14th February 1998
Valentines Day with Muriel

This article is courtesy of Andy Flowers and describes the events of 14th February 1998 when D9000 "Royal Scots Grey" was used on several Virgin Trains additional services in connection with a Birmingham vs Leeds football match.

February 1998 and it's time for more Deltic madness on service trains, courtesy of Virgin Cross Country. D9000, by now inexplicably nicknamed Muriel, was hired by Virgin for a Birmingham to Leeds football special. The special was amazingly routed to travel via Stockport and Stalybridge, due to pathing problems in the Sheffield area.

Apparently EWS were unable to provide a loco for hire for the train and Virgin had to turn to the D9000 group. The turn was then announced on the D9000 phone information line and then the Internet so the Saturday morning saw a contingent of about 120 cranks appear for the train.

The actual football match in question was the 5th round FA cup tie between Leeds United and Birmingham City but in the event the actual participants in the match didn't matter. The stock arrived 25 minutes late, the train was apparently unadvertised and consequently left with no football fans on board (other than a few cranks who happened to be football fans, one of Portsmouth and one of Sheffield Wednesday!). The 120 cranky occupants managed to wedge themselves in the front 3 coaches, leaving the rest of the train empty.

Regardless of the circumstances this proved to be another great day out with D9000 performing faultlessly again. The run as far as Stalybridge was uneventful - the stretch from Birmingham to Stockport being ridden with speed restrictions, temporary and permanent, and the line from Stockport to Stalybridge a 40mph depressing stagger. The departure from Stalybridge was very good, perhaps better than I remember they used to be when working Liverpool - York services over this route.

At Leeds the train was announced as a relief to York (the guard having agreed to work the train instead of it going e.c.s.) and we had the unusual sight of normal passengers getting on board.

TRAIN : 1Z55 09.45 Birmingham New Street - York
LOCOMOTIVE : D9000 "Royal Scots Grey"
LOAD : 7 mk 2 AC 240/255 tons
Location Distance Time Speed
Leeds 0.00 0.00 0.00
Cross Gates 4.43 7.09 75.0
Garforth 7.34 9.16 87.9
Micklefield 9.73 11.01 90.5/85.1
Church Fenton 14.83 14.36 84.2
Ulleskelf 16.71 15.59 90.3
Colton Junction 20.08 18.02 102.0
Chaloners Whin Junction 23.58 20.13 91.8
York 25.58 23.48 0.00

The run out of Leeds was characteristically slow, even through the old thrash chamber known as Marsh Lane Cutting, and full power not being applied until Neville Hill was passed. As we approached Colton Junction (where the new alignment of the E.C.M.L. joins the Leeds and Sheffield routes) for the first time in the day the magical 100 m.p.h. was reached. Some restraint was shown at this point and steady running brought us into York 25 minutes late.

The late arrival at York gave only 20 minutes in the pub - the Maltings, 5 minutes walk from the station (turn left and head for town), an excellent place to scratch a few new beers, for anyone so inclined. Alternatively you can take a leisurely stroll along the Roman City walls and wait for the next Deltic hauled service train to leave town - of course you could have been waiting for 17 years for this one!

TRAIN : 1Z39 13.44 York - Birmingham New Street
LOCOMOTIVE : D9000 "Royal Scots Grey"
LOAD : 7 mk 2 AC 240/255 tons
Location Distance Time Speed
York 0.00 0.00 0.00
Chaloners Whin Junction 2.00 3.55 76.2
Colton Junction 5.50 6.18 91.2
Ryther Viaduct 8.13 7.59 102.8
Stoker Wood 10.50 9.24 102.9
Hambleton North Junction 13.50 11.10 103.5/102.3
Selby Canal 15.96 12.37 100.0/104.0
Temple Hirst Junction Junction 19.25 14.34 101.7
Heck 21.28 15.47 101.2
Fenwick 24.32 17.35 100.8
Shaftholme Junction 28.21 19.54 101.0
Arksey 30.47 21.16 97.8
Doncaster 32.56 23.48 0.00

D9000 had the honour of doing something most people ever thought would happen, working a Deltic hauled service train over the new alignment of the E.C.M.L. the 13 mile long Selby diversion was constructed between 1980 and 1983 at the National Coal Boards expense, in order for them to exploit the huge coal reserves discovered under the old alignment of the E.C.M.L. north and south of Selby.

D9000 stands at Derby after working the 13.44 relief from York
D9000 stands at Derby after working the 13.44 relief from York on 14/02/98.

The "new" E.C.M.L. runs from Colton Junction on the York to Leeds/Sheffield line to Temple Hirst Junction on the former Selby to Doncaster stretch. Although the new line is half a mile longer than the old one 125 m.p.h. running is now possible over its entire length, while the old line has become a cycle path!

Back to the present day D9000's departure from York was relatively slow but after Chaloner's Whin Junction (where the "old" diverted off to Selby) sustained 100 m.p.h. running was achieved. There were around 23 miles of unbroken 100 m.p.h. running between Ryther Viaduct and Arksey.

Overall this was a very good run by any standards, start to stop York to Doncaster in 23 minutes and 48 seconds, an average of 82.1 m.p.h. The best previous time recorded by a Deltic between York and Doncaster (on an up run) was 27 minutes and 49 seconds, via Selby on the "old" E.C.M.L. It's clear that, even without being pushed very hard, D9000 achieved a run 4 minutes better than this, showing the worth, in terms of speed and time saving, of the new alignment of the East Coast Route to avoid Selby. As a matter of interest the best times for HST and Class 91 over this stretch are around 19.5 and 19 minutes respectively.

Another slow depressing part of the days running continued towards Sheffield. Perhaps the most shocking part of the day for me was seeing the shell that Rotherham Masborough had been reduced to. Admittedly it wasn't a place I frequented very often in the past, though many cranks used to make the 5.5 mile trip to Sheffield and back (or vice versa) quite frequently in the days when loco hauled trains used to stop there. It was still disturbing to see it in its present neglected state.

After Sheffield the serious thrash began again up the 1 in 100 climb to Bradway Tunnel although speed restrictions prevented a full scale attack on the bank.

TRAIN : 1Z39 13.44 York - Birmingham New Street
LOCOMOTIVE : D9000 "Royal Scots Grey"
LOAD : 7 mk 2 AC 240/255 tons
Location Distance Time Speed
Sheffield 0.00 0.00 0.00
Millhouses 2.76 5.00 63.4
Dore 4.26 6.28 49.0
Dronfield 6.97 10.3 44.1/63.2
Chesterfield 12.27 14.07 84.9/80.4
Clay Cross South Junction 16.34 17.37 80.7
Stretton 18.89 19.21 92.5
Shirland 21.59 20.59 101.7/98.1
Wingfield North Tunnel 24.51 22.53 91.1
Ambergate Junction 26.50 24.38 75.9
Belper 28.60 26.16 84.0
Duffield 31.14 27.57 88.2

I later learned that Derby was not considered as secure enough accomodation for a loco of its worth and importance and D900 was stored at Oxley until the following Wednesday when an attempt would be made to send it back to Stuarts lane via a piloting move on 1V96.

TRAIN : 1V96 09.10 Edinburgh Waverley - Reading
LOCOMOTIVE : D9000 "Royal Scots Grey"
LOAD : 7 mk 2 AC 240/255 tons
Location Distance Time Speed
Birmingham New Street 0.00 0.00 0.00
Adderley Park 1.92 4.40 36.2
Stechford 3.82 6.22 72.6/67.7
Lea Hall 4.93 7.18 81.4
Marston Green 6.52 8.26 91.8
Birmingham International 8.23 10.22 0.00
Birmingham International 0.00 0.00 0.00
Hampton in Arden 1.94 2.42 74.1
Berkswell 5.21 5.08 89.6
Tile Hill 7.17 6.21 100.0
Canley 9.19 7.39 95.2
Coventry 10.70 9.34 0.00

The run from Didcot Parkway to Reading was lively, indeed over this stretch on the last occasion that D9000 workied this particular train the loco achieved it's first stretch of 100 m.p.h. running on a service train since preservation. On this day 1V96 was given the slow line, or the "up relief" as t's known on Western metals, but this didn't prevent sustained 100 m.p.h. running.

D9000 stands at Reading, ready to work 1M79
D9000 stands at Reading, ready to work 1M79, the 17.47 to Liverpool Lime Street, as far as Birmingham on 18/02/98.

TRAIN : 1V96 09.10 Edinburgh Waverley - Reading
LOCOMOTIVE : D9000 "Royal Scots Grey"
LOAD : 7 mk 2 AC 240/255 tons
Location Distance Time Speed
Didcot Parkway 0.00 0.00 0.00
Moreton Cutting 1.75 2.39 77.5
Cholsey 4.70 4.43 96.8
Goring 8.38 6.56 102.3/100.0
Pangbourne 11.60 8.50 100.3
Tilehurst 14.48 10.39 58.3**
Reading 17.16 13.49 68.2/0.00

** 60 m.p.h. TRS

The brief sojourn at Reading was very pleasant, lots of time for photographs and a few pints in the pub on the platform. From the window we could see the loco back onto the stock ready for the run back to Birmingham.

As we were given the slow line to Didcot Parkway, the "down relief", and again we indulged in some more 100 m.p.h. running.

TRAIN : 1M79 16.47 Reading - Liverpool Lime Street
LOCOMOTIVE : D9000 "Royal Scots Grey"
LOAD : 7 mk 2 AC 240/255 tons
Location Distance Time Speed
Reading 0.00 0.00 0.00
Tilehurst 2.68 4.29 73.0
Pangbourne 5.56 6.33 96.8
Goring 8.78 8.30 101.8
Cholsey 12.46 10.43 100.3
Moreton Cutting 15.41 12.32 90.1
Didcot Parkway 17.16 14.33 0.00

I was particularly looking forward to the run from Coventry to Birmingham International, a stretch of track I'm very familiar with, now living in Coventry, and one over which it's been possible to time many different classes of locomotive.

One feature of the Deltics has always been their ponderous starts. Drivers are wary of overloading the loco at start ups and they have always been more suitable for sustained high speed running with heavy trailing loads. Nevertheless D9000 has not been disgracing herself on the recent service trains she's performed on and she lost no time today.

TRAIN : 1M79 16.47 Reading - Liverpool Lime Street
LOCOMOTIVE : D9000 "Royal Scots Grey"
LOAD : 7 mk 2 AC 240/255 tons
Location Distance Time Speed
Coventry 0.00 0.00 0.00
Canley 1.51 2.39 64.3
Tile Hill 3.53 4.23 83.7
Berkswell 5.49 5.42 97.8
Hampton in Arden 8.76 7.44 101.7/96.0**
Birmingham International 10.70 11.52 0.00

** Signals.

When comparing the run with a good run from a class 50 the obvious feature is that it took D9000 2 minutes and 39 seconds to get to Canley while a 50 could do this in 2 minutes and 5 or 6 seconds. Interestingly both classes of loco passed Canley at similar speeds, with the Deltic actually slightly quicker at this point (64 as opposed to 63 m.p.h.). After this point the Deltic would show a class 50 a clean pair of heels and the lost time from the slow start would soon be recovered from better high speed running (after perhaps 9 or 10 miles and/or 9 or 10 minutes of running time).

Of interest, from previous logs with other classes of loco, over the same route and on identical rakes of stock, a class 37 (37114) was 5 seconds quicker to Canley and a class 33 (33117) again on an identical rake, was only 3 seconds slower. It was a real shame that we were checked on the approach to Hampton in Arden, catching up with the Wolverhampton local in front, I hope that I get another chance to time a Deltic over this stretch on an unchecked Virgin train in the future. This stretch of line is now becoming increasingly congested and Railtrack have stated intentions to increase the capacity to 12 paths per hour in each direction!

Timings (Booked & Actual - for 1V96 & 1M79 for D9000 legs)
(from Nigel Rollings)


Location Booked Actual   Booked Actual
Birmingham New Street 14.06d 14.10   18.44a 18.44
Proof House Jn 14/08 14/11   18/41 18/42
Stechford 14/12 14/16   18/38 18/38
Birmingham International 14.16a ~ 14.17d 14.20 ~ 14.22   18.30a ~ 18.31d 18.28 ~ 18.31
Coventry 14.27a ~ 14.29d 14.31 ~ 14.33   18.18a ~ 18.20d 18.18 ~ 18.20
Kenilworth 14/36 ?   18/09 ?
Leamington Spa 14.44a ~ 14.45d 14.47 ~ 14.48   18.01a ~ 18.03d 17.58 ~ 18.02
Fenny Compton 14/57 ?   17/53 ?
Banbury 15.04a ~ 15.06 15.15 ~ 15.17   17.40a ~ 17.42d 17.40 ~ 17.41
Aynho Jn 15/12 15/22   17/33 17/32
Wolvercot Jn 15/23 15/34   17/23 17/22
Oxford 15.26a ~ 15.28d 15.36 ~ 15.39   17.17a ~ 17.19d 17.16 ~ 17.19
Didcot North Jn 15/39 15/47   17/07 17/06
Didcot Parkway 15.41a ~ 15.42d 15.50 ~ 15.52   17.03a ~ 17.05d 17.02 ~ 1704
Reading 15.59a 16.06   16.47d 16.48

Although there had been many rumours that D9000 was to be sent back south piloting the 20.42 departure to Paddington upon arrival at New Street it was sent light back down the W.C.M.L. to Stewarts Lane. The loco by this point was apparently suffering from low oil, and the Saltley driver was suffering from high hours.

We await Muriel's next excursions onto service trains with interest.

D9000 stands at Birmingham New Steet after arrival with 1M79
D9000 at Birmingham New Street after arrival with 1M79 on 18/02/98.

Andy Flowers

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