5th May 2003
(no tour name)
|Locos Used||37411 + 37426|
1Z37 : Newcastle to Oban
1Z38 : Oban to Newcastle
|37411 + 37426||Newcastle - (via ECML) - Edinburgh Waverley - Haymarket - Falkirk High - Greenhill Upper Jn - Lenzie - Cowlairs North Jn - Westerton - Dalmuir - Dumbarton Central - (via WHL) - Oban|
|37411 + 37426||Oban - (reverse of outward route) - Newcastle|
Sources : David Russell (on the train throughout)
(by David Russell)
The train at Oban (photo : David Russell)
There isnít much passenger track in the UK that I havenít covered, and the only branch of any significant length that I had never travelled over was the line from Crianlarich to Oban. Bizarrely, Iím ending up doing the line on two consecutive months, and the first of these was on Monday May 5th when North East Railtours ran its excursion from Newcastle to Oban.
This was my first outing on a North East Railtours train. NER seems to operate 2 or 3 excursions each year, normally using the SRPS stock, which sometimes has the added bonus of a pair of Class 37s as motive power. Todayís tour was to feature a pair of 37s throughout, the same locos having worked to SRPS tour to Mallaig two days earlier.
Departure from Newcastle was at 05.35, which meant an 03.15 start from my house, picking up my brother and then a drive up the A1 to Newcastle. I could have left home quite a bit later as I found myself driving into the station car park shortly after 04.45.
37426+37411 arrived from Tyne Yard at around 05.20, and it was just light enough for a couple of photos before boarding the train in coach A (a Mk 1 BCK) behind the locos. There was some nostalgia here, as it must be quite a few years it is since I spent the day in a compartment coach on the main line in the UK. Departure from Newcastle was bang on time, and the train headed north, picking up at Cramlington, Morpeth and Alnmouth. Although most of us in coach A were enthusiasts, this was largely a Ďnormalsí day out. Included in the luggage were a couple of mobility scooters and at least one zimmer frame Ė reflecting the age range of some of those on board.
The tour was slackly timed going north Ė Iím told the tour had the same path on the West Highland as last yearís tour to Fort William, but the train left Newcastle an hour earlier than last year.
After a stop at Edinburgh, we continued via the E&G to Cowlairs where the train veered right (what had happened to Eastfield?). The train was booked to stop at Cadder Yard for 11 minutes, and then at Craigendoran Junction for 25 minutes, but in both cases failed to do so, resulting in the tour reaching Gaerlochhead some 40 minutes early Ė where we passed the unit we should have passed at Craigendoran. Some time was lost between here and Glen Douglas as 37426 had to do most of the work as 411 was suffering one or two problems. These seemed to rectify themselves later, and the 37s produced plenty of noise as they tackled the West Highlandís gradients. By the time Crianlarich was reached, it was raining, and the train was held for time here.
It was then on to my required track, celebrated by the opening of a Belgian beer (maybe not appropriate, but enjoyable nevertheless!). Like much of Scotland, it was very picturesque, running alongside Loch Awe for much of the route. The ScotRail Class 156 unit was passed at Taynuilt before the last part of the journey to Oban for a 3 hour break.
Running round the 37s at Oban took some time, as only the locos had to be split because of the track layout. After running round, the stock was taken out and moved into the other platform. These manoeuvres gave plenty of opportunity for photos before having a wander into town for a souvenir before departure.
I think this was the first tour Iíve ever travelled on where Iíve been booked in different coaches on the outward and return legs! Because of the new HSE ruling, fare paying passengers are not allowed to travel in the end vehicles if they are Mk. 1 coaches. (Locos are included as Ďend vehiclesí.) This meant that nobody could travel in coach A on the return. The simple answer was for all those in A to move to the opposite end of the train (Coach L Ė Mk. 1 BSK 35185) for the return leg. This meant that we would be right behind the locos for the whole day. Full credit to North East Railtours and the SRPS for doing this, which meant the tour didnít have to run with an empty coach at both ends, and also kept the enthusiasts happy.
It had rained during our stop at Oban, and I expected 37426+37411 to struggle up the 1 in 50 gradient. However, the driver was very skilful and the locos managed it with no problems, but plenty of noise! Maybe it was me, but I thought the locos were louder on the return journey.
Iíd pre-booked dinner on the return journey. This was a 3-course meal served by the SRPS volunteers, who steward the train. With a large number of staff, and customers all over the train, the SRPS have obviously got a routine in preparing for the meal, and items for dinner arrived gradually - first the paper placemat, followed by a knife & fork, then a plate, next some butter, then a spoon, then some bread, and finally the tomato soup! The next course was roast turkey with cream sauce, duchesse potatoes, peas and carrots, followed by meringues and fruit cocktail with cream. Finally, coffee with after eight mints. Excellent value at only £8.
Dinner was finished as we skirted round Glasgow, following the same path as the outward journey. A stop was made at Edinburgh before heading down the East Coast Main Line back to Newcastle. Having been up 18 hours by now, I have to confess I donít remember that much about that part of the journey. The train lost a few minutes time, but 26 minutes recovery time between Cramlington and Heaton ensured a 9 minute early arrival back at Newcastle.
This was a somewhat long but thoroughly enjoyable tour, no doubt helped by the fact I was sat at the Ďsharp endí all day. Iím looking forward to my next tour over ScotRailís scenic lines, next month behind two Deltics for five days. Thanks to all the SRPS volunteers for all their efforts to make it an enjoyable day.
Timings (Booked Only)
|Location||Booked (out)||Booked (rtn)|
|Heaton South Jn||05/40||23/42|
|Cramlington||05.49a ~ 05.54d||23.06a ~ 23.08d|
|Morpeth||06.03a ~ 06.08d||22.54a ~ 22.57d|
|Alnmouth||06.25a ~ 06.30d||22.36a ~ 22.39d|
|Berwick||07.06a ~ 07.11d||22.03a ~ 22.05d|
|Edinburgh Waverley||08.06a ~ 08.10d||21.04a ~ 21.06d|
|Haymarket West Jn||08/15||20/58|
|Bo'ness DS||08*33a ~ 08*50d||-|
|Greenhill Upper Jn||09/07||20/31|
|Cadder Yard||09*22a ~ 09*33d||-|
|Cowlairs East Jn||09/38||20/16|
|Cowlairs North Jn||09/41||20/14|
|Craigendoran Jn||10*15a ~ 10*40d||19/33|
|Helensborough Upper||10.45a ~ 10.48d||19.20a ~ 19.22d|
|Garelochhead||10.59a ~ 11.01d||18.52a ~ 19.08d|
|Arrochar & Tarbet||11.23a ~ 11.25d||18.29a ~ 18.31d|
|Ardlui||11.39a ~ 11.41d||18.12a ~ 18.14d|
|Crainlarich||12.01a ~ 12.04d||17.50a ~ 17.54d|
|Tyndrum Lower||12.13a ~ 12.15d||17.39a ~ 17.41d|
|Dalmally||12.33a ~ 12.35d||17.16a ~ 17.18d|
|Taynuilt||12.54a ~ 12.58d||16.55a ~ 16.57d|
|Connel Ferry||13.10a ~ 13.12d||16.42a ~ 16.44d|
Timings continue in first table.
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