13th August 2000
Branch Line Society
|Locos Used||37415 & 37428|
Route : 1Z43 throughout
|37415 (1)||Motherwell - Hamilton Central - Kirkhill - Cathcart West Jn - Maxwell Park - Glasgow Central [P1]|
|37428 (2)||Glasgow Central [P1] - Line 3 (Route 'W')|
|37428 (3)||Line 3 (Route 'W') - Glasgow Central [P1]|
|37428 (2)||Glasgow Central [P1] - Line 4 (Route 'X') - Paisley Gilmour St - Ayr - Dalrymple Jn - Holehouse Jn|
|37415 (1)||Holehouse Jn - Broomhill|
|37428 (2)||Broomhill - Holehouse Jn|
|37415 (1)||Holehouse Jn - Ayr - Prestwick Town - Barassie Jn|
|37428 (2)||Barassie Jn - Barassie Sidings (Troon Gate)|
|37415 (1)||Troon Gate - Barassie Jn - Irvine- Byrehill Jn - Dubbs Jn - Saltcoats - Ardrossan Harbour|
|37428 (2)||Ardrossan Harbour - Kilwinning - Paisley Gilmour St. (Up Goods Loop)|
|37415 (1)||Paisley Gilmour St. (UGL) - Wemyss Bay|
|37428 (2)||Wemyss Bay- Paisley Gilmour St. - Arkleston Jn - Shields Jn - High St Jn - Bellgrove - Springburn - Cowlairs West Jn - Lenzie - Greenhill Upper Jn - Falkirk High|
(1) 37428 on rear.
(2) 37415 on rear.
(3) 37428 propelling with 37415 at the front.
Sources : Ken Strachan & Alan Sheppard
(by Mark Green)
On reading that a railtour was to be offered over the recently re-laid Broomhills branch in Ayrshire, booking a place was an absolute must, given that EWS have intimated their intention to remove the track sometime within the next year, once coal flow ceases from the nearby opencast works. The tour also planned to include some rare loco hauled track in addition to a couple of freight/ECS only curves around Ayrshire and the Firth of Clyde, and the eminently sensible departure time appealed to my nocturnal disposition - a 10.47am kickoff at Glasgow Central would allow me at least 6 hours sleep!
Traction was expected to be WKMB (Motherwell) 37/4's top n tailing throughout, with numerous reversing movements planned. This pool has seen the variety of locomotives reduced over recent months, and consists of entirely EWS liveried machines (save for 428 in Royal Scotsman colours - which had been working in England of late). It was therefore heartening to see a TOPS report on the Friday indicating 428 was back in Scotland, and looking likely for the tour, along with EWS 37415 - a new pool member recently arrived from the North Wales coast.
The tour had begun at Motherwell, and travelled to Central via the Hamilton Circle, Kings Park and Maxwell Park. I opted for the extra 45mins sleep, and joined at Glasgow Central, where the arrival was into platform 1 - unusual, considering our booked departure routing was planned to be onto the Ayr line. Normally platform 9,10 or 11 would be utilised. There is one possible exit from platform 1 via route X that we could have taken but our on-time departure indicated route W on the theatre indicator. EWS drivers unfamiliar with Central's layout duly proceeded, with 37428 at the helm, and we moved all of 500 yards out onto the bridge before it was realised that we could not get our required destination from this movement!! A wait of 5mins ensued, whilst we effectively blocked most of the station throat, before reversing back into platform 1, and watching a GNER service depart bound for King X, before being correctly allocated road X over the bridge.
Given the propensity of Railtrack to allocate distinctly slack timings to railtours recently, we expected plenty of scope for making the 15minute delay up, but despite a fast run to Ayr, we arrived 6 down, and the crew change took a further 10minutes. 37 694 and one other was observed on Ayr LIP, along with the usual cacophony of sheds - not worth noting! Our route was south to Dalrymple Junc. where the Stranraer line continues straight ahead, but we diverged to the left to follow the freight only line to Chalmerston as far as Holehouse Junction, where the Broomhill Branch trails in. Speed limits of 20mph and 5mph over the br anch made for slow progress, and much scraping of the exterior of the coaches was evident courtesy of the lineside vegetation! A 5mph restriction over the Purclewan Road viaduct provided ample opportunity for the many photographers gathered in a nearby field to get some pictures of this unusual occurrence! Arrival at Holehouse was early, and a wait was unavoidable for the EWS staff to arrive en masse by road to change the points for Broomhill. The trip up the branch was excellent - clearly vast amounts of work had been invested by members of the BLS in arranging permission from landowners and in obtaining a consulting engineer's report stating that the line was certifiable for passengers to traverse in order to satisfy HMRI requirements. This was likely to be the one and only occasion that such a trip would occur, and proved to be the main attraction for the vast majority of the participants. Numerous photographers were in evidence to capture the happenings, including the local farmer on whose land the branch has been constructed. The train was taken all the way to the buffer stop at the east end of the branch, prior to returning to Holehouse Junction for the return.
Ayr was reached 10mins ahead of schedule on the return, making for a good photo opportunity in the now sunny afternoon. Originally it had been intended to cover Barassie CE sidings (part of the old Troon avoiding line) by running onto the Kilmarnock line and reversing, however due to a possession, it was necessary to reverse in from the main Ayr - Glasgow route, and the train ran all the way to the buffer stops where a new houses have been built where the avoiding line used to run.
Onwards via the freight only curve between Dubbs and Byrehill Junctions, avoiding Kilwinning, we passed along the coast to the Ardrossan branch where a very brief stop was made at the Harbour, usually the sole preserve of class 318 EMU's. Heading back north again towards Glasgow, a spirited run to Paisley saw the train make up 8 minutes, arriving on time at Gilmour Street, where a set down was made for those wishing to leave early. Reversal in the Up Goods Loop saw us heading this time for the Gourock line, and a high speed run to Wemyss Bay Junction in Port Glasgow. Almost slowing to a stand for a signal check as we entered the branch resulted in thrash factor 10 from 37415 uphill for 5 miles with the noise reverberating around Inverclyde. This branch offers great views over the "tail o' the bank", before curving left inland to head for IBM and Inverkip. A wait in the loop at Dunrod for the passing EMU before proceeding down to Wemyss Bay itself - a glorious station building where the ferry to Bute can be taken. Here arose the only complaint with timings. The booked stop gave little opportunity for photos, despite the return being pathed for a 20minute hold in the loop at Dunrod. It would surely have been better to use the extra 20mins at Wemyss Bay, and would have unaffected the other traffic on the single line branch.
The run back to Paisley was completed on schedule, and across Glasgow the train was routed over the cross city line - required track for me, to Bellgrove and thence on via Springburn and Cowlairs, to the former Eastfield Depot where a pause was made in the loop in memory of the depot long since demolished (or perhaps it was to allow a 170 to skip ahead on the Glasgow - Edinburgh service!). Setting down at Lenzie and Falkirk High, this marked the end of a highly ambitious, but entirely successful tour.
In summary, the day was of the sort that really brings home what railtours should be about. So often nowadays tours are marred by advertised routes not being covered, traction changes at late notice or even total cancellations. Railtrack and EWS have been accused of being disinterested in the enthusiast market, however at least in Scotland, the day showed what can be done when it all goes to plan. A very significant amount of effort had been invested by the BLS in organising the tour, particularly for the Broomhill section, and it is pleasing to see this sort of work paying off - it was only a shame that the train was not busier. Whether intentionally or by pure coincidence EWS managed to allocate the best two locos from WKMB, and 37428 looked particularly good in maroon, with the maroon rake of SRPS coaches, unlike the usual mish-mash of railtour stock, coupled to an EWS liveried loco. Here's hoping for more of the same!
Timings (Booked & Actual)
(from Alan Sheppard & Janet Cottrell)
|Hamilton Central [P1]||10/06½||10/07|
|Cathcart West Jn||10/27||10/28|
|Muirhouse Central Jn||10/36||10/34½|
|Muirhouse North Jn||10/37||10/35|
|Glasgow Central [P1]||10.41a ~ (10.47d)||10.41 ~ 10.47|
|Route 'W' / Line 3||DIV||10.49 ~ 10.54|
|Glasgow Central [P1]||(10.41a) ~ 10.47d||10.56½ ~ 11.00|
|Paisley Gilmour Street [P4]||11.00a ~ 11.02d||11.12a ~ 11.12½d|
|Ayr [P4 ? ]||11c43 ~ 11c46||11.46 ~ 11.54|
|Holehouse Jn||12.16 ~ 12.31||12.33 ~ 12.52|
|Broomhill||12.56 ~ 13.11||13.07 ~ 13.12|
|Holehouse Jn||13.26 ~ 13.41||13.25 ~ 13.26|
|Ayr [P3]||14.11a ~ 14.17d||14.08a ~ 14.18d|
|Barassie Jn Sig. PB 275||14.30 ~ 14.33||14.34 ~ 14.35½|
|Barassie Sidings (Troon Gate)||14.40 ~ 14*53||14.50 ~ 14.53|
|Barassie Jn||15/00||15.02 ~ 15.04|
|Ardrossan South Beach||15/20||15/23|
|Ardrossan Harbour||15p25 ~ 15p30||15p29 ~ 15p35|
|Ardrossan South Beach||15/33||15/39|
|Paisley Gilmour Street [P3]||16/04||16c05 ~ 16c08|
|Paisley (Up Goods Loop)||16.07 ~ 16.12||16.10 ~ 16.15|
|Paisley Gilmour Street [P2]||16/14||16/17|
|Wemyss Bay Jn||16/29||16/33|
|Dunrod Loop (Down Loop)||16x44 ~ 16x56||16.49 ~ 16.55|
|Wemyss Bay [P2]||17p03 ~ 17p08||17p04 ~ 17p12|
|Dunrod Loop (Up / Down Main)||17x15 ~ 17x36||17.21½ ~ 17.34|
|Wemyss Bay Jn||17/46||17/45|
|Paisley Gilmour Street [P1]||18.01a ~ 18.02d||18.00a ~ 18.02d|
|High Street Jn||18*18 ~ 18*24||?|
|Cowlairs West Jn||18/38||18/29|
|Lenzie||18.45a ~ 18.48d||18.43 ~ 18.44|
|Greenhill Upper Jn||18/59½||18/57|
Back to "The Railtour Files"