10th May 1998

Days Out Ltd
The White Rose

Locos Used D9000 "Royal Scots Grey" & 60532 "Blue Peter"
47xxx also in consist, for ETH purposes only, FP to York
Stock Used 12 x mark 1's (+ 60532 support coach FP - York)

Route :
1Z?? : Finsbury Park to York
1Z45 : York to Kings Cross

Loco Route
60532 Finsbury Park - Grantham - Nottingham - (1) Sheffield - Aldwarke Junction - Mexborough - Doncaster - York
D9000 York - (2) (via ECML) - London Kings Cross

Notes :
(1) Was booked via Beighton Jn.
(2) Tour brochure showed train as being booked via Gainsborough and Lincoln to Newark.

Source : Ralph Barrett

Tour review
(by Ralph Barrett)

Days Out's 'The White Rose' ran on Sunday 10th May 1998. An East Coast extravaganza of the first order. For many, the star attraction was 60532 Blue Peter, which had just featured on a special edition of the television programme of the same name. However it was up to the Deltic to demonstrate the massive advance in British Motive power performance between 1940 and 1955. Deltic 22 did not let us down.

Ex-LNER A2 'Blue Peter' was booked for the outward run from Finsbury Park to York via Grantham, Nottingham, Sheffield and Doncaster. Diversion via Midland metals was necessary, as the ECML was closed north of Newark for an engineering possession (Railtrack were planting potatoes and runner-beans at Ranskill Loop). The load for the 'kettle' was heavy, for in addition to the 13 MkIs in the train formation, Blue Peter was further handicapped by an ETH 'Duff' stuck on the back (including a Duff 'driver' with his feet on the console, reading Murray Monthly!). However, as the weather was cold and very wet throughout much of the day, the Duff's ETH was very welcome by many. As steam heat would have been available from Blue Peter, the class 47 was presumably required as insurance, in case of failure on the ECML.

Due to 'normal' slack operating the train was about 45 minutes late leaving Finsbury Park. The planned start from the 'Cross' was scuppered by Railtrack's engineering works closing two of the tracks into that station. I believe that 'kettle' departures from King's Cross require the overhead power to be isolated inside of the tunnels. Obviously this was not feasible with just two tracks in use, hence the booked Finsbury Park departure. I joined the train at Hitchin.

Blue Peter appeared to be running quite well by 'kettle' standards, and tried hard to regain the lost time. However, time recovery was hampered by a split water pipe during the usual water stop in the Connington Loop. A higher capacity water pump would be a good idea here too, rather than the small pump used. Better still would be a water tank in the train formation behind the tender, or perhaps a large water tank in the support coach. This would then remove the frequent and tedious water stops.

A fine run up Stoke Bank on the fast lines ensued, with the summit being finally cleared at approx 64 mph; not bad for a kettle I suppose, with almost 600 tonnes in tow. We stopped at Grantham for a crew change, and Blue Peter slipped a bit on the departure on the Nottingham road. Another water stop in Nottingham, and then up the Erewash valley speed restriction belt (this used to be the Midland's Main Line - how are the mighty fallen ?).

Kettle bashers are a strange group of people, and some of them seem to know very little about the current railway scene. It appears that many only travel by train on Steam Specials. A case in point is a group overheard in the buffet queue, who were discussing the 'diesel' at the rear. They came to the (mistaken) conclusion that this must be the Deltic (it was a big red (RES) Duff).

Stock was provided by Regency Rail, and appeared mostly of a good general standard. The buffet had quite a range of reasonably priced foodstuffs (e.g. Cheese and Onion pasty at 90p). Tea was instant (yuk).

Train was booked on the 'Old Road' to Rotherham Masborough via Beighton. However, in the event we were routed via Sheffield Midland, where we passed through slowly on the non-platform centre-road (is this rare?). Yet another water stop ensued between Aldwarke Junction and Mexborough, on the old Great Central route. Given the amount of rain, they could have collected all the water they needed from the roof of the train !

York was reached about 45 minutes late, and we arrived at a platform with no water pipes for the coaches. Blue Peter then departed for home carrying the headboard "ICI Wilton 1988-1998" (this is where she was restored). Perhaps when Deltic D9009 does her first charter, she will carry a similar headboard saying "ICI Wilton 1991-1998", because that's how long she's been incarcerated there!

Enter D9000, to shunt the stock to the adjacent platform about 10 minutes prior to her booked departure. Yes now the coaches needed watering; which caused a 25 minute delay to the departure. D9000 departed in heavy rain, with the usual slow exit from York, her Napiers only giving full power way after passing the housing estate that now occupies the site of the former Dringhouses Yard. A good run to Doncaster followed, where we caught up with a Leeds-KX working, which had stopped there, so slow running until the 'Stealth Bomber' had vacated the fast lines in front of us.

According to the timesheet handed out on the train by Day's Out, out return to the Cross was booked via Gainsborough and Lincoln to Newark, but in the event we went via Retford. However the extra time we should have gained, was mostly lost due to various stops and starts south of Doncaster as the loop at Ranskill was being extended.

Return was done in style with Deltic D9000 on the up fast from York to King's Cross. For some reason the following GNER services which were booked to overtake us never showed up, so my expected shunt into a loop or the slow lines at Stoke summit did not materialise.

Driver was typical EWS, and made very over-cautious (slow) starts, but kept the needle pretty close around 100mph out on the 'open road'. Maximum speeds were just over the ton, with the loco being throttled back where necessary to keep within the speed limit. Load was now 12 Mk1s, as Blue Peter had held onto her support coach, and the red Duff had migrated back south 'light engine'. Minimum speed over Stoke summit from the north was 88mph.

An unscheduled? stop at Peterborough on the return cost a further 8 minutes, whilst Peterborough power box let a WAGN out of platform 3 in front of us. We later passed this service somewhere south of Huntington, before we were switched fast to slow in front of the WAGN at Hitchin, where I left the train. I was pleased to see the Deltic depart back onto the fast lines at Hitchin, with no sign of the booked GNER 13:40 ex- Aberdeen or the following 15:45 ex-Glasgow, both of which should already have passed us somewhere en-route.

Timings for this tour were a very sore point, as they were not released by Railtrack until 16:52 on the preceding Friday. Even then, they bore little resemblance to reality as some of the routeings were not taken, due to last-minute changes in engineering works. Begs the question, why do they bother having detailed timings at all for Railtours ?

Verdict. A good railtour, despite the poor weather, the erratic timings from Railtrack, and some rather strange 'kettle basher' types on the train. D9000 performed impeccably, and demonstrated her 100mph credentials once again. Blue Peter was not bad either, for a 'kettle'.

Well done to Days Out for going ahead with the Deltic, as it would have been much easier (and cheaper) for them to use the Class 47 for the return leg. But where's the fun in that ?

Ralph Barrett

Timings (Booked & Actual - for D9000 leg only)
(from Nigel Rollings)

Location Booked Actual
York 18.28d 18.53
Colton Jn 18/34 19/00
Hambleton Jn 18/41 19/05
Templehirst Jn 18/46 19/09
Shaftholme Jn 18/54 19/14
Doncaster 18/59 19/19
Loversall Carr Jn DIV 19/30
Retford DIV 19/54
Bessacarr Jn 19/04 DIV
Trent Jn 19/22 DIV
Newark Crossing East Jn 19/51 DIV
Newark Northgate 19/53 20/08
Barkston South Jn 20/01 20/14
Grantham 20/04 20/17
Stoke Tunnel 20/09 20/21
Tallington Jn 20/2 020/30
Peterborough 20.26a ~ 20.27d 20.38 ~ 20.48
Huntingdon 20/40 21/03
Sandy 20/51 21/12
Hitchin 21/06a ~ 21.10d 21.21 ~ 21.25
Stevenage 21/16 21/32
Woolmer Green Jn 21/19 21/34
Welwyn Garden City 21.25a ~ 21.28d 21.38 ~ 21.41
Potters Bar 21/35 21/48
Alexandra Palace 21/46 21/53
Finsbury Park 21/52 21/55
Kings Cross 22.01a 22.00

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