Category Archives: TV

Going Straight: On the Wrong Track

The pilot episode of “Going Straight” (sequel to “Porridge“) was the  show that started me off on finding errors in TV shows when it came to their depiction of railways and trains, and Stafford.

According to Wikipedia, the plot of this episode is: “Fletch, having been paroled, makes his way home from prison. On the train, he bumps into Mr Mackay and an old friend.”

This is going to be a brief one, as I have no intention of identifying the coaches used, just highlighting errors.

I apologise in advance for the blurry nature of these screen-grabs. Things weren’t exactly HD back in 1978.

07:48 That’s a Deltic!

Yes, the blurry yet unmistakeable front end of a BR Class 55 Deltic, undisputed Kings of the East Coast Main Line in the late ’70s. Here we have the slight problem that anyone travelling from the fictional Slade Prison in Cumbria to London would be on the West Coast Main Line, which at the time used different locos.

07:55 That carriage looks fake

Ok, so I said I wasn’t going to start carriage spotting. I lied. Anyway, those seats look like school chairs, and the camera position would be about a foot outside the the carriage. Otherwise it doesn’t look too bad. It is a bit short though, and the windows are too far apart.

(aside: “26p for a beer!” Tartan Bitter!)

12:52 “This is Stafford, this is Stafford”

Indeed it is! And it looks as grotty today as it did then. Thirty years, and the main change is that those signs have been replaced. Multi-million pound refurbishment my arse!

As far as I can make out, the loco is BR Class 86 86221 , but someone will point out my error if I’m wrong. Clearly not a Deltic though, and certainly WCML not ECML!

13:03 Running though the tunnel.

Hold your horses! A tunnel? At Stafford Station? Such a thing has never existed! The main reason for this is that the station lies too close to the flood level that about 10 minutes of rain will bring.  On a good day, the park (opposite the station) becomes a boating lake (important note: do not take an inflatable dinghy out on the flooded park – the police will get involved and it will not end well).

And the Manchester Evening News advert? Not ’round here mate.

13:48 This is what a real carriage looks like!

Filmed on filmstock, not the video tape used for the fake carriage above.

Fast forward to…

22:42 “Watford Junction”

First thing to notice is that the loco has changed. I *think* this is BR Class 86  86208, but that loco doesn’t seem to have gone into service until 1979 (same for 86221 above).

Anyway, the mismatched locos weren’t the point of this. The point is, Stafford Station doesn’t have a tunnel, didn’t have one in the ’70s, and TV producers still don’t pay enough attention to detail.

(See posts about Doctor Who and Railways for more guff).

Doctor Who: Trains on the Flatline

“Flatline”, S08E09, is an episode of the new Doctor Who which has bothered me for a while. I’m not on about the plot, which I quite like, but I always wanted to know where the railways scenes were filmed, and what the stock was.

I’m not going to dissect the whole episode, just the bits that refer to railways. So, obviously we’re going to be ignoring a hell of a lot of the episode.

03:00 – 04:06  and we already know where we are: Barry Island. Specifically,  on the former trackbed of the original Vale of Glamorgan line which would have run though Barry Island Tunnel. The building is the Plymouth Road Shed, just to the east of Barry Island Station.

Which, by the Magic of Television, has now moved to become part of  Bristol Sidings 344 (confirmed in the dialogue).

Note that Clara walks off in the direction of the tunnel. She’d get about 200 yards before hitting the fence. All civilisation lieth the other way…

06:16 – 0814 Same location (minus the TARDIS interiors). Nothing new to learn here.

20:15 – 25:11 And we’re in one of the Barry sheds (when we aren’t in the TARDIS). Note the presence of BR Class 08 Shunter 08503, one car of a DMU set (probably BR Class 101 DCTL 56356) and parts of a steam loco with a GW partly restored tender. There also seems to be a Road-Rail Vehicle and some more carriages in BR Yellow, but they’re not clear enough to identify.

And then they run into a storeroom, which allegedly leads to the tunnel (really, it doesn’t).

25:23 – 27:47 The tunnel. Note immediately the lack of tracks. Barry Tunnel is a shooting range.

To be fair, the do say that this is the “old tunnel” and set off to the junction with the “new tunnel”.  Good luck finding that one on Barry though.

A big hand snatches someone away, some running happens, and they need to open a door. But wait, suddenly they have track! As Barry does not have any track within a tunnel, we are clearly somewhere else now. Let us see how this unfolds.

27:47 – 29:42 Another tunnel. Cue running, and the TARDIS getting dropped a few floors. On to the running line. Specifically on to a Barrow Crossing over a running line.

Now forgive me if I’m wrong, but the TARDIS shouldn’t actually be in danger at this point. The train should just pass over it.

29:42 – 29:44 Cue a CGI/SFX  representation what looks like a 3-car DMU (likely a Class 117)in BR Green with an A113 headcode thundering down the tunnel. BR Green. Headcode. In 2014? And A113? Well its not a valid code anyway, and is just an in-joke with animators.

30:08 – 30:21  And The Doctor is doing his best to actually get the TARDIS directly under a wheel.

30:35 – 30:47 TARDIS falls back on to the rail, and The Doctor pulls a lever. Yeah, maybe that should have been done earlier.

30:48 – 31:41 In the tunnel, and a train is coming. The same CGI’d one that is now 2M65.

32:01 – 32:25 Stationary in the tunnel. It looks to me like a BR Class 117.

32:32 A BR Logo

That Logo is the “Ferret and Dartboard” one used from 1956 to 1965.

32:37 Hang on… Red seat moquette? Cubic grab-handles? Modern arrow signage? Drop window slam doors? Wales? Could this be the Gatwick Express Mark 2F/Class 488 set again? Possibly, but the colours are wrong.

  32:39 (approx) Even working this frame-by-frame doesn’t help. Best I can get is W5???3 or something.

32:40 – 33:19 Back in the cab. Nothing helpful here really.

Scenes from 32:32 onwards doesn’t show any tunnel parts, so could well just be filmed in the dark at Barry.  Sadly Barry doesn’t have the right rolling stock, so we have to look elsewhere… maybe somewhere with a tunnel to film in that isn’t too far from Wales.

Step forward the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, which conveniently has a Class 117 set (W51360, W59510, W51363) and Greet Tunnel. W51363 could be the blurry number above.

So far we’ve got:

  • BR Class 08 Shunter 08503
  • BR Class 101 DCTL 56356
  • BR Class 117 (W51360, W59510, W51363)
  • Unknown Mark 2F/3 Possibly from the Class 288 Gatwick Express set at Barry.

And with that, I think my work is done.

Doctor Who: The Woman Who Fell … On To A Train

So, Doctor Who Season 11 Episode 01. I’m sure theres been enough whining elsewhere about the Doctor being  a woman (so was the other 13th Doctor, Joanna Lumley,  and you weren’t moaning then), or having a Northern accent (McCoy and Capaldi used their Scottish accents, and Eccleston was Mancunian), so I won’t bother here. Plus I just don’t care.

There has, however, been criticsm of the accuracy of the rail services and vehicles depicted in the episode, and, well, you know where this is going…

So, we’re not looking at the whole episode, just the bits from 06:14 to 14:31. To sum up, what you are about to read is possibly the most pointless waste of several hours to overanalyse 8 minutes and 16 seconds of screentime that you will enocounter this week.

Let me make it clear that I am not an expert on the rail vehicles involved and I’ve been to the filming location once (co-incidentally while on a weekend away to visit the Doctor Who Experience), but I do like it when my interests intersect.  Just like Queen’s “Breakthru” video.


06:14-06:17 The first appearance of the train

Not much to go on here, apart from a blurry night shot of what appears to be a three-car DMU (from the lack of visible OLE), but a very strange one.

The first car appears to have a front end with no passenger area, followed by a door, a seven-windowed passenger area and a door. The nose itself look very odd, but more of that later.

The seconds car appears to have a door, 12 windows, and another door.

The third car I can only assume is a reverse of the first.

Note the details of the doors and windows. The windows have cross-frames and the doors have two panes, possibly indicating folding doors.

This all looks wrong to me. It doesn’t conform to any DMU layout that I’m aware of, especially nothing running in the South Yorkshire area. So back to the nose. If we play around the brightness and contrast and whatnots, we get this poor image, which puts me in mind of a loco built by English Electric. Maybe a Class 37, or 40.

Sadly, both are too long to fit with the image. The overly bright headlight (which no British Locos have in that position) bothers me too, as does the lack of illumination from the drivers’s windows.

In the absence of any more evidence, I’m going to have to conclude that this train is a CGI knock-off. Something more or less backed up by the information gathered later.

06:18 – 06:38 Inside the carriage

Ok, now we are on more familiar ground. From this image (Warning: contains traces of Bradley Walsh, a multi-talented man who unfortunately will never better this moment of his career: The Fanny Chmelar Incident), it appeared at first to be a modernised, but not recently renovated, BR Mark 3 coach. Note the seat moquette, the grab handles, the shelving and the lighting.

Further checking revealed it to be a rebuilt BR Mark 2F, classified as Class 488. A Class only used on the Gatwick Express route.

In contrast, this is an East Midlands Trains renovated Mark 3, as currently in use in that part of the world. Similar, but not the same.

(Image from Wikipedia, by PeterSkuceOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link)

But what part of the world is it? Time to go to the dialogue. From the train announcement, which is very difficult to make out, the “next stop is Grindleford”. This is confirmed later (08:15) “The train’s stopped between Hathersage and Grindleford”. This puts us on the Hope Valley Line,

The Hope Valley line runs from Manchester Piccadilly to Sheffield, and this section is between the River Hope and Totley Tunnel, close to the Sheffield end.  Trains that run along here are operated by Northern, and East Midlands Trains. We’ll discount Northern, as they mainly use the awful Pacers and  not-much-better Sprinters. So EMT it is (but of course it isn’t).

06:39 – 06:43 Quick in cab shot

Back on dodgy ground again. This in-cab shot is clearly not a Class 43 (HST power car), which you would expect to be hauling a rake of Mark 3s for EMT, if they were Mark 3s, which of course they aren’t.

It is too flat-fronted.  Back to this later.

06:43 – 07:14 Back in the carriage

Note the lack of cross-frames on the windows (see above). Also note the use of the standard “power fails, lights go out one by one” Trope so common in Doctor Who. All the light should have died at once if all power failed.

07:15 -11:30 Outside and inside the carriage

And immediatedly we have a problem.

These are drop-window, swing-door, outside-open-operated Mark 2Fs. In what appears to be an InterCity style livery (actually Gatwick Express).  We are into Preservation/Heritage Line territory now.

“Don’t go ont’ track, it could be live!” Poppycock. The Hope Valley Line is not 3rd rail electrified, and has no OLE.

“Graham, t’doors just locked, we’re shut in” – dramatic buffery. In a power failure the door locking would lose power and unlock.

Theres plenty of Sci-Fi guff happens, which for the purposes of this we don’t really care about.

At 09:16 The Doctor appears to fall in through the roof.

And more guff happens.

10:56 “This is the last train back” – Ah we can have a look at some timetables now…

Assuming its set on a weekend (why else would they be piss-arsing around on a hilltop?), let us look at the last trains that run.

On a Saturday its the 21:37 Liverpool Lime Street to Nottingham servive (1L20), which calls at Hathersage at 23:14 and Grindleford at 23:18. On Sundays it would be the 21:16, stopping at 23:05 and 23:12. Both are pather as Sprinters though.

More uniportant guff and then we go straight from a Mark 2F coach sliding door into…

11:30 – 11:56 The cab

The cab of BR 68509 (Unit 9110). Not, as you would expect, a BR Class 68, but a BR Class 414  DMBS (later Class 489 DMLV) numbered 68059 in the carriage series and formerly part of 459110. The flat front profile fits the previous in-cab shot, so that ties that up nicely, but certainly does not match the first picture. So I’m still going with CGI on that count.

And where is this 1959 vintage item to be found these days? Well she’s out to pasture at the Barry Tourist Railway, which is not too far from Cardiff. Barry has been used by the Doctor Who production team before (“Flatline”), and just happens to have some Class 488 coaches laying about.


Click here for original and more info…

11:57 – 14:31 Back into the carriage

Nothing of interest. After this we’re off the train and it is time to compare our notebooks.


So what have we copped on this little trip?

A CGI train, a cab we can identify, and at least two Mark 2F (Class 488) coaches. So, can we identify the coaches?

Firstly, are they Standard or First Class? By the seat moquettes and spacing, I’d say Standard. With them being at Barry, I’d therefore say that some (if not all) of BR Class 488/3 unit 488311 (72620+72710+72621) were used.

So, set in Yorkshire on an East Midlands Trains service, but actually filmed at Barry on an old Gatwick Express set. Geeenniiiusssss.