9th - 13th January 2004
The Last Post

Janet & John Cottrell see a little of what's left to bash in the UK.

Five whole days off work for both of us, normally this would be the cue for a trip abroad - but this time we couldn't really be bothered due to the time of year. In any case there were a few outstanding things in this country that we wanted to catch up on which would fit quite neatly into a long weekend.

Friday 9th January 2004

The plan for today was to get to Carlisle in order to be in position for the S&C drags tomorrow, but what do do en route? Neither of us had been to Holyhead for a few months so that looked like a good idea, except that the diagram from Crewe had allegedly changed. Despite being shown officially as multiple unit, a few checks on TOPS whilst at work revealed that the 47 appeared to be working as previously so we decided to go and view it. Fortunately, the 0620, 0655 and 0710 departures from Euston were still hauled (we would not risk the 0810 Euston - Liverpool with it's 10 minute connection in any case, even if it was hauled) so we opted for the Glasgow as it was booked an 87 rather than the later Liverpool service which was booked a class 90.

Of course a certain well known law came into force, when having dragged ourselves out the house 20 minutes earlier to get the Glasgow it turned out to be a skoda. Not wishing to wait around at the delightful location of Milton Keynes station for 50 minutes we took it anyway. The sight of 47840 as Rugby Thunderbird prompted an attempt on our part to put a curse on 90010 to fail, but it didn't work.

Faced with a fester at Crewe, we were making our way to the buffet when we bumped into an acquaintance who pointed out that we could do the 153 shuttle to Chester for the 47 back in. This sounded better than waiting around at Crewe, so we had a cup of tea at Chester instead. Back at Crewe, DRS kindly provided entertainment with a line up of a 66, 20 and two 37's to photograph.

Following an unremarkable run to Holyhead and back, we had a bit of a wait at Crewe during which we exposed some more film on such mundane subjects as Virgin 87's and 90's. Having spent the last few years mostly ignoring them for photographic purposes we thought that it about time that this omission was rectified, after all they will probably be history on the WCML before the end of the year. Added interest came in the form of Riviera Trains' blue 47839 and EWS 47792, both light engine unfortunately.

The 1325 Euston - Preston also decided to produce a class 90, which prompted us to get off at Warrington rather than go any further. This gave us the opportunity to inspect 37669 parked in the bay, wouldn't it be nice to have that to Carlisle. We could have had a "Vermin Voyager" onwards, but even a class 90 is preferable to one of those abortions - naturally that was exactly what we got when the Glasgow appeared.

An unexpected "bonus" (if you could call it that) was that this night marked the final departure of 1A93, the Carlisle - Willesden TPO service. After a bite to eat, we went down to the station to pay our respects to the last one. The thought of getting to the station at around 0330 to view the corresponding down service did not really appeal !

When we arrived at the station, the stock was already in the platform and run round with a respectably clean 90029 on the business end. We were rather surprised at the amount of people around, numbers increased steadily as departure time drew near to the extent that we estimate that the best part of 100 people witnessed the final up TPO leave.

Whilst waiting for the big event, we were treated to the sight of a number of freight trains passing through the station. Unfortunately, they were all sheds and electrics apart from a solitary class 60 but 66166 did provide some entertainment as it worked a loaded MGR train south. This particular specimen sounded quite rateable with sounds like an Irish Rail 071 trying to escape from the exhaust. Much more of this and I could get to quite like these rancid things.

Clutching our memento of one of the rubber strips with carefully painted place names which marked the sorting pigeon holes in the TPO coach we trudged back to the hotel. Hopefully we would also collect the letter that we posted to ourselves via the letter box in the train when we arrived home as well.

Location arr dep traction train
Leighton Buzzard   0640 321 407 0544 Euston - Birmingham NS
Milton Keynes C. 0650 0701 90010 0620 Euston - Glasgow C.
Crewe 0836 0849 153 327 0849 Crewe - Chester
Chester 0911 0937 47773 0745 Holyhead - Crewe
Crewe 0956 1030 47773 1030 Crewe - Holyhead
Holyhead 1224 1248 47773 1248 Holyhead - Crewe
Crewe 1452 1548 90013 1325 Euston - Preston
Warrington B.Q. 1606 1640 90009 1430 Euston - Glasgow C.

                    Saturday 10th January 2004

Following a much needed lie in, we arrived at the station in good time for the first diversion south. Unlike last time we did this move, four years ago, it would have to be an out and back journey with the same loco, there being virtually no choice of trains since the demise of the cross country service. Much to our surprise, there was an 0857 departure to Bournemouth running just in front of our train, but this was a voyager so there was no contest over which train to take. However, it did mean that we were held up at various places en route waiting for the block section in front to clear.

We had already worked out that our loco today would be 47841 as we had seen it arrive last night in the company of 47792. The latter would have been preferable but we did not want to wait a further two hours before setting out and it would also mean that the return journey would be made in the dark. The other alternative would have been to stay in Preston for an extra four hours in order to get the other engine back or go down to Warrington for four hours there. With apologies to anybody from either place, we did not fancy that idea and we would still not see anything from the window on the return.

No matter though, 47841 was acceptable enough as it sounded a bit rough with a vague hint of baby sulzer stuttering when idling. Unusually, the 2nd class was on the south end so some thrash could be sampled, although one had to stand by the open window in the vestibule to appreciate it properly.

On the return journey, the coaches were the correct way round, 1st class on the south end on arrival, so we had to make do with sitting in the middle. The rain promised by the weather forecast had arrived by the time we got back to Settle so standing next to open window would have been rather uncomfortable. It also meant that the scenery could not be viewed very well either, but as we still had three journeys to make over this line we did not feel that we were missing out.

One feature of note today was that both the trains that we caught were virtually empty. We had reserved seats both ways, expecting the services to be busy but, in the event, were spoilt for choice as to where to sit. Even the voyagers that we saw had empty places on board.

Location arr dep traction train
Carlisle   0911 47841 0730 Glasgow C. - Euston
Preston 1218 1314 47841 0935 Euston - Glasgow C.
Carlisle 1615      

Sunday 11th January 2004

This day was simply a fill-in move to get us to Knaresborough. We would have gone via the S&C again, but there were no hauled trains south until nearly two o'clock in the afternoon, a totally disgusting service. We even looked at going north via Glasgow, but that was just as bad, so we settled for the Newcastle - Carlisle line which we had not been over for a few years.

It was a pleasant enough journey despite the 156 being like a refrigerator. The engine under our coach kept cutting out whilst standing at some stations so we arrived a little late and were greeted by a fitter.

In total contrast to Carlisle, Newcastle was very busy and we did wonder whether we would get a seat for the journey to York. As it turned out there were a fair few places available and we ended up in a pair of reserved seats that nobody had taken up.

Once at York, we dumped the suitcase and made for the National Railway Museum to while away a few hours. We did consider trying a bash on some class 91's but bearing in mind that it was a Sunday and we were buying tickets today, there did not seem a lot of point. Anyway, we had not been to the NRM for a few years, so it was time for another visit.

On our return to the station we were pleased to see a pair of class 56's (059 & 071) on an empty steel train heading south. The driver must have been quite keen as he gave them some stick when he got the road, they sounded good despite the light load in tow.

Location arr dep traction train
Carlisle   0920 156 488 0920 Carlisle - Sunderland
Newcastle 1100 1133 91124 0957 Edinburgh W. Kings Cross
York 1225 1717 144 001 1717 York - Leeds
Knaresborough 1744      

Monday 12th January 2004

Another move which was high on our list of "things to do" was to cover the class 37 "P" train from Knaresborough (hence the move with the "nodding donkey" last night). We managed to persuade the "lady of the house" where we were staying to do breakfast a little earlier than booked so arrived at the station well fed, only to be greeted with another "pacer". After a brief flap we realised that the loco hauled train had been moved to the 0758 departure, but we were still relieved when 37408 poked it's nose out of the short tunnel adjacent to the station.

A few people joined at Knaresborough, but the train was comfortably full by the end of it's journey. We left all the commuters to rush off to work and went for a cup of tea in readiness for the main event. This was very much required to keep warm as it was rather cold outside and the doors were not released until around 10 minutes before departure.

The weather was still very variable, bright sun one minute then heavy rain, of course it was raining as we traversed the most scenic part again.

There was enough time at Carlisle for a quick walk round and a couple of phots, including 56115 on the "Enterprise" working from Worksop and a rather dead looking 60006 in Corus silver livery being towed by 60047. 66241 was seen (and later passed again at Hellifield) on a southbound MGR as well, but one thing we did not see was the 1306 departure to Euston. This started off showing 30 minutes late, which became 45 minutes late and was being announced as due to a loco failure at Glasgow. Thoughts of hanging around to see if something like a class 57 produced were rejected as being risky. We would not have been very happy to flag the 37's only to find that the Glasgow turned up with a boring electric on and we would still have to get back to Knaresborough.

A good run was had back to Leeds, at least I got beyond Skipton this time. When I covered this train back into November, we were unceremoniously ejected onto a bus at Skipton due to the wires being down at Bingley. In fact we could even have made the 1605 to Kings Cross from Leeds, bet this wouldn't happen if we wanted to get back to London. Even more annoying was the sight of 91127 on the 1740 to the Cross - my last one ! Although we could have done it to Wakefield, an educated guess told us that we would be quite late back and dinner was calling, not to mention the fact that we would miss out on some 37 mileage which was the whole point of staying in Knaresborough. One day I will have to try and plug this irritating gap when there is nothing better to do. John even offered to buy me a deckchair to take to Kings Cross and sit in.

Location arr dep traction train
Knaresborough   0758 37408/411 0758 Knaresborough - Leeds
Leeds 0842 0947 37411/408 0947 Leeds - Carlisle
Carlisle 1214 1333 37408/411 1333 Carlisle - Leeds
Leeds 1603 1745 37411/408 1743 Leeds - Knaresborough
Knaresborough 1834      

Tuesday 13th January 2004

Time to go home, but not before caning in 37408 & 411 for a few more miles. Vain hopes that we night get a change of loco one end were not realised - we were being rather unrealistic bearing in mind that 37405 failed spectacularly last week. There was a different driver this morning who seemed to be a bit keener with the power handle and we had some rateable thrash on the trip into Leeds.

For the third time this weekend, the rain appeared as we approached Ribblehead, there must be a switch attached to one of the track circuits there that turns the rain on ! Apart from that the weather was quite kind with a fair amount of sun this time.

Arrival at Carlisle saw us bid farewell until the next time to the trusty pair of 37's. On our return from a quick visit to the town, we were taken aback to see the Mail Vans parked in their usual place. Further investigation revealed the set to be devoid of the TPO coaches so it looked like the train was still running but as a "bag carrier" for the last few weeks of Mail trains.

The next train on platform 4 .... blah blah, second class in the orange zone, so why is the loco on the south end then ? A quick dash down the other end of the platform whilst everybody else stood and stared saw us bag a bay of four in a very empty looking second coach, which never got beyond 25% full for the whole time that we were on it. Very pleased that the class 87's had finally decided to come out to play today, although we would have gone on the train regardless - we had spent enough time in Carlisle over the last few days.

One storming run later, we arrived at Milton Keynes in time to make the dubious two minute connection onto the local - just as well seeing that the guard decided to leave a little early. All in all a fitting end to an enjoyable weekend away, one which is not likely to be repeated given the advancing tide of plastic rubbish.

Location arr dep traction train
Knaresborough   0758 37408/411 0758 Knaresborough - Leeds
Leeds 0841 0947 37411/408 0947 Leeds - Carlisle
Carlisle 1214 1306 87004 1147 Glasgow C. - Euston
Milton Keynes 1632 1634 321 409 1635 Milton Keynes - Euston
Leighton Buzzard 1646      

Janet Cottrell (accompanied by John Cottrell)

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