13th March 2004

Hertfordshire Rail Tours
The Grand Slam

EMU's Used 312718 & 312721

1Z12 : Liverpool Street to Southend Victoria
1Z13 : Southend Victoria to Shenfield
1Z14 : Shenfield to Frinton-on-Sea
1Z15 : Frinton-on-Sea to Thorpe-le-Soken
1Z16 : Thorpe-le-Soken to Clacton
1Z17 :  Clacton to Colchester
1Z18 : Colchester to Ipswich
1Z19 : Ipswich to Harwich Town
1Z21 : Harwich Town to Liverpool Street

EMU's Route
312718 + 312721 London Liverpool Street (P10) - Stratford - Manor Park - (down passenger avoiding line) - Ilford - Shenfield - Wickford - Southend Victoria (P1)
312721 + 312718 Southend Victoria - Wickford (P2) - Shenfield
312718 + 312721 Shenfield - Chelmsford - Colchester - Colchester Town
312721 + 312718 Colchester Town - Hythe - Thorpe-le-Soken - Frinton-on-Sea (1)
312718 + 312721 Frinton-on-Sea - Thorpe-le-Soken
312721 + 312718 Thorpe-le-Soken - Clacton (P3)
312718 + 312721 Clacton - Thorpe-le-Soken - Hythe - Colchester (P4)
312721 + 312718 Colchester - Manningtree - Ipswich
312718 + 312721 Ipswich - Manningtree North Jn - Manningtree East Jn - Harwich Town
312721 + 312718 Harwich Town - Manningtree East Jn - Manningtree South Jn - Colchester (via Up Goods) - Marks Tey (via Up Loop) - - Chelmsford - Shenfield - Ilford - (up passenger avoiding line & up independent) - Manor Park - Stratford (P10A) - London Liverpool Street (P15)

Notes :
(1) Repeat of previous weeks tour, except owing to platform resurfacing at Walton-on-Naze this tour reversed at Frinton-on-Sea.

David Sheppard confirms the following crossovers/lines were traversed;
Colchester Platform 1
Colchester up goods lines
Marks Tey Up Loop

Gidea Park Country End Junction : cross to Up Electric
Ilford Depot London End Junction : cross to Up Main
Ilford Up Passenger Avoiding
Ilford Up Goods Independent (behind platform 1)
Forest Gate Station Junction : cross to Down Electric
Forest Gate Station platform 2
Maryland East Junction : cross to Down Main
Down Temple Mills
Carpenters Road South Junction : cross to Up Temple Mills
Bow Junction : cross to Up Main
Bethnal Green : cross to Up electric

Sources : Alan Sheppard (on the train throughout) & David Sheppard

Tour Review
(from Ken Strachan)

I guess it’s a rite of passage for all true trackbashers, to get a string of Rover tickets, and use them to cover every passenger branch in the country. I was there. Scotland, the North East and North West, the West and East Midlands... no station buffet was safe. There are two problems with this activity: one, don’t take a spouse. She will notice that many termini (particularly on curtailed branches: think Colne, Sinfin, Corby) have no loos. In fact, she might wonder why you are going there at all. Such incursions of sanity are not welcomed in our hobby!

The other problem is the South East. Those of us familiar with Milton Keynes will know that city to be a black hole all by itself; but I am thinking more of the alarming shortage of Rover tickets. They used to have Network Days; but they were more about proving you could do two thousand three hundred and eighty-seven miles AND THIRTEEN CHAINS in 23 hours 58 minutes, and live to tell the tale; no matter what you smelt like afterwards.

So tours like the Grand Slam are helpful for track men with an embarrassing lack of coverage in the South East. Lots of lovely branches can be whipped in without tedious study of timetables, and absolutely free of rants from local staff with unsporting ideas about reasonable routes and other such boring rules. At least in the Sarf East you get intelligible accents, innit; unlike, say, Glasgow, where things can go downhill at astonishing speed.

But I digress. Nuneaton to Liverpool Street first thing Saturday was far too difficult, so we stopped in Cambridge Friday night. We had to change at Stansted Airport, so that was a branch and both curves whipped before even joining the tour. It was bizarre going from an inbound electric unit to an outbound on arrival at Liverpool Street, but sometimes you just can’t get the loco’s; and what, exactly, do you want for fifteen quid? Needs must.

Our fellow passengers looked depressingly normal, witness one lady who hadn’t a clue where Birch Coppice was, and wasn’t too sure about Kingsbury either. OK, so I’m cruel… there was another female opposite, whose younger son (?) provided his own entertainment, being immersed in a Game Boy all day. Perhaps when he reaches his mother’s age, he will have acquired her habit of lifting a cheek from time to time and treating all surrounding her to a “trumpet solo” – let’s hope not.

Our run from Liverpool Street to Sarfend Victoria was uneventful. The 22-minute leg-stretcher was observed to the minute, then we were off to Shenfield to reverse.

Approaching the main line, we saw a Freightliner stopped at a signal Southbound – could this be a “Fred” required for sight? No, a 57 actually. Never mind. We arrived in Colchester 11 early, but left on time for the Town station. We had 12 minutes to take the air, and listen to the station PA, which was along the lines of: “Would passengers in the car park please mind the cars”… then something a bit stroppier…then “MIND THE CARS!” We left before the air turned blue.

One reason to go on this trip was that a previous tour, some years ago, had missed Harwich Town; being misdirected into a dead end platform at Parkeston Quay, as it was then known. So on this trip, I really hoped to reach Walton-on-the-Naze – purely for trackbashing purposes, you understand. It was not to be. The departing franchisee – First Great Eastern, I believe – had been given a chewing by Network Rail, “tidy up yer platform edges before you bog off, you ‘orrible lot”; or words to that effect. So we had to stop at Frinton-on-Sea; and I, for one, don’t intend to do so again. There was but one source of food near the station, and most of its stock was looking rather tired. But I queued for some time to buy their sole remaining Cornish (Essex?) pasty, only to be told that it was reserved. I didn’t care how shy it was, but I know when I’m beaten; so I returned to the station, echoes of Royston Vasey bouncing around the large vacant spaces within my skull.

We paused at Thorpe-le-Soken, where the station is flanked by a large derelict warehouse. Hopefully one day, it will be converted into flats; in the meantime, it’s an eyesore. The station had illuminated signs which must have been quite modern in about 1958. Clacton-on-Sea at least had several platforms, and the promise of some decent fish and chips. We found some – eventually- and sat in front of the station to eat it. It’s not a bad station actually, built at 45 degrees to two streets; but our meal was interrupted by a brass monkey asking us if we knew anywhere that did welding. Sorry mate, I told him; we’re not local.

A long stop in Colchester caused some confusion regarding refreshments. Don’t ask – it involved a spouse, and it was my fault. Ipswich didn’t promise much excitement, but I inspected the sidings in case anything was required for sight. Five loco’s, actually – I can’t remember when I last got that many on a tour. Great stuff. It was tempting to bail at this point, but I/we needed Harwich Town. What can I say? We whipped it, but it was cold, wet, and underwhelming. I copped 09.019 in the yards on the way back – required for sight. Woo hoo, I believe the youngsters say.

Heading back to London, we covered the up goods line at Colchester; despite NR saying it was impossible. The 6 March run did it too, apparently. We stopped in a loop at Marks Tey, where we noticed an adjacent sand conveyor mounted on rails, of approx. 9 feet 6 inch gauge – rare track, I’m sure. The rest of the return to London was straightforward, but we arrived 14 down; keeping up the railtour tradition of missing our planned connection. However, we could buy a pasty – you have to get your priorities straight!

Ken Strachan

Timings (Booked & Actual)
(from Alan Sheppard)

M.C Location Booked Actual
0.00 Liverpool Street 09.05d 09.06
1.10 Bethnal Green 09/08 09/08
2.69 Bow Jn 09/10 09/12
4.03 Stratford 09/12 09/17
5.63 Forest Gate Jn 09/14 09/20
6.19 Manor Park 09/16 09/21
7.28 Ilford 09/19 09/24
13.41 Gidea Park 09/31 09/32
14.15 Gidea Park (Country End Jn) 09/33 09/34
20.16 Shenfield 09/41 09/41
21.32 Mountnessing Jn 09/43 09/43
29.02 Wickford 09/50 09/50
36.10 Hockley 09/56 09/56
41.39 Southend Victoria 10.02a ~ 10.24d 10.02 ~ 10.23
46.68 Hockley 10/30 10/29
53.78 Wickford 10/36 10/35
61.46 Mountnessing Jn 10/44 10/43
62.62 Shenfield 10.46a ~ 10.53d 10.45 ~ 10.50
72.31 Chelmsford 11/02 10/59
81.14 Witham 11/09 11/06
89.15 Marks Tey 11/22 11/12
94.18 Colchester 11c29a ~ 11c32d 11.18 ~ 11.30
96.42 Colchester Town 11.38a ~ 11.55d 11.43 ~ 11.55
97.40 Hythe 11/58 11/58
109.00 Thorpe-le-Soken 12/09 12/12
111.44 Kirby Cross 12.13a ~ 12.27d 12.17 ~ 12.30
112.58 Frinton-on-Sea 12.32a ~ 12.59d 12.34 ~ 12.59
113.72 Kirby Cross 13.02a ~ 13.07d 13.02 ~ 13.06
116.36 Thorpe-le-Soken 13.13a ~ 13.20d 13.11 ~ 13.18
121.04 Clacton 13.28a ~ 14.50d 13.30 ~ 14.50
125.52 Thorpe-le-Soken 14/57 14/58
137.12 Hythe 15/08 15/11
139.08 Colchester 15.14a ~ 15.37d 15.15 ~ 15.40
146.71 Manningtree 15/45 15/47
155.02 Halifax Jn 15/55 15/55
156.15 Ipswich 15.57a ~ 16.05d 15.59 ~ 16.06
157.28 Halifax Jn 16/07 16/07
165.05 Manningtree North Jn 16/14 16/16
165.29 Manningtree East Jn 16/15 16/17
? Mistley 16/18 16/19
174.35 Harwich International 16/29 16/30
176.23 Harwich Town 16.34a ~ 16.53d 16.35 ~ 16.53
178.11 Harwich International 16/58 16/57
187.49 Manningtree 17/12 17.12a ~ 17.13d
195.32 Colchester 17/23 17.22a ~ 17.23d
199.74 Marks Tey 17.30a ~ 17.36d 17.33 ~ 17.38
208.36 Witham 17/44 17/47
217.19 Chelmsford 17/52 17/54
226.68 Shenfield 18/03 18/04
233.43 Gidea Park 18/10 18/14
239.56 Ilford 18/16 18/24
241.21 Forest Gate Jn 18/20 18/28
243.01 Stratford 18/24 18/34
244.15 Bow Jn 18/27 18/39
245.74 Bethnal Green 18/29 18/43
247.04 Liverpool Street 18.32a 18.46

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