16th February 2003
Seeking Rare Loco Haulage

Hellfire Growler on a day out...


My plan for the day was to travel on the 10.05 London Euston - Glasgow Central between Wigan North Western and Carlisle in order to get some class 47 action over the S & C due to the WCML diversions.

I was to travel between Newcastle - Manchester on a Durham Coast diverted service, use a FNW service Manchester - Wigan, catch the desired Virgin service copping a electric loco & a '47 and finally catching an Arriva service Carlisle - Newcastle.

When I got to Newcastle Station I  decided to go into WH Smith to purchase my supplies for my first move, a Daily Star, packet of mints and a bottle of water (for my hangover!) and to my delight I was served by the 'Indian Princess' baglet who normally works there! I then went to purchase my tickets, as it came to my turn to get served I could not find my Railcard in my wallet and despite paying the PRIV fare Newcastle - Manchester with my Arriva pass I had to fork out the full fare Manchester - Wigan & Wigan - Carlisle - here when I sat down on the train for my first move I found my Railcard in my coat pocket, typical of my luck!


I was to use this service as far as Manchester Oxford Road to make a 37min connection onto the FNW service to Wigan and to my horror when I got onto platform 6 the train was formed of 156 489 instead of the booked '158 and began to worry if I would ever make my connection. I was fuming what with no advertised 1st class, inferior seating and a slower unit. What made things even more shocking was that the advertised trolley was not loaded at Newcastle either!

Anyhow the Durham Coast diverted service left Newcastle on time and had an impressive run to Sunderland, the next booked stop on the train arriving there 3 mins early, this was not to last however: the train crawled out of Sunderland and took an age to get between Sunderland and Hartlepool and we eventually crawled to a halt on the disused platform at Hartlepool and in addition to having a reversal at Thornaby we lost even more time and I was literally sweating in case I did not make my journey behind a '47. We then lost further time when we got onto the ECML at Northallerton with the top speed on a 156 being 75 mph. Things were made worse when the TTI announced that the train would be terminating at York, where we would have to switch units things did not seem to be going my way!

On arrival at York 20mins late I ended up pulling a muscle in my leg as I pegged it over the footbridge to jump onto a waiting train formed of WYPTE livered 158 906 & unreferbished ex Scotrail 158 737. The Arriva livered but unreferbished 158 was leading and I sat in the freezing front carrage where the only vacant table seats were and sat in pain with that ruddy pulled muscle.

The coldness in the unit was dramatically illustrated when I purchased a Coffe from the Trolley - I took a sip and steam covered my face. I am sure I saw a Polar Bear on my way through the train due to the Artic conditions!

I started to panic about my connections again, when instead of running at line speed & making up time, the replacement units crawled through East Garforth, Garforth and Cross Gates and things were made worse when we arrived into Leeds 20mins late a not to be moved board was clipped to the front and a fitter started to fiddle about with the box housing the air conditioning equipment.

During the wait at Leeds I observed that the only improvements made to the ex Scotrail 158's was to give them a re-painting. 158 737 was typical of an unrefurb unit with worn carpets, worn seats with hanging threads, bust flip down tables, nasty stains on fabrics and illegible seat numbers - the 1st class section was no better too!

The train arrived at Manchester Oxford Road 18mins late and I managed to make my connection - panic over!

Location Scheduled Actual
Newcastle 08.50d 08.50
Sunderland 09.07a ~ 09.10 09.04 ~ 09.10
(reversal at Thornaby)
Northallerton 10.05 10.20
Thirsk 10.13 10.29
York 10.33a ~ 10.40d 10.51 ~ 10.55
Leeds 11.06a ~ 11.25d 11.12 ~ 11.35
Huddersfield 11.31 11.52
Manchester Piccadilly 12.08a ~ 12.09d 12.25 ~ 12.27
Oxford Road 12.11a 12.29


My next move was on the FNW 12.31 Stockport - Southport which I used from Manchester Oxford Road - Wigan Wallgate, the service was formed of 156 426 and despite an emergency stop at Salford Crescent the train ran promptly and without further incident.

Location Scheduled Actual
Oxford Road 12.48d 12.48
Deansgate 12.50 12.49a ~ 12.50d
Salford Crescent 12.54 12.54
Bolton 13.05 13.05
Westhoughton 13.12 13.12
Hindley 13.18 13.18
Wigan Wallgate 13.21a 13.21


At last my desired move and I decided to treat my self! after the loc change and reversal at Preston, the front carriage (after the DVT) is 1st class and due to the fact I had paid full wack for my ticket I decided to pay the 15 supplement and travel in style!

The train arrived at Wigan North Western surprisingly dead on time hauled by 87 026 "Sir Richard Arkwright" and on arrival at Preston, the '87 detached and 47 810 "Porterbrook" coupled onto the DVT and after a few photographs we pulled out and headed off towards Blackburn, Clitheroe, Hellifield, Settle & Carlisle. Despite me paying the 1st class supplement I spent most of the time doing a spot of bellowing and observing peoples reaction as our train passed the local stations en-route and waving to linesiders and photographers. I even madly took a few phots out of the window as we crossed the pinnacle of the line - Ribblehead Viaduct!

We even managed to arrive at Carlisle 5 mins early, which I found a bit surprising as the train did not seem to gather much speed on this journey, but despite that it was pure Hellfire!

Location Scheduled Actual
Wigan North Western 13.35d 13.35
Preston 13.54a ~ 14.09d 13.50 ~ 14.09
Carlisle 16.43a 16.38


On arrival at Carlisle I took a few photos of 47 810, purchased my PRIV single to Newcastle, had a quick pint and jumped onto my next and final move.

This was a pretty unremarkable journey but we strangely arrived 4 mins early at Newcastle.

The only observation in my notes was that the majority of the Tyne Valley Stations, the lighting is either very poor or non existent, is this how we promote the use of public transport? - I think not! Even Metro Centre, which is the most recent station on the line has very poor lighting, groups of youths hanging about and very badly vandalised - pity the station can't be looked after at the same standard as the rest of the complex.

Location Scheduled Actual
Carlisle 17.29d 17.28
Haltwhistle 17.56 17.59
Hexham 18.15 18.17
Corbridge 18.19 18.22
Riding Mill 18.24 ?
Stocksfield 18.28 18.31
Prudhoe 18.32 18.35
Wylam 18.36 18.40
Metro Centre 18.46 18.49
Newcastle 19.00 18.56


A good day out in the end despite the panic at the start of the day, 2 good locos, a bit of clag over the Settle - Carlisle and a lovely smile from the girl in WH Smith at Newcastle.

Pure Hellfire!

"Hellfire Growler"

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