17th June 2000

Pathfinder Tours
The Cumbrian Coasterman

Locos Used 47703 & 55019

Route :

Locos Route
55019 Crewe - Stafford - Wolverhampton - Sandwell and Dudley - Birmingham New Street - Derby - Sheffield - Moorthorpe - South Kirby Junction - Hare Park Junction - Wakefield Kirkgate - Healey Mills - Mirfield - Brighouse - Hall Royd Junction - Copy Pit - Blackburn - Preston - Carnforth - Dalton Junction - Park South Junction - Ravenglass - Workington
55019 Workington - Ravenglass - Park South Junction - Barrow-in-Furness - Dalton Junction - Carnforth - Preston - Wigan North Western - Warrington Bank Quay - Crewe
47703 Crewe - Stafford - Wolverhampton - Sandwell and Dudley - Birmingham New Street - Derby - Sheffield

Source : Andy Hoskins

Tour review :
(by David Russell)

Saturday June 17th was the day Pathfinder finally managed to run its 'Cumbrian Coasterman' tour from to Workington, a tour which had changed dates and motive power on several occasions! Originally, this tour had been due to run in June 1999, featuring haulage behind Railfreight Distribution Class 47s which were then in the process of being withdrawn from traffic. The tour was then re-dated to August 30th 1999, with D172 Ixion as advertised motive power. This then changed to a Deltic from the Deltic 9000 Locomotives Ltd fleet, but a lack of bookings saw the train postponed again to Summer 2000. The new date chosen was June 17th, and the train would now be operated by VSOE, rather than EWS as had been originally planned. This meant that Pathfinder could use one of the Deltic Preservation Society's locos rather than one from DNLL, which are leased to VSOE. This was the first occasion that one of the DPS machines had been used on a non-DPS enthusiast railtour, although 55019 had appeared on a couple of Pathfinder 'dinex' trains previously. Being on the DPS committee and normally a steward on the DPS specials, I was looking forward to the chance to travel behind one of our machines as an ordinary passenger without having any work to do!

The routing for the tour was quite unusual, starting from Crewe and heading south to Birmingham then north through Derby and Sheffield, across to Preston and then along the Cumbrian Coast. On the return, the tour was orignally planned to follow the outward routing (apart from the section over the Pennines), but engineering work at Water Orton meant that it had to be changed so that after setting down at Preston, it would carry on direct to Crewe, then set down as per outward and terminate at Sheffield.

I was booked on the tour as part of the Barrow Hill Engine Shed Society party, BHESS having made a block booking on the tour. I had originally planned to board the train at Sheffield or Chesterfield, but when I learnt a few days beforehand that the Deltic was going to be removed from the tour at Crewe on the return leg, and Class 47 hauled back to Sheffield, I decided to revise my plans and join it at Crewe, which meant I would get maximum Deltic mileage.  The major drawback with doing this was the departure time from Crewe - 05.10! This meant setting the alarm clock for 02.15 for the two hour drive over the M62.

I arrived at Crewe just after 04.30, just in time to see 55019 (with its headboard) and the coaching stock arriving from Crewe Carriage Shed. Even at this time, there were quite a few familiar faces about, and I also met up with Paul Bettany, who does the Definitive Deltic Library website for the first time. Although the train was being operated by VSOE, the coaching stock was a 9 coach Riviera Trains Mk 1 set. I was booked in coach B, the rear but one coach, so I went and found a seat but then headed up to the front for the departure. Plenty of smoke and noise from RHF as we headed past her home depot and along the WCML to Stafford, where we arrived a couple of minutes early. I was amazed at how many spotters were there, obviously having spent the night on the station. At least I'd managed three hours sleep in bed.

We continued south, picking up at Wolverhampton and Sandwell & Dudley before a short stop at Birmingham New Street awaiting time. As it was 06.43 when we left, had the 06.58 to Ramsgate been running this year and hauled by D9000, then we may have seen two Deltics in Birmingham New Street for the very first time! We now went on the Cross Country route towards Derby, passing Saltley (full of sheds) and Washwood Heath (full of plastic). At Tamworth, I was joined by a friend who was paying on the day. As there were a few seats unallocated in our coach, he came and sat with me.

More passengers joined at Burton and Derby, while our coach filled up at Chesterfield and Sheffield with the rest of the Barrow Hill party, including organiser Mervyn Allcock, so I finally obtained my ticket. It was noticeable that there were quite a lot of daytripper 'normals' on board the train. At Sheffield, we had a short stop which gave everyone enough time for a photograph - the loco was quite well positioned for shots too! (Take note Gary - if you want decent shots, do Deltic tours and not 67s!).

Beyond Sheffield, we headed for West Yorkshire via Wakefield Kirkgate and past Healey Mills then to Mirfield and through the newly opened stations at Brighouse and Elland. We arrived at Milner Royd Junction somewhat early and waited 15 minutes for a unit booked ahead of us to pass. Why does Railtrack insist on pathing charters directly behind units? Then it was through Hebden Bridge, over Copy Pit and through Blackburn to our finla pick-up point, Preston. Crewe to Preston direct takes less than an hour, but with our routing it had taken almost six! A 15 minute stop here gave more opportunity for photos before a fast thrash along the WCML as far as Carnforth where we diverged left for our run along the Cumbrian Coast. We were delayed for 15 minutes at Arnside due to a signalling problem, and took the Barrow avoiding line as planned. The Cumbrain Coast line is quite scenic for most of the run, and it is surprising more charters do not use the line, particularly as it is not used by too many trains so pathing shouldn't be a major problem.

Our first set down point was Ravenglass, where a large number of people alighted for the 'Ratty' option - a special train had been laid on for tour passengers. However, that would have meant missing some new Deltic track! By this time, I'd moved nearer the front of the train to hear the loco. Further set downs took place at Sellafield (for a visit to the BNFL site) and Whitehaven before arriving at our destination, Workington, just a few minutes down.

There was a short break at Workington, giving time for 55019 to run round the stock and move it into the other platform. While this was going on, I caught a service train back as far as Whitehaven, to enable me to get a shot of the train approaching the station - not because it was my last Class 142 for haulage as suggested by VSOE's Fleet Manager! In fact the unit was dud which was disappointing!

Having obtained a shot of the tour arriving at Whitehaven, I rejoined the tour for the return journey. As I was now near the front, I spent a bit more time at my seat than I had done on the outward leg. We picked up our passengers at Sellafield and Ravenglass and headed back towards Carnforth, this time routed via Barrow, then back to Preston, our first set down. We then had a fast thrash to Crewe via Wigan and Warrington (constant speeds in the high 90s).We were held outside Crewe for over 10 minutes awaiting a platform, but still arrived on time.

At Crewe, 55019 was uncoupled from the train and replaced by Fragonset's 47703 which is also on hire to VSOE. The Deltic could not make the rest of the journey due to insufficient fuel range. For me, the tour was now over, and it was back to the car for the drive home. It had been an excellent tour, with a good mix of unusual loco-hauled track, secondary lines and some fast thrash. Thanks go to Pathfinder for arranging the trip, and also allowing me to hand out some DPS literature and magazines on the train.

I was back in the house shortly after 9pm, before the Class 47 had even reached Derby with the train! The early start had been worth it.

David Russell

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