14th - 16th May 2004

The Railway Touring Company
The Golden Arrow / Fleche d'Or 75th Anniversary

Locos Used UK: 37689, 66249 & steam: 34067 'Tangmere'
France: steam: CFBS 2, CFBS 3714, SNCF 140C231 & 231K8

1Z89 : Dover Priory to Victoria

Date Loco(s) Route
14/05/04 34067 (1) 09.10d London Victoria [P2] – (via mainline) – Brixton – Herne Hill [P3] – Beckenham Jn – Bromley South [P2] – Orpington [P3] – Bickley Jn – Petts Wood – Sevenoaks – Tonbridge – Headcorn [P2] – Ashford International [DF] – Canterbury West [P2] – Minster [P2] – Deal [P1] – Dover Priory [P1]
14/05/04 P&O Ferry 'Pride of Aquitaine' Dover Eastern Dock – Calais Port
14/05/04 231K8 Calais Ville (Motorail platform) – Boulogne [V4] – Abbeville – Amiens – Longeau - Criel – Chantilly – (via slow line) – Orry la Ville – St.Denis – Paris Nord [V12]
15/05/04 140C231 Paris Nord – Le Bourget Yard
15/05/04 140C231 Le Bourget Yard – Bobigny Yard
15/05/04 140C231 Bobigny Yard – Val d'Argenteuil – Grand Ceinture – Sartrouiville – Acheres Yard
15/05/04 140C231 Acheres Yard – Houilles Carriers sur Siene – Clichy Levallois
15/05/04 140C231 Clichy Levallois – La Garenne Colmbes – La Defense – Puteaux – St Cloud – Versailles Chantiers
15/05/04 140C231 Versailles Chantiers – Massey Palaiseau – Juvisy Yard – Athis Mons – Le Saules – Valenton Yard – Val de Fontenay – Rosny-sous-Bois – Noisy Yard – Bobigny Yard – Le Bourget Yard
15/05/04 140C231 Le Bourget Yard – Paris Nord (2)
16/05/04 231K8 09.22d Paris Nord – St. Denis – (via fast line) – Creil – Amiens – Noyelles sur Mer
16/05/04 2 Noyelles sur Mer (CFBS  Le Crotoy platform) – Saint Valery sur Somme Port
16/05/04 3714 Saint Valery sur Somme Port – Noyelles sur Mer (CFBS  Le Crotoy platform)
16/05/04 231K8 Noyelles sur Mer – Boulogne – Calais Ville (Motorail platform)
16/05/04 P&O Ferry 'Pride of Aquitaine' Calais Port – Dover Eastern Dock
16/05/04 37689 (3) Dover Priory [P1] – Folkestone Central – Ashford International [UF] – Tonbridge [UF] – Redhill [UF] – Purley [P3] – East Croydon [P4] [UVS] – Selhurst – Clapham Junction [P14] [UF] – Longhedge Jn – Stewarts Lane Jn – London Victoria [P2]

Notes :
(1) Banked to Grosvenor Bridge by 66249.
(2) Nick Bartlett comments: Arrived back in Paris Nord, 5 hours late due to various farces on a very hot day, too late for food and only just enough time to get back to hotel at Gentilly, before RER shut for the night. Very tired, hot and fed up!
(3) 37689 substituted for failed 34067 'Tangmere'.
(4) Platform & lines quoted are actuals.

Sources : Nick Bartlett (on the train throughout) & Andy Pullar

Tour Review
(by Andy Pullar)

Steam from Calais (not to mention London to Dover) had finished before I had made it across the Channel for the first time ( though I did manage to bag the London - Paris sleepers before they were withdrawn ). My son had never experienced the pleasures of the pre Chunnel days and my wife wanted to re-visit EuroDisney. This RTC weekend seemed ideal for a family jaunt.

And so it proved in spite of the failure of  34067 with leaking stays on the Sunday. My Bulleid jinx continues (strike 3). The tour started from Victoria with the WC supposedly enjoying assistance in the customary fashion from 66249; the loco that brought the ECS in (late on this occasion) from Old Oak Common.

Boarding the train was somewhat rushed and departure was a few minutes late. All the rushing about must have affected the driver of the cl.66 because as the empty VSOE (BP) was being admired (whilst it was waiting for us to vacate the station) 34067 lost its feet and the train ground to a halt just before the Bridge.

It transpired that the TPWS on 66249 had not been isolated before departure. Once the rear of the train had passed the first signal (which had naturally reset to red as we passed ) the 66s brakes had tripped on leaving the WC to its own devices with the inevitable result. The resulting delay whilst the problem was sorted meant that Dover was reached just in time to miss the ferry. Now son this is what travel to the continent was really like pre Eurostar. As an aside I bumped into someone not so long ago that had gone out to photograph the train …….at Swanley! And he assured me he wasn’t the only one.

Sadly, like Dover Western Docks, Calais Maritime is no more (at least as far as rail is concerned ) so it was wedge yourself in the nearest autocar and off on a tour of Calais Port and environs ( the joys of road planners whims ) before disgorging into the Ville station. The train for the rest of the day’s journey was sitting in the Motorail platform for some unexpected required track (desperate I know but it’s in the book) and the reassuring billow of smoke was coming from the head end.

Just enough time to take in the atmosphere and take a look at the loco and stock of varying vintages before we were off for a spirited run on the traditional route to Paris through Boulogne (the tracks to the Maritime and Aerogliseurs stations as conspicuous by their absence  as Calais Maritime– how times have changed) and Amiens. Not having travelled this way for some considerable time the re-alignment of the line around Frethun Yard saw me score more new track and glimpses of class 92s awaiting return to Dollands Moor and Wembley with the next Asylum Seekers unadvertised Excursion (the lengths to which some people go to get new track).

The water stop at Abbeville was not without incident as the town’s firemen who were supposed to connect the hydrant to the tender had disappeared. Some time after the arrival of the train they appeared (had they been in a nearby watering hole one wonders) and did the necessary though I have never seen such a big hose. It stretched out the station, across the road and halfway up the hill. Fireman Sam eat your heart out.

After a brief  stop in Amiens it was off to Longeau, Creil and Paris Nord in the gathering gloom enjoying a rousing cacophony of loco horns and the 231k whistle as the Fleche d’Or passed the depot. French Railway workers sure know how to party. More new track followed in the guise of the slow line to the north of Orry la Ville (always having been on trains that used the fast lines in the past).

The last act of the day was a game of spot the hotel made more interesting that when found around the back of the Gare de L’Est the hotel was actually split in two either side of the street each with its own reception. By luck the right side was chosen and it was time to catch some shut eye; my wife and son having spurned the offer of some class 72 spotting at the station around the corner (spoil sports). At least my hotel was in walking distance. Others had to go half way across Paris for their designated resting place.

Saturday was grin and bare it day with Monsieur Mickey and his many amies (how do you take the Park seriously when Goofy shows up and everyone shouts Dingo?). There was an option to travel around the suburbs of Paris on a charter headed by 140C231  but I had to pass or risk ritual disembowelling with a Captain Hook memento.

Sunday was more like it with 231K8 taking the Fleche d’Or back to Calais Ville via a visit to the metre gauge Baie de la Somme Railway at Noyelles sur Mer. This time the train was routed by way of the fast lines to Creil and Amiens where a stop for water took place whilst waiting for the Continental VSOE headed by a pair of Alstom 67s to trundle off to Calais in front.

The events at Noyelles didn’t quite go to plan as the choice of either a train to St Valery or an alternative to Le Crotoy turned out to be St. Valery or nothing. The train was headed to St Valery by No2.As the train was too long for the run round at St Valery Quay 3714 brought the train back. With the train leaving from the Le Crotoy bound platform at Noyelles at least the crossover was required.

Of interest along the route was the mixed gauge track (metre and standard for most of the way) and the swing bridge over the Somme canal. Passing the station of St Valery on the left the train ran onto the line on the quayside to allow passengers to disembark for a few minutes whilst the train was prepared for the return.

The Fleche D’Or was waiting at Noyelles to whisk everyone back to Calais including a 60mph thrash through Boulogne Ville. Wife and junior wandered off to spot the VSOE in the adjacent platform whilst I was left holding the bags. Then it was time to squeeze back onto the buses for the traditional parlour game of Pass the Customs. Altogether now. Get off the bus. Walk through the empty Customs Hall (empty of Customs that is). Get back on the bus. Now repeat at Dover with the addition of some getting back on the wrong bus and playing musical chairs before being evicted by the driver. In between there is a ferry crossing. Dad can we go by Eurostar next time?

Just enough time left for the Bulleid Jinx to turn out 37689 in immaculate withered (sorry weathered) livery for the run back to London by way of  Tonbridge, Redhill and the up slow to Clapham Junction ; engineering work having closed the fast lines for the weekend. Welcome back to England.

Just for the hell of it the booked route via Stewarts Lane was kept for an almost on time arrival back in London. One of these days I’ll get to see a Bulleid simmering at the blocks instead of Wizzos and Type 3s. On the journey back to Hampshire time to scan through the steam charter pages to check out my next class 37 haulage.

Andy Pullar

Timings (Booked & Actual)

16/05 - 1Z89 : Dover to Victoria

Location Booked Actual
Dover Priory 17.58d 18.23
Folkestone East 18/08 ?
Folkestone Central 18/09 18/37
Folkestone West 18.12a ~ 18.28d ?
Saltwood Jn 18/32 18/40
Ashford International 18/41 18/51
Headcorn 18/51 19/01
Paddock Wood 19/02 19/11
Tonbridge 19/09 19.17 ~ ??.??
Edenbridge 19/23 19/30
Godstone 19/30 19/34
Redhill 19/40 19/43
Stoats Nest Jn 19/51 19/51
Purley 19/52 19/53
East Croydon 19/57 19/57
Windmill Bridge Jn 20/01 ?
Selhurst 20/05 20/01
Balham 20/10 20/11
Clapham Junction 20/13 20/17
Pouparts Jn 20/14 ?
Longhedge Jn 20/15 ?
Stewarts Lane Jn 20/20 ?
Grosvenor Bridge Jn 20/25 ?
Victoria 20.27a 20.27

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