15th March 2003

Pathfinder Tours
The Western Quarryman

Locos Used D1015 'Western Champion' & 46035
Stock Used 5309+4902+4963+5040+4927+5009+1863+21272+3098+3140+3112+3122+6310

Route :
1Z46 :
Crewe to Okehampton
1Z52 :
Okehampton to Crewe

Loco Route
46035 Crewe - Norton Bridge - Stafford - Bushbury Jn - Portobello Jn - Bescot Stadium - Perry Barr North Jn - Soho South Jn - Birmingham New Street - (via Camp Hill) - Barnt Green - Stoke Works Jn - (direct line) - Abbotswood Jn - Cheltenham Spa - Standish Jn - Westerleigh Jn - Bristol Parkway - Filton Jn - Bristol Temple Meads
D1015 Bristol Temple Meads - (via GWML) - Exeter St Davids
D1015 Exeter St Davids - Okehampton
D1015 Okehampton - Exeter St Davids - Exeter Central - Honiton - Yeovil Pen Mill - Castle Cary - Blatchbridge Jn - Clink Road Jn - Fairwood Jn - (via link line) - Westbury Down Reception
D1015 Westbury Down Reception - (via Link Line) - Fairwood Jn - Clink Road Jn - Blatchbridge Jn - Witham East Somerset Jn - Merehead Quarry
D1015 Merehead Quarry - Witham East Somerset Jn - Blatchbridge Jn - (1) - Clink Road Jn - Westbury - Bradford South Jn - Bathampton Jn - Bath Spa - Bristol Temple Meads
46035 Bristol Temple Meads - (reverse of outward route) - Barnt Green - Selly Oak - Birmingham New Street - Proof House Jn - Aston - Perry Barr North - (reverse of outward route) - Crewe

(1)  Was booked via Frome station but took the direct route on account of the line being occupied by a freight train.

Source : Gary Thornton (joined/left the train at Barnt Green)

Tour Review
(by Gary Thornton)

Here are some photos from the day.

When first advertised I wasn't sure this was a tour I was going to do. With about 250 miles of D1015 haulage over mostly slow speed routes a few colleagues drew the comparison with the Past Time Rail tour in June which will offer London to Penzance and back with D1015 for the same price. With one friend however happy to do it I agreed to come along too and a good decision it proved to be too.

I arrived early at Barnt Green having allowed for the now non-existent roadworks between the motorway and Barnt Green itself. first surprise was to find the car park ticket machines have gone, so it is back to being a free parking station. Second surprise was to look at the people arriving - obviously railtourers but not your out-and-out loco bashing types....a mix of coffin-dodgers and families kept appearing from arriving cars. Sussing out our tour might not be the only one due I wandered over to the station in time to photograph 47773 arriving with the Past Time Rail adex to the Eden project.

As it pulled away the setter went in as someone tried to make a last minute attempt to board....no, not one of their passengers arriving late but one of ours thinking this was our railtour! Doh...

46035 soon arrived and I found my way to the group I was booked in with at the front of coach B. Settled in and have to admit I quite enjoyed the multi-wheeled wagon thrash to Bristol (must be a sign of the times, you have to take and enjoy whatever loco thrash is offered in the UK these days!).

At Bristol there was a semi-farce when the local BTP officer turned up to ensure nothing untoward would occur. He was quite happy with people standing on the platform ramp to get their photos but then a member of station staff waded in declaring that D1015 wouldn't be allowed off Barton Hill depot until the ramp was cleared of people. The BTP officer appeared shortly after wondering what was going on!

Things got sorted and D1015 was soon on the train. The run to Exeter St Davids was pretty entertaining with quite a lot of high speed running en-route. At Exeter there was a chance to photograph "Champion" in the sun before it ran round for the journey to Okehampton.

Many photographers were out to witness our passing, no doubt boosted in number as there was a Steam Dreams steam-hauled railtour also due at Exeter later in the day. It was somewhat annoying however to see how many of these trackside photographers were blatantly trespassing on railway property - not only endangering their own lives but also potentially risking the future running of railtours. Might just be my perception but it seems the amount of trespassing seen is far greater when there is a steam loco about, a reflection on the photographers concerned I suppose?

At Okehampton it was a case of "everyone off" for a 90 minute break. During this time D1015 took the stock down to Meldon Quarry to run-round. I did hear a few moans amongst the passengers about this as many I dare say would have been pleased to get the track to Meldon - either for "all time" or just with a Western in charge.

Arriving back just a few minutes before booked departure time it took quite a while with the short platforms to get everyone back on board. It was managed eventually though and we then set off back to Exeter. The Steam Dreams tour (47488 on one end, 73096 on the other) was spotted in the yard approaching St Davids station. 

One of the days highlights was the ascent of the back between Exeter St Davids and Exeter Central - the passage through the latter was a very noisy affair indeed! To be honest the whole run to Westbury was memorable with a few stiff climbs to negotiate en-route. A wait at Yeovil Pen Mill gave a chance for a few more photos, though being right in to the sun made it quite a challenge. Westbury, where D1015 was due to run-round again, was a tad disappointing as the stop was in the reception line rather than the station (at 13 coaches the train was too long to allow a run-round in the platform) so no chance to get any more photos.

A slow run to Merehead Quarry took place (the booked 11 minutes from East Somerset Jn to the Quarry being wildly optimistic) and so a late arrival resulted. No chance to get off here either but pulling up adjacent to the Mendip Rail loco shed gave a chance to view the 59's stabled there. A slow run-round (D1015 using the triangle to get to the other end) meant a departure time which left us near to "RST" though I didn't hear too many moans about that.

Heading back to Bristol the booked routing via Frome station was missed out owing to the way being occupied already by a freight train. Credit to the crew as they stopped at the green signal at Blatchbridge Jun to check the situation rather than just sailing by on the Frome avoider without questioning the re-routing. Passing through Westbury we passed 47488/73096 on the Steam Dreams charter - with a brief pause our driver put on a good show for the assembled onlookers as we stormed out of the station.

At Bristol we arrived to see 47773 heading home on the Past Time charter. A change back to 46035 took place and, now being at the back of the train, things quietened down a lot for us. A little after Cheltenham Spa however I migrated to the front to witness 46035's ascent of the Lickey. With a check at the bottom the driver didn't get too much of a run but we still topped the summit at a respectable 18mph (timed at 50 seconds for the last 1/4 mile)....not a bad performance hauling 13 coaches.

All things considered this tour proved to be a really good day out. High speed runs like the one in prospect to Penzance in June (which I am of course already booked on) have their place, but days like this have theirs too. There was some good fast running but also a lot of medium speed thrash and some interesting locations visited which were once regular haunts of Westerns in their service days.

Gary Thornton.

Timings (Booked & actual)
(by Gary Thornton)

M.C Location Booked Actual
0.00 Crewe 05.39d 05/44
8.06 Madeley 05/53 ?
19.08 Norton Bridge 06/03 ?
24.37 Stafford 06.10a ~ 06.13d 06.10 ~ 06.12
38.14 Bushbury Jn 06/28 ?
40.62 Portobello Jn 06/33 ?
44.79 Bescot Stadium 06/38 ?
49.36 Perry Barr North Jn 06/43 ?
52.27 Soho South Jn 06/50 06/52
54.28 Birmingham New Street 06.54a ~ 07.06d 06.57 ~ 07.08
55.79 St Andrews Jn 07/12 ?
61.40 King's Norton 07/24 07/26
66.48 Barnt Green 07.31a ~ 07.33d 07.36 ~ 07.38
70.11 Bromsgrove 07/38 07/40
72.24 Stoke Works Jn 07/40 07/41
83.41 Abbotswood Jn 07/49 07/49
94.28 Ashchurch 07/55 07/57
101.39 Cheltenham Spa 08.06a ~ 08.08d 08.09 ~ 08.12
107.69 Gloucester Yard Jn 08/16 08/21
113.79 Standish Jn 08/21 08/28
127.24 Charfield 08/32 08/38
135.37 Westerleigh Jn 08/42 08/46
140.07 Bristol Parkway 08.48a ~ 08.49d 08.52 ~ 08.54
141.26 Filton Jn 08/53 08/57
Bristol Temple Meads 09L03a ~ 09L26d 09.06 ~ 09.36
16.65 Worle Jn 09/44 10/04
26.79 Highbridge & Burnham 09/51 10/11
39.63 Cogload Jn 10/03 10/22
44.66 Taunton 10/07 10/26
59.00 Tiverton Parkway 10/20 10/37
75.46 Exeter St Davids 10.40a ~ 11.18d 10.52 ~ 11.20
82.82 Crediton 11/25 11/28
100.41 Okehampton 12.04a ~ 13.36d 12.11 ~ 13.40
118.40 Crediton 14/13 14/20
125.36 Exeter St Davids 14/22 14.25a ~ 14.29d
126.18 Exeter Central 14/26 14/31
127.27 Exmouth Jn 14/30 14/34
142.68 Honiton 14/45 14/59
158.16 Chard Jn 14x59a ~ 15x04d 15/23
175.00 Yeovil Junction 15/23 15/36
175.69 Yeovil Pen Mill 15x45a ~ 16x13d 15.47 ~ 16.08
188.35 Castle Cary 16/26 16/22
201.24 Blatchbridge Jn 16/38 16/37
203.26 Clink Road Jn 16/40 16/38
206.48 Fairwood Jn 16/42 16/41
208.02 Westbury 16.45a ~ 17.05d 16.45 ~ 17.08
209.36 Fairwood Jn 17/08 17/10
212.58 Blatchbridge Jn 17/14 17/18
216.68 East Somerset Jn 17/19 17/24
(220.28) Merehead Quarry 17.30a ~ 17.50d 17.45 ~ 18.27
224.28 East Somerset Jn 18/01 18/42
228.38 Blatchbridge Jn 18/08 18.49a ~ 18.52d
229.51 Frome 18/10 DIV
230.55 Clink Road Jn 18/12 18/57
233.77 Fairwood Jn 18/17 19/00
235.31 Westbury 18/20 19.03a ~ 19.05d
249.77 Bathampton Jn 18/46 19/29
252.13 Bath Spa 18/50 19/33
Bristol Temple Meads 19L06a ~ 19L25d 19.50 ~ 20.11
4.43 Filton Jn 19/32 20/21
5.62 Bristol Parkway 19.35a ~ 19.37d 20/24 ~ 20.26
10.32 Westerleigh Jn 19/42 20/33
18.45 Charfield 19/51 20/42
31.70 Standish Jn 20/02 ?
38.67 Barnwood Jn 20/15 21/01
44.30 Cheltenham Spa 20.23a ~ 20.24d 21.10 ~ 21.12
51.41 Ashchurch 20/33 21/23
62.28 Abbotswood Jn 20/41 21/27
73.45 Stoke Works Jn 20/50 21/36
75.58 Bromsgrove 20/52 21/38
79.21 Barnt Green 20.58a ~ 21.00d 21.46 ~ 21.48
84.29 King's Norton 21/08 ?
86.43 Selly Oak 21/14 ?
89.74 Birmingham New Street 21.22a ~ 21.25d ?
92.50 Aston 21/33 ?
94.72 Perry Barr North Jn 21/39 ?
99.29 Bescot Stadium 21/45 ?
103.46 Portobello Jn 21/51 ?
106.14 Bushbury Jn 21/59 ?
119.71 Stafford 22.15a ~ 22.17d ?
125.20 Norton Bridge 22/26 ?
136.22 Madeley 22/35 ?
144.28 Crewe 22.46a ?

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