4th January 2003

Hertfordshire Rail Tours
The Walsall Concerto

Locos Used 37689, 37695, 56104, 60008 & 66712
Stock Used 17023+3119+3150+1679+3123+3124+4925+1832+5037+5023+4986+6311

Route :
1Z27 :
Finsbury Park to Nuneaton
1Z28 : Nuneaton to
Finsbury Park

Loco(s) Route
56104 Finsbury Park - Freight Terminal Jn - Camden Road - Gospel Oak - Willesden Junction HL - Acton Wells Jn - Acton Main Line - (via GWML) - Swindon - Chippenham - North Somerset Jn - Dr Days Jn - Stapleton Road - Filton Jn - Bristol Parkway - Westerleigh Jn - Standish Jn - Barnwood Jn
37689 + 37695 Barnwood Jn - Cheltenham Spa - Abbotswood Jn - (via direct route) - Stoke Works Jn - Bromsgrove - Barnt Green - King's Norton - St Andrews Jn - Landor Street Jn - Castle Bromwich Jn - Park Lane Jn - Ryecroft Jn - Walsall - Pleck Jn - Bescot Jn - Bescot U&DGL
60008 Bescot U&DGL - Walsall - Ryecroft Jn - Park Lane Jn - Water Orton - Whitacre Jn - Nuneaton
66712 Nuneaton - Hinckley - Glen Parva Jn - Wigston South Jn - Market Harborough - Kettering - Wellingborough - (via MML, fast line throughout) - Silkstream Jn - (via Hendon Chord) - Brent Curve Jn - Dudding Hill Jn - Acton Wells Jn - Kew East Jn - New Kew Jn - Barnes - Clapham Junction - Kensington Olympia - Mitre Bridge Jn - Willesden Junction HL - Gospel Oak - Camden - Freight Terminal Jn - Finsbury Park

Sources : Gary Thornton (on the train throughout) & Mike Tetlow

Tour review
(by Gary Thornton)

Here are are some photos taken of the locos used on the day.

During 2002 I came to a decision that I would be a little more selective on which tours I was booking on thus "spin & win" tours are likely to be ones I'll only do if they are "profitable" enough. This, my first railtour of 2003, being a perfect example. I'm not always convinced that knowing the locos that are booked to be on a railtour a few days beforehand is always good - it kind of takes the "fun" out of things (oh for the "innocent" days of the late 70's/early 80's when almost everything was a mystery until it happened!)....and how often do the choices change on the day which is frustrating when you know "what should have been" and you've just missed out on a winning loco. So, turning to this outing, one of Hertfordshire Railtours "spin doctor" series...

Booked traction:
Class 56 : Finsbury Park to Gloucester
pair of 37's : Gloucester to Bescot
60 : Bescot to Nuneaton
66/7 : Nuneaton to Finsbury Park

No required track so, combined with the required travelling to get to the tour, one I did not book on in advance. A few days before and the gen came through that the locos were likely to be 56104, 37689 & 37695 and 60008. No quote for the GBRf shed but as I've not had a 66/7 it was bound to be a winner. Needing all the suggested traction quoted this became a tour to be on! With a friend and his son also interested we decided on the Thursday evening it was "on". Pete rang up on the Friday and was told pay-on-the-day was fine, no need to book it so we set off in the frosty early hours of Saturday for Finsbury Park. We arrived at Potters Bar (for onward train) in the middle of quite a downfall of snow!

Catching one of the HRT crew on the station on arrival at Finsbury Park We were directed to go to coach J from where we were told seats would be allocated to us. With time on our hands we went in search of breakfast....the cafe straight opposite the station was wedged but heading the other way we found a rather dubious bakers where coffee (or so it claimed to be, the taste didn't back up the claim) and a couple of croissants.

56104 rolled in with the tour stock and we piled into coach J with quite a few others who were also pay-on-the-day. It was soon clear there were a number of other passengers who were booked on the trip but seemed to be seatless - they were booked in coach N but there was no coach N in the formation! Not sure the full story but it seems the stock was correctly formed so some sort of communication problem between RCS and Hertfordshire Rail Tours appeared to have occurred. It may have been related to the new rule that came into effect at the start of 2003 - that no passengers will be allowed in the "outermost" vehicles if they are mark 1's. The train was formed with 17023 (staff quarters & brake) at the 1st class end and genny-van 6311 at the standard class end....the genny-van effectively becoming coach N in this formation.

It took a little while for the stewards to sort out seating for those booked in coach N, then they started through those of us without tickets. The three of us were very lucky, we got allocated into the bay in coach J (an RMB) by the buffet store cupboard. The unfortunate squatters in this bay (which included another friend) being evicted as a result (sorry Brillo!). We pretty well got the last seats on offer, many others having to stand all day.

Thoughts now turned to whether we would have the day out that was advertised - the locos were all confirmed to be "as booked" (the 66/7 being confirmed as 66712) but flooding around most of the days route made it possible we would have to be diverted....might we be denied some locos as a result we wondered....

56104 took us to Gloucester via the North London Line, GWML to Swindon and then via Chippenham, Bath Spa, Filton bank and Westerleigh Jn. The loco was swapped for 37689 & 37695 on the line between Gloucester Yard Jn and Barnwood Jn, use being made of the bi-directional running to allow a Virgin HST past us during the process.

Our tractors performed well, the ascent of Lickey being quite entertaining, even from our vantage point about two thirds the way down the train. After a wander round Birmingham (via Sutton Park) we arrived into Walsall where a 40 minute break was on offer for those who wanted it. Many (myself included) chose to stay on board to Bescot Yard where we lost the tractors in favour of 60008 "Gypsum Queen II". Though we were now near the front of the train, the 60 wasn't exactly inspiring "thrash wise", nor would the shed which was due on at Nuneaton. Never mind, the group stood in the buffet area in our coach made their own entertainment stocking the disused buffet counter with empty cans, bottles etc. The game was then to "act like a queue" and see how many genuine punters queued thinking this was the trains buffet. The success rate seemed to be quite high, especially at the point where a PA announcement was made that the buffet was about to close!

I digress, back to the plot. We re-traced our steps along the picturesque Sutton Park route (past a load of derailed ballast wagons I'd glimpsed on our way to Walsall - simply left where they derailed half way down an embankment, still full of ballast & spoil! At the end of the line we turned then left to get to Nuneaton.

Nuneaton actually turned out to be the days only real photographic opportunity (Walsall wasn't a good location). 66712 was well positioned as was the train - though a station Ada soon appeared and ordered everyone off the platform ramp on the opposite platform that gave the best angle to photograph the 60 from. Oh well....

The remainder of the journey home was nothing to write home about. We departed almost half an hour early (unfortunately leaving a handful of passengers behind...an announcement about our early departure had been made but the unfortunate passengers concerned were all deaf and had not heard the announcement - really not something to laugh about, although I guess it did have an amusing side to it). Thanks to Leicester panels regulating our early running was completely wiped out by the time we joined the Midland Main Line at Kilby Bridge Jn. All the way to London (on the fast lines from Wellingborough) we stayed pretty well on-time. At Radlett Jn I was disappointed to see we remained on the fast lines - I'd heard the train was booked to traverse the flyover at Silkstream Jn (which I required) onto the goods lines through Hendon and this is only accessible from the slow lines. Having remained on the fast line we transferred across to the goods using the Hendon Chord, a line I've done many times before.

From here on in the stagger really began - the remaining 30 miles (via Clapham Junction, Willesden & the North London Line) being booked to take almost one and three quarter hours....a 20mph average! Worst thing was....it did too! Most of this was a combination of waiting at just about every junction we arrived at, and slow running between them. Great regulating at Clapham Junction - arrive 19.34, depart 19.41...straight behind a 313 heading our way on a stopping service - was really the icing on the cake! We approached the ECML about 8 minutes down however some recovery time in the schedule meant we actually fell onto the ECML pretty well right time and our arrival into Finsbury Park was just a minute late....much to the surprise of the gentleman who picked that precise moment to take a leak against the station building wall on the platform we arrived at!

Verdict: An excellent day out. Despite the weather problems we covered the booked route (with possible exception of the flyover at Silkstream Jn, a minor deviation really) and all the locos "produced" as booked. These are the kind of days there should be more of.

Gary Thornton.

Timings (Booked & Actual)
(from Gary Thornton/Daniel Bound)

M.C Location Booked Actual
0.00 Finsbury Park 07.58d 07.58
1.57 Freight Terminal Jn 08/03 08/04
2.11 Camden Road East Jn 08/14 08/08
3.47 Gospel Oak 08/19 08/13
7.76 Willesden Junction HL 08/33 08/28
8.61 Acton Wells Jn 08/38 08/30
9.33 Acton Main Line 08/49 08/53
10.68 Ealing Broadway 08.52a ~ 08.55d 08.57 ~ 09.00
14.18 Southall 09/01 09/04
16.37 Airport Jn 09/06 09/089
23.48 Slough 09/21 09/23
29.31 Maidenhead 09/26 09/28
36.13 Twyford 09/32 09/34
41.10 Reading 09.37a ~ 09.41d 09.41 ~ 09.44
58.22 Didcot Parkway 10/00 10/00
65.34 Wantage Road 10/08 10/10
69.12 Challow 10/18 10/23
71.51 Uffington 10/20 10/26
82.35 Swindon 10c32 ~ 10c34 10.37 ~ 10.39
88.19 Wootton Bassett Jn 10/41 10/47
99.08 Chippenham 10/51 10/54
101.22 Thingley Jn 10/53 10/56
109.67 Bathampton Jn 11/01 11/03
112.03 Bath Spa 11/04 11/05
122.62 North Somerset Jn 11/15 11/18
123.05 Dr Days Jn 11*17 ~ 11*21 11.19 ~ 11.20
124.02 Stapleton Road 11/23 11/24
127.02 Filton Jn 11/27 11/28
128.21 Bristol Parkway 11/29 11.30 ~ 11.32
132.71 Westerleigh Jn 11/34 11/38
134.43 Yate 11/37 11/41
141.04 Charfield 11/43 11/47
154.29 Standish Jn 11/54 11/57
160.69 Gloucester Yard Jn 12L02 ~ 12L40 12.06 ~ 12.40
161.26 Barnwood Jn 12/42 12/41
166.69 Cheltenham Spa 12/50 12.49 ~ 12.52
174.00 Ashchurch 12/58 12/59
184.67 Abbotswod Jn 13/06 13/07
196.04 Stoke Works Jn 13/16 13/16
198.17 Bromsgrove 13/18 13/17
201.60 Barnt Green 13/22 12/23
204.35 Longbridge 13/26 13/24
206.68 King's Norton 13/32 13/29
212.03 Bordesley Jn 13/38 13/37
212.29 St Andrews Jn 13/44 13/40
212.67 Landor St Jn 13/46 13/42
217.33 Castle Bromwich Jn 13/54 13/49
218.11 Park Lane Jn 13/56 13/52
229.60 Ryecroft Jn 14/18 14/11
230.22 Walsall 14.21 ~ 14.23 14.14 ~ 14.18
231.07 Pleck Jn 14/26 14/22
231.71 Bescot Jn 14/29 14.23 ~ 14.26
232.21 Bescot U&DG Line 14L32 ~ 14L42 14.30 ~ 14.52
232.51 Bescot Jn 14/57 14/53
233.35 Pleck Jn 14/59 14/57
234.20 Walsall 15.02 ~ 15.04 15.00 ~ 15.05
234.62 Ryecroft Jn 15/09 15/07
246.31 Park Lane Jn 15/48 15/25
247.61 Water Orton 15/53 15/29
250.46 Whitacre Jn 15/57 15/33
261.10 Nuneaton 16L17a ~ 16L46d 15.48 ~ 16.17
265.29 Hinckley 16/53 16/25
276.06 Glen Parva Jn 17/07 16.38 ~ 16.55
276.56 Wigston South Jn 17/09 16/58
278.57 Kilby Bridge Jn 17/15 17.05 ~ 17.15
289.23 Market Harborough 17/28 17/26
300.16 Kettering 17c39 ~ 17c41 17.40 ~ 17.41
307.06 Wellingborough 17/47 17/49
315.52 Sharnbrook Jn 17/56 17/56
322.32 Bedford 18/02 18/02
331.73 Flitwick 18/14 18/11
341.78 Luton 18/25 18/20
347.68 Harpendon Jn 18/36 18/24
352.26 St Albans 18/43 18/27
364.25 Silkstream Jn 18/55 18/41
365.18 Hendon 18/57 18/43
367.17 Dudding Hill Jn 19/01 18.51 ~ 18.56
369.54 Acton Canal Wharf Jn 19/09 19/08
370.14 Acton Wells Jn 19/11 19.10 ~ 19.13
371.18 Acton Central 19/16 19/16
372.00 South Acton Jn 19/18 19/17
372.60 Kew East Jn 19/21 19/21
373.19 New Kew Jn 19/24 19.23a ~ 19.25d
375.46 Barnes 19/29 19/29
378.59 Clapham Junction 19.34a ~ 19.41d 19.34 ~ 19.44
379.13 Latchmere Jn 19/44 19/47
381.76 Kensington Olympia 19/50 19/52
383.64 North Pole Jn 19/55 19/59
384.21 Mitre Bridge Jn 19/56 (20/00)
384.73 Willesden Junction HL 20/00 (20/07)
389.22 Gospel Oak 20/15 20/22
390.33 Camden Road Jn 20/19 20/25
390.58 Camden Road East Jn 20/20 20/28
391.12 Freight Terminal Jn 20/31 20/31
392.69 Finsbury Park 20/36 20/37


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