18th April 1998
Hertfordshire Rail Tours
The Roman Nose
|Locos Used||37098, 37377, 59205, 86243 & 86426|
|Stock Used||Set BN96 (13 mark 1's)|
Route : 1T54 throughout
|86243||London Euston - (via WCML, Weedon & Trent Valley) - Crewe|
|37377 + 37098 (1)||Crewe - Chester - Llandudno Jn|
|59205 (2)||Llandudno Jn - Trawsfynydd|
|37377 + 37098 (1)||Trawsfynydd - Llandudno Jn|
|59205 (2)||Llandudno Jn - Chester - Crewe|
|86426 (3)||Crewe - (via WCML, Trent Valley & Weedon) - London Euston|
(1) 59205 on rear.
(2) 37098 + 37377on rear.
(3) 86208 towed dead in consist.
Advertised as (very probably) the last passenger train to travel from Blenau Ffestiniog Trawsfyndd - but in the event Hertfordshire Railtours themselves organised another tour later on, the tickets for which also cost considerably less!
Source : Gary Thornton
(joined/left train at Milton Keynes Central)
(by Andy Hoskins)
Since I live in Falkirk, I decided to take few days off
work so I could spend some time in the London area. On Thursday 16/4/98, my
son and I caught the 05:46 ex Falkirk Grahamston to Edinburgh (150228) with
the idea of catching the 0700 Edinburgh - Kings Cross Stealth Bomber.
However, the train was formed by an HST
All went well until we were approaching Benton Junction to the north of Newcastle where we were brought to an abrupt stop. The guard (or Customer Services Manager as he now appears to be known) duly informed us that the train had activated a hot box detector (Iím sure everybody on board new what that meant!) and the train was being examined. The problem axle box was on the offside of the train and we watched with some amusement as the driver and guard counted the axles no less than 5 times before the offending box was found.
After 20 minutes we set off with an announcement that the axle box had been "temporarily" repaired. On arrival at Newcastle, control decided that the maintenance staff needed some amusement so they put us into Platform 4 which meant that the defective axle box was against the platform. On arrival, platform 3 was free which would have been the logical platform to give easy access but no, this would screw up the normal platform arrangements for the following 0711 Edinburgh-Bournemouth and the 0900 Newcastle - Kings Cross normally booked into that platform.
Ten minutes later, we were on our way. However, after the usual apology for late running and inconvenience, an announcement was made as we crossed the King Edward Bridge that further delay would be encountered in the Aycliffe area as all trains were at a standstill due to a fatality. On approaching the area, permission had just been granted to allow services through Aycliffe and we hopped from signal to signal eventually arriving at Darlington 45 minutes late.
No more adventures were encountered and as we didnít need the extra 15 minutes recovery time between Peterborough and Kings Cross, arrival was only 30 minutes late.
On Friday, we spent some time at Wandsworth Road to photograph some of the freight activity in that area. Never having visited this location, I was very impressed with the variety of freight and locomotives, the first catch being a triple-headed class 92 (92029 + 92010 + 92021) heading for Wembley at 1105 which I believe is a bit more unusual.
Act 1 - London Euston to Crewe
I must be getting old, some of my fellow roman conkers
were quite pleased with 86243 as the RES liveried locomotive to Crewe but I
wasnít as I had several runs on the WCML behind this locomotive prior to
sectorisation when everything was blue. I had been hoping for 87101 which I
still require for haulage (Iím probably the only one in the country
requiring this for haulage - sad isnít it). A reasonable departure time of
07:56 was given to this tour which was a train of respectable length formed
of 2 Mk.1s in carmine and cream and 11 Mk.1s in Southern Green, the
formation being :
We set off from Euston in fine style being overtaken on Camden bank by 313016 but we passed this when it was below us just prior to Primrose Hill Tunnel. Plenty of locomotive activity was to be seen in the Wembley area. At Harrow and Wealdstone, the slow lines were being replaced and 58015 + 37230 were noted here on engineers trains.
We continued to romp north with nothing more of note until we reached Rugby where a major relay was on north of the station. We overtook 31273 + 31154 at Hillmorton working a northbound engineers train on the Northampton line. Locomotives stabled in Rugby station or working in the station area were : 37293, 31465, 37703, 58049, 31110 and 08628. Our next stop at Nuneaton revealed 60004 on a train of National Power hoppers. On the approaches to Crewe, D120 and D7569 were stabled outside the shed giving the impression of a 1960s time warp. 87101 could be seen in Basford Hall yard so I hoped we might get it back to Euston (no luck!).
Act 2 - Crewe to Trawsfynydd
When I received the letter advising an NP.59 would be worked in tandem with an EWS 37, I expected both locomotives to work from the front to Llandudno Junction and then have the 59 run round to head the train up the branch to Trawsfynydd. However, once everybody had bailed out at Crewe to witness the locomotive change, 59205 came off the Manchester line, ran to the south end of the train and was coupled to the back end. Shortly afterwards, 37098 and 37377 appeared and coupled to the front.
As we were in the second coach, it was time to open the windows and experience some 37 thrash - we were not disappointed!!! We were booked non-stop to Llandudno Junction but a very tardy 37418 on the 1017 Crewe - Holyhead ensured we were stopped or slowed allowing yet more superb sound effects. My first "new track" was the centre road at Chester where we were brought to a brief stop before accelerating through the tunnels. DRS liveried 37611 was observed at Chester depot but nobody seemed to know why.
The run along the coast was superb - the sun was shining, it was warm and we had two tractors turning everybodyís head. Although we had been delayed by the train in front, nobody was too concerned about losing our path over the branch as we were booked for a 10 minute stand at Llandudno Junction and a 13 minute stand at North Llanrwst to pass the service train. Arrival and departure at the junction was 10 minutes late. The run along the first part of the branch was very leisurely but on the upper reaches, the 37s gave the blue bear a helping hand - several times the train almost came to a stand and I was led to believe the 59 was having problems - and we eventually arrived at Blaenau Ffestiniog just 6 minutes down.
Only 8 coaches could be accommodated on the platform so it was join the queue and walk forward to the platform. The funkey diesel was well positioned and with the sun shining and snow-capped mountains, most people will have got good photos of the two locomotives together. We were booked for a 40 minute layover here before being "locked" into the Trawsfynydd branch to allow the service train to return to Blaenau.
Just before departure, John Farrow used the tannoy system to announce that the train was a private charter and was not the narrow gauge service to Porthmadoc. I thought he was trying to be funny until a family of four walked past as they had seriously thought we were a narrow gauge train!!! When they passed, they still had three carriages to go but it was too late, we started moving and as I couldnít see any sign of the family on the station, I assume they had a trip to Trawsfynydd and back instead of Porthmadog.
Now it was more new track but I did wonder if the track would withstand the 59 or if the bridges were big enough - there were some very narrow bridges but I saw no sign of scratched paintwork so I suppose it must have been ok. One novel feature of this trip was to look out of the window at the other side of the train and see the 59 heading in one direction as we at the rear of the train were heading in the opposite direction. After 55 minutes, we had completed the journey to the gates at Trawsfynydd and it was time to return.
Act 3 - Trawsfynydd to Crewe
On the way back to Blaenau, I think many of the roman conkers missed a rather superb sight - an eagle flying low over a field of sheep and lambs searching out its next meal! The bird was flying more or less from animal to animal but as all the animals appeared healthy, it was not the eagleís lucky day. A few minutes later, we were able to look back and could see the eagle starting to soar on a thermal just spiraling and getting higher and higher.
The driver in the tractor obviously was in a hurry to get back, we covered the return to Blaenau in just 41 minutes instead of the booked 60 minutes. All that happened then was we stood outside Blaenau waiting for the service train to clear the section to North Llanrwst before we could proceed.
There was nothing unusual about the 59s performance - we made steady progress back to Crewe keeping an almost constant speed all the way keeping more or less to the point to point timings.
Act 4 - Crewe to London Euston
During the locomotive change at Crewe, DRS liveried 37612 disappeared north along the WCML. However, excitement was mounting at the front of the train. Not one but two class 86s were backing down onto the train although one locomotive had its pantograph down. 86426 and 86208 (dead) then headed the train back to Euston. We were 18 minutes late leaving Crewe and at one point were some 26 minutes down. Believe it or not, we were 8 minutes late leaving Watford but arrive at Euston 15 minutes early. The train was given 41 minutes to cover the distance between Watford and Euston and we ran well completing the distance in 18 minutes arriving at a very respectable 21:06.
On the approach to Wembley, we passed Pathfinderís "The Euro-Spinner" which meant it was running about 60 minutes late according to the railtour brochure (I donít know what the actual booked times were).
A superb railtour which was spoilt by the so called middle-aged (and senior-aged) know-it-alls that new nothing, but had to loudly inform the entire carriage of their ignorance. It was so bad that the gentleman opposite me left the train at Llandudno Junction because he couldnít put up with any more verbal diahorrea.
Timings (Booked and Actual)
(from Gary Thornton & PRAR)
|5.23||Willesden West London Junction||08/02||08/03||21/12||?|
|11.30||Harrow & Wealdstone||08/06||08/07||21/00||?|
|17.35||Watford Junction||08.11a ~ 08.13d||08.12 ~ 08.14||20.35a ~ 20.40d||20.47 ~ 20.48|
|49.65||Milton Keynes Central||08.36a ~ 08.38d||08.36 ~ 08.38||20.00a ~ 20.04d||20.22 ~ 20.24|
|97.10||Nuneaton||09.22a ~ 09.24d||09.14 ~ 09.22||19.18a ~ 19.20d||19.37 ~ 19.38|
|110.12||Tamworth Low Level||09/34||09/32||19/07||19/27|
|116.23||Lichfield TV Low Level||09/38||09/38||19/03||19/24|
|133.43||Stafford||09/49||09.51a ~ 09.53d||18/52||19/12|
|156.16||Basford Hall Junction||10/07||10/09||18/38||18/57|
|158.00||Crewe||10L11a ~ 10L31d||10.12 ~ 10.37||18L20a ~ 18L35d||18.23 ~ 18.53|
|159.41||Crewe Steel Works||10/34||10/41||18/17||18/16|
|168.60||Beeston Castle & Tarporley||10/43||10/50||18/08||18/08|
|223.55||Llandudno Junction||11.43a ~ 11.53d||11.52 ~ 12.02||17.01a ~ 17.09d||17.06 ~ 17.12|
|234.63||North Llanrwst||12*11a ~ 12*24d||12/26||16*32a ~ 16*40d||16.36 ~ 16.43|
|251.17||Blaenau Ffestiniog||13.02a ~ 13.42d||13.06 ~ 13.42||15.57a ~ 15.59d||15.54 ~ 15.59|
|251.30||Blaenau Ffestiniog No.4 GF||13.43a ~ 13.45d||13/43||15.52a ~ 15.54d||15.35 ~ 15.49|
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