station. The rear power car here carries the number 43190 and the leading car (out of sight to L) carried 43186.



This InterCity 125 train is running on the trackbase (c.1830) originally built by Sir Isambard Kingdon Brunel (1806-1859) for his Great Western Railway whose first services ran between his Paddington station to Bath and Bristol. Today this is known as the Great Western Main Line, part of Britain’s National Rail network, and serves large areas of the SW of England, the SW part of the Midlands, and South Wales.

The truss bridge carries the West London Line, which connects Clapham Junction in South London to Willesden Junction (two of London’s busiest Junctions). The latter is close to this bridge. Services include the western sector of Transport for London’s relatively new Overground network, together with freight, and long distance services from the South Coast of England to the Midlands and North of England. The West London London originally crossed the Great Western Railway here on a level crossing, but following a rail accident on the crossing in 1855, it was replaced by a bridge in 1860. The entire West London Line was reconstructed to higher standards in 1862.

The tracks in the distance on the R are one of several spurs from the West London Line to the Great Western tracks. For a while they were used to take Eurostar (Channel Tunnel trains) to the North Pole International Depot sheds (close to the scene of this photo), when Eurostars ran from Waterloo. Since Eurostars started running from St. Pancras International they no longer use North Pole, which is being redeveloped to service other trains.

Almost all of the above information can be found in numerous Wikipedia entries or by Google searches. The main exception is:
– Course, Edwin, 1962. London Railways. B.T. Batsford Ltd., London, 280 pp.

GANG OF FIVE PRESENT ON THIS WALK: Dick, Peter, Richard, Brian R. (Brian G. couldn’t be with us.)


Brian Roy Rosen
Uploaded to Flickr June 3, 2014
© Darkroom Daze Creative Commons.
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ID: DSC_0058 – Version 2

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About Alan

My ethos is espoused in the words of Nelson Mandela: “I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the idea of a democratic and free society. If need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

You will always find me standing on the side of the underdog OR HERE.