17th May 2003
The Lord Bishop
|Locos Used||steam : 46233
diesel : 45112
1Z62 : Birmingham International to Appleby
1Z33 : Appleby to Birmingham International
|45112||Birmingham International - Stechford - Aston - Perry Barr North Jn - Bescot Stadium - Portobello Jn - Wolverhampton - Bushbury Jn - Stafford - (via WCML) - Upperby Bridge Jn - London Road Jn - Petteril Bridge Jn - Appleby|
|46233||Appleby - Garsdale - Settle Jn - Hellifield - Clitheroe - Blackburn - Lostock Hall Jn - Farington Jn - (via WCML) - Crewe|
|45112||Crewe - (reverse of outward route) - Birmingham International|
(1) Route confirmation required.
The is caught at Crewe with 45112 in charge.
(Photo: Tim Rogers - Nedchester.com)
Sources : various including Alan Savage
(from Mark Honey)
The attraction of a 'Duchess' over Shap and back down the S & C was too good to miss so I made the effort to go on this tour. This is becoming more infrequent these days as I spend most days commuting to London from Rugby and have had more than my fill of 86's, 87's and 90's (plus 47's and even the odd 66). Getting very 'trained out' these days...
It was to be a (long) day of many surprises, the first of which was a revised start time from Birmingham International of 05.30 from the anticipated 07.00. Ugh! So me and a mate turned up bleary eyed for this to find 45112 with West Coast railway stock in platform 5. Took a while to realise that this machine would be doing the honours for the first part, as far as Carnforth.
Once on board, the rumour machine was in full flight due to the knock-on effect of the southbound sleeper that had brought the wires down in the Lancaster area in the early hours of Friday morning. Single line working had been introduced, but Notwork Rail has planned a full line handback at 07.00 this morning.
We kicked off on time and ran via Stechford and Aston via Bescot to Wolverhampton, our next pick up point. It was still around 06.00 in the morning and many pointed out that the 06.19 Wolverhampton-Euston was topped by 47840 with a dead and disgustingly dirty 87033 on the back. Maybe it had failed because of the weight of dirt and grime it was carrying...
It wasn't immediately obvious that we were on 75 mph timings, but this seemed to be forgotten as the Wolverhampton-Stafford section was covered quickly to see us arrive 10 minutes early into Stafford. After waiting time, we motored northwards to Crewe and on through Preston towards Carnforth. We passed the section near Lancaster without trouble, catching a class 56 storm by on a wiring train, followed by a sleeper service running around 3 hours late. The queue of trains backed up was obvious, as a large number of freights were passed.
Arrival at Carnforth was at 08.30 (!) where the 'Duchess' was due to back on. More amusement was had when a Euston bound service pulled up in the up goods loop, propelled by a filthy 87003. What is going on - don't Virgin care about their fleet any more?
The 'Peak' came off and would run light to Crewe to take us south much later in the day. Now 6233 dropped on and got off to a good start. We stormed through Oxenholme where, despite the early passage of our service, the battalions of photographers were waiting for us, no doubt many would head over to the S & C for later. This is one of my pet hates - many of them moan about the high ticket prices as an excuse for not travelling, but they spend a fortune on petrol and rolls of film to get to their favourite vantage points. If they had booked up, they wouldn't have to chase it, would they?
Anyway, back to the plot. We were booked a pathing stop in Grayrigg loop where we let a Voyager or two past before the lift off to attack the climb to Shap summit. The crew had really got the the firebox full as we stormed through the Lune valley and past the Pendolino in the loop at Tebay before passing under the M6 bridge and the bite into the climb.
The climb itself was awesome - it was drizzling with rain and we had 14 on, but the 'Duchess' didn't slip at all and never missed a beat. It was definitely the fastest climb by steam I had witnessed and it was confirmed later - the fourth fastest climb ever, and the fastest ever with this type of load behind it. We stopped in the loop at Penrith to water and allowed a Voyager and an indescribably dirt-encrusted 87009 past.
The rest of the journey to Carlisle was uneventful and I scored some new track on the loop from the WCML to London Road Junction! We crawled round and crossed over Petteril Bridge Junction to head down the S & C. We accelerated only to be checked at Low House crossing to be warned by the signaller that there were reports of sheep on the line further down (or up as I should operationally say).
We saw nothing adverse and were checked at Culgaith briefly (probably to explain we had seen nothing) and carried on to Appleby to arrive on time at 12.25
The purpose of this tour was to commemorate the late Bishop Eric Treacey's untimely death while waiting to photograph a special at Appleby in 1978. HSBC rail had taken a plate off namesake 86240 to present to the local railway museum. Ironically it was mentioned that only a week or two before this presentation, the electric had been taken from Immingham back to Glasgow works, reason unknown. Maybe a new lease of life beckons? A note here - 86240 was not chosen randomly to carry the name. It was the loco that hauled the memorial train back in 1978 and the story goes that it was running late leaving Crewe for Euston. The powers that be told the young driver to make up time, paying attention only to speed restrictions. Needless to say, a frantic pace was maintained!
I didn't want to see the presentation - it was two hours long and it was raining, so we went to the pub....Got back in time to take a quick piccy of the 'Duchess', before it was marred by a northbound gypsum headed by a class 60.
Back on board at 14.20, we carried on over Ais Gill and dropped down to the next watering stop at Long Preston. This must have been a quick top up as it only took 15 minutes. Carried on to Hellifield and another watering stop at Cherry Tree for another 15 minutes.
The next highlight was the run along the WCML - nothing fantastic, but a good solid performance. We arrived outside Crewe at 18.50 as booked but sat until 19.15 to allow us access to platform 12. Everybody out to phot the 'Duchess' and watch the 'Peak' back on for an on-time departure at around 19.30. This meant no dash to the chippy!
The 'Peak' took us south and retraced our steps back to Birmingham International. We arrived as booked at 21.10 and the end of a long day.
Verdict? Superb. Great locos, great company and great beer! Doesn't come much better than that does it? Very good to see 'Duchess' owner Brell Ewert coming round the train to thank all the passengers for their support. Makes all the difference.
Timings (Booked & Actual)
|Perry Barr North Jn||05/46||05/53||20/57||20/49|
|Wolverhampton||06.06a ~ 06.09d||06.09 ~ 06.12||20.37a ~ 20.39d||20.30 ~ 20.32|
|Wolverhampton North Jn||06/12||06/14||20/34||20/25|
|Stafford||06.36a ~ 06.38d||06.28 ~ 06.37||20.01a ~ 20.09d||20.07 ~ 20/10|
|Basford Hall Jn||07/03||07/02||19/36||19/45|
|Crewe||07.07a ~ 07.09d||07.05 ~ 07.10||18L59a ~ 19L30d||19.10 ~ 19.42|
|Acton Grange Jn||07/31||07/32||18/27||18/27|
|Warrington Bank Quay||07/33||07/34||18/25||18/24|
|Springs Branch Jn||07/42||07/42||18/12||18/13|
|Wigan North Western||07.45a ~ 07.52d||07.44 ~ ??.??||18/10||18/11|
|Balshaw Lane Jn||08/02||07/53||17/58||17/59|
|Morcambe South Jn||08/34||08/22|
|Carnforth U&DGL||08*40a ~ 09*00d||08.28 ~ ??.??|
|Carnforth North Jn||09/03||08/51|
|Grayrigg||09.28a ~ 09.36d||-|
|Penrith||10.12a ~ 10.42d||10.04 ~ ??.??|
|Upperby Bridge Jn||11/10||10/59|
|London Road Jn||11/19||-|
|Petteril Bridge Jn||11/20||11/09|
|Low House SB||11/35||-|
|Kirby Thore SB||12/04||-|
|Appleby||12L14a ~ 14L25d||12.14 ~ 14.25|
|Long Preston||15.42a ~ 16.02d||-|
|Cherry Tree||17.20a ~ 17.36d||-|
|Lostock Hall Jn||17/46||17/48|
Timings Continue in first table.
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