4th February 2006

Past Time Rail
The Fenman

Loco Used steam : 60009 'Union of South Africa'
Stock Used 99405+3146+1680+3123+3141+3147+1813+4949+5008+5023+35469

1Z56 : Kings Cross to Ely
1Z57 : Ely to Kings Cross

Loco Route
60009 London Kings Cross - Potters Bar - Hitchin - Royston - Cambridge - Ely - March - Peterborough - Peterborough West Yard - Spalding - Sleaford - Allington North Jn - Allington East Jn - Grantham - Peterborough West Yard - Peterborough - Stevenage - Potters Bar - London King's Cross

 60009 passes the carriage sidings at Cambridge (photo: Stewart Levett)

Source : Janet Cottrell

Tour Review
(by Janet Cottrell)

2006 will go down as one of the slowest starts to a year railtour-wise in recent history. In previous years there has nearly always been a UK tour that has persuaded me to expend some precious leave right from the start - but this year nothing "reached out to grab me". However, there is still the small matter of a long weekend to fill every four weeks and this tour caught my eye, not least because 60009 (the older of the two locos that currently bear this number) is actually required for haulage, it did look quite an attractive route as well as being very appropriate for the loco concerned. Hubby decided that he was suffering from railtour starvation enough to put in for a day off so the booking was made and we waited for the day in question with bated breath, surely there had to be a farce - or am I just getting cynical in my old age.

We arrived at "The Cross" with plenty of time to spare. The stock for the train was only booked into the platform some 10 minutes before departure so we had plenty of time to wander round and wonder at the lack of BTP, who nearly always put in an appearance when there are steam specials out. The stock appeared on time with 67008 and the correct shaped brewing device bringing up the rear, perhaps I should learn to have more faith in our much maligned charter trains system. True to form our coach was third from the rear including the "genny van", nearly every steam tour I have been on has the 1st class at the front and they mostly run to circular itineraries to avoid having to turn the engine. Despite this, the loco could clearly be heard as we left, so it was not going to be a totally thrash-free trip.

The train was routed via Potters Bar, which was just as well as I believe that last time "No.9" went via the Hertford loop, copious amounts of time was lost due to gauging related speed restrictions. No such problems today and we had a reasonable run down to Hitchin where we turned right for Cambridge and our break at Ely. Originally, the train was booked via Sleaford and Spalding first, calling at Ely on the return but the route was reversed due to "pathing constraints" some weeks previously. Arrival at Ely was punctual and we all detrained for our three hours in the Cathedral town. Many people made their way to the opposite platform to view the shunt to the DGL and the subsequent servicing of the engine, as it was too early for dinner we decided to join them for a while and some photos were secured of the train when it eventually did reverse. At this point an interesting problem became apparent, there was a hoist equipped flatbed lorry patiently waiting next to the shunt neck with several large bags of coal, but there was a rail grinding machine parked next to it, much too close to allow access to the tender. Much head scratching and a slight repositioning of the lorry followed, but there was no way that the hoist would safely reach the tender with a bag of coal hanging on the end so there was only one solution - move the rail grinder which, fortunately, had some space left behind it.

Happy that everything looked like it was going to plan, we went for an excellent lunch in an establishment next to the Cathedral and returned with enough time to take another photo of the train emerging from the Down Goods Loop. Once back aboard, we set off for Peterborough where we were to take water in the West Yard there.

It was here that things started to go pear-shaped. We came to a stand in Platform 5 and, rather than going straight across to the yard, remained stationary in the platform. As there were procedures to be followed before we would be allowed to enter any goods lines it was not really surprising, but we continued to wait and draw a crowd of interested onlookers. Eventually the cause of the delay was announced as being due to the yard dealing with another train and one of the conditions of our entrance to the yard was that there must not be any other movements there whilst the special was present, so we had to wait.

Watering was carried out commendably quickly but we had now “lost our path” so more time was lost waiting to get back onto the main line again. There was not much chance of any spirited running to pick up any time round the fens due to speed restrictions, but it was a pleasant enough journey with the jointed track adding to the feeling of yesteryear travel.

There had been plenty of people watching our progress all day, but the residents of Spalding were out in droves, I can only assume that the event must have been mentioned in the local paper and there was not much else on that afternoon.

Beyond Sleaford I had the unusual experience of scoring some new UK track in the form of the new Allington curve, it did occur to me that this might even be the first steam loco over the new line but no doubt somebody can prove otherwise. Despite our lateness we managed to get through Grantham without being stopped and a good run over Stoke bank was enjoyed, not as fast as “Mallard” though I hasten to add. This time round, Peterborough Yard was accessed straight away and a swift top-up of water saw us claw a few minutes back, only to loose them again at Connington waiting for one of 60009’s successors to pass. We slotted in right behind this and an excellent run ensued until the start of the four track section at Welwyn, where we crossed onto the slow line and trundled relatively sedately back to the “Cross”.

All in all an enjoyable day out with sociable start and finish times, even our misgivings about the long break in Ely proved unfounded as it was just the right time for a meal. Back to normality for me now as the next tours I am doing are all diesel hauled and in various parts of Europe, but I will be keeping an eye on any further steam tours to fill in the odd rest day.

Janet Cottrell

Timings (Booked & Actual)
(from Janet Cottrell)

Location Booked Actual   Booked Actual
Kings Cross 09.23d [P6] [FL2] 09.24 [P6]   19.30a [P2] 20.18 [P1]
Belle Isle 09/26 [FL] 09/25   19/27 [FL2] 20/16
Finsbury Park 09/29 [P3] 09/30   19/17 [P2] 20/11
Alexandra Palace 09/33 [SL] 09/34   19/15 20/07
Potters Bar 09.43a ~ 09.46d [P4] [FL] 09.46 ~ 09.50 [P4]   19.05a ~ 19.07d 19.53 ~ 19.56 [P1]
Welwyn Garden City 09/54 09/59   18/57 19/45
Woolmer Green Jn 09/58 [SL] 10/05   18/53 19/39
Stevenage 10.02a ~ 10.06d [P4] 10.10 ~ 10.12   18.47a ~ 18.49d [P2] 19.31 ~ 19.34 [P2]
Hitchin 10/10 10/20   18/41 19/27


Location Booked Actual
Letchworth 10/14 10/23
Royston 10/26 [P2] 10/34
Cambridge 10/48 [P1] 10/50
Coldham Lane Jn 10/51 ?
Ely Dock Jn 11/09 [UL] ?
Ely 11.10a ~ 14.04d [P3] [DL] 11.06 ~ 14.04 [P1]
Ely North Jn 14/07 14/10
March 14/23 14/28
Whittlesea 14/36 ?
Peterborough East Jn 14/43 ?
Peterborough 14/45 [P5] 14.48a ~ 15.17d [P5]
Peterborough West Yard 14w48a ~ 15w14d 15.25 ~ 15.37
New England North Jn 15/19 [FL] ?
Werrington Jn 15/24 15/57
Spalding 15/42 16/23
Sleaford South Jn 16/09 ?
Sleaford 16/12 [P2] 17/01
Barkston East Jn 16/31 17/21
Allington North Jn 16/34 17/29
Allington East Jn 16/36 17/31
Nottingham Branch Jn 16/41 ?
Grantham 16*44a ~ 16*49d [P4] [SL] 17.39 ~ 17.40
Highdyke Jn 17/01 ?
Stoke Jn 17/03 [FL] 17/49
Tallington Jn 17/18 18/03
New England North Jn 17/27 [GL] ?
Peterborough West Yard 17w30a ~ 17w57d 18.18 ~ 18.34
Peterborough 18/00 [UF] [FL] 18/38 [UF]
Connington South Jn 18/07 ?
Huntingdon 18/15 19/04
Sandy 18/27 19/16

Timings continue in first table.

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