3rd March 2007

Pathfinder Tours
The Welsh Central Liner II

Loco Used 40145
Stock Used ?????

1Z47 : Crewe to Llandrindod Wells
1Z45 : Llandrindod Wells to Crewe

Loco Route
40145 Crewe - Alsager - Stoke-on-Trent - Uttoxeter - Derby
40145 Derby - Burton-on-Trent - Tamworth - Landor Street Jn - Bordesley Jn - Lifford East Jn - Lifford West Jn - Birmingham New Street - Proof House Jn - Bordesley Jn - Kings Norton - Bromsgrove - Cheltenham Spa - Gloucester - Chepstow - Newport (1) - Cardiff Central - Pontyclun - Bridgend - Swansea District line - Hendy Jn - Llandeilo - Llandrindod Wells - Craven Arms - (via Shrewsbury Abbey Foregate Curve) - Wolverhampton - (2) Portobello Jn - Bescot Stadium - Perry Barr North Jn - (2) Soho South Jn - Birmingham New Street - Proof House Jn - Landor Street Jn - Tamworth - Burton-on-Trent - Derby
40145 Derby - (reverse of outward route) - Crewe

Notes :
(1) Was booked into platform 1 at Newport (Casnewydd) for a photographic stop which was cancelled owing to late running. The train stopped on the down relief instead of being platformed.
(2) The train was booked Dudley Port but was diverted via Bescot because of late running service trains.

Source : Andrew Pullar (on the train from Crewe to Birmingham & on the return from Llandrindod)

Tour Review
(by Andrew Pullar)

On 03rd March 1984 an F&W Railtours charter ran over the Central Wales line hauled by 40035 Apapa. Exactly twenty three years later and F&W had metamorphosed into Pathfinder Tours (2006) Ltd. who couldn’t resist utilising the CFPS mainline registered class 40 for a rerun. The Tywi Valley and Radnor Forest would once more reverberate to the unmistakeable sound of a Whistler climbing Sugar Loaf and powering over Knucklas Viaduct.

This is just as well as I missed the first incarnation through work commitments. Unlike the original Welsh Central Liner the charter didn’t start from Plymouth and sadly 40035 had been turned into spades a long time ago. So the charter started from Crewe as the most convenient place to begin operationally for a trip using 40145 as motive power. For me living south of the Thames convenient isn’t the first word that springs to mind when a charter I want to travel on starts from deepest Cheshire. That’ll teach me to move from Wythenshawe (Greater Manchester) in search of a job.

Limited funds dictate that an early start from Crewe means an overnight leap from Hampshire to Holyhead crossing London and changing at Crewe and Chester before retracing my steps to Crewe and trying to find somewhere in a waiting room to while away a couple of hours vice a hotel. It soon becomes worth it when a familiar sound echoes around the station as it did the first time I was serenaded by my first love (don’t tell the missus) on an August night way back in 1975 (sorry but hydraulics were only a passing fling – they didn’t mean anything to me. Honest. Is this a ticket I see before me on a certain Western Refiner tour?). Alas for me there were no Health and Safety regulations back then to make BR paint a “these beasts may seriously damage your wealth” warning on the locos (or the missus! ...................... I think she must be due a repaint soon. I’m torn between BR large logo blue or Regi-rail !).

Back to reality and it became apparent that the booked time of departure was at risk as instead of the expected start from platform 1 (I still find it strange to think of platform 1 as being on the eastern side of the station instead of the now disused western side pre the 1985 Crewe re-signalling – too many overnight leaps for roarers) the train was spotted in platform 11. Sure enough departure was delayed by about 15 minutes as a consequence but this was made up before arrival at Derby most likely due to allowances in the timings.

Stops were made to pick up tour participants at the principle stations to Birmingham New Street but those that boarded at England’s second city’s city centre station would have missed the first highlight of the day; 145 taking the Lifford curve. This was new forty trackage for me and was most welcome as the only other loco I had had for haulage around this curve had been 44004 on a railtour many moons ago. Having put that right the tour completed the loop by returning to Lifford East Jn on the Camp Hill line before continuing westward down the Lickey and onto South Wales via Gloucester and Chepstow.

Despite some high speed running the train arrived at Newport eight minutes late and with Network Rail starting to flap about pathing on the Central Wales line the advertised photo stop became a casualty. The train paused on the down relief (no platform so rare for a passenger train) for a couple of minutes before departing early in an effort to make sure Hendy Jn was reached as near on time as possible. I suspect there was a long out take of breath when 145 clattered over the points at Hendy Jn a couple of minutes early.

After Cardiff it was all new track for me as far as Craven Arms for class 40 haulage which is why I stumped up the dough to travel. The fact that the weather that had been fine up to setting wheel on Welsh soil had become ominously wet did not put a dampener on things as the symphony from the front was in full swing as the tour stormed up the Heart of Wales route (as the Central Wales line is now referred to by the marketing gurus trying to encourage use of the Central Wales line – how about running a more frequent service and dumping the two car chariots in favour of loco hauled stock during the tourist season as they do in Austria) to its summit at Sugar Loaf timed up the bank at a steady 24 miles per hour.

Pathing requirements allowed for a photo stop at Llanwrtyd in a cloud burst which at least kept the usual assortment of rivet counters and other loitering numpties from spoiling the photos for a change. It was refreshing (no not the rain) to witness a photo line developing (sorry I couldn’t resist as it is a very rare sight these days). After having received a good drenching it was onwards to a right time arrival at the Victorian Spa town of Llandrindod Wells for a couple of hours of sightseeing in between the showers. Unfortunately a couple of minutes were more than sufficient for this activity so many people went off in various directions in search of a time wasting wheeze or three. The bars were soon heaving with the sound of Ye Merry Englishmen recounting their olde moves of yore, besieging the town’s fish and chips shop or raiding the town’s supermarket and newsagent for provisions for the long trek back whence they came. In amongst all this I think the mayor of the town made an appearance whilst the train was at Llandrindod (though I wouldn’t swear to this in court), two service trains crossed and the old signal cabin acting as a mini museum on the town platform was open for those that cared to wander in for something to do. More cheese Gromit.

Eventually it was time to leave the tranquillity and head back across the border and 145 duly backed the train out of the Up Refuge Siding to which it had been banished. For whatever reason the tour departed seven minutes late for the thrash over the Shropshire foothills which was about made up by the time the CFPS’s finest stuck its not inconsiderable nose over the pointwork onto the Welsh Marches line at Craven Arms. This signalled that the tour had accomplished its aim of recreating Apapa’s epic maiden voyage 23 years previously (The original Welsh Central Liner had reversed and headed south at this point towards Hereford and some tractor haulage).

Craven Arms also signalled the end of track for the day over which I had not had class 40 haulage or so I thought. The train was heading back to Birmingham were I had to leap in order to get home without finding a hotel room or a cardboard box for the night; there being no overnight moves south (or north for that matter on a Saturday night in this day and age of political enlightenment over public transport – Oh for a return to the days of the Barrow to Euston sleeper, the walk up Pall Mall to Victoria for the Newspaper train to Eastbourne or Horsham, Ramsgate or Dover).

But I digress (my doctor has confirmed a serious case of chronic nostalgia). The Welsh Central Liner II duly picked its way around the Abbey Foregate curve to avoid Shrewsbury (like the plague in brother Cadfael’s time) to arrive in Wolverhampton. My slumber was interrupted by the charter running into the new platform 4 and whispers on the grapevine that “summat” was up. The “summat” was a disruption to the services on the Stour line which was the tour’s booked route to Birmingham.

So after a twelve minute delay 145 turned left and headed for my family’s spiritual home of the Darlaston and Bescot area on my father’s side yo naow. you can thank the Second World War and a Naval posting to Devonport for my Brummie grandfather for my subsequent presence on this globe (yes I know the difference between yo and yam but doh yo). Thus I enjoyed another bonus piece of new track for class 40 haulage as far as Portobello Jn as recompense for a 22 minute late arrival at the man made black hole that is New Street station.

Just enough time was available to me to enjoy 145s cacophonous departure followed by a few minutes preparation for the journey home by Voyager (a jar of painkillers) and then checking the availability of my chiropractor. Good job I don’t have to pay the fare as the attention of a chiropractor is cheaper.

Andrew Pullar

Timings (Booked & Actual)
(from various including Andrew Pullar)

Location Booked Actual   Booked Actual
Crewe 05.44d [P1] 05.58 [P11]   22.15a [P5] ?
Crewe South Jn 05/47 ?   22/12 ?
Barthomley Jn 05/51 ?   22/09 ?
Alsager 05/56 06/08   22/06 ?
Kidsgrove 06.03a ~ 06.05d 06.12 ~ 06.13   22.00a ~ 22.02d ?? ~ ??
Stoke-on-Trent 06.16a ~ 06.18d [P1] 06.23 ~ 06.24   21*38a ~ 21*49d ?? ~ ??
Stoke Jn 06/20 ?   21/36 ?
Longton 06/23 ?   21/30 ?
Caverswall SB 06/26 ?   21/27 ?
Blythe Bridge 06/28 ?   21/25 ?
Uttoxeter 06.40a ~ 06.42d 06.47 ~ 06.48   21.10a ~ 21.12d ?
Tutbury & Hatton 06/54 ?   21/01 ?
North Stafford Jn 07/05 ?   20/56 ?
Stenson Jn 07/05 ?   20/55 ?
Derby 07.17a ~ 07.42d [P6] 07.16 ~ 07.44 [P6]   20.28a ~ 20.48d [P4] ?
Stenson Jn 07/49 ?   20/20 ?
North Stafford Jn 07/50 ?   20/19 ?
Burton-on-Trent 07.55a ~ 07.57d 07.58 ~ 07.59   20.06a ~ 20.08d ?
Wichnor Jn 08/04 08/05   19/59 ?
Tamworth High Level 08.10a ~ 08.12d 08.12 ~ 08.14   19.51a ~ 19.53d ?
Kingsbury Jn 08/21 08/22   19/47 ?
Water Orton 08/24 ?   19/43 ?
Landor Street Jn 08/29 08/33   19/37 ?


Location Booked Actual
St Andrew's Jn 08/32 ?
Bordesley Jn 08/35 08/37
Lifford East Jn 08/40 08/43
Lifford West Jn 08/42 08/45
Selly Oak 08/47 08/49
Birmingham New Street 08.58a ~ 09.08d 09.00 ~ 09.10
Proof House Jn 09/11 ?
Bordesley Jn 09/15 ?
Kings Norton 09/26 09/29
Longbridge 09/29 ?
Barnt Green 09/31 ?
Bromsgrove 09/34 ?
Stoke Works Jn 09/36 ?
Abbotswood Jn 09/43 09/52
Ashchurch 09/50 10/00
Cheltenham Spa 09/56 10/10
Barnwood Jn 10/05 ?
Horton Road Jn 10/06 ?
Gloucester 10/08 ?
Awre 10/21 ?
Lydney 10/26 ?
Chepstow 10/34 ?
Severn Tunnel Junction 10/41 10/55
Magor 10/47 ?
Newport 10p59a ~ 11p14d [P1] 11.07 ~ 11.09 [DR]
Marshfield 11/24 ?
Cardiff Central 11/33 [P3] 11.30 ~ 11.32
Pontyclun 11/45 11/44
Bridgend 11/53 ?
Margam Moors Jn 12/00 ?
Port Talbot Parkway 12/04 12/06
Briton Ferry 12/09 12/10
Court Sart Jn 12/10 12/11
Dynevor Jn 12/13 12/13
Felin Fran 12/19 12/18
Hendy Jn 12/35 12/33
Pontarddulais 12t36 ~ 12t38 12/35
Pantyffynnon 12t46 ~ 12t48 12.43 ~ 12.44
Llandeilo 13t07 ~ 13t09 13.06 ~ 13.07
Llandovery 13t30 ~ 13t32 13.32 ~ 13.34
Llanwrtyd 13*55 ~ 14*15 13.59 ~ 14.16
Llandrindod Wells 14.45a ~ 16.45d 14.46 ~ 16.52
Llandrindod Crossing 16t47 ~ 16t48 ?? ~ ??
Knighton 17t21 ~ 17t23 17.27 ~ 17.28
Craven Arms 17t47 ~ 17t49 17.50 ~ 17.51
Marsh Brook LC 17/55 ?
Dorrington SB 18/04 ?
Sutton Bridge Jn 18/10 ?
Abbey Foregate Jn 18/14 ?
Wellington 18/26 18/33
Madeley Jn 18/33 18/38
Cosford 18/38 ?
Oxley SB 18/45 18/50
Wolverhampton North Jn 18/50 ?
Wolverhampton 18*53a ~ 19*04d [P4] 18.53 ~ 19.16
Dudley Port 19/13 DIV
Galton Jn 19/16 DIV
Portobello Jn DIV ?
Darlaston Jn DIV ?
Bescot Stadium DIV ?
Perry Barr North Jn DIV ?
Soho South Jn 19/19 19/40
Birmingham New Street 19.24a ~ 19.33d [P8] 19.46 ~ ??
Proof House Jn 19/36 ?

Timings continue in first table.

Back to "The Railtour Files"