Where have all the Deltics gone...?

With a weeks holiday booked off work I decided to "stay local" for a change and spend the week travelling about on an "East Midlands Rover". This ticket allows unlimited travel within the East Midlands area of England (hence the name!) for the very reasonable price of 58.40 for the 7-day version of the ticket. This was actually the 7th occasion over the years that I have spent a week travelling on this particular ticket.

Rather than giving a day by day account of my latest travels I thought it might be more interesting to compare my experiences of this latest week to those of the other occasions I have done the ticket. At the end of each description are listed the haulages I had and the "required" ones are shown in red.

So, sit back, relax and come time travelling with me....

August 1979

My first ever East Midlands Rover (henceforth abbreviated to EMR) was spent with a school friend (Pete) and we based ourselves in Grantham where we stayed with his Grandmother. What she thought of our early starts and late finishes can only be guessed at! With the Deltics nearing the end of their service lives we concentrated on travelling behind them on the stretch between Peterborough and Doncaster (the East Coast Main Line or ECML). Our travels away from the ECML gave the opportunity to sample Class 31's, 45's and 47's.

1979 Haulages
Class 25 321, 325
Class 40 155
Class 45 113, 115, 129, 133, 137, 138, 144
Class 47 201, 274, 409, 418, 420, 426, 430, 524
Class 55 003, 005, 006, 008, 009, 013, 015, 017, 018, 021
Class 86 250
DMU's 50024, 50076
51257, 51258
56012
59281
EMU's 310086

August 1980

EMR No.2 was again spent with Pete and stopping at his Grandmothers in Grantham. Like 1979 we concentrated on Deltic haulages but on this occasion we did manage a couple of variations to the route. On one day 55021 worked to Cleethorpes and we were on it from Newark - and even got a cab ride at Cleethorpes as the Deltic ran round the train ready to return to London. On the Saturday night all services between Peterborough and Doncaster were diverted via Spalding, Lincoln and Gainsborough. A round trip was had, my first ever "all nighter" out bashing. Despite it being August, it was sure cold at 05.00 on Peterborough station! A couple of trips on the Skegness trains were also sampled as they were Class 20 hauled.

1980 Haulages
Class 20 070, 077, 081, 139
Class 31 230, 309
Class 40 093
Class 45 110, 125, 128, 135
Class 47 211, 421, 488
Class 55 004, 005, 006, 007, 009, 010, 012, 013
014, 016, 017, 018, 019, 021,
022
DMU's 50025, 50708
56038

October 1983

For EMR No.3 I was on my own and with no Deltics about I was on this ticket primarily to cover required track - that is, to travel over as many different routes as I could. HST's had taken over from Class 45's on the Midland Mainline and ECML. Only one locomotive haulage all week! (I do not count HST power cars as locomotives, although they are now classified as such and are described as Class 43's).

1983 Haulages
Class 47 448
DMU's 51829, 51960, 51967
52091, 52102
53017, 53047, 53669, 53744
54002, 54016, 54017, 54033, 54051, 54431, 54446
HST's (43xxx) 002, 005, 039, 044, 048, 052, 055, 058, 060, 062, 069, 072
073, 087, 089, 092, 095, 099, 103, 104, 105, 106, 112, 118
154,
157, 158, 160, 161, 163, 170, 179, 189, 193

As I stood on platform 4 at Peterborough station for the first time since the demise of Deltics on service trains I could only wonder :

"where have all the Deltics gone...?"

April 1985

EMR No.4 was "a means to an end". I also bought a "Yorkshire Rover" (YR) which bordered with the EMR at Sheffield and Doncaster. The YR allowed me to reach required track in Yorkshire and also the Cleveland and Humberside areas. The haulages below are those I had whilst "commuting" to the YR each day.

April 1985 Haulages
Class 31 443, 453
Class 45 143, 144
DMU's 51278
53045, 53685
54021, 54036, 54190
HST's (43xxx) 022, 038, 040, 050, 054, 075, 078, 081, 084, 086
089,
091, 095, 097, 099, 102, 106, 107, 110, 116
119, 122, 154, 159, 176, 179, 185, 195, 196

July 1985

For EMR No.5 I actually had the company of my mother and sister and we used the ticket to explore places off the railway. On the day we went to the seaside I did have a slight problem at Leicester when a DMU came in heading for Skegness but I didn't want to catch it. We should wait for the later one I said as it has more comfortable coaches (oh, and a pair of Class 20's at the head....). Note the first appearance of a "second generation" DMU in the shape of prototype 150001 which was being tested on the Derby to Matlock service.

July 1985 Haulages
Class 20 041, 082
Class 31 219, 435, 445, 461
Class 45 113
Class 47 468, 531
1st Generation DMU's 53015, 53039, 53042, 53649, 53657, 53667, 53693
54005, 54088
59063, 59163
2nd Generation DMU's 150001 (55300)
HST's (43xxx) 039, 044, 047, 049, 055, 056, 057, 060, 061
069, 073,
074, 078, 082, 083, 086, 097, 098
100, 102, 114, 115, 116,
117, 118, 152, 160

September 1987

EMR No.6 was another "means to an end" - I also purchased a "Coast and Peaks Rover" (C&PR) which got me to many more pieces of required track in the west of England and north Wales. The haulages below are those I had whilst "commuting" to the C&PR each day.

1987 Haulages
Class 31 444, 456, 462
Class 47 588, 639
2nd Generation DMU's 142061 (55711), 150104 (52104), 150109 (57109)
150112 (52112), 150117 (52117), 150124 (52124)
150125 (57125), 150136 (57136), 150146 (52146)
HST's (43xxx) 045, 054, 059, 076, 077, 078, 091, 097, 099, 103
109, 110,
111, 117, 118, 122, 152, 155, 179, 198

July 1999

....and so to EMR No.7

No real plans for this latest one, just a ride around some old haunts. As there is no required passenger track that I need, I concentrated on getting some outstanding locomotive & HST power car haulages - namely;

Fragonset Railways 31602 (in use between Bedford and Bletchley)
43043, my last Midland Main Line HST power car
Virgin XC HST power cars (5 required)
any Class 90's in use on GNER services
GNER Class 91's (20 required)

In the event I succeeded quite well and got 31602, 43043, 2 of the Virgin XC HST power cars, 2 Class 90's and 11 Class 91's. I actually managed slightly better than that as a diversion to Birmingham New Street on Thursday 24th July (using a Coventry to Birmingham "day return") got me another XC power car and 90142.

1999 Haulages
Class 31 452, 468, 601, 602
Class 90 024, 036
Class 91 002, 006, 008, 009, 013, 015, 018, 019, 021, 023
024, 029
1st Generation
DMU's
55027
2nd Generation
DMU's

142018 (55609), 150268 (57268), 150274 (52274)
153329 (52329), 156419 (52419), 158784 (52784)
158786 (52786), 158793 (57793), 158795 (52795)
158844 (52844), 158853 (57853), 158855 (57855)
170101 (50101), 170102 (50102), 170103 (79103)
170104 (50104 + 79104), 170105 (50105 + 79105)
170106 (79106), 170107 (50107 + 79107)
170108 (50108), 170110 (79110)
170111 (50111 + 79111), 170112 (50112 + 79112)
170113 (50113 + 79113), 170114 (50114 + 79114)
170117 (50117 + 79117)

EMU's 319007 (62897), 321405 (77947), 321412 (77954)
321415 (
71963), 321433 (78302)
HST's (43xxx) 043, 044, 047, 048, 055, 056, 058, 061, 064, 065
067, 069, 070, 073, 074, 082, 086, 121, 122, 154
159, 166, 198

Some thoughts and comments on my latest experiences on Britains privatised railway. I travelled on services provided by Midland Main Line, Silverlink, GNER, Virgin Trains and Central Trains.

Best Train Operating Company
Without doubt I found Midland Main Line the best of the operators I experienced. The trains were all clean and the staff very friendly and helpful. Regular rubbish collections were also made by on-train staff. Almost all services I travelled on had a trolley service of refreshments and the tea and coffee were free. Some overcrowding on the new Turbostars was the only let-down.

A close second came GNER though gross overcrowding between Peterborough and Doncaster seems to be the norm. On most journeys I ended up stood in the end doorway of a coach. I got the impression GNER were more interested in their long distance passengers rather than the "intermediate traveller" going just a couple of stops. The station staff at Peterborough and (in particular) Doncaster were extremely friendly and helpful.

Worst Train Operating Company
No question there - Central Trains. Many trains were dirty, full of rubbish and often had damaged (vandalised) seats and fittings. The staff I found to be very elusive and, on a couple of occasions when I tried to get information from on-train staff, unhelpful and actually quite rude. Timekeeping of their trains was also not so good and many were badly overcrowded. On-train announcements (other than "the next station is...") were virtually non existent and those that were made (including "the next station is...") I found difficult to hear/understand.

Silverlink came close to bottom too as their trains were also often dirty and full of rubbish from previous journeys.

Best & Worst Trains
The new Class 170 Turbostars being used by Midland Mainline are clear winners. They are comfortable (though legroom in the airline-style seats is a bit limited) quiet and fast. The HST's on MML are also comfortable and offer a good ride. Strangely it seemed to me that the Virgin XC ones ride rougher, even over the same route (specifically I am comparing MML and VXC HST's over the Derby to Sheffield stretch).

The Class 158 DMU's come in bottom in my opinion, though this may partly be because of their internal condition (see "worst train operator" category above). I did travel in a couple of recently overhauled and re-fitted examples and they were quite an improvement, though still noisy when under power and with a lot of vibration from the engine.

The Class 142 railbus is also a contender for worst train - rough, noisy and uncomfortable - and that was in a re-fitted example with the newer type 2+2 individual seating!

Best & Worst Stations
Difficult one this - probably Leicester was the best I used. I wouldn't really say there were any bad ones, though the subway between platforms at Chesterfield was pretty dire.

Worst (and Best) Mens Toilet
A joint winner here in the worst category - those on platform 6 at Sheffield and platform 1 at Doncaster. Breathing apparatus required to enter either one! The hot-air dryers in the toilet at Doncaster weren't working either.

As for best - no clear winner, most were pretty rough despite supposedly being inspected at regular intervals throughout the day.

....and finally...

...as I stood at the end of platform 4 at Peterborough on Saturday morning (waiting for 90024 on a northbound GNER service) I asked myself the same question as I did several years ago;

"where have all the Deltics gone...?"

The East Coast Main Line just doesn't seem the same without them.

Gary Thornton.

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