Discussion in 'What's Going On' started by alastair, Jan 11, 2019.
Superb Shep , brave man in those conditions but if you don’t try you don’t get I suppose.
10/08/2019 - In horrible conditions, LMS Princess class 6201 "Princess Elizabeth" powers its way up Whalley Banks approaching Langho station with a returning "Cumbrian Mountain express"
There's nothing like a summers day in the the northern fells........
6201 passing Cowperthwaite & between the showers at Low Baron Wood
Some very atmospheric filming and wonderful sound that could be called a symphony (without the leaking drain cocks!). Well done Lizzie and congratulations to WCRC.
On behalf of the paying passengers - and there weren't that many of us; very poorly loaded train - thanks to all of you for braving such horrendous weather to get such superb photographs and motion sequences and to post them so quickly for us to watch from the comfort of our comfy chairs in nice warm living rooms everywhere. Personally I prefer the fells like that. The shots on sunny days aren't really what Cumbria is all about.
In the absence from the train of the legend that is David @OswaldTWhistle, I guess I'd better keep the tradition of reporting every run possible over Grayrigg, Shap, the S&C and Wilpshire going. Wild day out, just as we like it over the Cumbrian Fells - but perhaps not that wild.
The Summer Cumbrian Mountain Express 10th August 2019
Ah, what a lovely sounding train. Sun streaming through the carriage windows, white fluffy smoke drifting back over the carriages; then there was the weather forecast to put an end to that. We decided to drive up to Crewe as Transport for Wales Services are erratic these days, as well as very overcrowded on Saturday Nights. So up at 0500 and out at 0600. Not too bad a drive weather wise; few squally showers but a bit windy.
We knew BIL was unavailable but for us there could have been no better replacement than the magnificent 'Lizzie', 6201 Princess Elizabeth. We found it hard to believe that we hadn't done a CME behind Lizzie since 29th August 2009. She was one of the first 'mainliners' we saw at the Bulmer's Railway Centre when we got interested in steam in 1984. Surprisingly we've only travelled behind the old girl 44 times and covered 6466 miles on the mainline since our first tour with her, The Golden Jubilee, on 15th November 1986 when we ran from Stalybridge to Carnforth. No steam under the wires from Stockport so we had a Class 47 on the front to Stalybridge. It wasn't until 11th May 2002 that we did the Citadel Express, our first run up Grayrigg and Shap after Lizzie's protracted overhaul and a long absence from the mainline.
Depressing stuff on Network Rail about flooding between Penrith and Lockerbie but Les Ross was on time coming into Crewe and apart from the usual slowing into Lancaster, we had a decent run up to Carnforth U&DGL. Still, not very wet but windier than at Crewe. RTT was showing trains late and cancelled so we didn't know when we'd be let out. There were reports of a blanket 50mph restriction from Oxenholme to Penrith so as the Glasgow was 20 late we wondered if we'd be let out right time. And we were. Good signaller. Unfortunately we were 10 back on the outward but I had a facing window seat milepost side and the toplight open enough to hear Lizzie (I hoped). We wanted to hear the unique single chimney four cylinder sound from Lizzie, very different to the softer note from 6233.
Mick Rawling was our driver for the day with Frank Chippendale and a Trainee feeding the rather large firebox on the outward journey. Roly Parker was our guard for the day. It was raining now and with wet rails Mick allowed Lizzie's speed to build slowly. Speed was 32 at mp7, a mile from the loop and the start of Yealand Bank. No slips and that mattered and we passed over the summit at 34.1 with much more noise from Lizzie's single chimney. No great sprint to Milnthorpe was likely in the conditions and so it proved as we passed mp13, the start of the 13 mile long Grayrigg Bank, at 64.4, and Milnthorpe itself at 62.4 1/2 mile later. We could hear Lizzie 10 back as she tackled the lower slope.
We came off the 4 miles+ of 1in173 at a seriously decent 55.2. over the next 3/4m of 1in153 we lost nothing worth talking about and left the 3/4m 1in392 at 55.7. now we were on a steep 1in111 for a mile and noise levels rose but speed fell back to 50. Oxenholme beckoned a mile into a 1in176 section and we blasted through the station in heavy rain and howling wind at a very decent 50.8. 1/2m more of 1in176 took us onto 3/4m of 1in104. Mick had found Lizzie's sweet spot as Frank fed her hungry firebox and speed only fell to 49.8. The weather was getting worse as we got higher into the fells. Gulleys were more like raging waterfalls. No surprise there. Fortunately there weren't deep puddles or long stretches of standing water close to the four foot.
Lizzie working hard was a superb sight on the left hand bends, sanders on, though the dreaded left drain cock issue was still there. Speed fell over the next mile of 1in213/124 to take 48.5 onto the 2 1/4m+ of 1in131. Digging in time and the old girl responded and we took 48.2 onto 2m+ of 1in106. The echoes were well and truly raised as we crossed Lambrigg at 46 and only gave just over 3mph to the bank. We passed the summit at mp26 at 44.7 with Lizzie roaring away at the front as we passed Grayrigg Loop and dived into the short tunnel. Superb in such shocking conditions. And what of Shap? Going to be interesting with the blanket 50 mph speed restriction as normally we hit Tebay in the mid 70s or even a bit higher.
Past Low Gill at 54 on the 1in777. Down the 1 1/2m 1in425 where speed normally rises rapidly, at 55/6 that we held over the level mile. Then onto Shap approach, the 1 1/2m of 1in146. Plenty of four cylinder even beat sound drifted back from Lizzie but by mp32, Tebay North speed had already fallen to 50.9. Water crashed down the gullies on our left. Over the next mile loss stabilised a bit and we hit the start of the 4 miles of 1in75 at mp33 at 47.9. Lizzie was seriously raising the echoes up front as we felt the strong winds buffet the carriages. Still toplights were open here and there so we heard her as she battled the weather and the bank. By mp34 speed had fallen to 41; by Scout Green, close to mp35 to 37. With skilful driving from Mick and a bit of help from the Pacific's smaller 6' 6" drivers, Lizzie held speed loss over the next mile to pass mp36 at 34.3, then mp36 1/4 at 33.7. Her exhaust reverberated around the hills and especially in the cutting as we came to the final mile. The figures in brackets are the speeds based on the time elapsed by quarter. The quarter speeds were: 36 1/2, 33.3 (33.7); 36 3/4, 33.7 (32.35); 37, 33 (33.1) and then 37 1/4, 33 (32.6). The GPS indicated a slowest speed of 32.9.
An interesting climb. The attrition from mp32 to mp37 1/4 was only 18 mph. The locomotive we should have had at the head of today's train, 35018, hasn't been faced with similar weather, but with the same load on 2nd March 2019, passed mp32 at 74.2 and passed the climbing summit, mp37 1/4 at 35, an attrition of 39.2 mph!! 45690 with the same load on 18th May passed mp32 at 69 and 37 1/4 at 38.6, an attrition of 30.4. That's what we expect, an attrition of 30 mph+. So if the climb didn't lead to anything special in terms of a summit speed, but as a pure climb in seriously adverse weather conditions it was quite superb. The best we've known was on 2nd October 1995 when steam returned to Shap for the first time in preservation. In what were called 'The Shap Trials' with 3 challengers, 71000, 4498 and 46229 took the same load of 11 coaches from Crewe to Carlisle via Shap. They were all limited to 60 mph through Tebay. 71000 was the fastest by some margin and passed mp37 1/2 at nigh on 51 mph!!! A single figure attrition. Our time from Carnforth U&DGL to Shap Summit was 42m 40.78s.
Anyway, back to the trials and tribulations of Saturday. We were still restricted to 50 and there were rumours of flooding south of Carlisle and northbound trains were definitely being terminated there. We drifted down towards Penrith still in the mid fifties wondering if we'd be looped. We weren't but we were stopped in the station. Ralph and I mused about the possibility of us bypassing Carlisle and going directly to Appleby, but that normally requires a lot of notice and the attendance of the MOM who was probably busy elsewhere. After 6 minutes were left but at no great speed. We were then brought to a stand at a green signal. Les, our Train Manager announced that control had been in contact and there was congestion in Carlisle due to the terminated trains and that when we were allowed in we would have to detrain quickly as the stock wouldn't be able to be stabled in Platform 3 for the stopover. The 50 mph restriction was passed and we ran down towards Carlisle in the 70s.
As we drew into the station there was a Pendolino in P1; one in the siding alongside it; and the TPE was in the middle road. We ran into P3 as booked, 21 minutes late but Les asked everyone to be back for a right time departure at 1412. It was raining, though not that hard so Mrs S and I walked rather swiftly down to the Woodrow. It wasn't that crowded. Probably lots of Carlisle folk hadn't ventured out on such an 'orrible day. It was gone 1310 so we didn't have long there and decided to have Scampi and Chips and ordered straight away. The good news was Jaipur was back!! I asked the Manager who told me there had been a bit of a dispute with the brewery for a couple of months but on Monday last week it had been resolved. So I had one with my meal and one for the road!! No time for dessert but we thought we'd be able to get ice cream at Appleby. Good food and great beer, if in a bit of a rush.
We got back just after 1400. No loco on the stock which was still in P3. As we walked over the bridge Lizzie backed in and everyone was told to rejoin the train. We seemed ready but were held in the platform. The reason became apparent as the Measurement Train rolled into the middle road. Once it cleared the front of the train we departed at 1422, 10 down Never mind. We were going back down the S&C despite talk of flooding. We crossed over and down to Petterill Jn, passed at 19 and onto the S&C. Now we were middle of the 3rd Carriage and were treated to the bark of Lizzie as we set off down grade for a 1/2 mile to pass mp307 at 24.1 to attack almost 7 miles of 1in132 that ends just before Low House Crossing.
Lizzie sounded superb as she slowly gathered speed. We passed mp306 at 27.2; mp305 at 33.5; mp304 and Cumwhinton shortly after at 37. By mp303, Howe & Co. speed was 47. That was our max. We passed mp302 at 45.5; mp301 at 43.1; mp301 43.1. We crossed Eden Brows Viaduct at 42, then the summit at mp301 1/4 at 41.9; a good start to the afternoon. Over Low House LC at 51.6 and down the mile+ of 1in132 to 60 at mp299; then up another mile of 1in132 through Armathwaite to the sound of the Stanier Hooter at 55. We got back to 60 on the 220d then climbed 1/2m of 1in176 into Armathwaite Tunnel, 58.4. that took us onto the mile and a half of 1in220 through Baron's Wood No1 and No2 tunnels, 54/56.Down almost 2 miles of 1in165/176 to 60. Short up 264 into Lazonby, 54, then down a mile and a 1/2 of 264/level, 56. Then there's almost 3 miles up 1in264/132/110/131 to Lazonby, roared through hooter blowing at 48.2.
It's a bit undulating, more down than up to mp287, 55, then a mile of 1in330 to Waste Bank Tunnel, 57.4. after a level mile through Culgaith Tunnel we crossed the LC at 60.5. there's a steady climb then for 5 1/2 miles. 1 1/2m in up 1in132/220, we passed the old New Biggin Station at 57.1; then up a mile+ of 1in490 to pass Kirby Thore Box at 58.6. on easier 1in660 we passed Long Marton at 62.1. Lizzie charged up the 1in120 from mp279 3/4 to 278 1/2, 50.2, and as we feared, it was announced that as we were late we wouldn't be stopping at Appleby. Baffling as we were only 5 down! Disaster, no ice cream!!! Up the 1in200/440 to Appleby North Box, 50.5, then through Appleby Station where the lady with the ice cream was standing under the bridge to keep dry. Long Blast on the hooter and we passed mp277 1/4 at 51.7.
Down the mile of 1in176 to mp275 3/4, 56.9; then onto the first 3 1/2 miles of 1in100 across Ormside Viaduct, 58.4. Off the viaduct we passed mp275 at 55.9; and mp273 at 38.6, the 1in100 already taking a toll. A mile further on we passed mp272 at 36.4 and gained the refuge of 1 1/4m of 1in166. We passed mp271 at 41.1, then on the mile+ of 1in200/220/lev, we roared into the short Crosby Garrett Tunnel at 48.7. Onto the next section of 1in100 at 51.2; past mp268 at 46.6, wind buffeting the train quite hard and rain getting heavier. Over the next 1 1/4 mile we 4 mph, then on the short 1in264 roared through Kirkby Stephen at 41.9. back onto the 1in100 straight away as we passed mp266 1/2 in front of the Signal Box at 41.4. Lizzie rallied over the next mile to mp265 1/2, 42.3, but then speed fell slowly as we climbed into Helm Tunnel, mp264 1/2ish at 39.3. no loss in the tunnel and the footplate crew must have liked the dryness!!
The rain got heavier and the wind stronger as Lizzie picked up to 45 down the 1in330 to mp263 1/4. The decibel level rose as we ran around Mallerstang at 45/6 but then speed fell steadily to 41 as we passed mp261. Over Ais Gill Viaduct at 40.3 with the raging gill rushing underneath the viaduct quite spectacularly, onto the final surge to the summit. The rain lashed against the carriage windows as Lizzie' hooter sounded under the bridge at just under 40. We passed the climbing summit at mp260 at 39 and the summit board at 40.8. time from mp275 passed at 55.9 was: 21m 6.44s.
Speed picked up slowly down to Shotlock Hill Tunnel, 46.5; then Moorcock Tunnel, 50.3. gentle gradient over Dandry Mire Viaduct, 50, before Lizzie hooted for Ruswarp on Garsdale station, 44.1. bit undulating to Rise Hill Tunnel, 44.5 in, 41.7 out. It was really chucking it down through Dent, 35.2. water was gushing down off the fells. Over Arten Gill Viaduct, 32.8, with the fast moving gill below. Over Dent Head Viaduct at 32 then up the 1in264 with even more water crashing down the gulleys and the fells close to the track. Hooter sounding we dived into Blea Moor Tunnel, 32.8 in/44 out. A couple of minutes out of the rain for the crew. Down past Blea Moor SB, mp248 1/2, 35.1 and across the windswept Batty Moss viaduct, 23.5 with almost horizontal rain hitting the train.
Now from mp247 there's 12 miles of mostly 1in100d to below Settle. We passed Selside at 49.4; dashed through Horton-in-Ribblesdale at 52.1; passed Helwith Bridge and the raging torrent, mp241 at 49.4; over Sheriff's Brow, 52.5; through Taitlands Tunnel, 48.8; Settle Station, 50.8 and down to the junction, 57.3. nice increase in the decibels from Lizzie up the mile+ of 1in181 to mp233 1/4, 49.2; then up the 1in116/290 to Long Preston, mp233 1/2, 43.3. Unfortunately there's no charge up the mile+ of 1in144 as we slowly drifted into Hellifield DGL, 10 early.
We left 7 early in horizontal rain so windows shut. We could still hear Lizzie from 3 back as she climbed away from the south junction up the 3 miles of average gradient 1in175 to mp32 3/4, 39.3. then down to Gisburn, 41.2 and over undulating insignificant gradients to Horrocksford Jn, 30.4. Mick braked and we wondered if we'd caught a service train as we only ran through Clitheroe at 20.3 and ran in the mid 20s to mp19, a mile and a half from Whalley. We must have had a green signal as we accelerated down the 1in203 to 43.2. on the level through Whalley station, 38, onto the famous arches on the 4 mile+ climb to Wilpshire Summit. The arches are on the start of the 3 1/2 miles of 1in81 1/2. Lizzie thundered over them, only losing 3 mph. With a long blast on the hooter we stormed through Langho at 31.9 and we held 31+ for the next mile.
We came off the 1in82 1/2 at mp14 1/2 at 29.9 and did pick up slightly on the 1/4m of 1in88 as the sound reverberated in the cutting before the tunnel. We surged into the tunnel at 28.4 and left it at 29.4 without a slip; excellent driving Mick; and attacked the final 3/4m of 1in86 to the summit. We ran through the old Wilpshire Station at 28.6; and the replacement Ramsgreave and Wilpshire station, mp13 1/4, at 27.3. Despite the heavy rain, poor light and darkening sky, for the second time I spotted the wooden summit post high on the bank in tall grass. We passed it doing 29.7. Some climb in shocking conditions. Whalley to Wilpshire Summit Post 8m 39.12s.
Down across Daisyfield LC, 24.6 and a short stop in Blackburn; not long enough to count the holes, and 14 early. We had a path and charged down towards Lostock Hall. We passed Mill Hill at 42.6; Cherry Tree at 42.3; Pleasington at 49.5; crossed Hoghton LC at 59.6 and passed mp5 just below it at 61 before Mick braked. Line speed is 60 I believe. Down 1in99 in the mid 50s before braking for Bamber Bridge, 50.2 then down to 40 across Lostock Hall and through the station. Then it was the usual slow run around Farington Curve Jn to rejoin the WCML. Unsurprisingly we were held at a signal for 13 minutes and rolled into Platform 2 not the usual P6 but sensible as Les Ross was on an adjacent line, some 7 minutes late.
I wandered up to Lizzie to thank Mick for his masterful enginemanship on a shocking day of wet rails, and his fireman, Rob Russell for his part in the excellent run from Carlisle. They didn't look like drowned rats so Lizzie's big cab had kept them as dry as possible. We'd barely been there 5 minutes when Mick set her back to break the buckeye and draw forward off the stock. 5 minutes later the signal turned green and the indicator showed F. With a blast on the hooter they left for the run back to Carnforth. No slip. Chatted with some friends from the Midlands about the loading and the disappointing Vintage Trains situation. The number of competing trains was talked about as was the relatively few locomotives available to run them. We failed to put the world to rights and agreed we were grateful to have the opportunity to run behind steam on the big railway in 2019. Like us in the south one issue loomed large - the December Timetable Changes. It's a wait and see and hope paths still exist for spectacular trains like the Cumbrian Mountain Express and Royal Duchys in particular to run.
We wandered back to the carriages and I went down to watch Les Ross back on. Departures weren't that frequent so we left RT and arrived at Crewe just 4 down after a very eventful day.
Huge thanks to the Princess Elizabeth Preservation Society for stepping in and providing the Grand Old Lady of the Rails for the tour. She looked immaculate and ran magnificently all day. Lizzie's awesome power was really shown on the climb of Shap. Not bad for an 86-year-old. Looking forward to the Autumn CME on the 12th October when we should see her again. Thanks to the support crew for giving their time on a shocking day.
Many thanks to Kelly at RTC for running this train. Worryingly low loading that we hope didn't dent the income stream too badly. Thanks to the ontrain Stewards. Ralphy didn't run away with the receipts from the Shap Challenge, but yet again we failed to predict the speed past mp37.1, though Stanier Bear's 32 was only 0.8mph out. Many thanks as always to WCR for their train management on the day; for the provision of the usual excellent footplate crews; and for their stock. Extra special thanks to young Mick for doing such a masterful job at the controls of the big Pacific on an atrocious day. Hardly a slip from what I could tell on Grayrigg and Shap and a magnificent slip-free climb of Wilpshire that doesn't always happen in the dry. Many thanks to Network Rail for keeping us in our path in difficult circumstances with the line closure north of Carlisle. We wouldn't have blamed them if they'd terminated the train at Preston and turned us back. So glad they didn't.
So no more CMEs until October now. Back to summering at home and travelling in the south. West Somerset Express on Saturday with another big Midlander hopefully.
In The Bleak Midsummer!
A couple of images from Shap and Wilpshire.
View attachment 46035
View attachment 46035
Another wonderful account of a dramatic run - thank you so much, Graham. On further reading I shall assess for % of Shireman-ness and % of Wistle-ness!
But we seem to be missing a bit at the end of para3. " ... and the toplight open enough to hear Lizzie (I hoped). We wanted to hear the unique single"
Single what, please? I am on tenterhooks!
Peter on a grey Manchester evening
Should have said the unique single chimney four cylinder sound because it is very different from the Duchess.
Got it! Cryptic, though!
Peter on a sunny Manchester morning
Great footage! Love the sheep vaulting the drystone wall....
Much appreciated, an excellent jumper
...a real woolly jumper!
If anyone wants to browse the timings/speeds of some solid climbing by Lizzie, I've attached them in pdfs.
6201 Princess Elizabeth on a CME 5th July 2008
Separate names with a comma.