One Last Bash For Old Times Sake....

(or, an exercise in self control...)

A weekend with no railtour (worth doing).

A phone call to a colleague on the Friday evening decided me that a last trip along the North Wales Coast to experience tractor power would be good use of my Saturday. I was also praying that 37428 - which had been out on the NWC diagrams since Tuesday, was still working - as I still required it for haulage.

I arranged to meet Tony at Coventry from where we'd get to Chester via the 09.02 twank to New Street and 37 on the 10.07 ex-NS. Once at Chester we'd purchase a North & Mid Wales Day Ranger (hopefully on the train so we could travel further without loosing any time). First mistake of the day. As I sat waiting (not having purchased my ticket) I was somewhat miffed to see 87013 rolling out on a northbound service. This is one of only two 87's I (still) require for haulage! Tickets purchased and we clambered aboard 47806 for the short run to Birmingham New Street. Just as we were leaving Tony said something to the effect of "isn't 87007 one of your required 87's?". Aaarrgghhh!! There it was on platform 1 on a Euston service. Both my required 87's on West Midlands diagrams and I was headed for the North Wales Coast....

Time at New Street to visit the Ian Allan shop (where I parted with some hard-earned on a couple of books) before we returned to the news that the 10.07 was about 10 minutes late. This is commonplace at the moment as the 37's are running on class 175 timings and still having to run in via Bescot and Aston to save the run-round. A text message from Bruce Garbutt confirmed we'd be getting 37412. As we waited I was rather upset to see no less than TWO required 47's appear - RES 47789 and EWS 47747. Maybe I should have been on a Centro Daytripper ticket!

37412 turned up about 15 down and on we got (along with a coachload of other cranks, to join those already aboard). If the other gen I had was correct then we could leap from this service at Llandudno Junction for 37428 coming the other way....

....we did! Only a short journey to Colwyn Bay but at least it was "in the book". There was a rumour too that it was on "high hours" so might get swapped at some stage. Colwyn Bay - strange seaside town - couldn't find a chippie!!

37429 now to Bangor. OK place - chippie located and visited. Was withered to see the prices in pounds and Euro's though!!

37412 again - Colwyn Bay again - still no chippie located, despite walking the other way from the station.

Looonnnggg bash behind 37428 now (so, not swapped after all, the rumours were unfounded) - Colwyn Bay to Holyhead, short fester whilst 428 was run-round, then all the way to Birmingham New Street. Front coach fairly full of cranks but a few normals also ventured in as the remainder of the train filled up at the various stops. The train is an all-stop from Llandudno Jn to Holyhead and back - so for the first (and probably last) time I pulled up at Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch station behind a class 37. I heard someone sat behind us say "imagine having to write that in your moves book!". Quite!

Another first for me - a visit to Wales and it didn't rain!

The run back via Bescot was profitable as I scored 66235 & 67020 for sight. 47488 looked lined up for the 21.06 departure (well dud) so we settled on 87018 on the 20.48 departure for the run back to Coventry.

Sunday - intended as a quiet day. I had a chance to sample some required preserved diesel traction on my own doorstep courtesy of the Northampton & Lamport Railway. I turned up at noon to see the train with 26010 (dud) and 45118 (required) on one end with PWM651 (required) on the other. I flagged this service so I could make sure the 45 performed (it and the PWM were "sole" locos for the 12.30 service). A quick look round confirmed the other two locos there which I required, 25035 & D5401, were both out of action. Other motive power for the services was provided by bubblecar 55003 and the class 117 pair (51367 + 51402).

Ching! 3.80 for a round trip (as opposed to a tenner for a day rover). Ouch!!

Still, it scored me 45118 & PWM651 and also the track as I'd not travelled on this line before (at those ticket prices is it any wonder)....

Off home then for lunch and, I'd decided, an afternoon in front of the pc catching up on e-mails, tour gen uploading etc (I can assure you having a Website is a good way to fill up all of your free time....and more....if you let it). My decision lasted all of an hour when "railgen" spat out a message on my phone that 90146 was out to play on the 16.43 Euston to Wolverhampton. Hmmm, a required Freightliner Skoda and the prospect of the diesel drag as the train was diverted from Nuneaton to New St.

Yep, I'm weak....By 5pm I was in Rugby, armed with a day return to New Street and patiently waiting for 17.56 to come around. Boy, is Rugby station a mess at the moment - Railtrack have finally decided its time to get rid of the magnificent, but somewhat decrepit, canopy. With or without it though, Rugby is still a cold windswept station....

A little before 17.50 and in rolled 90146 :-) Another one falls. Loads of sheds outside the station (scored 3 for sight). Fast run to Nuneaton where we paused for a few minutes to attach..... I decided to keep it a surprise and waited to New Street to discover it was RES 47762 in charge. Hmmph, Dud! At least I scored another shed for sight passing Saltley.

An hours fester (queue for Burger King slop, eat slop, wonder why I had wanted it in the first place) and I was in position for viewing the drag loco for the 19.45. Guess what? 47762 again! Dud 87009 on the rear, so my evening had only scored me one haulage. Oh, and 4 sheds for sight, and one Turbostar too.

In a final master-stroke of timetabling we arrived into Rugby exactly two minutes after the hourly service to Northampton had left....

Gary Thornton.

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