Final Days of the Cigs on the Lymington Branch
© copyright photographs by Colin Duff
Going into service on the Lymington branch on Thursday 12th May 2005, South West Trains' 3 Cig units 1497 and 1498 (previously 1883 and 1888) were withdrawn after close of service on Saturday 22nd May 2010. Introduced when the branch went over to a "community line" basis, after five years sterling service they were in need of a general overhaul and with all other slam door units withdrawn five years earlier they were deemed non-standard and increasingly expensive to maintain.
I was there the day they were introduced - I intend to republish in a larger format my photographs from that day as soon as possible, but in the interim please view my feature from 2005 on the Southern Electric Group's web site - and felt I had to be there the day they were withdrawn. In the year prior to withdrawal I had also intended to visit the branch several times to enjoy some rides without the final day crowds, but personal circumstances led to me only managing this just five days before the end.
Here are a selection of my photographs taken from Tuesday 18th May, when blue & grey 1497 was in service, and the final day when both units were in service.
South West Trains are to sell these trains by sealed bid, to be opened on 1st July 2010. I hope they go to good homes, preferably in the south east of England, where we can continue to enjoy them.
|1497 awaiting the 13:14 departure to Brockenhurst on 18th May, the Isle of Wight ferry looming in the background. Passenger loadings on this day were quite light, several handfuls of enthusiasts and a smaller number of regular travellers, not much foot traffic off the ferry.|
Passenger loadings were very different on Saturday 22nd May because not only were there hoards of enthusiasts but also a large number of local families out to enjoy the celebrations and an appreciable amount of foot traffic to and from the ferry. The Cigs have never been so crowded since they served London in the peaks.
The event was very well managed by South West Trains operational, customer service and events staff, to whom thanks are due for making it an enjoyable and memorable day.
Here 1498 awaits departure with the 10:44 service to Brockenhurst on 22nd May, a regular stream of passengers coming off the Isle of Wight ferry.
To be honest little boats do nothing for me but Lymington is a pleasant enough place to while away a few hours, especially on clear, sunny, hot days like the Tuesday and Saturday I visited. This shot shows the harbour, looking south towards the Isle of Wight.
On the Saturday, whilst riding to Lymington Pier I was a little surprised to hear an elderly gent describe it as a mess. I thought he was referring to the weed on the banks of the river, but he went on to say "all these boats spoil the view of the estuary". No doubt he does not appreciate the local economy.
|To reproduce a classic railway view, 1497 is crossing the harbour on Tuesday 18th May with the 12:44 from Lymington Pier to Brockenhurst.|
|...and again four days later, with 1498 on the 10:14 from Lymington Pier to Brockenhurst.|