10th November 2001

Hertfordshire Rail Tours
Cranmore & Ludgershall

Locos Used Diesel : 66151 & 66159
Steam : 5637
Stock Used 3124+3127+1679+17023+4986+5027+5023+4925+4977+6311

Route :
1Z90 : London Paddington to Cranmore
1Z91 : Cranmore to London Paddington

Loco(s) Route
66159 London Paddington - Slough - Reading - Southcote Jn - Bedwyn - Westbury (down relief line)
66159 (1) Westbury (down relief line) - Fairwood Jn - East Somerset Jn - Cranmore
5637 Cranmore - Mendip Vale
5637 Mendip Vale - Cranmore
66151 (2) Cranmore - East Somerset Jn - Fairwood Jn - Westbury
66159 (1) Westbury - Warminster - Tunnel Jn - Andover
66151 (2) Andover - MOD Ludgershall
66159 (1) MOD Ludgershall - Andover
66159 Andover - Worting Jn - Basingstoke - Southcote Jn - (reverse of outward route) - London Paddington

Notes :
(1) 66151 on rear.
(2) 66159 on rear.

Source : Daniel Bound (on the train throughout)

Tour Review
(by Daniel Bound)

Tours that go to the extremities of branch lines beyond the infamous railtrack limit are getting fewer and fewer, therefore the possibilities of traversing inside an MOD base was not to be missed!  A trip over the class 59 dominated Merehead branch made for a good day out.

A beautiful morning dawned, cold but very bright as I made my way on the district line towards London Paddington.  A surprise was in store as 60082 had brought the stock in, with 66159 on the other end.  This loco was a dud for many as it had worked on Hertfordshire’s “Humber Docker” tour last year, but not doing railtours then it was a winner for me!  Meeting up with friends already on board we awaited departure.

This came bang on time at 7:51 and from platform 10 we headed west on the down relief lines. The sun was shining bright and everyone on board was beginning to wake up so off I set for a coffee and bacon toastie!  The run to Reading was going well being on time or a few minutes early all the way.  We crossed over to platform 4 for the last pick up before heading left on the reading triangle and then continuing west towards Newbury.  A booked 13-minute pathing stop at Newbury racecourse didn’t materialize and we ran ahead of schedule all the way to Westbury!  The covering of frost on the ground made certain points of the Berkshire and Somerset countryside postcard like, and passing a fishing competition we were glad the generator car was working.  Certainly not a day for the amateur angler!

66151 was sitting in the sidings as we took the down relief line behind Westbury station and came to a halt to attach it to the rear of our train.  Westbury was teeming with locos of different classes and liveries with including 59002 in Mendip Vale livery.  We were slightly late departing Westbury to allow 47816 to pass us on a Paddington to Exeter service.  We departed via the ‘link-line’ onto the down main.  Rare bits of track are like London busses, you wait ages for it then you can do it twice really quickly, as this ‘rare’ piece of track was done last month on Pathfinders “Tone-Bone” railtour!

Passing the junctions for Frome we quickly made up lost time and we turned onto the single line Merehead branch.  We were given almost 45 minutes to do the 5 miles and 46 chains from East Somerset Junction to Cranmore station.  No surprises then, when after passing Merehead depot, that we arrived at Cranmore station early.

Everybody out! This allowed steam loco 5637 to operate 2 shuttles to Mendip Vale (the end of the line) and back.  The East Somerset line although very picturesque is very short at only 2 miles, so the trip there and back didn’t take long.  This gave us plenty of time to look at the local owl sanctuary display.  They had varying owls from the small and cute barn owl to the large snowy and tawny owls.  My friend, who was also admiring the owls, stated that owls are to become ‘big’ in the future because of their starring role in the upcoming blockbuster “Harry Potter”.  So you have been warned!  Whilst having a very civilized coffee in the station restaurant the gentle hum of a GM engine could be heard so we finished and then rejoined the train and bade our farewells to the East Somerset railway and the owls.

We rejoined the main line and pulled into Westbury station early.  Due to leaf fall there was block working on the line outside of Warminster, so we were held at Westbury but still departed on time.  We then headed off and were stopped after Warminster so by the time we changed crew at Salisbury we were 10 minutes late.  The sun was beginning to set as we approached Andover for our reversal towards Ludgershall MOD base.  We set off on the single line former Tidworth branch leaving the Exeter line behind at Red post junction.

Unfortunately due to national security, and the official secrets act 1986, I am not able to describe anything about the MOD base…. But if promise not to tell anyone I quickly tell you about it!  We passed through the main gates with rows of tanks in the sidings on our right and covered wagons in the sidings on our left.  Continuing on we then took the left hand branch towards the loading dock and sheds.  We passed over the level crossing and took the left hand branch coming to a halt a few hundred yards after this crossing, not quite the end of the line but the track wasn’t to standard.  Army shunter ‘Army 433’ was in the right hand sidings.  This was the furthest any visiting train had ever got into the base and a major achievement for Hertfordshire.

It was pitch black as we pulled into Andover and detached 66151, then we set off on our homeward journey where we arrived at Paddington station one minute early.   It was then off to the pub to discuss the days events, then a stagger home for some tea, whilst fending off Karate blows! (Don’t worry folks, the bruises are now healing nicely)

This was an excellent railtour with everything running like clockwork.  The obvious highlight being the run well inside Ludgershall. Congratulations to all at Hertfordshire and the Defence Rail Executive, for allowing the train so far inside the base. A top day out.

Daniel Bound

Timings (Booked & Actual)
David Clark & John Clifford)

Miles Location Booked Actual
0.00 London Paddington 07.51d 07.51
1.68 Ladbroke Grove 7/54 07/54
5.13 Acton West 07/58 07/57
9.01 Southall 08/03 08/01
11.20 Heathrow Airport Jn 08/6 08/06
18.31 Slough 08.20a ~ 08.22d 08.20a ~ 08.22d
24.14 Maidenhead 08/28 08/28
30.76 Twyford 08/34 08/33
31.51 Twyford West 08/38 08/34
35.73 Reading 08.44a ~ 08.46d 08.47 ~ 08.51
37.57 Southcote Jn 08/49 08/55
52.34 Newbury Racecourse 089.07a ~ 09.20d 09/09
53.01 Newbury 09/22 09/10
66.24 Bedwyn 09/33 09/28
78.68 Woodborough 09/44 09/39
88.01 Lavington 09/52 09/47
94.40 Heywood Road Jn 10/00 09/53
95.67 Westbury Down West Reception 10.10a ~ 10.30d 09.56 ~ 10.34
96.76 Fairwood Jn 10/34 10/38
100.18 Clink Road Jn 10/37 10/43
102.20 Blatchbridge Jn 10/40 10/45
106.30 East Somerset Jn 10/45 10/49
109.76 Merehead Quarry Jn 10/54 11/03
Cranmore 11.24a ~ ??.??d 11.22 ~ ??.??
0.43 Cranmore West ??/?? -
0.96 Merryfield Lane ??/?? -
Mendip Vale ??.??a ~ ??.??d - ~ -
0.87 Merryfield Lane ??/?? -
1.40 Cranmore West ??/?? -
Cranmore ??.??a ~ 13.30d ??.?? ~ 13.31
2.07 Merehead Quarry Jn 14/00 13/44
5.53 East Somerset Jn 14/08 13/56
9.63 Blatchbridge Jn 14/12 14/02
11.65 Clink Road Jn 14/15 14/04
15.07 Fairwood Jn 14/20 14/07
Westbury 14.24a ~ 14.34d 14.13 ~ 14.35
4.73 Warminster 14/46 14/46
22.69 Wilton Jn 15/06 15/12
24.63 Salisbury Jn 15/08 15.16a ~ 15.18d
25.70 Tunnel Jn 15/11 15/21
Andover 15.29a ~ 15.34d 15.37 ~ 15.42
?.?? Ludgershall RR Loop 16/15 16.22a ~ 16.24d
8.01 Ludgershall DRE (LC/Goods shed) ??.??a ~ ??.??d 16.32 ~ 16.39
?.? Ludgershall RR Loop 16/25 16.47a ~ 16.48d
7.86 Andover Yard 17.06a ~ 17.30d 17.16 ~ 17.25
23.99 Worting Jn 17/49 17.45a ~ 17.49d
26.39 Basingstoke 17.52a ~ 17.57d 17.53 ~ 17.59
30.77 Bramley 18/06 18/07
40.16 Southcote Jn 18/15 18/14
42.00 Reading 18.20a ~ 18.29d 18.19 ~ 18.23
46.97 Twyford 18/35 18/29
53.79 Maidenhead 18/41 18/35
59.42 Slough 18.48a ~ 18.50d 18.40 ~ 18.43
66.73 Heathrow Airport Jn 18/59 18/50
68.92 Southall 19/02 18/54
72.80 Acton West 19/07 19/05
76.05 Ladbroke Grove 19/11 19/07
77.93 London Paddington 19.14a 19.11

a : arrival time
c : crew change
d : departure time
/ : passing time

No attempt has been made to verify the mileages given.

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