19th April 1997
The Welsh Wizard
|Locos Used||37230, 37254, 56044 & 56118|
Route : 1Z63 throughout
|56118||Crewe - Stafford - Wolverhampton - Portobello Jn - Bescot - Perry Barr North Jn - Soho South Jn - Birmingham New St. - Camp Hill - Bromsgrove - Cheltenham Spa - Bristol Parkway - Severn Tunnel - Newport|
|37254 (1)||Newport - East Usk (Alpha Steel)|
|37230 (2)||East Usk (Alpha Steel) - Newport - Alexandra Dock Jn - Newport Docks (Railtrack limit)|
|37254 (1)||Newport Docks branch - Alexandra Dock Jn - Courtybella Siding|
|37230 (2)||Courtybella Siding - Alexandra Dock Jn|
|56044 (3)||Alexandra Dock Jn - Cardiff Central - Cadoxton - Barry No. 2 Dock|
|56118 (4)||Barry No. 2 Dock - Cadoxton - Cardiff Central - Cardiff Queen St. - Ystrad Mynach South - Cwmbargoed|
|56044 (3)||Cwmbargoed - Ystrad Mynach South - Cardiff Queen St - Cardiff Central|
|56118 (4)||Cardiff Central - Newport|
|56118||Newport - Severn Tunnel - Bristol Parkway - Cheltenham Spa - Bromsgrove - Selly Oak - Birmingham New St. - Aston - Bescot - Portobello Jn - Wolverhampton - Stafford - Crewe|
(1) 37230 on rear.
(2) 37254 on rear.
(3) 56118 on rear.
(4) 56044 on rear.
Advertised as including the Newport Docks line amongst the branches to be visited, the train only ran to the Railtrack limit, about half a mile beyond Alexandra Dock Jn, reportedly because the branch was too busy with freight traffic to accommodate a railtour).
Sources : Richard Hughes & Alan Sheppard (both on the train throughout)
(by Ian Jessop)
Ah yes, the splendour of the M62...at night! The theme music from The Hair Bear Bunch and Top Cat on the stereo, followed by 45 minutes of football in the car park at Knutsford services on the M6 (at 5:30 in the morning, no less) all add up to a great start to the day! (?) Then we arrived at Crewe station to find our train minus genny van. It was nearly enough to make us get back into the GTI, and scratch Knutsford northbound in for a kick-about... Just then, an orange and black grid rumbled in. 56118, no stranger to Yorkshire. We were swayed. A trip was made to the buffet for the morning teas, and we took our seats.
Stafford, Wolves, New Street, all boring and nothing to report. Oh, except that 37424 was parked in one of the bays at Stafford...now, what was that doing there? Somewhere around Cheltenham a steward came through the train handing out bits of paper. A boat was in Newport docks which necessitated the use of the two gronks that were supposed to be used on our train, this also meant that the branch was scuppered. Cheers. When we arrived at Newport, after more uneventfulness, the grid was taken off the train and two tractors moved off the stabling point one behind the other (not coupled) looking like synchronised swimmers. 37254 coupled onto what was now the front of the train, while 37230 was attached to what had been the front (er...yeah, that's right, I think) We then trundled along the East Usk branch and back to the station. After half-an-hour or so, we trundled off to the docks branch. At Alexandra Dock Jn Yard we trundled right past some VGA vans marked with 'explosives' stickers...boat in...explosives? No gronks? Hmmm... At what was, more or less, the end of the yard we turned back. As we came back past the vans there was a pair of gronks right behind us, on the same line! Is this the Welsh idea of a joke? We felt as though our noses had been well and truly rubbed in it! The train carried on through the yard to Courtybella Siding (?) and then reversed back to the yard. We were now running an hour early, purely because of the omission of the docks branch. We were sat in the yard, and so were the gronks. Peter Watts tried to save the day and get the gronks onto the train for a quick up and down the yard, but the driver was having none of it. He'd already done a full shift and was off home. To be quite honest, I'd have done the same. I'm never in any mood to stay on when I've done 8 hours at my work. So, whichever 37 was at that end of the train drew us forward into the part of the yard that runs alongside the main line. They were then taken off and 56118 arrived, and she brought along a friend...
For as long as I can remember, any railtours going within 500 miles of Cardiff and booked for a 56 were rumoured as getting 044... Many, many times those rumours proved to be unfounded. However, it appears that 044 is an old friend of 118. Quite where they first met, I've no idea. But, 'friends 'till the end' and all that...118 talked 044 into coming out of hibernation passenger-wise. So, enough of this garbled nonsense, these 2 grids coupled onto opposite ends of the train, and off we went (a touch faster than we had done during the previous 3-odd hours!)
Our next highlight was the centre road at Cardiff Central (well, it's the first time that I've had it...I think...) Ok, actually the next highlight was Barry docks. Now, I'm going to promise here that I will not crack any of the stale, old jokes such as who 'Barry' is etc, etc. Barry docks was indeed a highlight. After winding down the branch, we came to a stand. A somewhat bemused steward then entered the coach. He shouted above the din that we "could get off the train! Everything went quiet...people were, naturally confused, had he gone mad? He then reiterated, and added "we are not on Railtrack property so mmmnph, aargh, mumble, gmmmfff..." He never got to finish his sentence, there was a telepathic chorus of "right lads, grab yer cameras and let's GO!" Honestly, you've never seen so many people instinctively do something at once... Also, as if the pandemonium on the train wasn't enough; we were alongside a road, and there was someone tootling along, most likely wondering what on earth a passenger train was doing there, when, suddenly, all the doors flew open and a load of people bailed out, all around them! It was funny, but it also served a huge need, that was to get a photo of 044 actually on a railtour, definitely one for the album, oh...and for my gallery page of course! (As long as you can wait about 6 months for me to get the film developed?) After hauling ourselves back on board, the train then went back through Cardiff, up to Ystrad Mynach (left turn) and along to Cwmbargoed. Here the same thing happened. Everybody bailed out. Now, this is how railtours are supposed to be. It was truly excellent. The embankments at Cwmbargoed were a touch dodgy, but of course, that was no problem for a sure-footed country boy like me! Going back along the branch we were mortified by the number of burnt out cars that we saw. I was obviously wrong in thinking that Newcastle is the car-crime capital of the country...!?
It was all downhill from here. There was a reversal at Cardiff Central, then 044 was dragged all the way to Newport, only to be uncoupled and taken back to Canton. After leaving Newport, 118 ran as if possessed by the devil (the driver?) and we ran early all the way to...Birmingham New Street. After sitting here for what felt like an age, and would certainly have been long enough to get to McDoo-dahs and back, we actually left, still early! Is this a record? But, it was not to last. There was a bit of sloppy running in the Midlands, and somewhat prolonged station stops at Wolverhampton and, especially, Stafford, together with being stopped outside Crewe station, we were nowhere near the 45-or-so minutes early that we'd been at Cheltenham when we arrived at Crewe.
So, that was it then. Back into the car, and to home. No
football this time, just straight there.
No frills. No stops. No racing (well...)
"The Welsh Wizard" was certainly a good tour. So where were you?
If I had to give a score, it'd be 8/10. But I don't, so obviously I won't...
Timings (Booked & Actual)
(from Alan Sheppard & Alan Vickers)
|1.64||Basford Hall Jn||07/08||?||22/54||?||171.05|
|24.37||Stafford||07.29a ~ 07.31d||07.25 ~ 07.31||22.32a ~ 22.34d||22.18 ~ 22.25||148.32|
|39.25||Wolverhampton North Jn||07/50||?||22/16||22/03||133.44|
|39.68||Wolverhampton||07.52a ~ 07.57d||07.50 ~ 07.56||22.12a ~ 22.14d||21.58 ~ 22.02||133.01|
|50.26||Perry Barr North Jn||08/14||08/13||21/54||?||122.43|
|50.65||Perry Barr West Jn||08/15||08/14|
|52.64||Soho East Jn||08/19||08/19|
|53.17||Soho South Jn||08/20||08/20|
|-||Proof House Jn||21/45||?||118.21|
|55.18||Birmingham New Street||08.25a ~ 08.31d||08.27 ~ 08.31||21.40a ~ 21.43d||21.08 ~ 21.29||117.45|
|55.72||Proof House Jn||08/34||?|
|56.69||St. Andrews Jn||08/37||08/40|
|73.14||Stoke Works Jn||08/58||09/03||21/04||?||101.16|
|102.29||Cheltenham Spa||09.24a ~ 09.28d||09.23 ~ 09.28||20.36a ~ 20.39d||20.22 ~ 20.25||72.01|
|107.72||Barnwood Jn||09/35||09/33||20*20 ~ 20*26||20/17||66.38|
|108.59||Gloucester Yard Jn||09/36||09/34||20/19||20/16||65.51|
|141.77||Bristol Parkway||10.08a ~ 10.10d||10.03 ~ 10.11||19.45a ~ 19.47d||19.46 ~ 19.47||33.33|
|153.59||Severn Tunnel Junction||10/21||10/22||19/32||?||21.61|
|Newport||10L32a ~ 11L00d||10L33 ~ 11L13||19L05a ~ 19L21d||19L04 ~ 19L24||11.60|
|1.48||East Usk Jn||11/10||11.18 ~ 11.20|
|East Usk Branch (Alpha Steel)||11.25 ~ 11.35||11.34 ~ 11.42|
|2.23||East Usk Jn||11/50||11.54 ~ 11.56|
|3.71||Newport [P1]||12p00a ~ 12p35d||12p08 ~ 12p35|
|5.01||Alexandra Dock Jn T.C.||12/43||12.43 ~ 12.44|
|Newport Docks Branch
(Railtrack Limit 160m 27ch)
|13.02 ~ 13.12||12.52 ~ 12.55|
|0.47||Alexandra Dock Jn T.C.||13/30||13/05|
|Courtybella Siding||13.40 ~ 13.50||13.10 ~ 13.18|
|Alexandra Dock Jn T.C.||14L00 ~ 14L28||13L22 ~ 14L20|
|10.50||Cardiff Central (Down Main)||14/45||14.32 ~ 14.40|
|16.76||Cadoxton||15.02 OP 15.04||14.55 ~ 14.57|
|Barry No.2 Dock (RR Loop)||15.24 ~ 15.40||15p21 ~ 15p37|
|2.15||Cadoxton||16.00 OP 16.02||15.57 ~ 16.00|
|8.41||Cardiff Central [P6]||16/24||16/17|
|9.17||Cardiff Queen Street [P1]||16/28||16/19|
|21.45||Ystrad Mynach South||16.48 OP 16.50||16.39 ~ 16.41|
|Cwm Bargoed||17.30 ~ 17.40||17p13 ~ 17p40|
|9.74||Ystrad Mynach South||18.15 OP 18.17||18.13 ~ 18.14|
|20.03||Heath Jn||18/35||18.35 ~ 18.37|
|22.22||Cardiff Queen Street||18/39||18/39|
|Cardiff Central [P7]||18.41a ~ 18.46d||18.42 ~ 18.46|
Timings continue in first table.
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