3rd January 2004

Past Time Rail
The Morecambe & Wise
(Bring Me Sunshine!)

Locos Used 47792 'Robin Hood' & steam : 34067 'Tangmere' & 76079
Stock Used 35517 (1)+  35469+3144+3131+1671+3132+3110+3100+4949+1813+4996+5419

1Z76 : Northampton to Morecambe
1Z79 : Morecambe to Northampton

Loco(s) Route
47792 Northampton - Long Buckby - Rugby - Coventry - Birmingham International - Stechford - Aston - Perry Barr North Jn - Bescot Stadium - Portobello Jn - Bushbury Jn - Stafford - Norton Bridge - Crewe - (via WCML) - Preston
76079 + 34067 Preston - Farington Curve Jn - Lostock Hall Jn - Blackburn - Gannow Jn - Copy Pit - Hebden Bridge - Sowerby Bridge - Greetland Jn - Brighouse - Mirfield - Horbury Jn - Wakefield Kirkgate - Altofts Jn - Methley Jn - Engine Shed Jn - Whitehall Jn - Apperley Jn - Keighley - Skipton - Hellifield - Clapham - Carnforth
34067 Carnforth - Carnforth U&DGL
34067 (1) Carnforth U&DGL - Hest Bank - Morecambe
76079 (2) Morecambe - Heysham Port
34067 (1) Heysham Port - Morecambe
34067 + 76079 Morecambe - Hest Bank - Carnforth U&DGL
76079 + 34067 Carnforth U&DGL - Lancaster - Preston
47792 Preston - (via WCML) - Warrington Bank Quay - (4) (via WCML) - Crewe - Whitchurch - (4) Shrewsbury - Wellington - Wolverhampton - Portobello Jn - (reverse of outward route) - Northampton

Notes :
(1) 35517 was part of the consist only during the steam sections.
(2) 76079 on rear.
(3) 34067 on rear.
(4) Booked route was Acton Grange Jn - Frodsham Jn - Mickle Trafford Jn - Chester - Wrexham General - Gobowen - Shrewsbury but train was diverted to try and catch-back lost time. Stafford passengers were to catch the 21.26 Virgin service train from Wolverhampton but this was cancelled so a replacement bus was laid on instead. Crewe passengers were supposed to catch the 19.55 Wales & Borders service train from Chester to get back to Crewe...in the event the train was routed via Crewe.

Source & photo : Gary Thornton (on the train throughout)

Tour Review
(by Gary Thornton)

34067 at Carnforth prior to heading for Morecambe/Heysham.

A completely different way to start a year - Gary on a "genuine" steam railtour no less! Advertised as starting at Northampton at 06.30 Past Time Rails "Morecambe & Wise" would use a "modern loco" as far as Preston where a pair of steam locos would take over. They would haul the train via Copy Pit, the Leeds suburbs, Keighley and Clapham to Carnforth, thence in top-and-tail mode to Morecambe and back. The choice of steam locos changed a couple of times but ended up as 76079 and 34067 "Tangmere" which were both required haulages (at least they were at the time of booking...). 76079 however became a dud loco after I made a trip between Christmas and the new year to the East Lancs Railway to sample 40145 on the last day of operation of the Heywood shuttle - 76079 being the other engine on the train!

On Christmas Eve my tickets arrived with the news that the 06.30 departure had become 05.06 and the return had become somewhat later too (22.50 rather than 21.40). Gee thanks Network Rail!

It hardly seemed worth going to bed the night before but I did get a couple of hours shut-eye before getting up just before 4am. I was in environmentally-friendly mode and opted to walk to the station rather than drive, thus saving the parking charge and also the probability of scraping ice of the windows on our return if it was frosty (it wasn't in the event!).

The train was in when I arrived at the station just after 4.30am and a walk to the front gave the surprise to find 47792 "Robin Hood" in charge - I was expecting a class 67 however it transpires that the particular loco for the train had been failed and the 47 was substituted. Bag dumped in coach G (the standard class buffet-car) and time for a photo before meeting one my travelling companion for the day. Departure was on time and a coffee was enjoyed as we left Northampton behind. Pick-ups were made at Rugby, Birmingham International and Stafford (where quite a few people joined) and also a relatively unusual one was slotted-in at Aston, where just three or four punters joined.

Onwards via Stafford to Crewe where another considerable contingent of passengers joined us. Those getting on at Stafford and Crewe would however be heading home on service trains from Chester and Wolverhampton respectively in the evening as engineering works would see us routed home from Warrington to Wolverhampton by way of Frodsham, Chester, Wrexham & Shrewsbury.

Pulling in to Preston a little after 8am and it was still dark! The days weather was forecast to be overcast and wet (though we had already seen it snowing as we threaded our way through Birmingham!). 76079 and 34067 were waiting and after a shunt forward to make enough room for them plus their support coach they were added on to the back of the train. Steaming away under the canopy made for some very atmospheric photos - I even managed one of a 175 in "thick fog" conditions!

We left Preston five minutes late and from near he rear of the train we enjoyed the performance of our pair of locos. Being right close to the buffet counter also meant enjoying the beers on offer (Old Speckled Hen, Directors, Spitfire and Master Brew (Shepard Neame brewery) Our route took us via Blackburn and Copy Pit to a watering stop at Brighouse. No chance to get off howeer to view the goings-on as only the loco support coach was platformed and the way through was reported to be blocked with coal!

The scenery was spectacular with the hills coated in a light dusting of snow. One thing did however spoil the view from the train and that was the proliferation of trespassing photographers and others watching our passage, some of them families with young children, many standing very close to the opposite running line. I've never understood (a) why steam tours seem to attract so many people who have little sense for their own safety (and that of others) or (b) why this still seems to be tolerated by the authorities - I am sure if such scenes were witnessed on a heritage diesel railtour then the authorities would not let it pass so easily - if we cannot (quite rightly) get away with it on diesel tours then why should the steam fraternity be seemingly exempt?

After a fairly slow trundle through the west side of Leeds we headed on our way towards Carnforth, pausing at Long Preston so the locos could get another drink of water. By this time we were well into our challenge of drinking the bar dry :-)

Time was allowed for a leg-stretch at Carnforth whilst 76079 was removed from the train. We then set off to the up & down goods loop where 76079 was coupled to the rear of the train. Our first arrival into Morecambe was just an operational stop as we reversed to take the line to Heysham Port. I got off and managed a photo of 76079 though it wasn't up to much as the loco was running tender first and it was almost dark (to be honest, that about summed up the whole day - it never really got light!).

Back in Morecambe and an on-time arrival gave 50 minutes to take in the points of interest or watch 34067 being coaled and watered. In the way of all unscheduled railway operations this took longer than anticipated and departure time came and went. For reasons unexplained 34067 was then run-round and added atop 76079 for the short run to Carnforth up and down goods loop. A further delay here running the pair round and we finally departed almost an hour late.

For perhaps the only time in the day the locos were really allowed to run and arrival into Preston was at 18.32 which had reduced the deficit somewhat. Our plan to drink early proved a good one as the buffet was out of real beer. We then resorted to my collection of Belgian bottled beers brought along for just such a situation. Getting the locos changed-over (back to 47792) at Preston took longer than scheduled (doesn't it nearly always?) and this put us back to being quite late. Because of the connection issues however we were then informed that the train would be re-routed and go direct from Warrington to Shrewsbury via Crewe, thus allowing the Crewe joiners to alight at their home station rather than Chester (so why couldn't it have been booked that route in the first place??). An absolutely blistering run south from Preston saw us approaching Crewe about 40 minutes after leaving Preston...for us to then stand on the approaches for ages! A long station stop also added to the defecit but the re-routing helped and we ended up leaving Shrewsbury just eight minutes later than scheduled. As we approached Wolverhampton it was announced that the service train to take passengers back to Stafford had been cancelled however EWS had done their bit and organised a bus to get people back.

Once at Portobello Jn it was the reverse route of that we'd taken in the morning, with stops at Aston (where we think one person didn't hear the message about the short platform so ended up journeying onwards!), Birmingham International and Rugby. Arrival back into Northampton was just a minute astray from booked. A lift home saw me back a little after 11pm after what was an enjoyable day out.

Gary Thornton

Timings (Booked & Actual)
(from Gary Thornton)

Location Booked Actual   Booked Actual
Northampton 05.06d 05.06   22.50a 22.51
Long Buckby 05/19 05/17   22/38 22/39
Rugby 05.28a ~ 05.30d 05.30 ~ 05.32   22.23a ~ 22.25d 22.27 ~ 22.28
Coventry 05/40 05/43   22/12 22/13
Birmingham International 05.51a ~ 05.53d 05.55 ~ 05.57   21.59a ~ 22.02d 21.57 ~ 21.59
Stechford 05/57 06/03   21/51 21.47a ~ 21.49d
Aston 06.01a ~ 06.03d 06.09 ~ 06.10   21.38a ~ 21.40d 21.39 ~ 21.40
Perry Barr North Jn 06/08 06/14   21/32 21/32
Bescot Stadium 06/15 06/20   21/28 21/28
Darlaston Jn 06/18 06/21   21/25 21/26
Portobello Jn 06/21 06/25   21/22 21/22


Location Booked Actual
Bushbury Jn 06/26 06/28
Stafford No.4 06/37 06/39
Stafford 06.38a ~ 06.40d 06.40 ~ 06.41
Norton Bridge 06/46 06/49
Madeley 06/57 06/58
Basford Hall Jn 07/04 07/06
Crewe 07.08a ~ 07.11d 07.10 ~ 07.14
Coal Yard SB 07/15 07/16
Winsford SB 07/21 07/23
Weaver Jn 07/26 ?
Acton Grange Jn 07/30 07/32
Warrington Bank Quay 07/32 07/33
Dallam Jn 07/33 07/34
Winwick Jn 07/35 07/36
Springs Branch Jn 07/41 07/41
Wigan South Jn 07/41 07/42
Wigan North Western 07/42 07/42
Balshaw Lane Jn 07/54 07/48
Euxton Jn 07/58 07/55
Preston 08L09a ~ 08L32d 08.02 ~ 08.37
Ribble Jn 08/34 08/40
Farington Curve Jn 08/36 08/43
Lostock Hall Jn 08/41 08/46
Blackburn 08/56 09.02a ~ 09.03d
Daisyfield Jn 08/59 09/05
Accrington 09/09 09/15
Gannow Jn 09/18 09/23
Copy Pit 09/27 09/33
Hall Royd Jn 09/37 09/42
Hebden Bridge 09/41 09/47
Milner Royd Jn 09/48 09/54
Greetland Jn 09/56 09/47
Brighouse 10w00a ~ 10w31d 10.03 ~ 10.44
Bradley Wood Jn 10/34 ?
Heaton Lodge Jn 10/37 10.52a ~ 10.55d
Mirfield East Jn 10/40 10/57
Thornhill LNW Jn 10/41 10/59
Horbury Jn 10/55 11/08
Wakefield Kirkgate 10/59 11/12
Turners Lane Jn 11/10 11/12
Altofts Jn 11/19 11/16
Methley Jn 11/24 11/18
Engine Shed Jn 11/44 11/31
Whitehall Jn 11/45 11/32
Armley Jn 11/45 11/34
Apperley Jn 11/56 ?
Dockfield Jn 12/02 11/50
Shipley 12/03 11/51
Keighley 12/13 12/02
Skipton 12/25 12.19a ~ 12.22d
Hellifield 12/40 12/36
Long Preston 12w43a ~ 13w13d 12.38 ~ 13.18
Settle Jn 13/16 13/24
Carnforth 14L00a ~ 14L15d 14.02a ~ 14.18
Carnforth North Jn 14/17 14/19
Carnforth U&DGL 14L19a ~ 14L43d 14.22 ~ 14.39
Hest Bank Jn 14/51 14/48
Bare Lane 14/55 14.54a ~ 14.55d
Morecambe 14.59a ~ 15.04d 15.01 ~ 15.05
Morecambe Jn GF 15.05a ~ 15.07d 15/06
Heysham Port 15.19a ~ 15.33d 15.21 ~ 15.30
Morecambe 15.45a ~ 16.35d 15.44 ~ 16.54
Morecambe Jn GF 16.36a ~ 16.38d 16/55
Bare Lane 16/42 17/04
Hest Bank Jn 16/46 17/08
Carnforth U&DGL 16L53a ~ 17L08d 17.20 ~ 17.55
Morecambe South Jn 17/16 ?
Lancaster 17*21a ~ 17*27d 18/06
Preston 17L55a ~ 18L14d 18.32 ~ 18.56
Euxton Jn 18/23 19/03
Balshaw Lane Jn 18/25 ?
Wigan North Western 18/34 19/11
Wigan South Jn 18/34 19/12
Springs Branch Jn 18/35 19/12
Winwick Jn 18/48 19/19
Dallam Jn 18/50 19/21
Warrington Bank Quay 18/53 19/22
Acton Grange Jn 18/58 19/23
Frodsham Jn 19/07 DIV
Helsby 19/15 DIV
Mickle Trafford Jn 19/20 DIV
Chester 19.27a ~ 19.29d DIV
Chester South Jn 19/30 DIV
Saltney Jn 19/32 DIV
Wrexham General 19.46a ~ 19.54d DIV
Gobowen 20/07 DIV
Weaver Jn DIV 19/27
Crewe DIV 19.46a ~ 19.54d
Nantwich DIV 20/02
Whitchurch DIV 20/15
Shrewsbury 20/30 20.38a ~ 20.41d
Wellington 20/40 20/53
Madeley Jn 20/46 20/58
Cosford 20/52 21/02
Wolverhampton North Jn 21/04 21/09
Wolverhampton 21.06a ~ 21.16d 21.14 ~ 21.17

Timings continue in first table.

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