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2020 Cumbrian Mountain Expresses

Discussion in 'What's Going On' started by mike1522, Dec 31, 2019.

  1. 1020 Shireman

    1020 Shireman Well-Known Member Friend

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    We dived into Coach U that had some seats free. The guard didn't come through the train before Crewe. Too many rowdy football fans on board.
     
  2. 1020 Shireman

    1020 Shireman Well-Known Member Friend

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    Wasn't really going to put a report in but as it turned into an 'interesting' day:

    Winter Cumbrian Mountain Express 29th February 2020 - A Timer's Tale ... and more

    I have no intention of treading on David (OTW's) toes and writing a full report on the train but we South Walians had an interesting day to say the least. Flooding between Hereford and Abergavenny closing the line on Friday led us to consider taking a car to Crewe - then the last train of the day ran through to Cardiff so the line was passable then. To drive or not to drive ..... Early Saturday showed it still to be open as the early Manchester got through to Hereford before we had to leave the house. So quick call to our mate Malcolm and we decided to do the 0619 from Abergavenny with Malcolm joining earlier at Cwmbran.

    Alan was in the Whistle Stop so with a monster bacon roll for me and sausage roll for Malcolm, Mrs S can't eat such things that early - and 3 coffees we joined the train. Horror of horrors, before we'd even got over Llanvihangel Summit we were down to walking pace as the driver was running over flooded track. We got through and then tentatively crossed more flooded rail just past Pontrilas. Thankfully all was fine and were outside Crewe some 5 mins early, though we had to wait for a platform. Bit concerned about the return as it was chucking it down again in South Wales.

    No dramas and we joined the WCME and got to Carnforth U&DGL a few minutes down. Bit of an issue with the shunting but we only left 5 down with 35018 on the front. Before we left Don Benn had come looking for seats on the milepost side and fortunately the seat opposite me was available as someone hadn't joined at Preston. Good to meet up with Don again and we got the kit set up for what we hoped would be some seriously good running with 35018 on an unexpectedly dry and bright morning - even the sun (think that's what it was) put in an appearance more than once.

    So with a doyen of the Southern opposite me we thought about some likely summit speeds and we came up with:

    40 over Yealand
    High 60s at mp13;
    High 50s at Oxenholme;
    Close to 50 at Grayrigg Summit
    75 through Tebay
    Mid 40s at Shap Summit.
    based on the unexpected fine weather and dry rail.

    Up front we had the excellent Steve Chipperfield as our driver with Craig Todd, a new name to us, feeding the beast. A gentle start and we only hit the bottom of Yealand Bank at 31.9. Steady climb to top the summit at 32.9. Disappointing for a Class 8 with 11. OK, should have a nicely warmed up Merchant by now and 3 and a bit miles to go to MP13 and the start of Grayrigg Bank. Not a serious charge on the 293f, 50.7 at mp10 3/4; and on the level , past mp12 1/2 at 61.7. Furrowed brows time. We passed mp13, the start of the 173r at 62.5 and passed Milnethorpe at 60 where we heard the note from 35018 change as the regulator was opened much wider. Sort of expected some acceleration from a Class 8 with 11 but speed fell slowly to Hincaster, mp15 1/2, 55.6, safety valves lifting - the only time that happened all the way to Carlisle - and it's a Bulleid?. The 153r had little effect and we left it at mp16 1/2 at 55. Decent. Not much of a pickup on the 392r and the mile of 111r saw speed fall surprisingly to 51.7. On the 176r to Oxenholme speed fell slowly to 50.7 through the station and the 104r hit us for another 3 mph. Not what we were expecting at all. The shortish 124r saw a further fall to 46 - not the characteristics of a Class 8 on Grayrigg at all. Out onto the 2 miles + of 131r, Steve held 35018 at a steady 44/5 and even with 2 miles of 106r and the bit of 396r we thought 40+ over the summit was a real possibility. Not to be as speed dipped below 40 at mp25 1/2 and we lost more or less 2mph to the last 1/2 mile to pass the summit at mp26 at 38.1.

    Don and I were a bit disappointed as the weather was kind for February and the railhead looked nice and polished. Never mind. A good climb of Shap was on the cards. Through the tunnel and down the mile of 204f 35018 picked up speed and took 52.6 onto the mile of 777r past Low Gill, 56. Then on the 1/2m of level track, bit of serious noise and 58. 2 miles of 425d now and a real chance to get to 75. Steve opened 35018 up and the exhaust note changed noticeably as we raced down to hit 68. On the mile + of level track we only got to 71.8 at Tebay South, not the hoped for 75. Still a good speed for a Class 8 with load 11 to carry onto the bank.

    First the mile and a half of 146r. Half way through speed was 70.8 at mp32 and we took a decent 67 onto Shap proper, the 4 1/4 miles at 75r from mp33 to the climbing summit at mp37 1/4. Looking forward the rails were shiny and the weather was partly sunny so fingers crossed. Red Bear picked 41.6 in the traditional Shap challenge; his minder a less optimistic 36.1. A mile in and not a lot of noise as there was a very strong westerly taking it away from us, speed was already down to 56 much to the bear's chagrin. We crossed Scout Green then mp35 at 45.9 and his minder's 36.1 was looking unlikely. Sure enough at mp36 the GPS read 36 dead, and speed was falling rapidly.

    The final 5 quarters were: 36 1/4, 33.9; 36 1/2, 31.3 - yikes, no chance of even a 30; 36 3/4, 30.1; 37, 28.6 and a miserable 27.9 as we passed mp37 1/4. Steve took it gingerly over the top with a minimum of 26.2. we passed the Summit Board at 26.7.

    Down the bank and a max of 79 on the 125f; 68 through Penrith; 78 at mp65 on the 131f; and Job done, a right time arrival at Carlisle, the main objective for Steve, especially after a 5 late departure.

    We wondered if they had been short of steam up front on Grayrigg and Shap but during a conversation Steve told Don they had plenty of steam but he was worried about slipping so took it easy. Life's different on the footplate and when there's a doubt no risks will be taken with a big pacific on steep banks, even one with relatively small driving wheels.

    Don, his son and Alan came into the crowded Woodrow and were able to join us at the table we'd kept for Dan and his friend who had mistakenly gone to the other 'spoons. Good conversation, food and a couple of pints of Jaipur for me before we left for the station. Don and his son left us as they had to get home late afternoon.

    Locomotive not on the front of the train but it soon arrived and we left 5 down, just like the morning. What of the 7 miles+ of 132r to Low House? Clear road and still sunny but a cautious start; 3/4m in we passed mp306 at 27. Too far back, 10 of 11, to hear anything from the locomotive.

    Nothing special speed wise: mp305, 30.9, and Cumwhinton, 33.3. Then more like it for a Class 8: Howe and Co SB, close to mp303, 41.6. but that was our max and speed dropped off to 35.8 at the end of the 132r. Truth be told a bit disappointing. A pick up to 55.5 on the mile of 132r; then back to 50.6 after the mile of 132r. Through Armathwaite, 220d, 51.6; Baron's Wood Tunnels, 220r, 54.1. Then station speeds were: Lazonby, lev, 57.6; Little Salkeld, 132r, 56.4; Langwathby, 195f, 54.3. We passed Culgaith Crossing SB at 54.9; Kirkby Thore, 490r, at 56.7; Long Marton, 300f, at 61.3, our max between Carlisle and Appleby. We arrived 3 down in an elapsed time of 43m 31s. Bit of a misjudgement by Steve and a roll forward to take water. We left 4 down with good reason to expect a good climb as the weather was holding; sunny spells with a drying strong wind.

    A cautious start with no slipping and we passed mp275 on the 100r at Ormside, Mike Notley's start of the 'Blue Riband' section to Ais Gill Summit, at 53.1. For record runs, 60 was the minimum needed. Not that sort of day. Out on the 100r and a fall in speed to 48.4 by mp274. Into Helm Tunnel at 44; then past mp273 at 42.4. Below 40; 38.4 at mp272. Then an easing of the gradient to a mile+ led to a bit of a recovery to 41.3; then over the mile of 220r to 46.7 as we passed mp269 1/2. On the level through Crosby Garret we just reached 51. Not bad that. Back onto the 100r and passed mp268 at 47. Been a while since we rattled through Kirby Stephen at 40+ and it looked on. Not to be as speed fell around the curves to 39.8 at mp267 and 39 through the station on the short 264r.

    No loss of speed passed mp266 1/2 alongside the Signal Box, then a slight pickup to 40.7 at mp266 1/4. Speed was falling gradually to mp265, 36.5; and we climbed into Birkett Tunnel at 35.2. mp264 was passed at 34 and then a good recovery by Steve over the 3/4 mile easing 330r to 41.6. better was to come and it looked like an old fashion acceleration around Mallerstang as we passed mp263 at 43.2. again, not to be and instead we had a gradual fall off of speed to: mp262, 41; mp261, 39; Ais Gill Viaduct, 38.2; mp260 1/2, 37.5 and the climbing summit, mp260, 36.7. We passed the plateau Summit Board, mp259 3/4, lev, at 36.6. Time from mp275 to mp276 was 21m 46.13s; Appleby to mp260 was 27m 54.01.

    Not really quick along the top on the 165f and 53.6 through Garsdale. Into Rise Hill at a fairly pedestrian 50; Dent 24; Arten Gill Viaduct 41.1; Dent Head Viaduct a slow 23.7; into Blea Moor Tunnel at 43.5; across Batty Moss viaduct at a slow 16.5; Ribblehead Station only 21.3. then a decent run on the 100d to pass Horton at 59.3. Slowed then and ran down past Helwith Bridge at 53.8; Taitland's Tunnel 54.8; Settle 54.9; Settle Junction 52.7; Long Preston 24.6. We'd lost a further 4 minutes on the run from Appleby and came to a stand in Hellifield rolled in 8 down.

    Despite a quick refill and brake check we were backed into the path of the fell foul of the Carlisle-Leeds service and were released from the loop 8 down, still giving us a chance of getting to Horrocksford Jn to allow us to run up Wilpshire before the 1725 Rochdale Service. Good climb away and 38 at mp33, 2 miles out. Down grade to Gisburn, 49, then smart running to mp26 1/2, start of the 2 miles of 101d. The brakes came in and slowed us to 25 by mp23 3/4. They were released but then dragged on our coach and we came to a stand just past mp 22 1/4. It was now 1711 so we had no chance of keeping our path through Horrocksford Jn. Fortunately we were well below the junction itself and wouldn't cause any problems for the Northern Services to cross over to Platform 1 at Clitheroe.

    It was raining and the WCRC guys were looking at the brakes on our carriage. Pretty soon we were told they were dragging and the cords were being pulled on all carriages to drain the vacuum reservoirs. This takes a while and the rain got heavier. Quite a few checks were made in the brake car behind us as they tried to raise the 21 inches of vacuum needed to release the brakes fully.

    We were told that Steve had requested Network Rail Control not to let us move forward until we had a clear run through to Blackburn if possible as he didn't want to have to apply the brakes and risk them sticking on again. RTT showed us the 1725 had left on time; then the 1733 into Clitheroe had dropped into Horrocksford Jn and crossed over for the return journey. This left RT at 1753 and some 10 minutes later we had a green to go; now over an hour late. Getting a bit concerning for many passengers who, like us, only had an hour or so leeway to get connections home; us from Crewe where the 2107 was the last train back to South Wales.

    I'd synchronised the GPS earlier so would be able to roughly note speeds at the quarter mileposts. Steve got us away well and we and in heavy rain and a strong wind we passed Horrocksford Jn Signal Box at 28 and roared through Clitheroe station at 37.5. Things looked good as passed mp20 on the 127f at 46.3. Going well at mp19, lev, 45; and a pickup to 47 as we passed mp18 1/2 as we closed in on Whalley. After a slip we felt the resistance against the wheels in our coach but kept moving. We passed through the station at 28 but soon after the brakes dragged us to a stand a mile or so into the 81 1/2r climb. Again all the cords were pulled and the vacuum raised. 22 minutes later Steve whistled up and took on the mighty Wilpshire Bank in the wet with a pacific. Opinions on the train were pretty unanimous on his chances - next to none!!

    We'd stopped close to mp16 1/4. It was an excellent restart and we 'passed' mp 16 at 11. No slips and through Langho at 15.7 with the characteristic three cylinder chatter drifting back to Coach 10. Some enginemanship this. Speed rose to 17.5 at mp15 1/2 and the GPS showed 17.4 at mp15. Just after mp14 1/2 we suffered 2 slips, both expertly recovered by Steve. On the 88r now in the nasty atmospheric cutting into Wilpshire Tunnel. The GPS read 18.5 but that seemed an over read as we burst out at 12.4, a speed held as we passed the old Wilpshire station on the 86r. The big pacific slipped twice more but speed held and increased to 14 as we passed mp13 1/4 on Ramsgreave and Wilpshire Station. Excellent stuff and we were over the top and off to Daisyfield.

    As we left the double track section the brakes came on again and we came to another stand. By now we were wishing we'd driven to Crewe in the morning. Time passed as the cords were again pulled and we were informed that Steve had requested us to be held until there was a clear path to Preston. We were resigned to having to spend the night in Crewe or Shrewsbury until I browsed Real Time Trains to check the status of trains at Preston. The Glasgow-Euston was due off Preston at 2005 and due to set down in Crewe at 2047. It was currently 10 down. That was hopeful for us and some fellow travellers as we worked out we should be in Preston brakes and Network Tail permitting close to 2000 if we left soon.

    We got away after a 20 minute stop and a bit of math told me it was going to be touch and go for the 2005. We ran through Blackburn and down to Lostock Hall non-stop. Greens around Farrington Curve and we made steady progress towards the station. As Al said in his missive it seemed as if they were co-ordinating braking with the guard in the brake behind us. We were given the road into Preston before a Pendolino and came to a stand at Platform 6 at 2001.

    No time to go thank Steve for that amazing restart and climb of Wilpshire as we had to walk a distance to the bridge and cross to Platform 4. Sighs of relief as the Euston was still showing 10 down. Mrs S was struggling a bit with her dodgy ankle but we got across in time. Big Al joined us as did quite a few fellow passengers and after a TPE to Manchester Airport the Pendolino rolled in. We left 10 down and arrived at Crewe just before 2100. The Cardiff was showing on time at 2109 so we had plenty of time to get across from Platform 5 to 6.

    The 175 came in on time but didn't leave on time due to the late arrival of the crew. We finally left at 2132. No serious issues with flooding despite incessant heavy rain and we left the train on a wet and windy night in Abergavenny at 2345. Bit fraught end to the day to say the least but we were safe and sound at home just after midnight.

    I must admit to being very disappointed with the Train Management. Neither the Train Manager nor anyone else had come through the train to find out if passengers had problems with connecting services. We were left to our own devices - literally as but for the mobile we wouldn't have known about the 2005 Euston. The calmness and knowledge of Les Fishburn was really missed on the night.

    Thanks to RTC for running the Winter Cumbrian Expresses; to WCRC for the on day management; for the provision of the stock - shame about the braking issues; and the provision of an excellent crew. Steve Chipperfield handled the big pacific as well as anyone could have on Wilpshire. Huge thanks to him for that and for getting us to Preston in time to get the Euston Service; and finally to Network Rail who allowed us into Preston before the Pendolino. If they hadn't we'd have been stranded in Crewe or Shrewsbury.

    We followed the trials and tribulations of the remainder of 1Z87's journey back to London on RTT and Traksy and have real sympathy to fellow passengers who had no option other than to remain on the train. That's the first major stock issue we've had in years and we hope it doesn't put any first timers from travelling again.
     
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  3. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    Letter received today from the RTC describing what we knew of the trip with apologies and a 'beyond our control' statement, which is, of course, correct.

    I'm still of the view that at the point when we stopped outside Daisyfield Junction shortly after 7 pm and were now destined to be anything between 90 minutes and two hours adrift at Preston, someone should have made the risk assessment and decided that it was all too tight for London passengers. Even a 90 late, midnight return, would screw up onward journeys for anyone not on the end of an overnight tube line. Maybe the question was asked about all London passengers joining the 20:05 from Preston that also called at Milton Keynes but nothing came my way. The extra time taken to swap locos was implied as a factor in hitting the WCML blockade but, honestly, we know that kind of brinkmanship with closures is fraught with problems.

    The letter hopes that folk won't be deterred from travelling again and I'm sure that's true for enthusiasts who understand these things. But we all know that it's the general public who will keep these trips running and I'd like to be a fly on the wall for the couple opposite me who were already worried about a late London arrival that was made worse when I said I was leaving the train.
     
  4. AMP

    AMP New Member

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    I got the letter as well. I was amazed by the content. I've never seen anything after something has gone that wrong (three hours late into London long after last trains had gone counts as very wrong) say your fault you booked it.

    Makes Saphos' offer after the Golden Arrow last October seem even more incredible!

    Andrew
     
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  5. gricerdon

    gricerdon Member

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    Though we weren't affected as we came home early I think the letter is disgraceful. Be good to get a legal opinion. I thought the tour operator (any tour operator, not just rail) was always liable for their product including anything provided by third parties. Yes Saphos handled the GA incident very well as I am sure other tour operators would as well. A very big black mark for RTC
     
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  6. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    On a technical point, I think that the only thing that is legally binding once you buy any train ticket is that the TOC must get you to your destination. Nothing is said about how long that might take and by what means. I guess that West Coast delivered on that.
     
  7. gricerdon

    gricerdon Member

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    Actually Al , RTC are a Tour Company and not a train company and as such are responsible for the package they sell are they not?
     
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  8. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    Yes but it's the TOC that's responsible for getting its people to the destination so as far as they are concerned it was "job done" and that's the legal bit covered. What, if anything, the operator does is up to them and as they say they accept no responsibility for anything outside of their control. What went wrong was outside of their control so that's the end of it. Just playing devil's advocate on this one!
     
  9. 1020 Shireman

    1020 Shireman Well-Known Member Friend

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    Interesting points but in the 36 years we've been out and about promoters responsibilities have only ever been to get passengers back to their joining station. Saturday's train satisfied that. Times can never be guaranteed.
     
  10. lil Bear

    lil Bear Well-Known Member

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    Agreed. I too received the same, and no way does it compensate for the 01:44 arrival at my front door. Whilst I wasn't actually looking for any compensation from this and hadn't contacted RTC, the tone of their letter was completely unnecessary. Very poor from whoever decided to send it out.
     
  11. mike1522

    mike1522 Long Time Member Friend

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    Well shall no9 get to do the next upcoming WCME. There mention of it before.
     
  12. dublo6231

    dublo6231 Member

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    Who knows, speculation abounds, my personal favourite is that Number 9 will double head with Tornado on the northbound Edinburgh Flyer with the arrival at Waverley as a fitting final finale...
    Minor issue is I’m booked in The Cheshireman on the same day so if it does happen, I’ll be somewhat a little gutted too!!!
     
  13. and60007

    and60007 Member

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    Is it official that 60009 is going to double head with 60163 on The Edinburgh Flyer or not?
     
  14. dublo6231

    dublo6231 Member

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    I honestly have no idea - it is very much a "wouldn't it be nice" scenario - but thinking of the factors involved...

    I believe Number 9 is still at York, would still be in ticket, is where the tour originates from, would be a spectacular combination of locomotives, would arguably be a chosen destination for a final tour and that the A1 steam trust picked up the Xmas working when Number 9 was unavailable - there is a lot of reasons why it could happen (and a lot more reasons why it probably won't!).

    Certainly the old romantic in me would dearly love to see it!
     
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  15. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

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    And the old romantic in lots of us, I suspect.
    Anyone know whether an A4+A1 double header has ever happened?
     
  16. Fulwood Flyer

    Fulwood Flyer Member

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    I don't know whether such a combination has happened on the Main Line, but an A4 and A2 'Blue Peter' ran as a doubleheader on the S&C a number of years ago
     
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  17. iancawthorne

    iancawthorne Part of the furniture

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    No.7 I think?
     
  18. and60007

    and60007 Member

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    Yes Ian. It was 60007 and 60532 over the S&C in 1998 I believe?
     
  19. Fulwood Flyer

    Fulwood Flyer Member

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    Thanks Ian, yes that was my recollection of it but I wasn't totally sure
     
  20. iancawthorne

    iancawthorne Part of the furniture

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    Saturday 30th May 1998 to be exact.
     

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