The Mothball tour, May 1993

The “Mothball” Railtour, Sat May 29th 1993

Pre Tour moves.

Despite the very late 1050 tour start I was at Leighton to join the 0654 up with a lively 321430 as power. The morning was sunny and warm a good day was in prospect. 90 minutes of intense EPB bashing on the Charing X – Waterloo East – London Bridge corridor. A respectable haul of

3202, 3205, 3306, 5160, 5421, 5437, 5455, 5496, 5604, 5614, 5617, 6221, 6324 were caned in.

1Z40 The Mothball tour summary


Waterloo – Staines – Reading – Didcot – Oxford – Bicester London Rd – Claydon – Winslow – Bletchley Flyover – Fenny – Millbrook – Bedford SJ- Bedford M – Woburn Sands – Bletchley – Leighton – Watford Jn – Euston


56046 (NKJM sector)


5341, 5316, 5323, 9424, 9418, 13227, 5433, 4930, 5008, 5389

Decent stock in 10 “Mule” early mk II’s with big windows, big seats and tables were well welcomed. Departure time of 1051 came and went with no loco up front, worries of a 47 deputising began to circulate. “I’m not paying 17 quid for 182 duff miles” was one loudly bellowed claim, but all rumours were silenced when Dutch 56046 backed on. I was happy with this as a winner, but not many others seemed happy. We departed about 15 down with the usual stagger via Staines. From Reading on the GW mainline, speeds and screams increased for the short section to Oxford.

We then joined the Oxford-Bletchley for the last time. As usual this was a 25mph stagger but the atmosphere was good doing such rare track.With the Claydon-Bletchley section “mothballed” after this weekend this was to be the last passenger train over the Bicester – Claydon line and the last loco hauled tour over Bletchley flyover. A Branch line Soc DMU tour the following Bank Holiday Monday worked the Bletchley-Claydon section on an itinerary that included the Wolverton Works “diveunder”. Once busy with stone traffic, the ending of the Wolverton ARC traffic the previous year and curtailment of the Akeman “UKF” traffic a few weeks earlier meant the Bicester- Bletchley line had no regular traffic and closure was inevitable in a privatised railway environment.

Winslow’s platforms busy for the last time with 56046 at a photo stop at Winslow on the Claydon – Bletchley section

Tony Ewer catches 56046 crossing an overbridge near Winslow with the tour around 2pm on May 29th 1993

The highlight of the tour, climbing Bletchley Flyover. It was another 14 years before a tour did this mighty structure again

A points failure at Fenny meant we had a long wait on the double track linking the flyover with the Bedford branchat Fenny. Bletchley TMD can be seen behind the grid.

Many local connections followed, a photo stop at Winslow before the station yard was lost to housing was interesting. Passing Swanbourne a good few locals were out to wave us by. A ritualistic bellow by the whole train climbing onto Bletchley flyover, before a long signal check due a points failure at Fenny Jn. (the points and track had not been used for some time). Passing Forders the green containers used in “plaguex” and other recently ceased “contaminated waste flows” were piled high, another reminder of a more recently ceased local freight traffic flow.

At Bedford, a “Lists/Logs” contributor saved the day by donning his orange jacket and gloves to uncouple the grid allowing the booked run round before a lively return run back down the branch with a Bletchley driver in the hot seat too, through Leighton (to much flailing) and Euston around 1730.

56046 and admirers after running round at Bedford

56046 looking good at Euston, tour over…

Recorded Tour times over the sluggish Oxford – Bedford route

Recorded Tour times for the faster Bletchley – Euston storm

The Bicester – Claydon was closed soon after, but reopened for the Avon bins in 1994. Once this flow ceased 10 years or so later, the line was kept open for occasional engineers workings from Hinksey Yard until late 2018. The last passenger train to work Bicester – Claydon was Hertfordshire’s Missing Link tour with 66110 and 66111 on March 17th 2018. As reported elsewhere on the logs recently track removal has taken place between Bicester and Claydon.

Even Chris Grayling got involved as it appears the “East West link” stage 2 from Bicester to Claydon is now underway, better late than never!

The Claydon – Bletchley section was mothballed from June 93 with much of the track being stolen. Minor track bed vegetation cut backs occured but there has little to disturb the moths in 28 years now! A short section to Newton Longville and the flyover was reopened in March 2006 for ballast train reversals and a few tours and network rail track trains went over the flyover once more but possibly the East – West link will “soon” see more activity on the Claydon -Bletchley section too, its been an awful long wait..

Thanks to “RM” and “Six Bells Jn” for additional gen

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