Simply the event of the year for diesel fans! This years late summer diesel "weekend" on the East Lancashire Railway turned out to be an extravaganza of older EWS traction - kindly loaned by EWS themselves and crewed by EWS drivers who had offered their time for free. Some of the eight EWS locomotives being used were even brought out of store specially for the event and for a number of them this could be their last weekend working before being switched off for good. Traction magazine was also heavily involved in the planning and running of the weekend.
The locomotives on loan for the event were;
31110 : Recently repainted into "original" livery and bearing its original number D5528. This loco was also named "Traction Magazine" at the start of the service on the Friday.
33202 : Brought out of store for the event (though this loco is under consideration for return to service). The loco was also reunited with it's "The Burma Star" nameplates.
37351 : Still in service with EWS and in "old" Transrail livery. This locos days in service must surely be numbered...?
37906 : "Slug6" was brought out of storage for the event and will go straight back into store afterwards. Named "Star of the East" on day 1 of the event.
47306 : Still in service, in Railfreight Distribution livery and markings and still carrying its "The Sapper" nameplates.
56006 : Another of the locos out of storage just for this event. A repaint into original blue livery was sponsored by the video production company Locomaster Profiles.
73129 : Last operational "ED" in Network SouthEast livery and named "City of Winchester".
73133 : Mainline blue liveried and still named "The Bluebell Railway".
In addition, some of the lines own preserved diesel fleet would be in action on the Sunday (33117 also finding limited use on the Friday and Saturday).
A check of my haulage records confirmed that only the slug was "dud" so with the opportunity to score seven of the eight locos it was easy to work out where I'd be headed! With some holiday still owing to me I decided to have the Friday off work to spend the day bashing up and down behind the available traction. A 5.20am start was required to get me by fast car to Ramsbottom in time for the 09.22 departure to Bury which had the "ED's" in charge. Roadworks on the M62 (plus the morning rush-hour traffic) almost stopped me but I had allowed plenty of time so was not caught out. My full list of moves was as follows (BY=Bury, RM=Ramsbottom, RL=Rawtenstall);
|Train||Loco||From - to||Distance|
|09.22 RM-BY||73133 + 73129||RM-BY||3m 77c|
|09.40 BY-RL||37351||BY-RM||3m 77c|
|09.35 RL-BY||47306||RM-BY||3m 77c|
|10.30 BY-RL||56006||BY-RM||3m 77c|
|10.25 RL-BY||37351||RM-BY||3m 77c|
|11.20 BY-RL||37906||BY-RL||8m 00c|
|12.05 RL-BY||37906||RL-RM||4m 03c|
|12.10 BY-RL||33202||RM-RL||4m 03c|
|12.55 RL-BY||33202||RL-RM||4m 03c|
|13.00 BY-RL||73133 + 73129||RM-RL||4m 03c|
|13.45 RL-BY||73133 + 73129||RL-RM||4m 03c|
|14.22 RM-BY||31110||RM-BY||3m 77c|
|14.40 BY-RL||37351 + 37906||BY-RL||8m 00c|
|15.25 RL-BY||37351 + 37906||RL-RM||4m 03c|
|15.30 BY-RL||56006||RM-RL||4m 03c|
|16.15 RL-RM||56006||RL-RM||4m 03c|
|16.20 BY-RL||31110||RM-RL||4m 03c|
|17.05 RL-BY||31110||RL-RM||4m 03c|
|Mileage Total :||80m 12c|
Phew! A busy day and all my required locos successfully "got in the book". Good to report all the trains were well packed with punters and frequent ticket-checks to ensure there was nobody tempted to travel without having coughed up the necessary dosh. Met up with quite a few friends and acquaintances during the day, making it quite a sociable event also.
Most memorable things about the Friday?
1. Tractors 351 & 906 - my hearing is still a bit dulled after experiencing both locos from my vantage point in the first coach. Loud? You bet! Slug6 particularly so. Wicked thrash and real thick black clag expelled from both locos when they were worked hard.
2. Grid 56006 - what a superb paint job. Surely this loco has a future of some sort?
3. 33202 - impressive performance, lots of thrash.
With other plans for the Saturday and Sunday taking me elsewhere, I would welcome a report from anyone who attends either or both the weekend days.
Verdict : Brilliant day out. Best summed up I think by the quote from David Brown (Managing Editor - Traction Magazine) in his introduction in the souvenir programme;
"Gentlemen, start your engines and let the thrash commence"
If you weren't there you really have missed an unmissable event (and not a shed in sight!)
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