12th January 1998
Preserved Diesel in the Welsh Valleys

My first offering under the "other happenings" section concerns the decision of The Cardiff Railway Company to use the Mid Hant's Railway preserved Class 33 (D6593) on a number of services in the Welsh valleys out of Cardiff. The reason was a shortage of diesel multiple unit stock and EWS not having another Class 37/4 to spare.

One of my best memories of a journey behind a Class 33 was HRT's "The Faulty Tower" tour in 1995 which took a pair of Cromptons to Tower and Cwm Bargoed collieries. The thrash on the gradient to Cwm Bargoed was without doubt the best I had ever experienced behind this class. So when I heard that a Class 33 was being leased for use on the Valley Lines services out of Cardiff this was a definite "must do". My only problems being that the loco hauled services were on the weekday rush hours (morning and evening) and I happen to live around 150 miles from Cardiff.

Luck now played it's part as I had already scheduled a business call to one of my customers in Cardiff on the Monday. So, having finished the customer visit I headed into the centre of Cardiff for a bite to eat, then down to the station to suss out what was going on. I soon bumped into several people I knew and established that the 1632 to Rhymney was to be Class 37 hauled (EWS loco) and the 1704 was booked for the Crompton. Unfortunately this run was only one way, and staying on throughout would mean an hours wait for a sprinter back to Cardiff. A quick look at the timetable confirmed the best plan - take the 33 out to Pengam and bale out there and catch the 37 on its return journey down the valley.

The 1633 soon turned up, 37412 "Driver John Elliot" at the head of 4 Waterman Railway liveried air-conditioned mark 2's, then promptly departed in a typical noisy Class 37 way. As five o'clock approached we were entertained by a constant stream of freight workings through the station, headed by 60089, 37040, 60037, 37707 and 56052 to name but some of them.

Just as departure time approached, the 1700 to Treherbert cleared the platform and rolling in behind it came D6593 on four Forward Trust Rail (The leasing company formerly known as Eversholt) mark 2 coaches. The performance of the Crompton to Pengam was simply magnificent. With the frequent station stops, no sooner than a reasonable speed has been reached and the brakes were on again for the next stop. Particularly good was the run away from Lisvane & Thornhill up and through Caerphilly Tunnel. As we left Hengoed I was really disappointed to be leaving the train at the next stop (Pengam) but suddenly the brakes went on and we came to a rapid stop in the middle of nowhere. I looked out and could see that the cab light was on and soon the driver appeared in rear cab. He didn't stop there long and we were soon on our way again (at least we got to experience one more thrash away from a stop!). When I got off I enquired as to the problem....Know anything about these then? asked the driver. Unfortunately not, said I (thinking : damn, a positive answer might have got me a cab ride...). Apparently a circuit breaker had tripped and, though he had reset it, the fault light was still lit. As the Crompton departed I heard the driver voice doubts as to whether he would make Rhymney!

We began to wonder too, as our 14 minute wait extended into 20 then 25. We had also noticed that the following sprinter had not appeared, suggesting that the 33 had not cleared the signalling section at Bargoed. Eventually the Bargoed bound sprinter appeared but all we got from the driver was a shrug of the shoulders to tell us he didn't know what was going on either. A little later and 37412 rolled round the corner. What had the problem been? No, not failure of D6593, but a painfully slow run-round of the 37 at Rhymney was the cause of the delay. The run back to Cardiff with 412 was quite reasonable considering most is on a falling gradient.

Verdict : Superb journey and, to cap it all, both locos were required haulages for me.
Highly recommended - if you get the chance...do it!

Gary Thornton.

Back to "Bashing"