22nd December 2002

Hertfordshire Rail Tours
The Thames-Tame

Locos Used 47727 & 66171
Stock Used 5023+5037+1832+4925+17023+3124+3123+1679+3150+3119+1696+3127+3114

1Z31 : 11.03 Paddington to Claydon LNE Jn (81 miles 63 chains)
1Z32 : 13.37 Claydon LNE Jn - Paddington (53 miles 22 chains)

Loco(s) Route
66171 (1) London Padington - Reading - (via Didcot avoiding line) - Oxford - Bicester - Claydon LNE Jn
47727 (2) Claydon LNE Jn - Quainton Road - Aylesbury - Princes Risborough - High Wycombe - South Ruislip - Greenford West to East - Old Oak Common West - London Paddington

(1) 47727 on rear.
(2) 66171 on rear.

Source : Graham Hardinge

Tour Review
(by Adam Williams)

An extremely leisurely and enjoyable Christmas railtour was had by those who were present. A sociable departure time of 1103 from Paddington was delayed slightly as we awaited platform staff to clear the train. However we were soon underway with the 66 making light work of the 12 coach plus class 47 attached at the rear. Routed along the slow lines we made steady progress until Slough where we were checked by a red signal and then routed onto the fast lines.

Despite a load of almost 500 tons, we were soon up to 75mph and passed through Reading virtually on time. The run to Didcot was unhindered too and the train passed the Didcot railway centre on the avoiding lines and then proceeded North only to have to wait for 5 minutes outside Oxford to await our path and onto the former Oxford-Cambridge line which diverges just North of Oxford. Once off the main line and now on the single line it was more of a stagger with plenty of bemused onlookers from the local villages seeing a proper train passing through their back yards than the usual DMU’s that ply the Oxford-Bicester route.

The train came to a halt near Bicester Station and was held for about 10 minutes as some repairs were carried out to one of the kitchen cars on the train. However the train was soon on its way again and we crossed over the Chiltern Line from Marylebone to Banbury and headed for Claydon Junction which was once part of a major junction on the Oxford-Cambridge and Great Central routes. There is talk of reopening both of these lines although given the amount of time it takes to get things moving in this country, it would surprise me if anything happens this side of 2010. The train picked its way to Claydon Junction where it came to a halt. The line carried on to Bletchley but has been temporarily closed and is becoming quite overgrown. It is actually being resignalled which raises hopes that it will be reopened and a new passenger service from Milton Keynes - Oxford & Reading will be created. Anyway 47727 had burst into life at the rear of the train and was shortly about to drag the train onto the curve at Claydon junction and onto the former Great Central Route.

We crawled south, past the industrial area of Calvert which sees a frequent ‘binliner’ freight service. It was a glorious day but the amount of rain that had fallen the previous week was clear as there was lots of flooding in the quite picturesque countryside. Quainton Road was passed and the train received a lot of attention from the onlookers present at the railway centre. Ayelsbury was reached about 10 minutes late and the train was routed into the platform for a break which was due to last 20 minutes but we were soon underway in about 10 due to slightly late running. It was quite a sight though seeing the remaining 6 coaches plus class 66 sprawling out past the end of the platform!

The train was routed along the single track line to Princes Risborough and from there on we made speedy progress with plenty of thrashing from the class 47 over the Chiltern Hills. On reaching South Ruislip we took the line to Old Oak Common which passes through Northolt, Greenford and Hanger Lane. This was new track for me although its been singled and its hard to imagine it was once a main line that Birkenhead bound express trains from Paddington steamed along. Indeed even in the 1980’s there was a locomotive hauled service from Paddington to Birmingham and return that used to make use of the route. There is still a daily local service that runs on this route though. There was plenty of disused track and derelict infastructure suggesting it was once a thriving part of the railway. We left this line and rejoined the GWR at Old Oak and made a spirited dash into Paddington where the journey ended.

All in all, a pleasant afternoon out along some lines that should never have been closed to passenger traffic.

Adam Williams

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