Wires down at Ledburn, Jan 84

81011 brings the wires down, Saturday January 14th 1984

The gen down at Leighton station was confused, apparently 310051 and 310061 had coasted down the grade from Stoke Hammond on a M.Keynes – Euston service with no juice in the “knitting”. Meanwhile 81011 stood stationary on platform 1 down fast with a rake of Mk I’s. The “roarer” had carelessly lost it’s pantograph in the Ledburn neutral a mile South of Leighton which had resulted in a complete loss of power in the OLE.

25276 and a depanned 81011 on a Euston – Birmingham “footex” at Leighton on 140184.

After an hour of classic railway hour of no perceived activity a class 25 appeared on the down fast having run wrong line from Bletchley. Said “rat” was coupled to the “roarer” and train. Unfortunately the guard was not in the best of moods and there was no way he would let me on “his” Euston – Birmingham West Ham footex. As 25276 thrashed off it seemed as if the West Ham fans would rake in the “rat” but not the match as it was now nearing 1330. Even the standby electric which would work the footex forward from Bletchley, could make up this massive delay.

31288 then appeared on the up fast. The 310’s were then advertised as an “addditional train to Bletchley”. A rush to the ticket office got a brusque “I’m not selling any tickets” arms folded reply. This was despite senior railway Cliff (who was never wrong) continuing to announce the train. So i boarded the 310’s and headed North to Bletchley wrong line at very low speed.

Bletchley was equally chaotic with an up “Inter City” having been reversed into platform 5 (the down Bedford island platform) with disgruntled passengers getting off. The Bletchley supervisor then advised that the passengers should “get back on” , “this trains going through” and then the immortal words ” we’ve got plenty of Sulzers” pointing to the line of 25’s in the field sidings. Apparently the train had reversed into platform 5 as this was the only through road South. The down slow and up fast were closed South of Bletchley due earlier storms.

A ticket was purchased then 25276 reappeared from the loop and was attached to 87030 on a very late 1030 Manchester – Euston in platform 5. The guard was livid with events but eventually flagged us off just as 31288 dragging 87006 on the 1140 Euston – Shrewsbury arrived. A big “rat” on load 12 plus dead electric meant it was extremely noisy up front, A photter was on hand at Ledburn and got the full flail treatment. Once over Tring Summit hopes for high speeds went out of the window as we were checked here for 5 minutes before being authorised to go forward.

Let the thrash commence, 25276 about to leave Bletchley dragging 87030 on the 1015 Manchester – Euston on 140184

31288 arrives at Bletchley after dragging 87006 from the Ledburn area with the 1140 Euston – Shrewsbury on 140184

Speeds and noise were superb once clear of Tring one “normal” in first class complaining about the noise and gale blowing through the lead first class coach. We were checked just North of Hemel and it was my turn to be withered as the “rat’s” secondman leapt onto the ballast and uncoupled our “rodent”. Off went the “rat” and up went 87030’s pan. A whipped up driver put in a serious bought of 110mph plus running as we were now “RA” Euston.

At Euston several down “Inter Citys” were advertised on the departure board , all stopping additionally at Bletchley (to drop off the drag engine, i mused). So i leapt onto 87027 for the return run. We eased up at Hemel but shot through so the juice was now restored. The Bletchley wiring train was now attending the wires down issue at Ledburn. Again we were routed into Bletchley’s platform 5 so the busy, cheerful shunter assisted with the reversal move for the train to cross over alongside the PSB to access the down fast as the down slow remained closed. 310053 soon had me on the move South, ending an interesting afternoon on the WCML.

25276 speed log linked here. A high of 75mph, tho the average was around 50 mph.

Other events caused by 81011’s misfortune

1/ In the now closed and normally quiet “Rosebury Arms” near Cheddington station had one of its busiest lunchtimes ever as trainloads of passengers incl many West Ham fans abandoned their journey

2/ The Luton Town FC fixture that afternoon was disturbed by crowd trouble, allegedly due to displaced West Ham fans on tour!

3/ 25207 worked a late afternoon diverted St Pancras – Liverpool service to Nuneaton that dayy

The moves

310061} 1421 L.Buzzard – Bletchley L.Buzzard – Bletchley (wrong line)


25276} 1015 Manchester – Euston Bletchley – Hemel (milepost 25.25)


87030 1015 Manchester – Euston Hemel (milepost 25.25) -Euston

87027 1620 Euston – Manchester Euston – Bletchley

310053 1621 Birmingham – Euston Bletchley – L.Buzzard

Other gen

25276} 1130 Euston-Birmingham Footex (LB-BY)

81011(d)} panto off, wires down

31288} 1J25 1140 Euston-Shrewsbury


25194} 1S69 1145 Euston-Glasgow


31288} 1M18 0710 Glasgow-Euston


25194} 1A35 0934 Blackpool-Euston


25207 1740 St Pancras – Liverpool diversion (to Nuneaton via Wigston)

The wires were down over Beattock that January day too, more dragging as reported here by Dave Spencer


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