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2020 Cumbrian Mountain Expresses

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

  1. Keith Sergeant

    Keith Sergeant Member

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    Passing Brock in the evening light.

    _DSC6858 2.jpg
     
  2. Shep Woolley

    Shep Woolley Part of the furniture

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    CME 45592 1b.jpg

    LMS 5XP No. 45562 'Alberta' going well at Shap with today's 'Cumbrian Mountain Express' with Mick Rawling driving and Craig Todd on the shovel

    CME 45592 3b.jpg

    Fine sight and sound as 'Alberta' approaches Aisgill summit with the return 'Cumbrian Mountain Express' with Mick and Craig still doing the honours
     
  3. Kylchap

    Kylchap Member

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    Those Jubilees are certainly well-fettled machines! Congratulations to WCRC for trusting their locos and to the crew for such a fine performance with a 5XP on a class 7/8 job.
    I wish I'd been on this one - still not been over Shap behind a Jubilee.
     
  4. walkerp1

    walkerp1 Member

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  5. Britfoamer

    Britfoamer Well-Known Member

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    Stood behind Steve at Shap summit then blasting along at Crosby Garrett, as usual just after a long wait in perfect sunshine!! P1120681.JPG P1120682.JPG
     
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  6. blink bonny

    blink bonny Well-Known Member

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    Making a racket up Shap. 45562-(9)-Shap-Wells-fbook.jpg 45562 (21) Shap Wells-fbook.jpg
     
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  7. wazza588

    wazza588 Member

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    Excellent as always Stephen. A still approaching your first camera below.


    North Bound in the Lune Gorge:

    _DSC9921.JPG


    South bound at Angrholm:

    _DSC9981 (2).JPG

    _DSC9985.JPG

    Richard
     
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  8. Macko

    Macko Well-Known Member

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    What a great sight and sound the Jubilee was climbing Shap in the morning. I have more images to process but just wanted to share this first as she bowled along at linespeed and not another soul around to see it ...

    [​IMG]
    Autum steam in the Eden valley
    by Phoenix Images, on Flickr
     
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  9. PamW

    PamW Member

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    My shots from today at Shap Wells and Stockber.
    FFF0159B-3E09-4156-9D4F-141263ED0B0A.jpeg CCEB0A21-2B68-4218-94FC-FEA2B4AB4F93.jpeg
     
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  10. Julian Jones

    Julian Jones New Member

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    The Cumbrian Mountain Express 10th October 2020

    Part 1 – The Prelude

    As I got ready yesterday evening for today’s CME, my mind drifted back to my earliest memory of travel on a Cumbrian Mountain Express dates in November 1981 at the tender age of five.

    Then, as today, steam came on at Carnforth.

    Then, as today, the destination was Carlisle.

    Then, as today, the steam haulage was in two legs.

    Then, as today, there was one-way steam haulage over the Settle and Carlisle.

    Then, as today, there was one-way steam haulage over a relatively under-used secondary route through Hellifield.

    In November 1981, 34092 City of Wells was rostered on its inaugural main line run from Carnforth to Hellifield, with 4498 Sir Nigel Gresley taking over for the trip to Carlisle. I still have a vague memory of “The Volcano” pulling the stock into Carnforth station. I think it may have been the same trip when 4498 blew a plank out of the footbridge at Appleby on a run-past with some serious belated November fireworks! I still remember my father guiding safely me over the small gap in the bridge as we went back from the southbound platform to board the train northbound.

    Fast forward nearly 39 years, and through numerous incarnations of the Cumbrian Mountain Express (remember the two-loco Leeds / Skipton – Appleby format of the early 90s?), and we have the well-established Railway Touring Company format of today.

    Steam on at Carnforth – a cold engine with a serious load facing a formidable challenge with a tightly timed path to Carlisle, a break in the Border City, a Southbound ascent of Ais Gill, and a fitting finale with the testing climb up to Wilpshire Summit. and back to Preston.

    I joined the train at Preston today (the nearest pick-up to my home in Haworth) and soon afterwards the tannoy crackled into life, with Les’s familiar voice confirming what had been rumoured yesterday evening on National Preservation and elsewhere, that the rostered “Scot” was unavailable and that today’s trip would be in the hands of 45699 Galatea, presently disguised, of course, as 45562 Alberta.

    After a smooth electric hauled ride up the WCML through Lancaster with distant views of Morecambe Bay after milepost 5, we arrived at Carnforth Down and Up Goods Loop. I had time to reflect on my previous journeys northbound over Yealand, Grayrigg and Shap.

    First, in 2004, a steady climb with 6201 Princess Elizabeth but a sad and premature end to the day as she suffered a valve gear problem en route and was declared a failure at Carlisle.

    Second, in 2009, an exhilarating run with Gordon Hodgson at the regulator of 46115 Scots Guardsman – our steed for today. Shall we just say the non-stop run past the assembled WCRC staff at Carnforth was rather special, and was followed up by some seriously noisy and fast climbs of Grayrigg and Shap, with, if I recall correctly, a very impressive 44mph with a heavy load (at least 11, may be 12?) at the top of Shap. Sadly, of course, the unavailability of Alberta’s larger cousin meant that there could be no repeat of that today.

    My next and third run was something of a contrast. On a cold, wet and blustery winter’s day (1st February 2014), 45699 Galatea was in charge of eleven coaches for the run to Carlisle. The late Mike Notley’s column in Steam Railway recorded how speed did not get beyond the early to mid-fifties for the start of the climb to Grayrigg, with speed steadily decaying and bottoming out in the low 20s by the time the Jubilee reached the top of Grayrigg. A less than vigorous recovery in the Lune Gorge led to speed dropping to about 15mph near Scout Green before rallying a little at the top. It was a tribute to Ron Smith and Pete Hanson that they got the Jubilee over the top in difficult conditions and with (reportedly) some questionable coal. Today, of course, we had 12 bogies, not eleven.

    Finally, the next year, I sampled 6233 Duchess of Sutherland. On the WCME, with a reasonable climb of Shap.

    Recent rail tour reports on National Preservation have shared a unifying observation – there have been some excellent runs with both 45562 and 46115. Both appear to be on top form and with crews who are now very experienced at getting the very best out of them (as indeed with the other members of the Carnforth fleet).

    There could be no getting away from the fact, though, that even a Jubilee on top form with a top crew is not going to be able to match a Scot on top form with a top crew.

    As I looked down at my watch, it was approaching departure time of 1124. Five and a half years had passed since I had last enjoyed steam on Shap, on that occasion with the Duchess. It is getting on for seven years since I last sampled the very same Jubilee on that route, and with one coach less. How would she perform today?

    [TO BE CONTINUED]
     
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  11. Julian Jones

    Julian Jones New Member

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    The Cumbrian Mountain Express 10th October 2020

    Part 2 – The start of the climb towards the Cumbrian Mountains

    Departure time came and went. The minutes ticked by. Les later said it was down to a signalling issue but at the time one’s mind idly canters through the possibilities – hopefully nothing amiss with our leading lady?

    At 1129, a blast from the familiar Stanier hooter was clearly audible and Driver Mick Rawling (with Fireman Craig Todd) eased our train out on to the main line.

    There is less than a mile of favourable / near level gradients before the gradient profile turns adverse at milepost 7, which marks the start of Yealand Bank – two and a bit miles of 1/134.

    This is a tough ask for any engine starting from cold on load 12, even more so when you have a 5X rather than a 7P on the front.

    Alberta met Yealand Bank with speed already up to 29.4 mph but the gradient immediately began to fight back against the cold engine, and one mile in, we were down to 20.8 mph as milepost 8 slipped by.

    My notes of the run read “digging in” as the wonderful throaty Jubilee sound became apparent over the noise of the wind, eight coaches back. Mixing my metaphors, by milepost 8.5 the tide was turning with Alberta now back up to 23.1 mph. My notes at this point read “Defiant Jubilee roar” – but I wonder in retrospect if this description might be liable to cause confusion for anyone hailing from Tyseley…?

    By milepost 9.25, at the top of Yealand bank, my notes read “29mph – wonderful Jubilee sound”. Driver Rawling began taking full advantage of the mile of gently falling gradient and only half-way into this mile speed was up to 34.1 mph, as we passed good views of the Lake District Mountains and Cumbrian Fells with a vanguard of dark clouds. On to the level stretch and with the site of Burton and Holme flying by at 50mph and upwards, with Yealand behind her and safely conquered, Alberta now had Grayrigg in her sights.

    With a spine tingling roar from the chimney speed rose with every successive quarter, climbing all the way up through the fifties down the long straight towards the right hand curve that signals that the start of Grayrigg is not far away.

    We met milepost 13 at 62.1 mph – only a little less than the Scot with a similar load on a recent trip.

    It was a dramatic opening movement to the day’s Symphony of Steam – but could the tempo be maintained?
     
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  12. nige757

    nige757 Well-Known Member

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    Alberta seen at Scout Green and Stockber

     
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  13. Julian Jones

    Julian Jones New Member

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    The Cumbrian Mountain Express 10th October 2020

    Part 3 – The long climb of Grayrigg


    Milepost 13 marks the start of Grayrigg and milepost 26 marks the end. Oxenholme Station, at milepost 19.25, is a little less than half-way between the two. The gradient changes in numerous places along the 13-mile stretch, but as a broad proposition some of the more difficult climbing is reserved for the second half, with the final four and a half miles being two and a half miles at 1 in 131 and a sting in the tail of two miles of 1 in 106 ending just before Grayrigg Loops.

    While we were obviously never going to come anywhere hear breaking records, given the combination of locomotive and load, the performance of Alberta as she tore into the climb towards Milnthorpe, near Milepost 14, was suggestive of a climb which, for a Jubilee, would be seriously noteworthy. A mile into the climb, speed had only just slipped below the 60mph mark – 59.2 mph at Milepost 14, and a mile further on saw Alberta still surging forwards at 56.5mph as Milepost 15 flew by.

    Half a mile further on, and the gradient eases near Hincaster. The speed hovered around the 54mph but the noise began to die back. This was not in any way surprising, for Grayrigg is a long slog, and the opportunity presented by easier gradients could well be useful to rally pressure and water levels a little.

    Speed had only dropped a further fraction to 53.9mph, by the time the gradient tightened to 1 in 111 at around milepost 17.25, but the next mile and a quarter saw a significant drop, down to 44.6mph by the time the gradient eased to 1 in 178 near milepost 18.75. Speed continued to decay slowly through Oxenholme and at this point I first wondered whether Alberta was beginning to feel the pace. Shortly after Oxenholme, there is another steeper section and by milepost 20.25 speed had fallen below 40mph for the first time. On to Milepost 21.5 and the start of the 1 in 131, and we were down to 35, with it beginning to look likely that we would top Grayrigg at significantly below 30mph, something which had perhaps looked unlikely only a few miles back. Milepost 24 marks the start of the 1 in 106 , and after three quarters of a mile speed did indeed drop below the 30 mark, with a low point of 27.7 at milepost 26 near the banner repeater that heralds the entry to Grayrigg loops.

    We had made it, and it was a good respectable climb, but one got the impression the second half of the long marathon had taken its toll.

    A little over five miles separate the top of Grayrigg from the bottom of Shap, but they are a very important five miles. Would they be enough to allow Alberta to rally and get a head start on the notorious challenge that lay ahead?
     
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  14. LMarsh1987

    LMarsh1987 Well-Known Member

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    Do you remember the date ?
     
  15. henrywinskill

    henrywinskill Part of the furniture

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    Duncan you're shots add a new dimension to the locations we see on here!
     
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  16. Paul42

    Paul42 Well-Known Member

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    9/9/17 a CathEx.
     
  17. Julian Jones

    Julian Jones New Member

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    The Cumbrian Mountain Express 10th October 2020

    Part 4 – A testing time on Shap

    On through Grayrigg loop, through the concrete tunnel and speed was up to 30mph – “a good start to the recovery” as I wrote in my notes. Milepost 27 marks the start of the first mile from the top of the 1 in 106 that marks the end of Grayrigg, and speed was now up to 46.7mph. Yet, there, to all intents and purposes, the recovery petered out, with only very modest increases over each quarter in the next two miles, such that by milepost 29, speed was 48.3mph. One gets the impression that steam and water levels were being built up ready for the coming onslaught. Certainly my notes refer to the dark grey clouds of smoke which might be indicative of the fire being put back into good order and built up. The rate of acceleration did start to increase again, with 52.9mph at milepost 30, and 55.3mph at milepost 31.

    However, the start of the climb was now only half a mile away, and milepost 31.5 (the start of the measured Shap section) was met at 56.9mph as I lapped my stopwatch.

    Speed began to decay at once and by Tebay North, half a mile further on, we were down to 53.9mph. Speed continued to drop over the next mile which is of course still the precursor to the more fearsome gradient to come.

    We met the start of the 1 in 75 at milepost 33.25 at 44mph, and, frankly, things were not looking too good. By notes refer to the “resolute” sound from 45562’s chimney as we under Scotchman’s Bridge and past Greenholme, with speed dropping from around 30mph to around 25mph. By Scout Green (milepost 35) we were down to 14.2mph and I recalled how engines on other runs have slipped on a flange lubricator in this area – if we were to go in to a heavy slip now we would be in trouble. Thankfully, no slip materialised but speed was still dropping and reached a nadir of 12.7mph as we curved back the other way at Salterwath.

    Our leading lady had no intention of giving up, and in virtuoso voice as the Stanier exhaust reverberated around the surrounding fells, speed slowly began to rise once again. With 16.8mph at milepost 36.25 we had one mile to go to the end of the measured Shap section, which we finally met at 17.6mph. The five and three quarter miles had taken a shade over 15 minutes but with cinders stinging on the roof we finally made the summit. Suddenly – a violent slip and a slight drop in speed, before we started a long and fast descent to Carlisle.

    We had started our journey five minutes late at Carnforth. We were about 21 minutes late by Shap Summit, but had clawed back a little to make it 15 minutes late into the Border City, still losing ten minutes or so (net) on schedule. Clearly, a Jubilee with 12 on the hook was a big ask on such a demanding schedule.
     
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  18. Julian Jones

    Julian Jones New Member

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    The Cumbrian Mountain Express 10th October 2020

    Part 5 – The journey south to Hellifield

    For several reasons, I shall keep my account of the southbound leg over the S and C rather briefer. First, having had the benefit of being on the milepost side on the journey North, I was now on the “wrong” side of the train for the S and C, where they are of course located on the other side. Thus, my notes are rather more impressionistic with speeds at certain well-known locations. Secondly, I have only very recently covered this locomotive with the same load on the same route in another report. Thirdly, as I passed a crucial milepost (275) I didn’t manage to lap the stopwatch, so any figures would in any case be estimates and have been recorded accurately elsewhere by Shireman and possibly others. Finally, I have to work tomorrow and would like to finish this report at a reasonable time tonight!

    So, I will stick to a few general observations.

    First, the Carlisle – Appleby section mirrored the run on The Waverley to a great extent. To take one example, the speed as we passed Howe and Co Siding was exactly the same – 39mph. This might be coincidence but might also suggest, especially given the mandatory slow start through the outskirts of Carlisle, that Messrs Kelly and Rawling were both pressing the very best out of their common steed on different days. Total lapsed time from Carlisle – Appleby was pretty much 44 minutes dead on a few weeks ago, and was less than a minute longer today.

    Secondly, the Appleby – Ais Gill section was significantly slower than on The Waverley, probably just serving to emphasise what an exceptionally good run that was, and certainly with no disrespect to the skill and effort put in by today’s crew. So many other variables may have been at play – wind speed, coal, you name it.

    In terms of the raw facts, I gratefully adopt Shireman’s summary from today, thus:

    Appleby to Ais Gill 35m 36s; mp260 speed 26/7; Mp275 to 259 3/4 29m 56s; summit speed 29.

    To assist comparison, I quote my own figures from The Waverley (6th September) (as to which I have a greater degree of confidence than my figures from today) in the same format as follows:

    Appleby to Ais Gill 31m 24s, mp260 speed 28; Mp275 to 259 ¾ 26m 15s; summit speed 30.

    I end this section with a reflection on the weather – sunny at Hellifield but blustery rain at Ribblehead – who would have thought it could rain at Ribblehead?!

    [TO BE CONTINUED]
     
  19. iancawthorne

    iancawthorne Part of the furniture

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  20. Julian Jones

    Julian Jones New Member

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    The Cumbrian Mountain Express 10th October 2020

    Part 6 – A fitting finale – The Battle of Wilpshire

    Whereas The Waverley carried on straight ahead on leaving Hellifield, The Cumbrian Mountain Express of course turned right.

    The less convenient (for me) pick up / set down location of Preston as opposed to Keighley, was more than made up for by one last treat – Wilpshire. How would the green 3-cylinder machine perform? We would not have to wait too long for the answer.

    With beautiful sunshine bathing the fields and hills in a beautiful late afternoon light, we headed for Pendle Witch Country. On through Clitheroe and Driver Rawling had Alberta up to 47.8mph at Whalley Station before launching her at the four miles or so of 1 in 80. The first mile saw speed reduce to 30.9mph but with a determined Jubilee roar coming from up front. Through Langho at 24.8mph and the second mile was completed at 22.1mph. The rate of decay was reducing but we still had two miles to go, and some of the upper part in shaded cuttings where adhesion might not be the best. The tension mounted.

    The third mile saw us down to 13.5mph and Wilshire Tunnel mouth was beckoning. The most wonderful aroma wafted through the open window as we plunged into the darkness at 13.4mph. The GPS unsurprisingly cut out in the tunnel but my estimate would be that we came out the other end at perhaps 11 – 12 mph. The decay had all but been halted – it was looking like we would make it – just.

    Then – a sudden slip, expertly controlled by Mick Rawling, but then another, and we were down to 8.7mph by the site of the old Wilpshire Station. By Ramsgreave and Wilpshire speed had rallied slightly to 9.4mph, with a time lapse of 12 minutes 3 seconds for the four miles since Whalley. My notes read “Summit 12m57s at 13.2” and Mick Rawling gave a triumphal series of toots as we passed the summit board. It had been close – but what a fitting finale!

    Before I sign off, I must pay thanks, as ever, to all who made the day possible. The Fireman Craig Todd must have shovelled a serious amount of coal today! I saw the odd lump being given out on request as souvenirs at Preston Station – at least it shows there was still some left!

    Finally, I can’t leave this report without noting the wonderful videos and pictures which are now emerging as usual. I haven’t had time to watch the videos yet but have seen some wonderful still images. It might be invidious to indicate a favourite but I think that one by Wazza588 captioned “North Bound in the Lune Gorge” may take some beating.

    On that note, I’ll sign off after a wonderful day of steam in the northern fells.

    END.
     

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