4th September 1999
The Best of Both Worlds
|Locos Used||20308, 37604 & 37612|
|20308 + 37612 (1)||Preston - (WCML via Northampton) - Willesden West London Jn - Kensington Olympia - Clapham Junction - Balham - Leigham Jn - West Norwood - Crystal Palace - Norwood Jn - East Croydon - Redhill - Gatwick Airport - Horsham - Arundel Jn - Littlehampton|
|37604 (2)||Littlehampton - Worthing - Hove - Preston Park|
|20308 + 37612 (1)||Preston Park - Brighton|
|20308 + 37612 (3)||Brighton - Haywards Heath - Gatwick Airport - Redhill - East Croydon - Norwood Jn - Crystal Palace - West Norwood - Tulse Hill - Brixton - Factory Jn - Longhedge Jn - Latchmere Jn - Kensington Olympia - (reverse of outward route) - Preston|
This tour was originally planned to run earlier in the year but had been postponed due to problems getting the advertised motive power. Originally the traction was booked as 2 x DRS 37 to Kensington Olympia and 3 x DRS 20 onwards to Brighton.
(1) 37604 on rear.
(2) 20308 + 37612 on rear.
(3) 37604 "stolen" to rescue a failed Virgin XC train!
(by Gary Thornton)
When first advertised this trip was to have run in the early summer and featured two DRS Class 37's and no less than 3 DRS "choppers" (Class 20's). The route was from Preston to Brighton and had the added advantage of picking up at my local station, Northampton. Being a chopper fan I decided to go on this tour.
Problems in getting the advertised motive power caused the tour to be postponed a few months and, up until the Thursday evening, my colleague (who had booked us both on the trip) had not received the tickets or finalised timings. When they arrived on the Friday evening there was no confirmation of the motive power, however I received an e-mail from a friend which confirmed the use of just a single Class 20 and two Class 37's. Worse still I then received another e-mail from a different friend revealing the locos concerned to be 20308, 37604 and 37612 - all of which have operated on passenger trains in the quite recent past. I didn't need any of them for haulage and, with no required track on the tour either, did actually briefly consider abandoning the tour in favour of something else.
In the event, as it was forecast to be a glorious day, the idea of an afternoon at Brighton was not so bad - and it would give me the chance to sample the Volk's Electric Railway on Brighton seafront. With it being a local pick-up it also gave me a reasonably lazy start and a walk to the station in plenty of time for the 08.26 departure time. Just a couple of minutes down and in rolled the train, headed by 20308 and 37612 with 37604 bringing up the rear. My colleague Tony was already on board, having joined the train at Coventry. Good news was that we were in coach H which was the leading vehicle, so at least we would enjoy the thrash from the 20/37 doubleheader.
The route to Brighton was straight down the WCML (passing 33103 plus 3TC rake of coaches at Tring, presumably bound for the Gospel Oak-Barking line where it was scheduled to work one of the diagrams). A handful of sheds (66's) and 92's were noted as we approached Willesden where we turned off the WCML and headed for third rail territory. The onward route was via Clapham Junction, Balham, Crystal Palace and Norwood Junction to East Croydon thence through Three Bridges and Horsham to Littlehampton. A short break here gave time for a few photos before 37604 took over for the run to Preston Park a mile or so from Brighton. A half hour fester here seemed totally pointless and indeed a not inconsiderable number of the tours participants used a service train to get to Brighton a bit earlier. With a reversal at Preston Park we arrived into Brighton station behind 20308 and 37604 a couple of minutes behind schedule.
Another two friends who were on the tour (seated in coach G) were also intending to pay the Volk's Electric Railway a visit so our little group went off looking for it. A 15 minute walk to the seafront then along a bit brings you to the terminus of this 1.5 mile long line. Built in Victorian times this 110v third rail line claims to be Britain's first electric railway. With return tickets purchased we didn't have long to wait before the train turned up - well, train is a bit to grand a name for it really, it was a two carriage affair more like a tram. With half of each carriage "open" to the elements and it being a beautiful sunny afternoon, we opted for the open bit at the front. The ride to Black Rock, the other terminus, takes about 10 minutes. One other train is passed en-route at "Half Way" (appropriate name for the only other station on the line I guess!). Here our little group split up and Tony and myself went off to explore Brighton Marina. Some very impressive boats on display, some clearly worth a considerable sum of money.
On returning to Black Rock station we bumped into some other friends off the tour who were also having a round trip on the railway so we hopped into the enclosed part of the leading coach for the return leg. This had the advantage of having a cushioned seat, the outside seating area being simple wood planks. Our walk back to the main rail station took us through some very small back streets which were full of very arty type shops.
Wandering up platform 7 our train soon arrived being hauled by 09025, the resident station shunter. At the other end of the train was 20308 and 37612....so where's 37604 gone? Turns out it was borrowed following the failure of 47847 (?) on a Virgin Cross Country service! Great, of the pair of tractors on the tour we had only 20 or so miles out of 604 and the remainder would be behind the other. The train pulled up well short of the buffers and I, like many others, hopped quickly aboard hoping that the train would be drawn further forward to clear the platform end signal (getting us the 09 for haulage). We did sort of move a bit, but so little I decided it couldn't count as a haulage :-(
Our return northwards was fairly quiet
(we were now in the rear coach) and was almost the same routing
as outward. Only exceptions being;
took the up Quarry line between Earlswood and Stoats Nest Junction
from West Norwood we went via Brixton to Latchmere Junction
Nothing much to report except a Virgin XC 47 and rake passing us near Willesden (presumably diverted from elsewhere) and a Virgin WC rake being hauled southwards by a RES spoon, with a Class 90 dead on the back (failure?). Oh yes, and 33103 was still at Tring with the 3TC rake, but now 31468 was also attached to the front of the Crompton. A failure perhaps? Arrival back into Northampton was on time and I just had the 40 minute walk home which was very pleasant as it was a real warm late summers evening.
Verdict : Quite a good day out and reasonable value (especially for those travelling the whole trip) but to me it was spoilt somewhat by the poor selection of traction on the day. This may well have been beyond the control of the tour organisers but, that said, such a situation would do nothing to inspire confidence for booking on future tours advertised to use DRS locomotives.
Train Reporting Codes:
1Z64 : Preston - Brighton
1Z84 : Brighton - Preston
Stock : 7 mark 1's & 1 mark 2 ;
|7||39||Balshaw Lane Junction||05/03||-||:||22/50||-||264||03|
|15||10||Wigan North Western||05/11||-||:||22/42||-||256||32|
|16||39||Springs Branch Junction||05/12||-||:||22/40||-||255||03|
|26||71||Warrington Bank Quay||05/21||-||:||22/31||-||244||51|
|28||57||Acton Grange Junction||05/23||-||:||22/30||-||242||65|
|52||59||Crewe Basford Hall Junction||06/05||-||:||22/01||-||218||63|
|92||58||Lichfield Trent Valley||07.05a||-||:||21.17d||-||---||--|
|99||01||Tamworth Low Level||07/16||-||:||21/10||-||172||41|
|168||51||Milton Keynes Central||08/44||08/47||:||19/40||19/40||102||71|
|207||02||Harrow & Wealdstone||09/30||09/34||:||18/55||18/55||64||40|
|213||09||Willesden West London Junction||09/38||09/42||:||18/46||18/47||58||33|
|213||42||Mitre Bridge Junction||09/42||09/44||:||18/38||18/43||58||00|
|213||75||North Pole Junction||09/44||09/45||:||18/37||18/42||57||47|
From here the outward and return routes vary and are described below.
|232||24||Windmill Bridge Junction||10/42||10/43|
|235||55||Stoats Nest Junction||10/55||10/58|
|19||11||Balcombe Tunnel Junction||17/29||17/32|
|36||24||Stoats Nest Junction||17/49||17/52|
|40||55||Windmill Bridge Junction||17/56||17/59|
|50||69||Voltaire Road Junction||18/18||18/23|
continues in first table.
a : arrival time
c : crew change
d : departure time
/ : passing time
All distances, in miles and chains (M & C), are taken from the timing sheet given out on the train. No attempt has been made to verify the mileages given. That said, the mileages for Redhill to Earlswood appear incorrect, being different in each direction! The routing via the up Quarry line on the return leg is also not accounted for in the above distances.
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