7th April 2001

Vintage Trains
East Coast Giants

Locos Used D9000 'Royal Scots Grey' & Steam : 60532 'Blue Peter'

Route :
1Z39 : Stratford-upon-Avon to York
1Z?? : York to Stratford-upon-Avon

Loco Route
D9000 Stratford-upon-Avon - Solihull - Camp Hill - Tamworth - Burton-upon-Trent - Derby - Chesterfield - Sheffield - Doncaster - (via ECML) - York
60532 York - (via ECML) - Doncaster - Mexborough - Rotherham Masborough - Barrow Hill - Chesterfield - Derby - Burton-upon-Trent - Tamworth - Water Orton - Landor Street Jn - Solihull - Stratford-upon-Avon

Notes :
(1) Tour was booked from York via Milford Jn, Turners Lane Jn & Swinton to Barrow Hill but departure was delayed and the ECML route was taken instead.

Source : Ralph Barrett

Tour Review
by Ralph Barrett)

Vintage Trains are a small railtour company based at Tyseley Railway Centre. As Deltic D9000 is also based at Tyseley, is makes sense for Vintage Trains to use D9000 on railtours from time to time. Vintage Trains 'East Coast Giants' railtour on Saturday 7th April provided an opportunity to sample another Deltic + Kettle combination on a railtour. Motive power was D9000 Stratford-upon-Avon to York, with A2 pacific Blue Peter on the return.

In the past, other Railtour companies such as Days Out (Days In!) have tried the Deltic + Kettle railtour combination, whereby a Deltic is used on (say) the outward journey and a kettle is used on the return. For various reasons these tours usually attract a large number of kettle bashers and only a few Deltic bashers. However, the railtour company does get a reliable, go anywhere diesel locomotive designed to be able to cope with a single power unit failure;-) There is a lot to be said for using D9000 rather than an EWS Duff - even if the railtour operator does not manage to fill the train with those elusive Deltic bashers.

Having previously done both routes to Stratford-on-Avon by Deltic on Fragonset's excellent Lincoln/Peterborough tour last December, I decided to join the East Coast Giants tour at Dorridge. Wise move as events turned out on the return journey with Blue Peter !

Deltic D9000 arrived early into Dorridge proudly wearing one of the NRMs 'winged thistle' headboards [1], pulling a rake of eight Vintage Train's Mk1 coaches. Further passenger stops were made at Solihull, Tamworth, Burton and Derby. Black Hole of New Street was thankfully avoided as we travelled 'direct' via Landore Street to Saltley. Two class 58s were noted on Saltley depot amongst the more usually 'dross'. I believe that Saltley is due to close sometime next year when the Virgin Duffs finally bow out to the new plastic. Let's hope that the Virgin Duffs continue to be as unreliable as usual in the meantime, and that we get some more 56 and 58 haulage on those VXC services this summer :-)

Outward schedule to York was very slack (for a Deltic!), and despite the driver's caution in starting, stopping, and reaching line speeds, we arrived in York on time at 12:13. According to the tour documentation train was booked via the Old Road from Chesterfield to Masborough, which is required Deltic track for me. In the event we travelled via Dronfield and got a rare non-stop path through Sheffield Midland station. To me, the highlight of the day was the booked 24 minute dash from Doncaster to York along the one of the best sections of the ECML for fast running.

Booked time Doncaster to York was 24 minutes, which is a Deltic timing if ever there was ! In the event we were 10 minutes early leaving Doncaster so our driver simply ambled along the racing stretch with speed mostly in the 80-90mph range. Very disappointing. D9000 was not pushed anywhere near her limit of 100mph, although I forgot to check whether any of Vintage Train's Mk1s were restricted to 90mph. Suppose that the driver was correctly judging his approach to York, as we were stopped at the usual signals at Drighouses for a couple of minutes. Finally glided into the platform at York at 12:12:28 against a booked time of 12:13. There is really no comparison between a Deltic+8 on a railtour with slack timings, and a Deltic+7 on a tightly times VXC service train.

Statutory visit to the NRM at York to pay homage to 'DELTIC' in the main hall. Surprised to see Deltic 19 also at the NRM, albeit parked out in the rain outside the 'Warehouse' - the former YK diesel depot. Had a few excellent pints in the Maltings pub, and back to York for the return to Dorridge behind kettle 60532 Blue Peter.

After riding behind a Deltic, a kettle is a big anti-climax. Indeed Blue Peter always seems to be a severe anti-climax every time I ride behind her. The A2 is AWS fitted which allows her to run at 75 mph. However she seemed reluctant to even reach 70mph on the flat. We only reached 75mph once on the return journey, and that was on the decent from Clay Cross tunnel down into the Derwent Valley.

According to the published timings the A2 had been booked back via the 'boring' ex-Midland route via Normanton. In the event our departure from York was delayed by 20 minutes to allow us to travel via the ECML to Donny. In the event we spent most of the time on the ECML racing stretch running around 65 mph which is pedestrian considering that Blue Peter only had 9 bogies in tow. As we staggered towards Doncaster I looked back and noted the distinctive marker lights a GNER train hard on our heels, which we were obviously delaying.

Took the 'Old Road' this time at Masborough and stopped for water just after Barrow Hill. Throughout the day we'd run pretty much to time. However, after leaving Barrow Hill on time we finally started to drift towards 'Railtour Standard Time'. After setting down at Tamworth we triggered a hot-box detector and were stopped whilst the EWS crew checked all wheel bearings for over-temperature. Another hot-box false alarm triggered by the firebox of the kettle I suspect ?

One advantage of the return with the kettle is that the Vintage Trains stock is dual heated ! We had ETH with D9000, and steam heat from 60532. Very nostalgic, especially the pleasure of having scalding hot water from the hot taps in the Mk1 toilets ! Vintage Trains Mk1 stock is also vacuum braked. There cannot be much vacuum brake seam heat stock left these days ?

We baled at Dorridge somewhat later than advertised, where Blue Peter appeared to have run out of water ! As we departed by road, the support crew was running up and down with water hose looking for a hydrant. Having lengthy water stops every 50, miles or so spoils these kettle tours for me. Why cannot they put another water tank in the support coach they always seem to tow ? Or tow a small water tank behind the tender ?

On the whole an 'average' railtour, spoilt by a lacklustre schedule on the Deltic leg for me. However, nice to have hot water and snug steam heating on Mk1 stock though. Also kettle bashers are a rum lot. I mentioned the 'B1' to the kettle fancier sitting opposite to me, and he replied that he'd never heard of a B1 ! My neighbour reminds me that many so called kettle enthusiasts are really 'nostalgia enthusiasts' - they actually know less about kettles than your average Deltic basher.

Ralph Barrett

[1] Another Winged Thistle headboard was noted on display in the NRM's 'The Warehouse' section.

Timings (Booked & Actual)
(from Nigel Rollings & Rob Wells)

M.C Location Booked Actual   Booked (rtn)   M.C
0.00 Stratford-upon-Avon 08.10d 08.10   21.35a 22.28 15.45
8.65 Hatton West Jn 08/37 ?   21/17 ? 6360
Dorridge 08.50a ~ 08.53d 08.42 ~ 08.57   21.02a ~ 21.04d 21.29 ~ 21.55 0.00
Solihull 08.59a ~ 09.02d 09.05 ~ 09.09   20.52a ~ 20.54d 21.14 ~ 21.22 0.00
Tyseley 09*14a ~ 09*17d 09/17   20*42a ~ 20*45d 21.07 ~ 21.08 0.00
Landor Street Jn 09*28a ~ 09*30d 09.29 ~ 09.32   20*23a ~ 20*25d 20.56 ~ 20.57 0.00
Tamworth HL 09.47a ~ 09.49d 09.47 ~ 09.51   20.01a ~ 20.03d 20.17 ~ 20.21 0.00
Burton-on-Trent 10.00a ~ 10.02d ?   19.45a ~ 19.47d ? 0.00
Derby 10.18a ~ 10.20d 10.18 ~ 10.22   19.28a ~ 19.31d 19.40 ~ 19.44 0.00
24.11 Chesterfield 10/45 10/46   19/02 19/09 3.26
- Barrow Hill North Jn   18w20a ~ 18w55d ? 0.00
33.39 Beighton Jn 11/04 ?   18/04 18/00 ?
44.65 Swinton 11/39 11/23   17/42 17/40 44.55
- Hare Park Jn   17/23 DIV 30.03
- Turners Lane Jn   17/02 DIV 26.79
- Milford Jn   16/43 DIV 15.07
53.05 Doncaster 11/49 11/39   DIV 17/20 ?
72.03 Hambleton North Jn 12/03 11/54   DIV 16/51 ?
85.48 York 12L13a 12.09   16L16d 16.36 0.00

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