Trawsfyndd Lament Railtour, Oct 98

The Trawsfyndd  Lament Tour, October 17th 1998

                                                The moves                                                                                                                                                                                      321413    0704 Euston-Northampton                                      LB-MK

86401     0757 Euston-Trawsfyndd Railtour-1T70               MK-CR(via Nor)                           47785}    0757 Euston-Trawsfyndd Railtour-1T70         CR-LJ                                          56108(d)}

                                                                                                                                                 56108}      0757 Euston-Trawsfyndd Railtour-1T70                   LJ-TF                                     47785(d)                                                                                                                             47785}      1504 Trawsfyndd-Euston Railtour-1T70(160L)        TF-LJ                                        56108(d)}                                                                                                                               56108} 1504 Trawsfyndd-Euston Railtour-1T70                LJ-CR                                     47785(d)                                                                                                                                 86401       1504 Trawsfyndd-Euston Railtour 1T70              CR-MK                      

The Tour

A very civilised 0742 unit off Leighton on a grey October morning for what we thought would be a short, easy day out. Bailing at the Keynes off 321413, i still had an hour or so to spare, so the shop for fodder was raked in. 86611/86618 passed on an up liners then newly named “Hertfordshire Railtours” 86401 arrived right time with the “Trawsfyndd Lament” tour.

86401 newly named Herfordshire Railtours arrives at M.Keynes with the tour

We soon found our seats at the very back of the 13 Pilkington green liveried coach and M5007 soon had me, Tony Ewer, Steve Chapman and Northampton Mick at our table of four. We were routed via Northampton but didnt stop at the station but in the down freight loop North of the station to let a Rugby bound Connex 319 pass.

Sulzer power in 47785 at Crewe with the tour

It proved a good day for the 86’4 men as 86426 is seen here at Crewe prior to departure with the 0850 Holyhead – Euston

37414 passes a partially stripped 47513 at Crewe

At Crewe we suffered our first serious delay, 47785 was attached to the front but the tail engine from Warrington was delayed due sanding equipment issues. Nobody seemed to know what “grid” was allocated either. Making it a good day for the 86’4 men we viewed in the hours fester 86426 replacing 47853 on the 0850 Holyhead – Euston, my comment “hopefully they will loose 86401 as well” raised a smile.

The grid a “winner” for our happy band 56108 rolled in and we left Crewe 50 down. The North Wales Coast was in storm mode, the rains lashed down, the seas wild and stormy. Nobody ventured out at Llandudno Jn, where we reversed onto the Conway valley branch.

56108 Roman Bridge 171098

Thanks to Minfford Ken for his atmospheric 56108 view near Roman Bridge

The weather remained rough, the rivers were in speight but our grid was in full thrash mode with pulses of turbocharger screams too. From memory we crossed after a 20 minute wait 153359 some 40 mins late with the Jn bound service train.

Beyond Blaneau we were on rare doomed freight track some 7 miles of scenic wonderland with the sun also producing. Car chasing groups of photters followed our progress, some deranged soul dressed as a priest in flying cassock!, perhaps a sign of the times. We then reached the end of the line and after 10 minutes with 47785 powering and our grid shoving at times we returned towards Blaneau.

At Blaneau Festiniog no 4 ground frame the farce began. We arrived there in daylight at 1655 but didnt depart until 1934! after the North West Trains line manager refused to allow “any delay to his (service) train”   So we sat there, a good few mutterings about the state of the privitised railway but conversation continued as darkness descended. I did read in some railway comic a few weeks later there were scenes of near riot on board, not our coach, perhaps First Class or misreporting…

We had over 2 and a half checked here at Blaneau North, What a farce!

After the 153 had cleared North Llanwrst we departed to ironic cheers at 1934, 3hrs 43 mins down. Even in 1998 most people reached tours by rail and Hertfordshire Railtours did a great job in placating passengers with long lost connections with taxi bookings aplenty. Once at the Jn, 56108 absolutely stormed back along the Coast but the tour atmosphere had dipped with our lateness, trapped on board factor and rumours of a WCML line closure South of Rugby not helping.

86401 replaced the throbbing grid at Crewe and we left here almost 4 hours down at 2245! Additional stops for otherwise stranded passengers at Stafford, and Northampton but it want until 0021 we arrived back at the Keynes.

Tony kindly offered me a lift home and the day’s events on reflection showed how our railway was changing and not for the better!   

Tour Stock 13 x Mk 1 – 3150, 1696, 3127, 3123, 3114, 1679, 17023, 4925, 5023, 4986, 5027, 5037, 5007

Ching £29-50.

Lateness – 4 hours on return!

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