30th September 2006

Kingfisher Railtours
Eden & Penzance Explorer

Loco Used 37406
Stock Used ?????

1Z21 : Clapham Junction to Penzance
1Z22 : Penzance to Clapham Junction

Loco Route
37406 Clapham Junction - Richmond - Feltham - Staines - Virginia Water - Ascot - Wokingham - Reading - Southcote Jn - Newbury - Bedwyn - Westbury - Clink Road Jn - Blatchbridge Jn - Castle Cary - Cogload Jn - Taunton - Exeter St. Davids - Dawlish Warren - Newton Abbot - Plymouth - Liskeard - Par - Truro - Penzance
37406 Penzance - (reverse of outward route) - Clapham Junction
Source : James Martin

Tour Review

(by James Martin)
I had my eye on this tour for some time, having been let down by Past Time Rail for their D1015 tour to Penzance on 21st October, I couldn't reach Paddington from Kent for 6AM, and so having my 54 refunded to me by them, I looked into other Penzance tours this one was the only one on offer, originally booked for a class 67 it was instead booked a EWS 37 which was not to be missed!
I decided to wait for the official timings to be released before booking (It would be just my luck to make the same mistake twice), the timings were very tight for me to make the train, but as 37406 was a required loco for me, I decided to go for it, arriving at Waterloo East at 0553 a very quick walk over to Waterloo main produced a 0556 Wessex set stopping at Clapham Junction thankfully arriving on the Barnes side arriving at 0606, having successfully made the connection, walking down the platform to meet my friend there was a lightning bolt and the loudest crack of thunder I think I've ever heard, it was to sum up the weather for most of the return trip too.
I met with my friend who was assisting with buffet duties, (who has also told me during the week there was only one seat left on the whole train), thanks again Jon!, the rain really was beating down on the canopy as 37406 rolled into to the station, I boarded with my friend and he introduced to the train manager, (very big thanks to Ian), I bagged that last seat on the train after all (albeit in First Class).
After being left 65 lighter, I grabbed a window as we set off, another lightning bolt and a crack of thunder came out of the dark sky, not something you see everyday.
Anyway after being shown to my seat, I settled in for the long haul to Penzance, 37406 could be heard from where I was sat, we did have quite a few stops along the way, Richmond, Staines, Ascot, Reading, Newbury and Hungerford to mention a few..., I'd have to say most of the tours occupants got on at Reading.
After setting off from Reading, the stone terminal at Theale produced 60046 waiting for the off on a stone train...
Kingfisher in my view do the best buffet food, the bacon rolls served were so tasty, it was my second breakfast of the day, the pick up stations were near enough on time, at Westbury the sun was very much on the right side so I bailed quickly to get a shot as did everyone else!...

Westbury - with the sun on the right side! (photo: James Martin)
Time keeping was excellent throughout the run down to Penzance, the run along the sea wall at Dawlish was fantastic and it was nice to see walkers stop and wave at the trains occupants despite the weather being dreary at this point.
31105 was stabled I think near Hackney Yard (near Newton Abbot), which did surprise me as they usually work in pairs!
Being about 20 minutes away from the Royal Albert Bridge I decided to bag a window for the run over the bridge, not a problem!, the sun had come out a bit by then, and the run over the bridge was really great and I think nearly every window was occupied!, I grabbed a few shots.
The tour descended Largin Bank and passed Bodmin Parkway station, a thought then occured to me, it was hard to believe that 'thumper' unit 205205 was due to rehomed here during 2004, hardly thumper territory!
For those who had booked the tour for the Eden Project a set down stop at Par had been arranged, 10 minutes was allocated but we had arrived about 3 late there, I did get off for a shot but the loco was way off the platform edge, so decided against it, it had started raining again!.
After leaving Par, 37406 and the driver did an excellent job to get us to Penzance bang on time on the approach we passed 57602 with the sleeper set in Long Rock sidings, there were no brilliant photo options when under the canopy, so we waited for 37406 to shunt back out into the daylight...after 15 minutes 37406 shunted out to Long Rock we grabbed a shot, then headed for the ticket office for a return to St Ives.
A 153 to St Erth, then a 150 up the scenic line to St Ives and back, we were even allowed to go again by the guard as there was no connecting train to Penzance at St Erth.
43187 took us back to Penzance from St Erth, and my friend and I had a wander Penzance for about 40 minutes, before heading back for some shots of 37406 in the rain, the weather by this point had turned rather nasty and several storm fronts had swept inland bringing heavy rain and strongish winds.
I decided to dry off by returning to my seat in the dry and waited for the EWS crew to start 37406 up, when sitting at my seat I overheard that there had been a fatality at Taunton and that station was closed, so potential problems ahead...not good when you also have tight connections home as well!.
When the EWS crew did eventually show up (I left my seat for a firing up sequence on my camera) they started talking to some random people on the platform, and by this point about 10 people were all getting soaked waiting for 406 to be fired up, the rain was really beating down and finally the EWS crew got in and started up 406, after which I retreated from the elements and got in the nearest open door.
The train left Penzance on time, I did notice that the sleeper stock at Long Rock had gone for its routine maintenance at Laira (I think?), the run back was fairly ok but we did lose time as we were following the up Penzance-London train stopping at a few signals after Cambourne, despite this we arrived at Par about 10 late, I did overhear before arriving at Par that there had been another separate fatality at Liskeard...but this wasn't proven, at Par we were told a lightning strike had knocked all the signals between Par and Liskeard so we were to remain at Par while they guided all the trains out of the section manually!
After a few shots at Par I got back on the train, grabbed my phone and made different arrangements as the arrival at Clapham would be at least 40 late...I was not looking forward to getting home, after about 35 minutes at Par we got the road, still raining we stopped at every signal between Par and Liskeard at about 5-6 minutes at every signal to obtain permission to pass it, the sleeper ECS had been looped to let our train pass so this did save a bit of time, as the conditions of the rail had deteriorated so much, 37406 began to struggle up Largin Bank, the driver applying the power handle then letting go quite frequently so obviously could not apply more power.
To many of the railtour occupants surprise out of the darkness came a Voyager which was very wedged indeed in every coach, except first class, in a situation like the one we were involved in at least we weren't stuck on a horrible Voyager for the 2 hours it took to get from Penzance to Keyham, at least we all had a seat!
After clearing the troublesome section we picked up speed and we had a varied run to Plymouth being between 62 & 67 late at some points, and the run back to Exeter was very good indeed, we had made up about 7-8 minutes thanks to some good driving.
Our run back to Westbury was good arriving again about an hour late and this was the general lateness until about Reading, where we left 65 late, stopping at a few of the local stations quite infrequently and having some high speed bits in between brought the lateness of the train from about an hour late to just 45 minutes at Staines, as most of the trains occupants had left by Richmond, I decided to wander forward and see if the window behind the loco was free, indeed it was and it had finally stopped raining!, even though it was only a short period of about 4-5 minutes, the driver did make a few applications of the power handle between Richmond and just outside of Barnes before shutting off power just before Clapham Junction.
The Tour arrived at Clapham at 0035 only 44 late but it was still enough to spoil my timings back to Kent!, all in all I have to say the tour was worth it 100%, if on the other hand it was 37405 I don't think I would have bothered (being a participant of KF's Heart of Wales Rambler tour with 37401 & 37405 on July 22nd), a tour to Penzance from London and back was always going to have an anti social start and finish time.
Despite getting the 0059 Clapham-Waterloo and a Night Bus from The Strand to South East London (and the bus being filled with loud nightclubbers) eventually getting to bed at 0410 it was worth every penny!

James Martin

Timings (Booked Only)
(from James Martin)

Location Booked (out) Booked (rtn)
Clapham Junction 06.10d 23.51a
Barnes 06/16 23/46
Richmond 06.22a ~ 06.24d 23.36a ~ 23.38d
St. Margarets ? 23/33
Twickenham 06/28 23/32
Twickenham Jn ? 23/31
Feltham Jn 06/30 23/29
Feltham 06/32 23/28
Staines 06.42a ~ 06.44d 23.20a ~ 23.22d
Virginia Water 06/50 23/13
Ascot 06.59a ~ 07.01d 23.03a ~ 23.05d
Bracknell 07.08a ~ 07.10d 22.55a ~ 22.57d
Wokingham 07.17a ~ 07.19d 22.46a ~ 22.48d
Earley 07/26 22/41
Reading Spur Jn 07/29 22/37
Reading New Jn 07/38 22/34
Reading 07.40a ~ 07.43d 22.29a ~ 22.32d
Southcote Jn 07/47 22/26
Newbury 08.02a ~ 08.04d 22.00a ~ 22.02d
Hungerford 08.14a ~ 08.16d 21.49a ~ 21.51d
Bedwyn 08/22 21/45
Woodborough 08/33 21/34
Lavington 08/41 21/26
Heywood Road Jn 08/46 21/21
Westbury 08.49a ~ 08.53d 21.14a ~ 21.18d
Fairwood Jn 08/58 21/11
Clink Road Jn 09/01 21/09
Blatchbridge Jn 09/03 21/07
East Somerset Jn 09/06 21/03
Castle Cary 09/16 20/56
Cogload Jn 09/33 20/39
Taunton 09/37 20/35
Tiverton Parkway 09/50 20/23
Cowley Bridge Jn 10/02 20/09
Exeter St Davids 10.05a ~ 10.07d 20.04a ~ 20.06d
Dawlish Warren 10/17 19/47
Newton Abbot 10/26 19/37
Totnes 10/36 19/21
Ivybridge 10/52 19/08
Hemerdon 10/56 19/04
Lipson Jn 11/03 18/57
Plymouth 11/05 18.52 ~ 18.54
St Budeaux East Jn 11/14 18/47
Saltash 11/17 18/43
St Germans 11/23 18/27
Liskeard 11/32 18/18
St Pinnock Viaduct East 11/37 18/13
Largin 11/38 18/12
Lostwithiel 11/46 18/03
Par 11.53a ~ 11.58d 17.47a ~ 17.57d
St. Austell 12/07 17/41
Burngullow Jn 12/11 17/39
Probus 12/18 17/31
Truro 12/24 17/22
Penwithers Jn 12/25 17/20
Baldhu 12/28 17/14
Camborne 12/39 17/04
St Erth 12/47 16/53
Long Rock 12/51 16/47
Penzance 12.56a 16.44d

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