17th February 2007

Pathfinder Tours
The Bard & Birch

Locos Used 37411 'Caerphiily Castle/Castell Caerffli' & 37425 'Pride of the Valleys/Balchder y Cymoedd'
Stock Used 5376+5366+5292+5276+5322+1863+21272+3119+3097+3066+6310

Route:
1Z37 : Bristol Temple Meads to Stratford-upon-Avon
1Z38 : Stratford-upon-Avon to Quainton Road
1Z39 : Quainton Road to Bristol Temple Meads

Loco(s) Route
37425 + 37411 Bristol Temple Meads - Filton Abbey Wood - Bristol Parkway - Westerleigh Jn - Gloucester Yard Jn - Barnwood Jn - Cheltenham Spa - Abbotswood Jn - Stoke Works Jn - Barnt Green - Kings Norton - Selly Oak - Birmingham New Street - Landor Street Jn - Water Orton - Whitacre Jn - Kingsbury Jn - Kingsbury Branch Jn - Kingsbury Branch Siding No.1 -Birch Coppice Exchange Sidings ('New' track to the East of 'Siding 4')
37425 (1) Birch Coppice Exchange Sidings - Kingsbury Branch Siding No.1 - Kingsbbury Branch Jn - Water Orton - Landor Street Jn - St Andrews Jn - Bordesley - Tyseley - Henley-in-Arden - Bearley Jn - Stratford-upon-Avon
37411 (2) Stratford-upon-Avon - Bearley Jn - Hatton West Jn - Hatton (3) - Leamington Spa - Banbury - Aynho Jn - Wolvercot Jn - Oxford North Jn
37425 (1) Oxford North Jn - Bicester Town - Claydon L.N.E. Jn
37411 (2) Claydon L.N.E. Jn - Quainton Road (4) - Aylesbury Jn - Little Kimble - Princes Risborough
37425 (1) Princes Risborough - Bicester North - Aynho Jn - Banbury
37411 + 37425 Banbury - Leamington Spa - Hatton North Jn - Dorridge - Tyseley - Bordesley Jn - St Andrews Jn - Birmingham New Street - (reverse of outward route) - Bristol Temple Meads

Notes :
(1) 37411 on rear.
(2) 37425 on rear.
(3) Delay caused by length of train - 'with the rear of train still being in the previous section, the route from Platform 3 onto the Main Line could not be set'.
(4) For visit to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre at
Quainton Road. Class 04, D2298, did five return trips along the 0.325 mile 'Up Yard' running line during the stay.

Sources : Alan Shepard, Rob Fraser & Robert Frise

Photo Review


37425 on the rear of the train at Stratford-upon-Avon (photo: Nick Bartlett)


37411 at Quainton Road (photo: Robert Frise)


Tour Review
(by Dan Augood)

A short one - to get the salient points across from a tour that is worthy of a permanent record. I wasn't planning a review, or even that enthusiastic about taking this tour, especially when I heard about the EWS tractor substitutage at the start of the week.

On this occasion, there were several factors to compound my initial lack of enthusiasm. Firstly, a week of early starts in the office meant I was deeply overdrawn at the sleep bank come Friday night. Secondly, I'll freely admit to not being much of a fan of these 'track' trips. I'm much more of the 'take an interesting piece of motive power, point it in the general direction of somewhere a few hundred miles away and just nail it' genre. Thirdly, it involves going through sodding Birmingham, again. I've nothing against the place, but you can have too much of a good thing, and every time I take a tour, I end up in Brum. In the fifteen years from 1988 to 2003, I spent more time (two nights) in Alice Springs than I did in Brum,  now I'm thinking of buying a little pied-a-terre there just to get me through my railtour commitments! Many years ago, this hobby was an excuse to see the country, now it just seems like an excuse to see Birmingham. Fourthly, seats in coach F.

So, you're probably feel like asking 'Why did you bloody well agree to go then?' , and I can assure you, so was I, especially as I blasted by the (closed) M25 exit from the M3 at five to five in the morning. Sodding marvellous. Thank you very much Highways Agency, that's information I could really have used when I was joining the motorway at Sunbury, not a couple of hundred yards from the junction. On to Lightwater (where I can assure you, the temptation to turn the bloody thing right round, and go straight back to bed almost consumed me), a hasty, panicky phone call to my lift near Hemel Hempstead, a revised rendezvous near Beaconsfield, and we made it to Cheltenham without further incident. Only to encounter the second disaster of the day - no bacon rolls in the buffet.

By this time, the motive power gen was out, and after days of speculation about the whereabouts of 405, 406, 422 et al, it turned out EWS threw us a real curve ball, and dropped reinstated-for-the-day 411, and 425. A neutral result for me, as I'd been holding out for 422, as it's required - but then so is 425. When it comes to 37/4s, if I didn't have them in Scotland in the mid eighties, I didn't have them. It has to be said that neutral or not, they looked like a million dollars as they trundled into Chelters more or less on time.

Which more or less brings me to the point. In the ensuing fourteen hours or so, we did most of the usual Railtour stuff. We shunted up a couple freight lines, I ate a dodgy 'home made' pie in a pub in Stratford, had a few pints, enjoyed a moderately farcical moment at Hatton As the train turned out to be too long to clear the section off the Stratford line, went to a bunch of places, and came back again. What set this apart, was the sheer joie de vivre with which the EWS drivers and crew seemed to relish the challenge of re-kindling jaded enthusiasm. They turned in a truly hellfire performance. To borrow from another idiom, all concerned gave it one hundred and ten percent for the full ninety minutes. The tractors were mercilessly flogged to within an inch of their lives, doing some serious damage to the ozone layer over the home counties. Never mind going to eleven, there were moments when these went all the way to twelve. Although at its most noisy when they were top and tailing, the uproarious departures from New Street Barnt Green on the return were a real highlight - a lot like being shot out of the barrel of a gun.

I'm not going to go over all of the highlights, and ultimately, where we went was less important than the manner in which we went there. Let there be no doubt, this was a no holds barred (or 'No holds bard' - as it were!), crash-bang-wallop, thrash-fest. Probably the best I've had since that barn-storming run up the WCML to Edinburgh with 45112 a couple of years ago. As for the rest, I can't offer timings, I wasn't really paying attention. We may have been early, we may have been late - sometimes we were up, sometimes we were down. Who cares!!

Many thanks to all involved for a cracking day out - to paraphrase the great Sid Waddel - 'Only one word to describe that: Magic Thrash'

Dan Augood

Timings (Booked & Actual)
(from Alan Sheppard & Alan Vickers)

M.C
Location Booked Actual   Booked Actual M.C
0.00 Bristol Temple Meads 06.26d ?   22.33a ? 133.66
? Bristol East Jn 06/28 ?   22/31 ? ?
? Dr Days Jn 06/30 ?   22/30 ? ?
? Stapleton Road 06/32 ?   22/24 ? ?
? Filton Abbey Wood 06/36 ?   22/19 ? ?
5.62 Bristol Parkway 06.40a ~ 06.43d 06.42 ~ 06.43   22.13a ~ 22.16d 22.03 ~ ??.?? 128.04
? Westerleigh Jn 06/50 06/50   22/07 21/57 ?
? Yate 06/53 06/53   22/01 21/54 ?
? Charfield 07/01 ?   21/54 ? ?
? Standish Jn 07/15 07/22   21/42 21/34 ?
? Gloucester Yard Jn 07/20 07/13   21/36 21/24 ?
? Barnwood Jn 07/22 07/14   21/35 ? ?
44.30 Cheltenham Spa 07.30a ~ 07.33d 07.23 ~ 07.33   21.26a ~ 21.29d 21.06 ~ 21.10 89.36
? Ashchurch 07/42 07/40   21/11 20/57 ?
? Abbotswood Jn 07/52 07/48   20/59 20/46 ?
? Stoke Works Jn 08/02 07/56   20/47 20/37 ?
? Bromsgrove 08/04 07/58   20/42 20/36 ?
79.21 Barnt Green 08.11a ~ 08.14d 08.12 ~ 08.15   20.34a ~ 20.37d 20.29 ~ 20.33 54.45
? Longbridge 08/18 08/19   20/30 ? ?
? Kings Norton 08/24 08/22   20/25 20/22 ?
? Selly Oak 08/27 08/28   20/15 ? ?
89.74 Birmingham New Street 08.38a ~ 08.42d 08.39 ~ 08.42 [P10]   20.03a ~ 20.08d 20.07 ~ 20.12 [P9] 43.72
? Proof House Jn 08/44 08/44   20/00 20/02 ?

 

M.C
Location Booked Actual
?
Landor Street Jn 08/45 08/46
?
Castle Bromwich Jn 08/54 08/53
97.04
Water Orton West Jn 08*57 ~ 09*15 08.57 ~ 09.16
?
Water Orton 09/17 09/18 [P1]
?
Whitacre Jn 09/24 09/20
?
Kingsbury Jn 09/29 09.25 ~ 09.30
?
Kingsbury Branch Jn 09/32 09/35
103.61
Kingsbury BSF 09*35 ~ 09*38 09.36 ~ 09.37

106.18
0.00

Birch Coppice
Exchange Sidings
09.53 ~ 10.11 09.59 ~ 10.19
2.37
Kingsbury BSF 10*26 ~ 10*29 10/36
?
Kingsbury Branch Jn 10/33 10/37
?
Kingsbury Jn 10/35 10/39
?
Water Orton 10/40 10/44 [P1]
?
Landor Street Jn 10/48 10.51 ~ 10.51
?
St Andrews Jn 10/51 10.54 ~ 11.00
?
Bordesley Jn 10/53 11/02
15.51
Small Heath South Jn 10*58 ~ 11*08 11/06
?
Tyseley 11/10 11c08 ~ 11c09 [P3]
?
Shirley 11/20 11.17 ~ 11.31
?
Henley-in-Arden 11/34 11.43
?
Bearley Jn 11/44 11/48
38.15
0.00
Stratford-upon-Avon 11.52a ~ 13.00d [P1] 11.53 ~ 13.00 [P2]
?
Bearley Jn 13/09 13/08
?
Hatton West Jn 13/22 13/17
?
Hatton (3) 13/24 13.19 ~ 13.51 [P3]
?
Leamington Spa 13/40 13/59 [UM]
?
Fenny Compton 13/51 14/12
35.17
Banbury 14c00 ~ 14c02 14.21 ~ 14.22
?
Aynho Jn 14/08 14/29
?
Heyford 14/18 14/34
?
Wolvecot Jn 14/26 14/42

57.33
0.00

Oxford North Jn (DGL) 14.29 ~ 14.44 14.46 ~ 14.50
11.23
Bicester London Road LC 15*10 ~ 15*13 15.13 ~ 15.20
17.77
0.00
Claydon L.N.E. Jn 15.28 ~ 16.18 15.42 ~ 15.45
5.19
Quainton Road 16.30a ~ 17.00d 15.58 ~ 17.00
?
Aylesbury (North) ? 17.15 ~ 17.20 [P2]
11.54
Aylesbury 17*18 ~ 17*22 17/22
?
Little Kimble 17/32 17/35
18.61
0.00
Princes Risborough 17.39 ~ 17.45 17.41 [P2] 17.43
?
Bicester North 18/10 18/08
?
Aynho Jn 18/24 18/23

32.52
0.00

Banbury 18.29a ~ 18.56d 18.33 ~ 19.06 [P1]
?
Fenny Compton 19/07 19/16
?
Leamington Spa 19/17 19/28 [DM]
?
Hatton 19/26 19/40
?
Dorridge 19/35 19/47
?
Tyseley 19/49 19/54 [P2]
?
Small Heath South Jn 19/50 19/54
?
Bordesley Jn 19/54 19/57
?
St Andrews Jn 19/55 19/59

Timings continue in first table.

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