20th January 2007

Hertfordshire Rail Tours
The Lancashire Witch Merrymaker

Locos Used 31128, 31454 & 33103

Route:
1Z31 : Birmingham New Street to Preston
1Z62 : Preston to Birmingham New Street

Locos Route
31128 + 31454 Birmingham New Street - Proof House Jn - Landor Street Jn - Water Orton - Kingsbury Jn - Tamworth HL - Wichnor Jn - Burton-on-Trent - Stenson Jn - Derby - Ambergate Jn - Clay Cross South Jn - Chesterfield - Dore Station Jn - Sheffield - Nunnery Main Line Jn - Wincobank Jn - Holmes Jn - Aldwarke Jn - Swinton - Moorthorpe - South Kirkby Jn - Hare Park Jn - Calder Bridge Jn - Wakefield Kirkgate - Horbury Jn - Heaton Lodge Jn - Bradlwy Wood Jn - Greetland Jn - Hebden Bridge - Hall Royd Jn - Copy Pit - Blackburn - Lostock Hall Jn - Farington Curve Jn - Preston
31128 + 31454 Preston - Euxton Jn - Chorley - Lostock Jn - Bolton - Salford Crescent - Deal Street Jn - Manchester Victoria - Miles Platting - Philips Park West Jn - Ashton Moss North Jn - Stalybridge - Greenfield - Huddersfield - Heaton Lodge East Jn - Mirfield East Jn - Horbury Jn - (reverse of outward route) - Derby
33103 + 31454 Derby - (reverse of outward route) - Birmingham New Street

Sources : Nick Ross (on the train throughout) & Matthew Cole

Tour Review
(from Nick Ross)

Out of bed at Hotel Selly Oak and onto some 323 to New St. The morning was grey and damp with just a few “ronnie” drags providing interest, Cranks hovered on all platforms as out merrymaker was worryingly not on any screen displays. As the 0832 departure time came and went the worry set in but gen from Jed calmed the flappers with the ECS’s late running and expected platform advised.

It was a great relief when the quoted 31128/31454 arrived 30 down on a Mk IIe rake. A sizeable mainly crank consist piled aboard all in good spirits. The Fragonset black and Inter City mainline liveried pair looked good from our 4th coach viewpoint as they weaved through Proof House and Landor Street. On passing heavily stripped 08’s and 20’s at Kingsbury our power opened up with some quality fast running and the half hour lateness was steadily pulled back.

A blue 03 was a surprise to us near Virgins “Muddy waters” Voyager depot whilst the acceleration and noise on climbing away from our Burton stop was pretty good. On leaving Derby just 5 down the train appeared virtually full with good views of the swollen Derwent river before being looped at Ambergate.

After some voyager I sampled the unfamiliar MK II Irish rail style counter from the “gourmet goyle buffet”. As we passed Chesterfield many commentated on our more pedestrian pace but we continued to hold time on slack schedules.  The charity raffle was announced as we climbed towards Dore with the inevitable wags suggesting "a Fragonset engine should be the prize", a bit harsh. Some doss and a burst of sun as we passed the massed graffittied lines of “for sale” at Healey Mills. EH 47’s were the main types visible including recent cross country star 47750 looking a state. 56’s and 37’s were more tucked away.

From Sowerby Bridge we climbed higher into more wild hill country. A 25 mph restriction made the climb to Copy Pit very enjoyable with impressive scenery all around. Floodwaters poured down a waterfall near “Frostholme”. On passing Holme tunnel a burst of unwelded track saw us clatter through Burnley “Manchester Road” and Rose Grove. It seemed hard to believe that not long ago the tiny shack of Rose Grove was a starting point for Paignton Holiday trains that featured goyles on the New St-Paignton leg. More good views of the power on a spectacular tight curve at Accrington and then an on time run at Preston.

A sizeable crowd photted the power before they departed light engine to the South. Venturing out of Preston station during the 2 hour fester was a bit of a farce as half the shopping centre was cordoned off due wind damage from the storms 2 days earlier. On finding a chippie we returned to the station to as Virgin services to the North collapsed due to a “power failure” and the inevitable road coaches were summoned.

The goyles returned having been turned on the Lostock triangle to allow 31454 to provide the therms. New “loud” 185’s various 150’s and much plastic passed by, then a bit of classic quality with a DRS convoy of 47802 dragging some 66, 37510 and 37038 North. These were photted from every angle by the assembled masses.  A right time 1515 departure with the light eventually fading as we climbed through Diggle at a steady pace. Once over the top we stormed, passing Huddersfield at a good pace. Our now 20 early running was cut by a lengthy pathing stop in the Swinton area before arriving back in Sheffield.

In total darkness now the tour mood dropped a little as expected on a long, slow return run. Despite a booked pathing stop in Ambergate’s up loop our “plus 20” M.Keynes connection still looked safe. A prolonged stop at Derby saw us 25 late but on the plus side we had “Crompton” 103 in exchange for 31128. After a green signal check near Peartree our unusual 33/31 pair got us on the move with pulses of that distinctive “Hankton” thrash being heard at times.

Most of the train were well pleased with the bonus engine, a good few of the Burton bailer’s leapt straight onto a Voyager back to Derby and it presumably not the Voyager mileage they had made the bail for!

Checks outside New St saw our Pendo connection pass us near the tunnels meaning an unwanted hour’s fester. Phots of the rare pair, a swift beer then reality in joining the incredibly rancid 3900027 with 57306 dragging. A very light load meant we were gripped before New St tunnel! After lights out for “firing up” the computer at Nuneaton we departed at great speed only to totter via Northampton and through Roade.

At a chilly M.Keynes the N’bound Wolves and Northampton services were delayed by a points failure with delays of over an hour around midnight not good. I joined some mouldy coach to arrive back in Leighton around 0040 with that shredding Crompton and warbling goyle thrash already a memory.

Nick Ross

Timings (Booked & Actual)
(from 'PB')

M.C Location Booked Actual   Booked Actual M.C
0.00 Birmingham New Street 08.32d 09.01   20.20a 20.58˝ 344.67
0.68 Proof House Jn 08/35 09/04˝   20/17 ? 343.79
1.45 Landor Street Jn 08/37 09/06   20/16 ? 343.22
7.51 Water Orton 08/44 09/12   20/10 ? 337.16
11.46 Kingsbury Jn 08/49 09/16   20/07 ? 332.08
17.27 Tamworth HL 08/54 09/20   20/00 20/29˝ 327.40
24.55 Wichnor Jn 09/03 09/27   19/54 ? 320.12
30.18 Burton-on-Trent 09.06a ~ 09.09d 09.32˝ ~ 09.34˝   19.44a ~ 19.47d 20.14 ~ 20.15˝ 314.49
35.71 North Stafford Jn 09/20 ?   19/39 ? 308.76
36.35 Stenson Jn 09/21 09/42   19/38 ? 308.32
41.19 Derby 09.32a ~ 09.46d 09.52 ~ 09.55   19.28a ~ 19.31d 19.28˝ ~ 19.54˝ 303.48
51.12 Ambergate Jn 09/57 10/17˝   19/09 ? 293.55
61.20 Clay Cross South Jn 10/06 10/28   19/01 ? 283.47
65.30 Chesterfield 10.10a ~ 10.13d 10.32˝ ~ 10.33˝   18.52a ~ 18.55d 18.52 ~ 18.53 279.37
73.60 Dore Station Jn 10/25 10/45˝   18/42 18/43 271.07
77.50 Sheffield 10.30a ~ 10.33d 10.52˝ ~ 10.54   18.24a ~ 18.35d 18.26 ~ 18.35 267.17
78.07 Nunnery Main Line Jn 10/35 ?   18/22 ? 266.60
80.62 Wincobank Jn 10/37 ?   18/18 ? 264.05
82.53 Holmes Jn 10/39 ?   18/15 ? 262.14
83.68 Aldwarke Jn 10/42 ?   18/11 ? 259.12
87.66 Swinton 10/44 11/06˝   18/07 18/08 257.01
95.57 Moorthorpe 11/02 11/13   17/49 17/40 249.10
96.34 South Kirkby Jn 11/04 11/14   17/38 17/39 248.33
- Hemsworth Loop - -   17*21 ~ 17*33 17.27˝ ~ 17.33˝ 242.34
102.33 Hare Park Jn 11/13 11/22˝   17/15 17/18˝ 238.55
103.62 Crofton West Jn 11/18 ?   17/12 ? 237.26
104.74 Calder Bridge Jn 11/20 ?   17/10 ? 236.14
105.40 Wakefield Kirkgate 11/24 11/30˝   17/08 17/09 235.58
107.64 Horbury Jn 11/28 11/34   17/00 ? 233.34

 

M.C Location Booked Actual
115.45 Mirfield East Jn 11/39 ?
116.49 Heaton Lodge Jn 11/47 ?
118.39 Bradley Wood Jn 11/50 11/51˝
123.21 Greetland Jn 11/56 11/56˝
124.76 Milner Royd Jn 11/59 ?
130.42 Hebden Bridge 12/06 12/04˝
134.37 Hall Royd Jn 12/10 12/10˝
138.69 Copy Pit 12/19 ?
144.08 Gannow Jn 12/27 ?
149.23 Accrington 12/35 12/39
154.02 Daisyfield Jn 12/42 ?
154.49 Blackburn 12/46 12.47˝ ~ 12.49
163.71 Lostock Hall Jn 13/04 13/05
165.11 Farington Curve Jn 13/10 13/08
166.16 Ribble Jn 13/12 13/12
166.60 Preston 13.14a ~ 15.15d 13.13˝ ~ 15.15
172.16 Euxton Jn 15/22 15/23
175.30 Chorley 15/26 15/27
184.07 Lostock Jn 15/37 15/37˝
186.76 Bolton 15/41 15/42
193.67 Salford Crescent 15/58 15/53˝
194.49 Ordsall Lane Jn 16/00 15/54˝
195.13 Deal Street Jn 16/06 15/59
195.51 Manchester Victoria 16/09 16/00˝
197.01 Miles Platting 16/12 ?
197.07 Philips Park West Jn 16/13 ?
198.10 Baguley Fold Jn 16/14 ?
201.12 Ashton Moss North Jn 16/17 16/15˝
203.23 Stalybridge 16/21 16/21
208.17 Greenfield 16/27 16/28
210.30 Diggle Jn 16/29 ?
214.35 Marsden 16/33 16/36
221.31 Huddersfield 16/40 16/43
225.45 Heaton Lodge East Jn 16/46 16/47˝
227.14 Mirfield East Jn 16/48 16/53˝
227.71 Thornhill LNW Jn 16/49 ?

Timings continue in first table.

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