Jonathan Wilcox combines a "short leap" on Pathfinders "(N)Onllywyn Orbitor" with a day on a West Midlands "Daytripper" ticket, in search of more required haulages :

It's been a long time since I had some required EWS tractors on the main line (24.07.2000 I think you'll find - 37109), but, hey presto, here's another chance for a required pair!  Although I wouldn't be doing as much as I would really have wanted to behind 37707 and 37886, 12.3 miles (New St. - Barnt Green via Camp Hill) is still good enough for me.

But I thought I would have been lucky enough to bag two new locos on a Daytripper - I'm rapidly running out of locos to score on such tickets. Well, I thought, I've still got two Virgin operated duffs to get...

So, after suffering a mis-formed 323 from Bournville into New St., I was now able to savour some proper (EE) thrash up the Camp Hill for the first time in... 9 years (the Hoovering Druid?).  Although I do see tractors thrashing up and down it on 6V14 whenever I get the gen!

We arrived at Barnt Green about ten early I think, after a very good performance by the tractors I managed to run (!) up the road to the bridge at the south end of the station - which was a completely pointless move as 886 was just a few inches too close to the bridge for a proper photo!  It was at this point I found that I could just as easily have stayed on the platform we arrived in and gone up the ramp at the end of it.  An easier way to waste my time, still I ran at least half a mile which is something, I suppose :-)

Yet another 323 was suffered back up the main line to New Street, at which point 47741 was spotted on 1O30, the Brighton.  So we did this to the NEC. Not required, but it increased the mileage a little bit.  After that, we had a look at what else was out (we intended to cover the up Portsmouth), but it arrived with 158748, so of course we flagged it.  It's a good job we did, as a few minutes later in rolled 47701 (yes! that's one of my two) on 1O09, the Bournemouth.  So we duly had this to Coventry.  At this point I must point out that I am not a duff basher, but what other everyday main line diesel haulage can you get nowadays?

We had 47805 back up to the NEC on the Padd-Manchester, where we leapt in order to cover the Weymouth, which produced 47810.  We did this to Coventry, and it's a good job we did because when there we got the gen that 58026 was coming up on 1S76.  Hellfire!  Still, we did a tram all the way back into New St. for 87012 back out.  This was good for me as it is my lowest mileage with only 5.4, that is Sandwell to New St.

So, when we arrived at Coventry, we got a text message saying "Go to International".  Minutes later we got another - "stay where you are".  Huh? It transpired that there'd been an announcement saying that the bone wasn't stopping at Cov, but the announcer (train master? guard?  I don't know) corrected him/herself.

So the bone rolled in with 47840 dead inside.  There wasn't too much sound to hear because of the duff in the way, but we did reach some impressive speeds around Tile Hill :-)

To our disappointment the bone was ripped at New St. in preference of 47817, which was done to Wolves anyway, to have 47848 back on 1O40, 1040 Edinburgh - Brighton.  Leaving New St., 66517 and 66516 were identified top and tailing a p-way train towards the station.  We leapt at the NEC because we had seen 47769 at New St. which we knew would work 1O14 Poole, and she was my last Virgin duff.  So, we had to suffer my first dusty bin in five years on a Daytripper (419) back into New St., to have 769 down to Coventry. Bit of a disappointment on arrival when we saw 87012 with doors still unlocked on the opposite platform, but thanks to some bert on the train (if I ever get my hands round your neck...) even when we had the handle down on the Mk 3 door, he locked them and it was away.  So, instead, we suffered another dusty bin (421) back to New Street for 323243 back to Bournville.

All in all a good day out, five scratches!  It was better than seven days before, when I was in France on some Culture Experience trip, expecting to have at least one BB67400 out of St. Malo.  Have you ever tried that old "I'm a basher not a spotter" routine in French?

Jonathan Wilcox

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