14th - 16th May 2004
The Railway Touring
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
|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]|
(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
(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 wasnt 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 days journey was sitting in the Motorail platform for some unexpected required track (desperate I know but its 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 towns 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 dOr 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 LEst 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 dOr 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 didnt 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 DOr 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 Ill 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.
Timings (Booked & Actual)
16/05 - 1Z89 : Dover to Victoria
|Folkestone West||18.12a ~ 18.28d||?|
|Tonbridge||19/09||19.17 ~ ??.??|
|Stoats Nest Jn||19/51||19/51|
|Windmill Bridge Jn||20/01||?|
|Stewarts Lane Jn||20/20||?|
|Grosvenor Bridge Jn||20/25||?|
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