13th December 1997
Class 31 Farewell Scotsman
|Locos Used||31434 & 31466|
Route : 1Z62 throughout
|31434 + 31466||Crewe - Winwick Jn - Newton le Willows - Golborne Jn - Wigan North Western - WCML - Carstairs avoiding line - Haymarket - Edinburgh Waverley|
|31434 + 31466||Edinburgh Waverley - Kirkcaldy - Thornton South Jn - Dunfermline - Edinburgh Waverley|
|31434 + 31466||Edinburgh Waverley - (reverse of outward route) - Crewe|
Excursion to Edinburgh, with a Fife Circle add-on for cranks
SSources : David Bellamy (on the tour throughout) &
Richard Hughes (Boarded at Wigan North Western, left at Crewe).
(by David Russell)
This tour, a joint train run by Railtours North West and A1A Charters, took a pair of Class 31s on a passenger train to Scotland for the last time. Originally scheduled to run on November 29th, the train had to be put back two weeks owing to engineering works. This unfortunately meant that it clashed with Pathfinder's spin and win tour, but this was not seen as a great problem, since many of the passengers on the A1A/RTNW train would be day trippers rather than enthusiasts. In the event, there were only a handful of seats spare on the Edinburgh trip.
The 31 tour was not the only tour to Edinburgh on the day. Railtourer ran a Class 91 and Mark 4s to Edinburgh from the Cross. There was supposed to be a Regency Rail dinex from Wolverhampton as well, using a pair of Class 37/4s, but this was apparently cancelled by Res on the Friday (i.e. one day before running) owing to crewing difficulties. With this farce and Pathfinder having to cancel their tour a week earlier because of unacceptable timings, the railtour market seems to have hit rock bottom again. And they say things are improving?
I drove to Preston to join the train at 0736 (which started at Crewe), and on my arrival found that it was 18 late, owing to a points failure at Crewe which had prevented the locos and stock leaving the Carriage Shed on time. The train arrived behind 31466+31434, the latter in real blue livery and looking very work-stained. With 12 carriages in tow (11 Riviera Trains coaches in Chocolate & Cream, plus an Eversholt vehicle 'Georgina') , I was looking forward to the assault of Shap and Beattock with these two locos.
We departed 25 down, continuing up the WCML and picking up at Lancaster and Oxenholme. Shap was climbed with no problems, and, due to being given 18 minutes recovery time, we actually arrived at Carlisle on time, although we were delayed here for 15 minutes while one of the coaches was watered. Heading north, we had an excellent run up Beattock, and gradually clawed back our time.
Arrival in Edinburgh was just three minutes down, and here the 31s ran round for a tour of the Fife Circle. Around half the passengers stayed on for the trip over the Forth Bridge and round the loop, and around 60 or so boarded for this section only. Although departure was around 15 late, a good run was had, and we arrived back at 1350, eight minutes down. As we were travelling round the loop, word got round that 31420 would be working the Glasgow-Poole forward from Preston, which withered quite a few people! After everyone had alighted, the 31s took the stock to Craigentinny, giving a three hour break in the Scottish capital.
Along with quite a few others, I decided to bash a few units between Waverley and Haymarket. Unfortunately, all I managed to score was four Class 150s. I suppose it's my own fault for having had so many of the rancid things before.
The train returned from Craigentinny in plenty of time for our departure from platform 21 at 1658, just two minutes late. After departure, I went down to the kitchen car, and sampled an excellent 'Yorkshire Hotpot' with a bread roll for just £1.80. That's what I call a value for money buffet. Although the train was timed much quicker on the return, the 31s had no trouble keeping time, and we stormed down Beattock and had to wait for time at Carlisle, where we had a crew change.
The rest of the run was equally as good, with the train having to wait for time at Oxenholme, Lancaster, and Preston, where I alighted for the drive home. The performance 31434/66 had been first-rate throughout the day, and showed that there is still plenty of life in the old girls. Thanks are due to Railtours North West for having the faith to put a pair on a 'normals' excursion - it was well worth it. Only one tour left now - A1A's 'Long Goodbye' on January 3rd to Cleethorpes. But then there are all the Virgin trains after this date...
Timings (Booked Only)
(From David Bellamy)
|Booked (out)||Booked (rtn)|
|Acton Grange Jn||06/33||21/31|
|Warrington Bank Quay||06.36a ~ 06.38d||21.24a ~ 21.26d|
|Newton-le-Willows||06.51a ~ 06.54d||21.12a ~ 21.14d|
|Wigan North Western||07.09a ~ 07.11d||20.56a ~ 20.58d|
|Preston||07.33a ~ 07.36d||20.31a ~ 20.35d|
|Lancaster||07.59a ~ 08.01d||20.05a ~ 20.07d|
|Carnforth North Jn||08/07||19/58|
|Oxenholme : Lake District||08.21a ~ 08.23d||19.44a ~ 19.46d|
|Carlisle||09.33a ~ 09.36d||18.47a ~ 18.50d|
|Carstairs South Jn||10/59||17/30|
|Carstairs East Jn||11/02||17/27|
|Haymarket West Jn||12/02|
|Thornton South Jn||
|Haymarket West Jn||13/35|
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