The last chance Railtour, April 8th 2023,
At a surprisingly busy Kings X the 0521 to Stevenage was boarded with 717016 as power. Despite arriving at the Park 80 minutes before the tour departure time cranks were already hovering. Just before the tour was due the UK Rail Doris came down the platform advising the tour was 20 late. 2 minutes later at 0640 90021 arrived virtually right time with the 13 coach mk II d/e rake of coffins!.
Malcolm liveried 90021 arrives virtually right time at Finsbury Park with the tour at 0642
On departure we ran into thick fog, with it lifting slightly for the Grantham avoiding line. My colleague joined at Retford from where the tour was full. Doncaster Mail terminal platform saw many GBRf sheds coming and going plus 60015 replacing the 90 up front and climate green 66004 on the rear.
66004 looking good in green waiting to join the rear of the tour at Doncaster RMT
Looking good in Colas livery 56090 and the nose of 56096 South of Doncaster station
Part of the massive Scunthorpe steel works dwarfs 66172 at North Lincoln junction
73962 and 73961 were on Doncaster as were 56091 and 56096, the vastness of the Appleby Frodingham Scunthorpe works was well impressive as we tottered by on the up goods line. Then came the only break on the tour 55 minutes at Barnetby. After a phot we joined the long queue for a pint at the rateable Whistle and Flute pub opposite the station. As we supped our beers in the warm sun a good few would have welcomed a longer break at Barnetby.
60015 poses for the photographers during the 55 minute stop at Barnetby station
60015 departed Barnetby right time and we were soon swinging onto the lengthy freight only lines round Immingham docks. The small new depot at IM had a few 60/66s stabled, the old 40B depot long levelled. Vast chemical plants, refineries and imported car storage yards added to the scene.
60015 awaits the road off the Immingham freight line at Grimsby Marsh Jn
We returned West past now closed West Burton and Cottam coal fired power stations, a depressing sight. Worksop HNRC yards included 92021, 92040, 92045 and 92046 along with various class 08, 20, 37 and 47 and new class 701 units. Heading further West we passed the Station Hotel near the site of the long demolished Sheffield Victoria station. Along a wooded route the relics of the old catenary, pots and heavy track side wiring supports were spotted. We stopped in open country with the high hills out West near Deepcar station the Stocksbridge Works (out of site) which until recently had supplied the route with steel traffic but alas no more.
After a short wait we returned to Sheffield Victoria then East of Worksop station where we crossed over to then join the Maltby colliery route linking Worksop and Doncaster with 66004 now powering. A boring 50 minute booked fester at Doncaster Mail Terminal from where the 90 returned us South. A photo stop at Retford allowed a desperately needed leg stretch after being trapped on the train for over 6 hours, far too long!
I took advantage of Guy’s fast car from Retford rather than a loop infested stagger back down the ECML. At Rugby the WCML was in a farce, a suicide on the Trent Valley the culprit. 350246 and 350122 took me from Rugby to Milton Keynes from where the WCML was blockaded for just 4 days over Easter!
Leaving on the coach to Leighton running 8 early the joke of the day was spotted in the Network Rail HQ at the Keynes with a “putting passengers first” banner in the stairwell!
Personally a rather dull far too long tour, yes some rare freight mileage and power but not a classic by a long way…..
Organiser UK Railtours
Headcodes 1Z22, 1Z23, 1Z24
Stock 13 MK IId “coffins”. 5921, 6042, 6067, 5929, 5998, 1651, 3390, 3345, 3386, 1657, 3364, 3325, 17105