8th February 2003
Hertfordshire Rail Tours
The Cambrian Explorer
|Locos Used||37042, 37410 & 90038
"Sir Haydn" & "Tom Rolt"
1Z37 : Finsbury Park to Aberystwyth
1Z38 : Aberystwyth to Finsbury Park
|90038||Finsbury Park - Freight Terminal Jn - Camden Road - Camden Jn - Primrose Hill - Willesden Junction - Harrow & Wealdstone - (via WCML & Northampton) - Rugby - Coventry - Stechford - Aston - Perry Barr North Jn - Bescot (U&DGL)|
|37042 + 37410||Bescot (U&DGL) - Darlaston Jn - Portobello Jn - Wolverhampton - Wellington - Abbey Foregate curve - Welshpool - Macynlleth - Dovey Jn - Aberystwyth|
|37042 + 37410||Aberystwyth - (reverse of outward route) - Bescot (U&DGL)|
|90038||Bescot (U&DGL) - (reverse of outward route) - Harrow & Wealdstone - Wembley Central - (via City Lines) - Kensal Green Jn - Gospel Oak - Camden Road - Finsbury Park|
Passengers were also able to visit the Talyllyn Railway. Buses were laid on from Machynlleth, two double-deckers, a single-decker and a minibus. The passengers were split with the single-decker taking passengers to join a train at Abergynolwyn (hauled by "Sir Haydn") and the remainder to Towyn to join a train hauled by "Tom Rolt". Confirmation of the route for the first train is required, for the second train it was as follows;
|"Tom Rolt"||Towyn - Abergynolwyn|
|"Tom Rolt"||Abergynolwyn - Towyn|
(1) Train was turned round at Abergynolwyn rather than heading on to Nant Gwernol, severe wheelslip problems on the rising gradient being to blame.
Sources : Ken Strachan & Nick Lawford
(by Ken Strachan)
I feared the worst on this tour. Lots of grannies on a day out, and serious staggering before the first stop. But it worked out OK.
I joined at Northampton, where the colour of the loco’ (90.038) matched the passengers’ hair in most cases. We were about 10 down leaving, and after several unplanned stops, nearly half an hour down at Coventry. The problem was a track circuit failure. Once we were past it (no more jokes about the passengers please), things got better. We had 23 minutes booked for 7 miles from Aston to Bescot, so we started pulling back time.
Bescot was busy with diverted Virgin electrics and a Northbound 92-hauled freight. (the Lafarge self-unloading cement train had also been a splendid sight on the viaduct at Rugby, topped and tailed with 66’s) The allocated tractors – 042 and 410 – were sadly in need of a respray, but sounded good as they pulled us out towards Wolverhampton, again nearly half an hour down. Highlight of the trip for me was the Abbey Foregate curve at Shrewsbury – required track for eighteen years! We pulled up time as far as Welshpool, then went downhill again, arriving 16 late at Machynlleth. Most passengers left the train here – apparently the other option of strolling along the promenade in Aberwristwatch wasn’t popular. Can’t think why. 2 double decker coaches, a single decker, and a minibus were laid on to ferry us over to the kettle option. The party was split into two groups; the single decker went to Abergynolwyn and fed people into a 3-coach train, hauled by “Sir Haydn”; the rest of the fleet took the majority to Tywyn, to disgorge into five coaches hauled by “Tom Rolt”.
I was in the latter group, which experienced a great deal of slipping, extra reserves of sand being carried forward from the guard’s van when they ran out up front. The unequal struggle was given up at Abergynolwyn, where it was debatable whether we lost more weight in water passed, or gained more by troughing in the restaurant. The disappointment of not reaching Nant Gwernol was compensated by the very kind gift of two free tickets each for our next visit.
The coaches took us back to Machynlleth, where we waited about 40 minutes for the stock to return to take us home. Timekeeping on the return journey was consistent, never more than 10 minutes down, and 8 up arriving at Northampton. The second highlight for me was the view up the side of the train as we thrashed up Talerddig bank with the two 37’s up front at dusk. I’m sure it’s against EC regulations – let’s enjoy it while it’s available.
Timings (Booked & actual)
(courtesy of Ken Strachan)
|1.57||Goods & Mineral Jn||06/05||-||22/53||-|
|Kensal Green Jn||22/23||-|
|13.02||Harrow & Wealdstone||06/28||-||22/17||-|
|19.07||Watford Junction||06.32a ~ 06.34d||-||22.09a ~ 22.11d||-|
|51.37||Milton Keynes Central||07.04a ~ 07.07d||-||21.23a ~ 21.24d||-|
|67.40||Northampton||07.24a ~ 07.27d||-||20.51a ~ 20.52d||20.43 ~ ??.??|
|86.39||Rugby||07/43||07/57||20/17||20.16a ~ 20.18d|
|115.75||Perry Barr North Jn||08/30||-||19/34||-|
|120.32||Bescot (U&DGL)||08L47a ~ 09L04d||09.07 ~ 09.33||19L08a ~ 19L27d||19.18 ~ 19.31|
|155.62||Abbey Foregate Jn||10/03||10/24||18/23||-|
|156.07||English Bridge Jn||10/04||-||18/21||-|
|156.47||Sutton Bridge Jn||10t10a ~ 10t12d||??.?? ~ 10.29||18t16a ~ 18t17d||18.26 ~ ??.??|
|175.37||Welshpool||10x45a ~ 11x02d||10.53 ~ 11.09||17t54a ~ 17t56d||18.04 ~ ??.??|
|189.25||Newtown||11t20a ~ 11t21d||11.30 ~ ??.??||17t36a ~ 17t37d||??.?? ~ 17.45|
|202.73||Talerddig||11t41a ~ 11t42d||12.07 ~ ??.??||17t17a ~ 17t18d||??.?? ~ 17.24|
|216.51||Machynlleth||12x00a ~ 12x06d||12.16 ~ ??.??||16x50a ~ 16x55d||??.?? ~ 17.01|
a : arrival time
d : departure time
L : loco change
t : token exchange
x : passing train on single line
/ : passing time
All distances, in miles and chains (M & C), are taken
from the timing sheet given out on the train. No attempt has been made to verify
the mileages given.
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