Class 56 farewell, Jan 2023

The GBRf class 56 farewell tour, Sat Jan 14th 2023

Around 6am at a soggy Leighton station, as expected the “Muppet Rail” services were all running late, 92010 eased through right time with 1M11 then 350261/252 arrived with my up service.

At Watford with around 50 minutes fester for the tour i camped in the up side waiting room, the downside one already half full. The tour with immaculate large logo 56098 leading 13 Mk II coffins, 56081 was tailing. Progress to Bletchley was steady where a good few more joined for what with bustitutions since the demise of Viva Rail, the Bedford – Bletchley is now rare freight only track with much rust too….

56098 arrives at a very wet Watford with the tour around 0740 on January 14th 2023

It was depressing passing Stewartby with the last 3 chimneys now down, the end of a local landmark. The adjoining sidings looked derelict too although there are rumours of new spoil trains coming here.

Our last party member “TC” joined at Bedford St Johns where a booked stop was made, the first train to call there in 2023! Much flooding to the North of Bedford then we swung right to Corby, over Harringworth viaduct then into Leicester where at least the following were on shed

60060, 56103, 60099, 58016, 37003, 60046, 66614, 47727, 47739, 47749, 56301, 58023

56301 and 66614 on Leicester shed, January 14th 2023

With 56081 now leading a good few wanted to phot it but this meant passing the do not pass this point board which is a ridiculous 25 foot from the ramp! It was all too much for the security jobsworth, BT police were called and turned up.

56081 was soon powering along nicely although despite our second coach position we couldn’t hear much. We avoided Toton going via Lenton Jn to enter Barrow Hill in now good weather. This was my visit here since August 1974! I was impressed with the layout of the place, the Deltic shed looking a slick operation. Good to see 27066 and 46010 here, first time in a few years.

03066 being turned on the roundhouse turntable, yes thats 81002 in the rear!

46010 looking good on Barrow Hill

The immaculate 56098 shunting the stock at Barrow Hill.

After an hours break here we were now trapped on the tour for at least 5 hours as we took the Old Rd, Mexborough, Doncaster avoider,Brough, Hessle, Hull West, Selby, Gasgoine Wood, Doncaster  and Posh where we had a 50 minute pathing stop.

Passing Rotherham 315853 (which i’d had to Gidea Park in December) was with 91104 awaiting the scrapman.  Gasgoine Wood had old friend 321439 nominally stored. The Peterborough stop allowed good phots, yet more over the top HSE with a “do not run” announcement booming over…

56081 looking superb at Peterborough

56098 and admirers at Peterborough

Then to be honest it was a long dark boring drag back to Leicester via Oakham. Arriving at Leicester a suprise in 73964 and 73962 Derby bound with a test train. Heading South we were delayed Kettering – Sharnbrook but took the reversible Down slow all the way. The tour made booked stops at both Bedford Midland and St Johns (a railtour first!) then a steady run down the branch then to my surprise, a clear fast run Bletchley – Watford for lovely 350234/264 home. A reasonable tour helped by having a good few local colleagues in my coach, farewell class 56 or hopefully Colas/DCR will also have a farewell when their final end comes………..

The following day Sunday January 15th saw 56081 (with 56098 tailing) passing Leighton around lunchtime with the tour empties bound for Burton


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