(13th &) 14th July 2001

Pathfinder Tours
The Ayr Liner

Locos Used 37707, 37886, 56054, 60001, 66246 & 92042
Stock Used 4902+4963+5040+4927+5009+1863+21272+3098+3140+3112+3122+3125+99568

Route :
1Z43 : Birmingham International to Ayr
1Z44 : Ayr to Birmingham International

Date(s) Loco(s) Route
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

Notes :
(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

Tour Review

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.

Gary Thornton.

Timings (Booked & Actual)
(from Gary Thornton, David Clark & Phil Pearson)

M.C Location Booked Actual   Booked Actual M.C
0.00 Birmingham International 22.30d 22.31   20.40a 20.41 60.70
4.33 Stechford 22/39 22/37   20/32 20/33 56.37
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
12.01 Galton Jn 23/00 23/01   20/11 20/13 48.73
15.42 Dudley Port 23/03 23/05   20/08 20/07 45.28
21.02 Wolverhampton 23.10a ~ 23.13d 23.13 ~ 23.16   19.58a ~ 20.00d 19.52 ~ 19.59 39.68
22.56 Bushbury Jn 23/17 23/19   19/54 19/46 38.14
36.33 Stafford 23.35a ~ 23.37d 23.34 ~ 23.38   19.37a ~ 19.40d 19.26 ~ 19.31 24.37
41.62 Norton Bridge 23/45 23/45   19/25 19/20 19.08
52.64 Madeley 23/54 23/57   19/16 19/11 8.06
60.70
0.00
Crewe 00L10a ~ 00L40d 00.10 ~ 00.42   19.02a ~ 19.05d 18.58 ~ 19.01 0.00
141.08
8.66 Winsford SB 00/57 00/57   18/51 18/48 132.22
17.20 Weaver Jn 01/03 (01/07)   18/43 18/42 124.66
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
27.47 Winwick Jn 01/12 01/14   18/30 18/34 113.41
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
43.42 Balshaw Lane 01/33 01/33   18/05 18/17 97.46
45.44 Euxton Jn 01/35 01/37   18/03 18/14 95.43
51.01 Preston 01.50a ~ 02.01d 01.40 ~ 02.02   17.50a ~ 17.53d 18.04 ~18.07 90.07
71.79 Lancaster 02/20 02/20   17/29 17/44 69.09
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
91.07 Oxenholme 02/35 02/34   17/04 17/30 50.01
103.56 Tebay 02/47 02/44   16/54 17/20 36.68
123.19 Penrith 03/07 02/59   16/35 17/02 17.69
141.08 Carlisle 03L27a 03.19   16L12d 16.41 0.00

 

M.C Location Booked Actual
0.00 Carlisle 04.12d 04.12
8.57 Gretna Jn 04/22 04/22
17.58 Annan 04/31 04/30
33.07 Dumfries 04/47 04/44
47.12 Thornhill 05/02 05/00
62.39 Kirkonnel 05/18 05/17
69.75 New Cumnock 05/26 05/23
81.68 Mauhline 05*46 ~ 06*03 05.38 ~ 06.23
88.45 Annbank 06/15 06/33
93.04 Newton Junction 06*22 ~ 06*24 06.42 ~ 06.43
93.20
0.00
Falkland Yard 06L29 ~ 07L09 06.47 ~ 07.49
0.20 Newton Jn 07/13 07/52
0.40 Signal PA335 07*15 ~ 07*17 07.53 ~ 07.56
4.31 Annbank 07*25 ~ 07*33 08.06 ~ 08.09
12.35
0.00
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
12.35
0.00
Falkland Yard 09.08 ~ 09.13 09.40 ~ 09.51
0.20 Newton Jn 09/16 09/55
1.27 Ayr 09.21a ~ 10.50d 09.58 ~ 11.15
4.31 Dalrymple Jn 10/55 11/24
13.48
0.00
Waterside (Railtrack Limit) 11.23 ~ 11.28 11.57 ~ 12.01
9.17 Dalrymple Jn 11/55 12.33 ~ 12.34
13.21 Ayr 11/58 12/39
14.28 Newton Jn 12/00 12/44
14.68
0.00
Ayr Harbour (EWS limit) 12.05 ~ 12.10 12L50 ~ 12L59
0.40 Falkland Yard 12L16 ~ 12L35 13.07 ~ 13.09
2.08 Prestwick 12/41 13/15
6.51 Barassie Jn 12/47 13/39
14.43 Kilmarnock 13/02 13/56
23.66 Mauchline 13/13 14/11
35.59 New Cumnock 13/34 14/32
43.15 Kirkonnel 13/41 14/43
58.42 Thornhill 13/53 15.03 ~ 15.03
72.47 Dumfries 14/08 15/22
87.77 Annan 14*23 ~ 14*45 15.39 ~ 15.44
96.78 Gretna Jn 14/58 15/58
105.54 Carlisle 15L10a 16.10


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