30th September 2006
Eden & Penzance Explorer
1Z21 : Clapham Junction to Penzance
1Z22 : Penzance to Clapham Junction
||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
||Penzance - (reverse of outward route) - Clapham
Source : James Martin
(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
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
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!
Timings (Booked Only)
(from James Martin)
||06.22a ~ 06.24d
||23.36a ~ 23.38d
||06.42a ~ 06.44d
||23.20a ~ 23.22d
||06.59a ~ 07.01d
||23.03a ~ 23.05d
||07.08a ~ 07.10d
||22.55a ~ 22.57d
||07.17a ~ 07.19d
||22.46a ~ 22.48d
|Reading Spur Jn
|Reading New Jn
||07.40a ~ 07.43d
||22.29a ~ 22.32d
||08.02a ~ 08.04d
||22.00a ~ 22.02d
||08.14a ~ 08.16d
||21.49a ~ 21.51d
|Heywood Road Jn
||08.49a ~ 08.53d
||21.14a ~ 21.18d
|Clink Road Jn
|East Somerset Jn
|Cowley Bridge Jn
|Exeter St Davids
||10.05a ~ 10.07d
||20.04a ~ 20.06d
||18.52 ~ 18.54
|St Budeaux East Jn
|St Pinnock Viaduct East
||11.53a ~ 11.58d
||17.47a ~ 17.57d
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