27th - 29th May 2000
Past Time Rail
The Laird of Stranraer
|Loco Used||Diesel : 37405
Electric : 90029 & 90021
Steam : Black 5's 45110 & 45407 (1)
|Stock Used||Listed in timings section|
Route ~ 27/05/00 :
Finsbury Park - Freight Terminal Jn - Camden Road East Jn - Willesden WL Jn - WCML (via Weedon) - Crewe
|45110 + 45407||Crewe - via WCML (2) - Glasgow Central|
Route ~ 28/05/00 :
|45407 + 37405 (3)||
Glasgow Central - Paisley Gilmour St - Kilwinning - Troon - Ayr - Stranraer
|45407 + 37405||Stranraer - Ayr|
|45407||Ayr - (reverse of outward route) - Glasgow Central|
Route ~ 29/05/00 :
|45110 + 45407||
Glasgow Central - WCML - Lockerbie Up Passenger Loop (4)
|45407||Lockerbie Up Passenger Loop - WCML - Crewe|
|90021||Crewe - (reverse of outward route) - Finsbury Park|
(1) 45407 running as 45157 "The Glasgow Highlander"
(2) 45110ís tender ran a hot axlebox at Carnforth and was replaced by the tender from 48151.
(3) 37405 replaced 45110 which had failed with leaking tubes. 45407 removed just before entering Stranraer station.
(4) 45110 failed at Lockerbie with leaking tubes (again!) and was removed.
Source : Malc Thompson
Tour Review :
(by Malc Thompson)
The "Laird of Stranraer" was a three day tour from Finsbury Park to Glasgow on Saturday, Glasgow to Stranraer and back on the Sunday and Glasgow back to Finsbury Park on Bank Holiday Monday. The train was to be hauled from Crewe to Stranraer and back by two Black Fives, no 45407, from the East Lancs Railway and no 45110 from the Severn Valley Railway. With about 680 miles of double-headed steam haulage and the first steam train over the fiercesome gradients of the Stranraer line since the 1960's, this was a tour I could not miss.
I was going to join the train at Crewe at 10.34 where the two Black Fives were to be attached. At about 8.00 I received a phone call from the train telling me it was on time at Watford Junction and was being hauled by 90029 (the one in DB livery). I had decided to travel from Stockport to Crewe on the 08.42 Cardiff train which gave me over an hour to wait in Crewe, but I prefer that to risking too tight a connection. So I was particularly pleased to get a message on Rail-Gen saying that 1V77 (the 08.42 Cardiff train) would be hauled by 37038. This 37 is owned by Ian Riley who also owns 45407, one of the Black Fives involved in the tour.
90029 duly arrived in Platform 11 at Crewe and was replaced by the two Black Fives and their support coaches. 45407 was the leading loco, but had been re-numbered and named as 45157 "THE GLASGOW HIGHLANDER" - and very nice it looked too. Departure from Crewe was more or less on time and with a stop to pick-up passengers at Preston ran pretty much to time as far as Carnforth Down & Up Goods Loops where both locos would take water for the onward journey over Grayrigg and Shap to Carlisle.
We got the first indication that something was wrong when a passenger who had been travelling in the Severn Valley Railway support coach told us that 45110 had a hot-box. This was soon confirmed by a PA announcement, stating that 45110 would have to be removed and 45407 would continue, but would almost certainly require diesel assistance over Shap and Beattock. There were a Class 66 and a Class 47 sitting in Carnforth Yard, so it looked as though we would be getting one of these as pilot - indeed it appeared that the 66 was started up in preparation. However, another PA announcement then gave us the good news that David Smith of the West Coast Railway Company at Carnforth had agreed to lend the tender off his 8F no 48151 for the rest of the weekend. The first option appeared to be for 45407 (+diesel) to continue alone, with 45110 (with 48151's tender) following later . However, it was decided to do the tender-swap there and then. Both Black Fives were detached from the train and ran into Steamtown to allow the swap to take place. Obviously, this was going to take some time and we were left in the loop unable to get off the train, but I think the vast majority of passengers accepted the situation as it meant that we would be able to continue with two steam locos for the rest of the weekend (or so it seemed at the time!).
Eventually, at about 4 o'clock the two Black Fives returned to the train with the 8F's tender now attached to 45110. We left Carnforth Loop at 16.04, some 2 and 3 quarter hours late - but at least we still had tw o steam locos and no diesel and, hopefully, some time could be regained by reducing the stop in Carlisle. The climb over Shap was a little disappointing - mainly due to a permanent way restriction, and no reflection on the locos. We arrived at Penrith for an additional water stop at 17.06, against the booked passing time of 14.25. I'm not sure why we had the extra water stop, although I can only guess that it was to try and reduce the time occupying a platform in Carlisle. The tanker supplying the water at Penrith did not have a suitable pump and it was necessary to call on the fire brigade. Unfortunately, the fire brigade were called away on a \ldblquote shout\rdblquote so we were delayed a bit longer waiting for them to return and we eventually left Penrith at 18.02.
A PA announcement told us that there would be a stop of 15 minutes minimum in Carlisle to allow the kitchen car to be tanked. There is a chip-shop quite close to Carlisle station and I hoped that 15 minutes would be enough for a quick sprint to get something to eat. As it turned out, at least 20 other passengers had the same idea and by the time I got there the queue was already outside. However, someone said that the locos' tenders were also being topped up from a fire hydrant, so everybody managed to get come chips - the staff in the chip shop were aware of the situation and served everyone as quickly as possible.
However, back to the train - the stop at Carlisle was actually 29 minutes (as opposed to the booked 2 hours) and so we were "only" about two hours late when we left. In contrast to the climb of Shap, the climb up Beattock was rather spectacular and we went over the summit at about 37 mph. More water was taken at Abington and a few more minutes were saved here but most of these were lost when we were held to let a service train past at Carstairs. Eventual arrival in Glasgow Central was at 22.01, just under two hours late.
The package for the weekend included two nights accomodation and on our arrival at Glasgow a fleet of five coaches was waiting to transport us to our hotels (in my case at the Normandy Hotel near Glasgow Airport).
After a good nights sleep, an early breakfast had been arranged at the hotel before the coaches took us back to Central station for an 08.25 departure to Stranraer. Unfortunately, when the ECS arrived behind 37667, we saw that although 45407 was at the front of the train, 45110 was not behind it, but 37405 instead. It turned out that 45110 had failed the previous night with leaking tubes, and in spite of the support crew working through the night, they had been unable to fix it. This was particularly galling after all the efforts with the tender the previous day. Due to the 10 coach load and the severe gradients on the Stranraer line, there was no option but to include the Class 37 behind 45407. However, it was stated that 45407 would do the majority of the work with the 37 only assisting when absolutely necessary and this is indeed what happened on the outward journey.
According to the original plan with two Black Fives, the locos would both work boiler first out of Glasgow as far as Ayr. One of the locos would then be turned on the triangle in Falkland Yard so that the locos were tender to tender. This was due to lack of turning facilities at Stranraer and meant that the leading loco would be boiler first in each direction. Obviously with only one steam loco this was not possible and 45407 worked boiler first on the outward journey, but would the 37 would lead for the return , with 45407 coupled tender-first behind the 37.
On arrival at Ayr, 45407 was detached from the train and ran to Falkland Yard as originally planned but only to take water and it returned and was re-attached in front of 37405. As promised, the Black Five did all the work as far as Girvan including the 1 in 70 climb to Dalrymple Junction. However after another water stop at Girvan, the gradient is 1 in 54 almost immediately on departure from the station so the 37 had to assist, and similarly on the climb from Pinwherry through Barrhill. Apparently, the maximum load for a single steam loco over this route in the past was 5 coaches and even in recent times the Class 47 on the Euston to Stranraer sleeper had a Class 20 as pilot from Ayr. So it was not really surprising that assistance was required from the 37, although the Black Five continued to do its share of the work.
The timings for the journey south of Girvan were rather optimistic - even with diesel assistance (or even two Black Fives?) 33 minutes for the 21 miles (at least 10 miles of which is on gradients steeper than 1 in 100) from Girvan to Glenwhilly was never going to be achieved and we were 23 minutes late by Dunragit. More time was then lost on the approach to Stranraer as there seemed to be some confusion as to the exact movements required to get the train into the platform and still be able to run round. In the end, the Black Five was uncoupled from the front of the train and ran into the loop while 37405 drew the coaches the last 150 yards or so into the platform.
After a break of about two hours in Stranraer during which time the Black Five was serviced and we saw the arrival and departure of a Stena HSS catamaran for Belfast, we departed Stranraer on time with 37405 leading and 45407 tender fi rst immediatly behind it. To reduce the amount of shunting required at Stranraer the support coach was left on the back of the train.
The return journey from Stranraer to Ayr was pretty much the reverse of the outward with the 37 doing most of the work but with 45407 assisting up the banks. Indeed its probably true that the 37 would have struggled with load 10 without the Black Five's assistance.
The line from Ayr to Stranraer is very scenic - much like the West Highland Line in places so it was an enjoyable day in spite of the diesel assistance (although, of course, it would have been spectacular with two Black Fives). However, we did get to Stranraer with steam (except for the last few yards) which was the principle reason for the tour. Of course, we can always try again next year with pure steam haulage!
It had been agreed by EWS and Railtrack that the 37 could be removed at Ayr and 45407 could haul the train on its own to Glasgow. So upon arrival, the 37 was detached and departed. 45407 was also attache d and ran to Falkland Yard where it was watered and turned so that it was boiler first for the journey to Glasgow.
During the return journey, we were informed that the Severn Valley support crew and members of the support crew of 60009 UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA (who are based in Scotland) had been working on 45110 and were optimistic that it would be available to double-head the return working from Glasgow on Monday morning.
Back to Sunday, and we arrived in Glasgow about 15 minutes late behind 45407 and the coaches were again waiting to take us to the hotels.
After an even earlier breakfast on Monday, the coaches returned us to Central station. 37405 brought the ECS in and we saw that both Black Fives were a ttached to the other end. After an on-time departure we were told that 45110 would be detached at Carnforth (in order to return 48151\rquote s tender) and 45407 would continue from Carnforth to Crewe alone.
The two locos kept time on the climb out of Glasgow, but just north of Carstairs it was 45407's turn to have problems. There had been a problem with the injectors and we had to stop for about 10 minutes to fill the boiler. However we were soon on our way again and reached the first water stop at Abington 13 minutes late. Departure was about five minutes late, but by the time we reached Beattock Summit we were 15 minutes late and were put in the loop. Here we were informed that 45110's tubes were leaking again, but it would remain on the train to as far as Carlisle from where 45407 would continue alone. By the time we reached Lockerbie Up Passenger Loop for a booked pathing stop we were 50 minutes late and 45110 was declared a total failure.
45407 (which was leading) was detached from the train and ran into one of the sidings and then 45110 detached its support coach and moved into another siding. After watering and servicing, 45407 was re-attached and we departed "single-headed" at 13.01, nearly two and a half hours late again.
We were again booked for a two hour stop in Carlisle, but were told that this would be reduced to a minimum of 25 minutes to allow 45407 and the kitchen car to be water. However, since 45407 had to be detached and run round the train to gain access to the fire hydrant, it was fairly clear that 25 minutes was optimistic - so the visit to the chip shop was a bit more leisurely this time. In the end, the stop was just over an hour and we departed 65 minutes late.
We were looped at Eden Valley, south of Penrith, to let a service train overtake . This loop is right at the bottom of the climb to Shap. Although the gradient is only 1 in 125 in this direction, it lasts for about ten miles and 45407 put in a stirling performance to take the 10 coaches over Shap from the enforced standing start.
A quick water stop at Carnforth saw the delay pulled back to just over half an hour which was held until just north of Crewe were problems with a clinkered fire and a signal stop outside the station saw us arrive at Crewe at 18.46, 51 minutes late. Here, 45407 was detached - for a well-earned rest - and 90021 was attached.
However, there was one more twist in store - it turned out that a rostering error had seen two drivers and no guard rostered for the onward journey to Finsbury Park, so we had to wait for a relief guard (I think the actual phrase was "On-call trainman", but it amounts to the same thing). Departure from Crewe was 1 hour 16 minutes late, but some spirited running by 90021 up the WCML saw the train arrive back in Finsbury Park 56 minutes late.
All of the above sounds like a nightmare for the poor passengers (and I suspect that it will be reported as such by certain parts of the railway press), but the vast majority of passengers accepted the problems in good spirit. The problems with 45110 were very unfortunate but hot-boxes and leaking tubes can happen at any time, it's just a pity that they both happened on the one tour. I'm sure that the Severn Valley Railway would not have allowed 45110 to start such a gruelling tour (680 miles over three days including fast running on the WCML and fierce gradients on the Stranraer line - not to mention Shap and Beattock) if the loco was in anyway suspect. The efforts of the support crews (including the West Coast Railway Company at Carnforth and the 60009 support crew in Scotland) really are quite awesome - swapping tenders at Carnforth, repairing 45110 at Motherwell, keeping 45407 running for three days). These efforts were much appreciated by all of the passengers, so much so that a collection was held for the support crews and raised over a thousand pounds.
So a word of thanks to everybody involved in this
Andy Staite and Jo Burkinshaw of Past Time Rail for organising the tour.
Bernard Staite and Mick McGlade of Rail Charter Services for acting as train managers and sorting out the numerous problems.
EWS and Railtrack for accepting the tour in the first place and staying with it when things started going wrong.
Ian Riley, Alun Rees and the various support crews for performing miracles.
The Past Time Rail stewards for collecting rubbish and whatever else it is they do.
The Rail Gourmet catering team for keeping people fed and watered over three long days.
David Smith for the loan of the tender from 48151.
The catering staff of the Normandy Hotel, who didnt know what had hit them when about 200 hungry passengers descended for breakfast at 6.00am in the morning.
Finally, if Past Time Rail do want to have another go at it next year, I'll be there.
Timings (Booked and Actual) :
(by Malc Thompson)
Coaching Stock :
Finsbury Park - Crewe and return : 9 Mark 1 coaches from set BN91
Crewe - Glasgow Central : 2 support coaches (Mark 1 BSK + Mark 2 BFK) + 9 coaches from BN91
Glasgow Central - Stranraer and return : 1 support coach (BFK) + 9 coaches from BN91
Glasgow Central - Lockerbie : 2 support coaches + 9 coaches from BN91
Lockerbie - Crewe : 1 support coach (BFK) + 9 coaches from BN91
Saturday 27th May (out) & Monday 28th May (return) :
|-||Holloway South Jn||07/27||-||:||21/10||-||-|
|-||Kings Cross Freight Jn||07/30||-||:||21/07||-||-|
|-||Camden Road East Jn||07/37||-||:||21/04||-||-|
|-||Willesden WL Jn||07/46||-||:||20/52||-||-|
|-||Harrow & Wealdstone||07/52||-||:||20/45||21/46||-|
|-||Milton Keynes Central||08.20a||-||:||20.15d||21.15d||-|
|-||Crewe Basford Hall Jn||10/08||-||:||--/--||-||-|
|-||Acton Grange Jn||11/00||11/05||:||17/27||17/58||-|
|-||Springs Branch Jn||11/12||11/19||:||17/10||17/46||-|
|-||Morecambe South Jn||12/14||12/14||:||16/12||16/47||-|
|-||Carnforth Up & Down GL||12W20a||12.24||:||16W05d||16.40||-|
|-||Carnforth North Jn||13/23||16/05||:||14/40||16/15||-|
|91.1||Oxenholme Lake District||13/41||16/21||:||14/26||16/00||75.8|
|-||Eden Valley UGL||--/--||--/--||:||--/--||15*20d||-|
|-||Carstairs South Jn||19/26||21/12||:||08/23||08/41||-|
|-||Rutherglen East Jn||20/00||21/50||:||07/54||07/54||-|
Sunday 28th May :
|7.2||Paisley Gilmour St||08/37||08/39||:||20/06||20/16||34.2|
a : arrival time
C : crew change
d : departure time
L : locomotive change
O : operational stop
T : token stop
W : water stop
X : crossing train
/ : passing time
* : pathing stop
The distance information on the timing sheets given
out on the train was incomplete. The distances shown (stations only in miles to
one decimal place) have been calculated from other sources and no guarantees are
made about their accuracy.
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