Back in the day.... wasn't like this.

Matthew James describes....

This is a brief review about a three day Central Scottish rover that I did Thu-Sat 29-31/08/02, although I was only actually north of the border for about 36hrs.  This would be the first Scottish rover that I have done since 1989, and it would be my last.

I had four aims for this trip:
1) Cover the North to East Cowlairs junction curve.
2) Whip in a required 67 on the sleepers.
3) Cover the 'new' passenger branch to Newcraighall.
4) Cover the Rutherglen West curve.


Having driven north during Thursday afternoon I arrived at Edinburgh Waverley just in time for the 19:05 GNER service to GLC.  90030 was sat in the bay platform waiting its role on 1C11, a sleeper portion to Carstairs. 91101 took me to Glasgow where we rolled in along side 86205+87021(DIT) that had arrived on the 14:30 ex Euston.  En route I had past 47784 and 90028 at Carstairs and 47786, 90034 and 90040 at Polmidie.  The 90's were due to work the up sleepers that night too.  I then did an EMU to Cathcart to meet up with some friends for a few beers, after that I returned to Glasgow before heading out to Dalmuir on another EMU.  I had about a 45min fester here for 1B01 the Fort Bill - Euston sleeper.  The only thing of interest at Dalmuir at 23:00 is watching the last of the 303 units shunt out and return ecs to Yoker depot, and 66099 storm through on 6Y38 to Crianlarich.  About 5 mins early 37416 rolled in complete with Highland Stag motifs on 1B01 for its booked crew change and to pick me up!  The good thing is that on the up sleeper the seating stock is right next to the engine so there was plenty of thrash to be had as we snaked our way across north Glasgow.  As booked the sleeper took the north to east curve at Cowlairs and objective number one was scratched off my list.  On arrival at Edinburgh I stayed on board for the stock shunts to pass some time, and I was most impressed by the fact that the guard who had gripped me on board 1B01 donned his boiler suit on arrival into Waverley and then acted as shunter.  What's this, the railways becoming more flexible!?


Due to the fact that they shut Waverley station between 01:00 and 04:00 to all low-lives like me, I retired to my car for three hours.  I watched 37416 shunt its seating coaches into the bay platform and then couple up the 67 that had brought in the Inverness portion.  The pair stormed off light engine to ML as 416 was due an exam, why the 67 went too I am not sure.  At 03:10 37427 arrived from ML and coupled up to the day coaches.  At about 03:45 I made my way back to the platforms and 67029 and 67030 were parked up ready for their portions.  Bang on time at 04:00 90037 arrived out of the darkness at the head of 1S25.  I climbed aboard the Inverness portion as it was due out first at 04:20.  Required 67029 was up front, but I also needed 67030 which I flagged, so no doubt now I will have 67029 again loads of times and 67030 will explode next week.  Anyway, objective 2 was duly ticked off.

67029 was taken to Stirling for a DMU back via Edinburgh to Newcraighall. This is a new passenger service that covers a curve towards Millerhill that I need.  It is another strange quirk of the railways that this curve was refused to Pathfinder for a tour a couple of months ago and passenger trains were running over it a few weeks later with no upgrade work done on the track in-between!  On arrival at Newcraighall the unit is booked approx. 13mins there so it runs ecs into a new turn back siding to clear the route. And whilst I was waiting for my unit to come back into the station 66041 rolled through on 6S58 to Dalzell.  I took that unit back to Edinburgh and that was objective 3 in the book.  On passing Craigentinny I noted 47727+477?? T'n'T on the Serco test train, 08472 + 08331 shunting barrier coaches and an immaculate 47787 parked up with chocks against its wheels. There were also loads of Virgin Voyagers and then it struck me that I don't know anything about the new units in the country, and I don't care.  I had travelled on units in the past few weeks that I didn't even know existed! In Edinburgh 90030 had arrived back from Carstairs on 1B26.  I had booked a hotel room near Glasgow for tonight and I couldn't access it until 14:00 so I had some fill in moves planned.  Next I went to Bathgate, I hadn't been there for years and I wanted to see the freight line that I require that runs from Carmondean Junc. to Bathgate Yard.  The track condition looked good and there is still a booked automotive train over this line, I do not know why the railtour operators haven't run a tour over this track.  It can't be due to pathing reasons as the freight train is booked to depart at 08:40 or 18:10 which is bang in the middle of the days passenger services. I returned to Haymarket on the same unit and then headed up to Kirkcaldy on a GNER HST.  This move was arranged so that I could ride over the Forth Rail bridge and view the Rosyth branch as that track is also required due to the fact that all tours in recent years that have covered it have had all dud engines on them.  At Kirkcaldy I just had time to walk to the up platform when a Virgin HST rolled in, even in this early stage of its journey it was wedged!  I did this back to Edinburgh and then went on to North Berwick and back on an EMU.  This was done just because I hadn't been there for years. On arrival back at Edinburgh I noticed 47787 was now sat in the bay platform, but still with wheel chocks against its wheels.  I was extremely tired by now so was glad to see that it was time to go and find a bed.  I got to bed at 16:00 and slept until 05:00 the next day.


I drove from the hotel through the south Glasgow suburbs to Paisley Gilmour Street.  As I waited for the SRPS tour to Mallaig to arrive 66017 stormed through towards Ayr on an MGR.  Bang on time 37428 rolled in hauling the maroon SRPS stock.  On paper this tour was booked for 1x37, but every year previous to this it got a pair, and indeed the gen the night before was that 428 would be paired with 426 or 667.  I knew I wouldn't require anything that 428 could have been paired with, so I wasn't disappointed that 428 was solo.  I heard later that 37427 did the Fort Bill - Mallaig section, before 37428 returned the train back to Ayr.  Anyway, back on board at Shields Junction we turned right across a crossover that does not exist according to the Quail atlas.  Thus I was glad that I had scored the Burma Road on the Pathfinder tour to this area that ran on 20/07/02.   A short time later we were sat at the signal that would give us the road round the Rutherglen West curve.  The red stop signal changed to a green light and left hand feather and a few mins later objective 4 had been achieved.  A highlight of the last couple of days was definitely thrashing along the low level lines in the Glasgow area behind a tractor.  I bailed off the tour and returned to Paisley on an EMU.

So my mission had been successful in that all 4 objectives had been achieved, but to return to the title of this piece:  Back in the was not like this, that is definitely true.  The last time I had done a Scottish rover I travelled on loco hauled train after loco hauled train, that just can not be done anymore.  Today, apart from the sleepers, Scotland is plastic, and not much fun!

My weekend wasn't finished here though, as soon as I was back in the car I headed south for the HRT tour that had 66025 & 66189 on it, but that is another story.......

Matthew James

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