(13th &) 14th July 2001
The Ayr Liner
|Locos Used||37707, 37886, 56054, 60001, 66246 & 92042|
1Z43 : Birmingham International to Ayr
1Z44 : Ayr to Birmingham International
|13/07-14/07||60001||Birmingham International - Stechford - Proof House Jn - Birmingham New Street - Soho South Jn - Dudley Port - Wolverhampton - Stafford - Crewe|
|14/07||92042 (2)||Crewe - (via WCML) - Carlisle|
|14/07||37886 + 37707||Carlisle - Gretna Jn - Dumfries - Mauchline Jn - Annbank Jn - Newton Jn - Falkland Yard (no.1 track)|
|14/07||37707 + 37886 (3)||Falkland Yard - Newton Jn - Annbank Jn - Killoch (Railtrack limit)|
|14/07||66246 (4)||Killoch - Annbank Jn - Newton Jn - Falkland Yard (no.2 track)|
|14/07||37707 + 37886 (3)||Falkland Yard - Newton Jn - Ayr - Dalrymple Jn - Waterside (Railtrack limit)|
|14/07||66246 (4)||Waterside - Dalrymple Jn - Ayr - Newton Jn - Ayr Harbour (EWS limit)|
|14/07||37707 + 37886 (5)||Ayr Harbour - Falkland Yard - Prestwick - Troon - (via Troon UGL) - Barassie Jn - Kilmarnock - Mauchline Jn - (via Thornhill up loop) - Dumfries - Gretna Jn - Carlisle|
|14/07||56054||Carlisle - (reverse of outward route) - Birmingham International|
(1) Tour started on Friday 13th July, 22.30 departure from Birmingham International. Saturday arrived on the approaches to Crewe.
(2) 37886 + 37707 dead in tow.
(3) 66246 on rear.
(4) 37707 + 37886 on rear.
(5) 37707 suffered a power earth fault at Kilmarnock and, as a result, did not provide traction from there back to Carlisle (though the engine was left running). 37886 was left to keep "load 13" and the dead 37 on the move.
Here are some photos taken on the day.
Sources : Gary Thornton
(on the train throughout) & Kevin Driscoll
A tour over two years in the making! An overnight jaunt taking us to Ayrshire and various freight branches and lines, all of which I required. It was first advertised in early 1999 but had to be abandoned owing to problems getting paths over the said freight lines. When, in April 2001, I made my booking (for 24 first class seats!) for the reborn tour I still wasn't convinced it would go ahead this time....
....but on the Wednesday a large, well filled, envelope arrived - containing the covering letter, 24 tickets and....24 credit vouchers for £10 !! Hmmm.... A read of the letter confirmed that two branches had been dropped - Riccarton due to the condition of trackside infrastructure and Knochshinnoch owing to a possession to enable a "weights and measures" exercise by Trading Standards.....eh?
On the positive side, with Ayr drivers only now being passed for 37's and 66's, our motive power had been changed and a pair of 37s' was also to feature in the days activities. Getting a tenner credit voucher wasn't therefore that bad considering!
Thursday evening was spent communicating the details to my group - by e-mail, phone and sms. Friday morning gen from a contact of mine confirmed locos were likely to be 37707 + 37886, 56054, 60001 & 92042 - only the 66 being apparently not yet allocated. Mega disappointment at the choice of tractors - Pathfinder having had these as recently as June 2nd, my last railtour in the UK!
My lift arrived about 8.30pm on the Friday night (having taken appropriate "avoiding actions" to miss out the local traffic chaos as I live about 15 miles from Silverstone motor racing circuit and this weekend just happens to be the British F1 Grand Prix). Time for a coffee then we headed off to Birmingham International for the tour.
We arrived just as an EWS liveried class 60 was pulling in with the tour stock. Walking onto platform 2 soon confirmed it was in deed 60001 as predicted. Plenty of time for photos and a chat with many friends and acquaintances before the 22.30 departure time. Time too to get the first beer in! Our seats, numbers 1-12 back & facing in coach N, turned out to be the leading most in the train on leaving Birmingham - so we'd enjoy (?) the class 60 thrash as well as the 37's later in the morning.
Our half of the coach was quiet on leaving International - mainly as most of the group (a.k.a. "the Pathfinder synchronised drinking team") were getting in some (not really needed) last minute practice in the Stafford Arms in Stafford.
Saturday arrived on the final approach to Crewe station - here we said goodbye to the "brick" and hello to 37707, 37886 & 92042. The tractors were shut-down so we'd have 92042 as sole power through to Carlisle. Attempts at sleep proved fairly unfruitful and I ended up out on the platform at Preston and Carlisle photographing the locos. At the latter station we lost the 92 and things became far louder for us in the leading carriage as the 37's were fired back into life.
Our run northwards under diesel power commenced at 04.12 and Saturday was just beginning to dawn as we left Carlisle behind. At Gretna Junction we turned off onto the G&SW line to Dumfries and other points north. Line speed limits seemed to prevent much in the way of thrash (perhaps slack timings and a desire to allow us to sleep may also have played a part). That said, the run through Drumlanrig tunnel was superb with us entering at about 20mph then both tractors being opened up through the rest of the tunnel. Amazingly those asleep were not disturbed by this performance - a shame as they were missing a real treat.
At Mauchline we were booked a 17 minute fester, sorry, pathing stop - I assume to wait the opening of the signalboxes along our route. Once we got the road it was only a short run from the Mauchline home signal to the 'box - here we sat for a further 20 minutes or so for no apparent reason - but I'd guess a lack of signalman at the 'box in advance perhaps? Once on the move an it was a very enjoyable thrash along the freight-only line through Annbank Junction to Newton Junction. I have to admit I blew away my lack of sleep with a few minutes at the door window in the leading coach - what a sound the pair of tractors made in the still morning air! Those who slept through it all really missed a good performance.
As we pulled up at Newton Junction (it was 06.40 in case anyone's interested) various 37's and 66's were noted on the depot. Into Falkland Yard and a very long fester ensued whilst our 37's were run round to the other end of the train then 66246 appeared and was hooked on to our end of the train. By the time we departed we'd managed quite effortlessly to become 40 minutes late!
We retraced our steps to Annbank Junction then headed down the freight line to Killoch Washery. Once at the Railtrack limit we reversed and 66246 worked us back to Falkland Yard. Another reversal but this time we headed for Ayr station and our first "proper" break - 75 minutes to walk around, get breakfast, photograph the locos etc. A mix of class 156, 318 and 334 multiple units were seen during our short stay.
With everything done we set off again at 11.15 and took the line towards Stranraer as far as Dalrymple Junction. Here we curved off onto the freight line to Waterside. Another "Railtrack limit" stop then it was back again to Ayr and our third visit to Falkland Yard - but this time via the short Ayr Harbour branch. Whilst there we disposed of 66246 before heading off homewards with the 37's - a quiet journey for my group as we were now rearmost in the train consist.
Our route back to Carlisle was via Prestwick (where we almost picked up a few Glasgow-bound passengers), Kilmarnock and thence via the G&SW, rejoining our outward route at Mauchline. On passing Bank Junction we were a little surprised to see 66063 waiting to leave the branch with a coal train. Why surprised? Well, this was the Knockshinnoch branch and, according to the tour letter blurb we'd been refused access "due to a weights and measures exercise by Trading Standards effectively blocking the line to all traffic all day". Hmmmm.... I'll have to guess that this train was part of the exercise - but it was a pity we couldn't have gone up the branch after it came off!
The run to Carlisle was not awe inspiring and our arrival into Carlisle was exactly an hour late and a revised departure time had been given. We still missed that as we waited for the 37's to be removed and 56054 to be added. As the 37's pulled off the train it was noticeable that 37707 wasn't powering. Information received afterwards suggests that in fact 37707 has suffered a power earth fault at Kilmarnock and had just been ticking over ever since - so, in reality, it was not a bad performance from 37886 with 13 coaches and a dead 37 to contend with!
Time to view the rather dubious attempt to "bull" up the grid with silver handrails and buffers before we left Carlisle 29 minutes late, but a mix of spirited running (I wouldn't go as far as to say outstanding, as it wasn't by a long way) and slack timings soon saw us clawing back the deficit and, at Weaver Junction, we suddenly found ourselves running a minute early! Signallers regulating through Wolverhampton and Birmingham however stuffed that and we ended up back into International station a minute behind plan.
All in all a superb railtour - well worth the discomfort of a night spent on-board the train. Shame though to be stitched-up (as I have to say I think we were) and having two well-dud class 37's, but at least I required all the other locos used on the tour. Thank you Pathfinder, we'll have a few more tours like this one please.
Timings (Booked & Actual)
(from Gary Thornton, David Clark & Phil Pearson)
|8.18||Birmingham New Street||22.45a ~ 22/53d||22.44 ~ 22.54||20.18a ~ 20.22d||20.22 ~ 20.27||52.52|
|10.19||Soho South Jn||22/58||22/59||20/14||(20/17)||50.51|
|21.02||Wolverhampton||23.10a ~ 23.13d||23.13 ~ 23.16||19.58a ~ 20.00d||19.52 ~ 19.59||39.68|
|36.33||Stafford||23.35a ~ 23.37d||23.34 ~ 23.38||19.37a ~ 19.40d||19.26 ~ 19.31||24.37|
|Crewe||00L10a ~ 00L40d||00.10 ~ 00.42||19.02a ~ 19.05d||18.58 ~ 19.01||0.00
|22.24||Acton Grange Jn||01/07||01/10||18/36||18/37||118.64|
|24.11||Warrington Bank Quay||01/09||01/11||18/34||18/36||116.77|
|34.42||Springs Branch Jn||01/18||01/20||18/23||18/28||106.46|
|35.71||Wigan North Western||01.20a ~ 01.23d||01.22 ~ 01.25||18.18a ~ 18.21d||18.24 ~ 18.25||105.17|
|51.01||Preston||01.50a ~ 02.01d||01.40 ~ 02.02||17.50a ~ 17.53d||18.04 ~18.07||90.07|
|73.71||Morecambe South Jn||02/22||02/22||17/26||17/43||67.17|
|78.07||Carnforth North Jn||02/25||02/25||17/20||17/39||63.01|
|81.68||Mauhline||05*46 ~ 06*03||05.38 ~ 06.23|
|93.04||Newton Junction||06*22 ~ 06*24||06.42 ~ 06.43|
|Falkland Yard||06L29 ~ 07L09||06.47 ~ 07.49|
|0.40||Signal PA335||07*15 ~ 07*17||07.53 ~ 07.56|
|4.31||Annbank||07*25 ~ 07*33||08.06 ~ 08.09|
|Killoch (Railtrack Limit)||08.06 ~ 08.11||08.44 ~ 08.50|
|8.04||Annbank||08*44 ~ 08*52||09.14 ~ 09.23|
|12.15||Newton Jn||09*00 ~ 09*15||09/36|
|Falkland Yard||09.08 ~ 09.13||09.40 ~ 09.51|
|1.27||Ayr||09.21a ~ 10.50d||09.58 ~ 11.15|
|Waterside (Railtrack Limit)||11.23 ~ 11.28||11.57 ~ 12.01|
|9.17||Dalrymple Jn||11/55||12.33 ~ 12.34|
|Ayr Harbour (EWS limit)||12.05 ~ 12.10||12L50 ~ 12L59|
|0.40||Falkland Yard||12L16 ~ 12L35||13.07 ~ 13.09|
|58.42||Thornhill||13/53||15.03 ~ 15.03|
|87.77||Annan||14*23 ~ 14*45||15.39 ~ 15.44|
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