6th May 2000
John Fishwick & Sons
The Somerset Fusilier
|Locos Used||20308, 20311, D1023 & D7017|
1Z70 : Blackpool North to Minehead
1Z27 : Minehead to Blackpool North
|20308 + 20311 (1)||Blackpool - Preston - Euxton Jn - Chorley - Bolton - Manchester Piccadilly - Stockport - Wilmslow - Sandbach - Crewe - Norton Bridge - Stafford - Bushbury Jn - Bescot Stadium - Perry Bar North Jn - Soho South Jn - Birmingham New St - Bordesley Jn - Bromsgrove - Cheltenham Spa - Yate - Bristol Parkway - Filton Jn - Bristol TM - Weston Super Mare - Taunton - Norton Fitzwarren - Bishops Lydeard|
|D1023||Bishops Lydeard - Minehead|
|D7017 + D1023||Minehead - Bishops Lydeard|
|20308 (2) + 20311||Bishops Lydeard - (reverse of outward route) - Soho South Jn - Dudley Port - Wolverhampton - Bushbury Jn - (reverse of outward route) - Blackpool|
(1) Gordon Nattrass reports that only 20308 provided power from Weston-super-Mare to Taunton because of a technical fault on 20311. The fault was rectified at Taunton.
(2) 20308 died (due to a coolant leak) and did not power train from the approach to Stafford.
Source : Richard Hughes
(joined/left train at Poulton le Fylde)
(by Richard Hughes)
Another day out by bus-operator Fishwick, still a newcomer to the railtour market. Actually, more of an excursion than a railtour, although the DRS Class 20 traction advertised was always going to attract a fair few cranks. The tour date clashed with Pathfinder's Oil Leake, with the latter train covering some required track for myself (and for my travelling companions for the day), but the local start for the Fishwick tour proved to be the clinching argument, especially in view of the recent propensity of Pathfinder bashes to fail to do the advertised route (not Pathfinder's fault, I hasten to add).
My friend Steve, who had booked the tickets, called me on the Thursday with the timings he had just received, which proved to be considerably earlier starting and later back than expected, what a surprise. Thanks, Railtrack. The letter accompanying the tickets suggested that the timings incorporated a lot of slack, and early running might therefore be a possibility. Hmm. We'll see.
So, very early on Saturday, I set out out on my trusty bicycle for Poulton station, about 15 minutes from home, and attempted to lock it up in the station car park. My bike lock however declined to click shut, and after a couple of minutes' fumbling with it, I had to leave it looking as convincingly locked as possible and hope nobody looked too closely. I went back onto the road bridge over the tracks to photograph the train's approach from Blackpool, and bumped into a 31-bashing acquaintance whom I hadn't seen for a while, who it transpired was also on the train and was already in position to video the train arriving. After a couple of minutes exchanging pleasantries, the train hove into view, with the predicted 20308 + 20311 at the head, and slowed for the curve into Poulton station and our photography.
Coach H was the 9th vehicle in the 11-coach rake, and I found my seat and settled down in a rather chilly carriage, no ETH today, but the weather forecast was reasonable. Being so far back, I didn't bother with attempting to savour the thrash, at least not this early. We departed 2 minutes late, and progress was rather sluggish, losing a couple of minutes to Preston, and 2 more to Leyland, where my friends Steve, Nick and Chris boarded and joined me. After a round of greetings, someone asked Nick where his bag was, to which his considered response was a blank look. Eventually the reality dawned that he had left it on the platform, the self same platform which the train had so recently left behind. Mild panic was fortunately speedily replaced by the discovery that an observant steward had picked up the bag in question and put it safely on the train. At least someone was wide awake!
The train ran leisurely onwards, picking up at several north west stations, and a slack schedule resulted in an early arrival at Crewe despite a 4 minute signal stop before the station. We spent much of the time trying to work out which future tours we were intending to do, which ones we were already booked on, and who had paid how much and to whom. This complex procedure eventually resolved itself to everyone's satisfaction, apart from whether or not Nick (again) had booked a seat for Chris with the rest of us on the 14th of May Pathfinder affair, "The Torbay Quarryman", an issue which was to cause heated argument for the rest of the day.
The engines stabled at Crewe provided a brief distraction for my spotting companions, as usual a line of 325 units blocking the view of many, and we continued to Birmingham via Bescot for some more of the same. Running into New St., we saw the Pathfinder train already standing in the station, with 58016 and 56131 top & tail. Typical. Both required engines. Birmingham was left on time, but a long crawl before Longbridge lost a few minutes, as did a signal stop before Standish Jn. The timings may have seemed slack, but the train was sticking to a 60 mph limit, and approached Bristol 18 minutes down. The presence of four Class 67s on the depot caused some excitement for my friends and many others, and with some authoritative gen from someone "in the know", all four were identified to the satisfaction of everyone. Leaving Bristol, the route was via the Weston-Super-Mare line, a set-down point, and onwards to Taunton, where there was an additional stop to detrain a boy who was reported to have trapped his finger. In what or why was not explained.
Passing the disused Taunton Cider sidings, we veered right, and onto the West Somerset Railway, and paused at Bishops Lydeard to replace the 20s with WSR traction. This arrived in the shape of Western D1023, which provided a welcome change for the final few miles. I've only visited this line twice before, and was quite happy to relax and enjoy the Somerset scenery again. The skies had earlier been growing steadily greyer, and a couple of flashes of lightning had even been seen, but now the sun returned, and arrival at Minehead was in glorious weather. We were 20 minutes or so late, not serious, but the train stewards had announced that the departure time would be put back from 15.45 to 16.10 to give passengers plenty of time for a leisurely refreshment stop.
I went off on my own for some shopping, and returned to find some complex shunting going on. The brake vehicle which had been at the rear on the southbound run could not be coupled directly to the loco for some reason, and was consequently being shunted to the other end, to be at the back again. This was good news, as coach H would now be the second vehicle on the run north. However, because departure time had been put back, the tour train would now also double as the WSR's scheduled 16.00 service train, WSR passengers being directed to coach G in which there were spare seats. When these seats were filled, they started to spill over into other coaches, and occupying seats reserved for railtourers, so an additional WSR coach was attached at the front for these passengers, shunted onto the stock by a kettle. The kettle departed and D1023 was joined by Hymek D7017 to double-head the train back to Bishops Lydeard.
Inevitably, after all this activity, departure was somewhat late, at 16.24. Some clod behind our seats took this opportunity to whinge loudly at a Fishwicks steward about being late back home, although a quick glance at the timing sheet would have shown him that there was ample time allowed at Bishops Lydeard and Taunton to get back on the original schedule. The steward displayed admirable tact in his patient explanation of the facts to this berk, and there's little doubt that the right decisions had been made.
After departure, there was some fine thrash from the WSR engines, and a good run to Bishops Lydeard, calling all-stations. The 20s were waiting, and re-attached after D7017 + D1023 left, taking the additional carriage with them. Despite leaving Bishops Lydeard 12 minutes down, an operational stop at Norton Fitzwarren was still observed, to allow an HST to whizz past, but Taunton was almost RT. The 20s were now being driven much harder, with higher speeds than earlier, and sounding very impressive. A good run ensued to Standish Jn, but then we suffered from several signal checks, putting us about 10 late passing Cheltenham, before some smart running again to Birmingham, the highlight of course being the ascent of the Lickey Bank. Speed passing Bromsgrove was only a little over 60mph, and dropped off with frightening rapidity on the climb, but the summit was reached at a very creditable 15mph.
Despite assurances that we would leave set-down stations early if possible, we waited time at Birmingham (another few minutes and you'd have seen us arrive back on Pathfinders "Oil Leake", a mere 3 hours and 9 minutes late! Gary). After Stafford, a slight check slowed us at Norton Bridge, and the train seemed to have trouble recovering speed after the slowing, albeit on a rising gradient. It was at this point that it became clear that all was not well with the locos, and advice soon reached us that only 20311 was working, with someone suggesting that 20308 had shut down about 3 miles before Stafford after suffering a coolant leak.
With 20311 now hauling a dead loco and 11 coaches,
progress was inevitably going to suffer, but the engine performed valiantly
nonetheless. Time was slowly lost, but this was due more to signal checks than
to the loco performance, with bad checks at Longsight, including a 4 minute
stop, being the worst of these. My colleagues left me at Leyland, and I was left
almost alone in the coach after Preston. Arrival at Poulton was 18 minutes late,
not too bad under the circumstances, and the day could be considered a success,
and was certainly enjoyable. Oh, and my bike was still where I'd left it.
They're very honest in Poulton.
Timings (Booked and Actual)
(from Richard Hughes)
|3.18||Poulton le Fylde||06.09a ~ 06.11d||??.?? ~ 06.13||00.36a ~ 00.37d||00.54 ~ ??.??||270.66|
|?||Kirkham North Jn||06/18||06.22||00/28||00/45||?|
|17.49||Preston||06.32a ~ 06.34d||06.36 ~ 06.38||00.14a ~ 00.15d||00.30 ~ 00.32||256.35|
|21.52||Leyland||06.40a ~ 06.41d||06.45 ~ 06.47||00.05a ~ 00.06d||00.19 ~ 00.20||252.32|
|26.19||Chorley||06.50a ~ 06.51d||06.55 ~ 06.56||23.55a ~ 23.57d||00.09 ~ 00.11||247.65|
|37.65||Bolton||07.03a ~ 07.06d||07.12 ~ 07.13||23.39a ~ 23.41d||23.50 ~ 23.51||236.19|
|49.05||Manchester Piccadilly||07.25a ~ 07.27d||07.31 ~ 07.33||23.17a ~ 23.20d||23.21 ~ 23.24||224.79|
|?||Slade Lane Jn||07/31||?||?||?||?|
|79.76||Crewe||08.24a ~ 08.26d||08.21 ~ 08.26||22.11a ~ 22.14d||22.22 ~ 22.26||194.08|
|?||Basford Hall Jn||08/35||08/31||22/08||22/17||?|
|?||Perry Barr West Jn||09/42||09/33|
|Soho South Jn||09/47||09/47||21/15||21/16||?|
|134.24||Birmingham New Street||09.51a ~ 10.00d||09.53 ~ 10.01||21.00a ~ 21.10d||21.01 ~ 21.09||142.36|
|?||Proof House Jn||10/02||?||?||?||?|
|?||St Andrews Jn||10/03||10/11||20/57||20/55||?|
|?||Stoke Works Jn||10/36||10/40||20/18||20/28||?|
|?||Gloucester Yard Jn||11/06||11/17||19/47||19/48||?|
|?||Dr Days Jn||11/48||12/04||19/06||19/07||?|
|225.65||Bristol Temple Meads||11.51a ~ 11.53d||12.08 ~ 12.11||18.55a ~ 19.04d||18.59 ~ 19.05||50.75|
|244.72||Weston Super Mare||12.19a ~ 12.23d||12.35 ~ 12.38||18.31a ~ 18.33d||18.36 ~ 18.38||31.67|
|?||Highbridge & Burnham||12/33||?||18/21||?||?|
|271.52||Taunton||12/50||13.11a ~ 13.13d||18.00a ~ 18.04d||18.05 ~ 18.07||?|
|?||Silk Mill LC||12.55a ~ 13.03d||?||?||?||?|
|?||Norton Fitzwarren||13/05||13/29||17.45a ~ 17.50d||17.52 ~ 17.58||5.08|
|Bishops Lydeard||13L15a ~ 13L30d||13.37 ~ 13.56||16.50a ~ 17.30d||14.26 ~ 17.42||0.00
|?||Williton||?||14/19||?||16.58a ~ 17.01d||?|
|?||Blue Anchor||?||14.35a ~ 14.39d||?||16.36a ~ 16.37d||?|
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