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West London, at the start of the Colnbrook branch, just off the Great Western main line. Track is single and runs through a yard. Level crossing is on the entrance road to the ARC terminal.
NOTE - There is no actual fence between the access road and the branch line or even the Great Western main line. The only sort of dividing line is a short row of poles with ballast right behind. STICK TO THE ROAD. Several trains are often left unattended right in front of you and getting near to them could cause concern amongst train crews that you are trying to do something with the train.
Railway type and traffic
A sparsely used freight branch. The Colnbrook - Acton Yard boxes which, currently Jan '06, head out around 08:30 in the morning. The Thorney Mill - Bardon Hill Freightliner aggregates train just before lunchtime. The Colnbrook - Lindsey tanks a couple of times each week in the mid afternoon.
Generally safe. Often get strange looks, but nothing normally comes of it. Plenty of 'chavs', but all seem harmless. Most people you see will be workers at the stone terminal, or EWS crew themselves. the level crossing is situated on access road to aggregates yard - a relatively busy road with moving traffic (no more than 10mph).
Come off M4 at Heathrow and follow signs for West Drayton or Uxbridge (same from A4). Cowley Road leads from there for Uxbridge and will see you pass through West Drayton. If heading towards Uxbridge you will go underneath the railway just west of the station at West Drayton. After this turn left immediately and head up the ramp on the left hand side of the road which leads to the level crossing. Alternatively from the Uxbridge direction, go past the station approach road and immediately turn right, then up the ramp.Click here to set up your location for directions to this location West Drayton, Colnbrook branch map co-ordinates
There is a small patch on which about 5 cars or so will fit. This is where EWS crews normally park as they have a mess room in a small red hut there. There is no fence so do not park too close to the track for the obvious reasons as well as the fact that your car will appear in your shot if you do.
Travel to West Drayton station on the Great Western Main Line. With a half hourly service from Paddington to Reading that stops there. Come out of the station on the 'town' side and walk down towards the town centre to a mini roundabout with pedestrian lights on the right hand side of it. From here turn left then immediately right and up the ramp.
Also, from Uxbridge on the Met and Piccadilly Lines (Underground), you can walk out into the bus station and take a 222 bus (every 8-10 minutes during the day, with a journey time of about 12-15 minutes) and get off at West Drayton station.Click here to set up your location for directions to this location
You will need to walk back down into the town centre, where there is a large range of shops. Nearest toilets are on West Drayton station.
Nearest would be Heathrow, there are plenty of hotels around there.
Sun Compass using Suncalc by brought to you by Vladimir Agafonkin
It might be necessary to adjust the time to suit your visit, this link should open with the current day.
West Drayton, Colnbrook branch
West Drayton, Colnbrook branch general view map
West Drayton, Colnbrook branch close up map
Windows Local Live Link
- image quality may vary
West Drayton, Colnbrook branch
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Light is good for most of the day. Whilst only about 100m or so of the branch is visible, it is in an S style shape so the train will face a varying degree towards the sun (if it is out!) as it curves round. You can photograph trains going both onto and off of the branch, but the better shot is definitely for stuff off of there. Make sure you are on the mainline side of the level crossing for the best views.
As for video, it is a good place for trains just starting to accelerate away, particularly for things like Class 60s, but beware of engine noise from cars and lorries in particular waiting at the crossing.
There are views onto the Great Western Main Line as well from this location. Looking towards London is fairly restricted with no more than a loco plus about 3 or 4 coaches fitting in the gap between track side furniture. As for the other direction, if you walk a little further along the access road there is a waist high wall from where views of the mainline are possible.
General views - All photographs © Michael Proudfoot unless otherwise stated
Fig 1 - Looking west
Fig 2 - Looking west
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