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Cath-Ex The Bluebell Railway to Bath Spa 5/10/19

Discussion in 'What's Going On' started by Paul42, Sep 27, 2019.

  1. cg

    cg New Member

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  2. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    50F8E0C0-E17F-4A72-95B4-CBAF5A4F216D.jpeg

    Just on the point of leaving on time at 7am this morning from Sheffield Park.

    Tom
     
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  3. BR 73082

    BR 73082 New Member

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    Mayflower in and out of Clapham Junction on time on the return to Sheffield Park. Excellent skill from the driver in getting the train away with minimal slipping from a difficult start on a sharp S-bend.
     
  4. osprey

    osprey Member

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    Iowa...
     
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  5. Dan Hill

    Dan Hill New Member

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    Good trip yesterday, Mayflower performed well as she's done since returning earlier in the year. Never really lost too much time (we did skip a crew change at Kensington Olympia on the return, which may have been done at the Willesden sidings Water stop or Clapham Junction instead).

    Not as many people out to see it as I thought there would be, apart from the East Grinstead line, where there were people turning out to watch or those joining the train at East Grinstead or Woldingham.
     
  6. jackshepherd

    jackshepherd New Member

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    I've noticed the lack of people out to see mayflower as well lately, maybe it's the case of they've seen it already.
     
  7. Paul42

    Paul42 Member

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    Part 1

    A ten minute walk to the station, and I could see Mayflower in the distance just south of East Grinstead Sidings from the disabled parking spaces between the two stations on arrival. I entered the station and crossed the footbridge to platform 1.
    Platform 1 was currently occupied by the railhead cleaning train which was not due to depart until after the charter according to RTT, but left after the service train had reached Lingfield.Shortly afterwards Mayflower hauled the 9 coach train into the platform, I was in the rear most coach B ( upgraded since Coach G was removed from the train ) and we departed on time. and down the 1 in 70 to Lingfield . The upward gradient starts from Lingfield but is not significant until Crowhurst Junction where it is 1 in 100 to Hurst Green eased to 1 in 157, 1 in 120 and 1 in 1-132 over Oxted Viaduct where there is a 10mph speed restriction, The gradient eases to 1 in 300 through Oxted station before the 1 in 132 to the summit just North of Oxted tunnel , a stop at Woldingham to pick-up some more passengers then down hill to South Croydon. We had lost 9 minutes by Woldingham and some of this was down to slowing down to cross Oxted Viaduct.We could here the B1 working in coach 9 ( although I do not recall where ) on the run to South Croydon.

    The steam heat was taking time to reach us in the last coach ( although I was fine) and Aimee from Steam Dreams came round with blankets ( like the usually do) although later on it was working so well, we had to the door to the vestibule open together with the windows in it.The run through the London suburbs to the water stop at Willesden S.W.S. was uneventful .Breafast was served it was the main event for the section through London . We left the Willesden and joined the Great Western Mainline at Acton where we were slotted in 2 minutes behind a Heathrow Express and 6 minutes in front of a Paddington to Reading Service. After a crew change at Reading ( Ray Poole now in charge) we left not far behind a stopper to Bedwyn. After the water stop at Newbury Race Course I was expecting good run over Savernake but it was no to be and we arrived at Bath 10 minutes late. Max speed outward early 60's.

    The Best was yet to come. Part 2 later

    Mayflower at East Grinstead

    IMG_5697 Edit C2lr.jpg
     
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  8. 73082

    73082 Member

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    A fun morning running around after this one, photos from two locations and a video from four. A nice addition was using the Standard 4MT as a banker, it certainly sounded good! Video from Sheffield Park, West Hoathly, Vowels Lane, and Wilderness Lake.




    On shed at Sheffield Park:
    61306 Sheffield Park yard 5.10.2019.jpg

    The banker taking water before "the off": 80151 Sheffield Park 5.10.2019.jpg

    Departing in the grey early morning light: 61306 Sheffield Park 5.10.2019.jpg

    Observing the 10mph restriction at Wilderness Lake: 61306 Wilderness Lake 5.10.2019.jpg
     
  9. hampstead

    hampstead New Member

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    Typical small audience, in spite of being diesel-free.
     
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  10. BR 73082

    BR 73082 New Member

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    Crew change seemed to be done at Clapham while I was there.
     
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  11. Paul42

    Paul42 Member

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    Part 2

    The return - The train arrived a couple of minutes late from Bristol East Depot and we left one down and I was now in the second coach. We had a lively run up through Box up to maximum on the downward gradient which fell to the mid fifties on the climb of Dauntsey bank which we held to our pathing stop outside just outside Swindon to let a Bristol to Paddington service to pass us.The service train was running 4 minutes so we left 3 late behind it and up to a maximum which we held to being eased for the water stop at Milton Junction. We passed through Didcot on the relief line all the way to Acton - between 50 and 60 most of the way and one of the better runs I have had on the relief lines. We arrived at Willesden for the water stop on time (19 minutes allowed) no sign of the tanker, which arrived 5 minutes later, but still managed to leave on time thanks to the support crew and Blues and Two Tones. After the run though the London suburbs we arrived at South Croydon for our pathing stop to let the Uckfield service (which is first stop is Oxted) pass us.We followed for the 6 mile climb mostly at 1 in 100 to the summit just before Oxted Tunnel.I stood in the vestibule with the window slightly open to enjoy the sound of the B1 mostly in the mid-thirties all the way to Woldingham, where we stopped to drop of some passengers before a tricky restart on the gradient. We slowed through Oxted before stopping just before the Viaduct before crawling across, then after Hurst Green up to mid forties before slowing where the Redhill - Tonbridge line crosses.The mostly 1 in 70 climb to East Grinstead starts at Lingfield, where again I was by the window, we slowed to between 6 & 7 mph to cross Cook's Pond viaduct where line crosses Wilderness lake, and back to the late teens for remainder of the journey where we arrived 6 late.

    Thanks to Steam Dream, West Coast Railways, Support Crews for a very enjoyable trip.

    My third run behind the B1 , all diesel free.
     
  12. Dan Hill

    Dan Hill New Member

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    It did certainly feel like a slow run on the way up. I was in Coach H but didn't have any heating issues but we were 3 coaches (including Support Coach) behind the loco on the outbound journey so nearer the heat source I guess.

    It was quite nice watching all the faces on other trains as they went past us and in some places was nice to see younger people like myself taking interest or photos at station stops.

    I started and ended at Sheffield Park and we left a few minutes late up to East Grinstead, then stopped to wait for the Track Cleaner. We also got back to Sheffield Park nearly 10 minutes late. We were kept well supplied with tea and coffee throughout the journey by a nice woman called Jayden I think her name was. It was my first Steam Dreams trip since a Canterbury trip by 34016 in 2000 but definitely wouldn't mind doing another soon.
     
  13. Deepgreen

    Deepgreen Member

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    No, that's Des Moines.
     
  14. Deepgreen

    Deepgreen Member

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    Nice report. RTT showed most of the time was lost well before Oxted viaduct. It was about 6L when it reached the viaduct.
     
  15. Deepgreen

    Deepgreen Member

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    Trying again with an upload after 'Big Al' advised a smaller file size.

    DSC01278.jpg
     
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  16. Paul42

    Paul42 Member

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    I always use a small file size usually not more than 1MP and rarely have a problem uploading.
     
  17. Arun Valley

    Arun Valley New Member

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    ‘Change at Kingscote for Bath’

    Firstly, this trip has set a new record for me: the longest time between booking one (February last year) and it running. When it was postponed last year we were told the Duchess would now haul it, a loco l have yet to travel behind. Earlier this year (June) l received a letter to explain that the destination has been changed to Bath as there were engineering works between Cheltenham and Worcester: again an Eastbound run over Sapperton behind steam is thwarted.

    The reason why the Duchess had (sadly) been withdrawn from the tour (and the subsequent Bluebell Railway Gala) has already been discussed so the only thing l will say is that l hope it does not lead to any lack of trust in the future. My thanks must go to the people behind Mayflower becoming available for the trip.

    I know Stead Dreams has / tried to run trips starting from the Bluebell before with things not happening as planned: cancellations and diesel haulage. None of which l had booked on. Such a trip was on my “to-do” list, in fact l had to make a quick reservation at the time as there were just a small number of (Premium) Standard seats left. When this trip was postponed l kept the booking, as it would still be something to look forward to. Coincidentally it has been three years to the exact day (5th October 2016) since we last travelled with Steam Dreams (for no particular reason).

    On the subject of diesel involvement, the letter with the tickets (as above) did provide a clear indication in the next paragraph: “… Please note that our carriages are unable to be pre-heated but once we are underway from Kingscote the steam heating will start to warm the carriages”.

    To the actual day: the weather forecast had thankfully improved in the week with only some possible rain. After leaving home at 06:00 we drove east, arriving at just over half an hour later with the car park for Sheffield Park already reasonably full. On entering the Station building l was expecting a ticket check but instead we got a cheery smile and told to sit anywhere on the (Bluebell) train. Mayflower and support coach was already coupled at the front, the Tank Engine (80151) attached to the rear later. With an exchange of whistles we were away at 07:02 and although not particularly cold, the steam heat began to make itself known. In the half-light of pre-dawn we passed through Horsted Keynes at 07:18 (3L). A quarter of an hour later we were disembarking the Bluebell train at Kingscote to cross via the underpass (anyone with mobility issues were escorted using the foot crossing) to the other platform and the charter train carriages. I knew our carriage was at the North end since ‘B’ was seen at the South end on arriving at Kingscote. There was a small hiccup as our tickets stated we were in coach ‘J’ and after ‘H’ came ‘K’- no ‘J’! This did create some general confusion, however l was unperturbed and entered this straight away and found our seats. Soon after that it must have been explained to others as the carriage soon became populated. During our time at Kingscote Mayflower (with support coach) and 80151 ware uncoupled and then coupled to the Charter stock so we remained top and tailed by steam. The load of nine carriages is the fewest l have had on any steam trip.

    We departed Kingscote at 07:52 (7L), now two carriages from Mayflower – it was good to hear her ‘voice’ again - and saw the WCR Class 47 residing silently in a siding to the East. We had no problem climbing the 1 in 55 to the viaduct where we stopped, with the sun having risen (but shielded by cloud) and a good view, to presumably detach 80151. The process of being ‘released’ onto the mainline seemed reasonably smooth and arrived at East Grinstead only slightly late. It was whilst waiting to restart that the steam heat began to work in earnest. In fact it was slightly surreal with steam rising on both sides the length of the carriage. Good… window: open! This is a good point to mention that l have never been on any train on the East Grinstead branch – and what a way to do it! We were away on time to reach the high 30s on the falling grade before slowing to creep across Cook’s Pond Viaduct. Still descending we passed Dormans at 28 to reach 50 before slowing (Lingfield at 33) to about 10. Speed was regained uphill before slowing for Hurst Green (20), passing through Limpsfield Tunnel then tiptoeing across Oxted Viaduct. Speed was regained uphill to Oxted Tunnel. After that it was a short distance to our next pick-up at Woldingham (8 late). There were many people - including a high proportion of children – on the platform to watch.

    To despatch the train it looked like the Guard moved forward to the support coach due to the number of spectators that had migrated to be near the loco. Now 9 late we accelerated on another downhill section to the mid 50s (Upper Warlingham at 54) before slowing to cross Riddlesdown Viaduct. Still going downhill we regained the mid 50s before slowing to Pass Sanderstead (20) and remained at around this speed to arrive for our (pathing) stop at East Croydon (now 2 late). I am not sure what the people patiently waiting for their trains made of us: what is this train made up of carriages with windows you can actually open? In some ways this is one of the good things with going on these trips: seeing the quizzical expressions on the faces of those on the platforms as we chuff by. I hope nobody was too surprised when the safety valve lifted, but it just added to the theatre of it all. By now there were more smuts on the table than l could remember from any previous journey – probably due to the tunnels.

    We departed East Croydon (1L) to continue up the Brighton Main Line (slow side) accelerating through Selhust (27), Thornton Heath (33) and Norbury (42) to a maximum of 48 through Streatham Common. We slowed to pass Balham (24) before recovering to 34 for Wandsworth Common to then stop for a couple of minutes outside Clapham Junction where we then arrived for the final pick-up 2L. Before we left the station properly we drew forward a short distance. I am not sure why this happened but a possible reason could be to clear the Junction (Falcon), which is just before the short Platform 16. Now on the West London Line we left on time (09:44) to cross the Thames, then past Imperial Wharf (30), West Brompton (43), Kensington Olympia (11) and Shepherds Bush (19) before powering up to Mitre Bridge Junction and to our first watering stop at Willesden South West Sidings where the tanker was ready for us. It was amusing watching the chap carrying the hose as he got to the trackside and then stopped suddenly as knew he could not go any further. Anyway, the hose was collected by those from the front of the train and connected.

    After the tender was filled we were away 4E (10:31) to pass Acton Wells Junction Box where the signaller was standing outside with a friendly wave. We had to be held slightly before accelerating onto the Great Western so we passed Acton Main Line (14) now right time. We were up to 31 past Hanwell but slowed to then accelerate to pass Southall (29) having whistled-up the WCR depot (containing a Thumper unit). In true relief line style our speed increased gradually to 60 at Slough and held in the higher 50s through Twyford (56) to stop a mile (or so) before Reading (Kennet Bridge Junction) where we subsequently crossed to the Main to stop at Reading (P8) for a crew change and more quizzical looks.

    We departed Reading 3L (11:46) and then turned onto the Berks and Hants Line to make our way to Westbury (almost). Passing Reading West (27) we reached the mid 50s through Theale (54), Aldermaston (54) and Midgham (55) to slow through Thatcham (50) to arrive a few minutes late at Newbury Racecourse for the second water stop with the tanker having already arrived. We took the opportunity to get off the train as did the dog – who l am told is owned by Mr. Buck - from within the support coach.

    We left about on time (12:25) to make our way further westwards. We accelerated to pass Newbury (25) up to the mid 40s to go through Knitbury (44), Hungerford (44) and Bedwyn (46) with regular ‘hello’ whistles to those on canal boats or those watching form the towpath. After Bedwyn the speed dropped – but the volume increased – to top Savernake at around 28 then downhill to pass Pewsey (54) and up to the low 60s where the clouds cleared: something about the sun and the righteous? Throughout this section we gradually lost time so that after slowing for Heywood Road Junction the train was 13 late. Now heading roughly North we now followed the winding River Avon through Bradford-on-Avon (50) to Bathampton Junction where we soon arrived at Bath Spa (10L).

    We had some time wandering around Bath (via the Circus and the Royal Crescent) then took a while to find somewhere to eat. After this we walked along the river to the weir passing the rugby ground where a match was just starting. Following that we went back to the station area having time for a swift half across the road before entering. Up on the platform l was keeping an eye on the train describer screen until the ECS for the return had left Bristol East Depot, which arrived slightly late at 16:53. Boarding did not take too long as we departed Bath at 16:59 (1L).

    On leaving Bath Spa we reached the mid 40s by Bathampton Junction to hit about 50 before diving into Box Tunnel with an exit speed of about 35. From there the speed increased, passing Chippenham (66) to our first visit into the 70s - with a max of 72 – where we then lost some speed at Dauntsey (54). There was a little recovery at Wootton Bassett Junction (57) before slowing to a pathing stop at Swindon Signal SW 1212, just West of Swindon. Leaving at 17:49 (3L) we continued our journey East.

    Acceleration was gradual, with Bourton passed at the mid 60s after 6 miles and 70 was achieved at around Uffington. By Challow we were in the mid 70s where we remained until Wantage Road. I did not se a consistent 75 on my GPS app – it hovered between 73 and 74 before slowing for the next water stop at Milton Junction. After the watering was completed we drew forward to stop at the actual junction and were away a couple of minutes early. After slowing slightly near Foxhall Junction we accelerated through Didcot Parkway (27) to pass Cholsey (56) where we remained at a similar pace to pass Goring & Streatley (56) – l missed Pangbourne - and Tilehurst (58) before passing through (rarely, for me) Reading (platform 15) non-stop (at 34) on time (19:13). Over the next five miles we slowly increased our speed to pass Twyford (50) and cruised in the 50s to pass Maidenhead (55), Taplow (55), Burnham (55), Slough (55), Langley (52) and Iver (53). We then rolled through West Drayton (48) to brake and pass Hayes & Harlington (33) and Southall (34).

    From here onwards was the part of the journey l was looking forward to the most: in the past steam has come off the train somewhere in West London (e.g. Hanwell Bridge Loop) and we would be taken South behind a diesel, but not on this occasion! We eased our way through Hanwell (30), West Ealing (30), Ealing Broadway (31) and slowed for Acton Main Line (16). After that we left the Great Western to make the short (but steep) climb to Acton Wells Junction at around 14 mph. The signaller could clearly be seen to watch us pass on the short hop (back) to Willesden South West Sidings for our final water stop of the day. With that done we were away 1L (20:25). Two miles later we were briefly in the high 40s (peak of 49) to slow through Shepherds Bush (40) for Kensington Olympia for an expected crew change. Evidently this was not going to happen as we accelerated through the station (at about 20) to pass West Brompton (24) and Imperial Wharf (18) to cross the Thames for the final time and to ‘dive’ under all the lines to / from Waterloo and Victoria to ascend the short bank into Clapham Junction for the first passenger set-down and crew change.

    We departed Clapham Junction on time (20:52) with no noticeable problems: tight curve and the final coach (us) had stopped on the slope could have provided a hindrance. Wandsworth Common was passed at 23 with Balham at 25 then unhurried acceleration saw us pass Streatham Common (40) and eased to Norbury (37). From there we probably came against signal checks to pass Thornton Heath (10). We missed out the pathing stop at Selhurst, instead passing through 2E at 21:11. Even though l was in the last carriage l could hear Mayflower as we climbed up to Windmill Bridge Junction to roll through East Croydon at 12, responding to the waves from those on the platform and stopped afterwards for a pathing stop at South Croydon. When the train we were waiting for had overtaken us we continued our journey South on time (21:26).

    Now climbing we passed Sanderstead (23) and Riddlesdown (24) to enter Riddlesdown Tunnel. Speed increased to 34 through Upper Warlingham to our next set-down stop at Woldingham. Here was the location of the only perceived problem of the day: to get the train moving we first set back a few yards before getting going, leaving at 21:47 (4L). There were a good number of people watching from the platform as we passed. We accelerated in Oxted Tunnel, reaching the high 40s on exit to then stop (unscheduled) at Oxted. After recommencing our journey we passed through Limpsfield Tunnel to drop downhill (maximum in the mid 50s) to slow to pass Lingfield (39) and Dormans (15). From there it was a short visit into the mid 20s before stopping at East Grinstead (passenger set-down) 6L (22:18).

    We departed East Grinstead at 22:22 (2L) to make our way onto the Bluebell Railway’s metals, again this process seemed smooth. Mayflower took us onward down to Kingscote where the WRC Class 47 was running and 80151 had brought the Bluebell Railway carriages up from Sheffield Park. We did the reverse of the morning: swapping to those carriages via the underpass while Mayflower (and support coach) was manoeuvred to head our train again. After all was well – and with an exchange of whistles -we were away at 23:07 (7L) to make our way down through Horsted Keynes with the noticeable noise from the jointed track back to Sheffield Park and journey’s end (8L at 23:38 – not that it really mattered). Well, almost: just as we got back to the car park it began to rain, which turned out to be heavy all the way home where we arrived about a quarter past midnight.

    I would like to take this opportunity to thanks those who were behind this tour: Steam Dreams for delivering what was promised, (again) the team behind 61306 Mayflower, WCR (and probably Network Rail) for making it all work, the on-board team and – on this occasion – The Bluebell Railway for being welcoming hosts. I can now see why there was a lengthy postponement from last year: the tying-in with the Gala meant we could steam away from London on this occasion. All in all it was a very good day out: traversing some relatively rare track for steam together with some speedier running to the West, what is not to like!

    Here are a couple of pictures, the first being Mayflower heading the train at Sheffield Park…
    1 61306 At Sheffield Park.JPG

    … and the platform at Sheffield Park 16 hours later.
    2 Back at Sheffield Park.JPG

    I have put together a document ‘Maps and Graphs.pdf’ (attached) that breaks the journey into sections, which you may find of interest. Although of no consequence, for those on board (and l know this can be subjective) l believe the mileages in the booklet are out. For the outward journey it gives 10.9 miles between Kensington Olympia and North Pole Junction instead of (about) 1.9 miles; my GPS yielded around 153 miles in total. There does not appear to be an obvious error on the return journey but my GPS gave about 148 miles. Finally, for a bit of fun, l have put together a short document (attached as ‘2019 Compared With 2015.pdf’) comparing the two runs behind Mayflower over the same route between West London and Bath, the other being from September 2015 (also the subject of my first post on here).

    -SC-
     

    Attached Files:

  18. MellishR

    MellishR Well-Known Member Friend

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    It's a bit late to ask, but what was the reason for using Bluebell stock for the first and last short legs of this tour rather than using the railtour stock all the way from and to Sheffield Park?
     
  19. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Basically station capacity at Sheffield Park - there’s not enough space at SP to handle a train that long. In any case, I suspect a nine coach train would have needed banking over Imberhorne in any case, certainly for security of timing given damp autumn conditions.

    Tom
     
  20. Big Al

    Big Al Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    I think that the Bluebell Railway learned the lesson of allowing a rail tour to go all the way down to Sheffield Park with the RTC Bluebell Explorer in 2013. Top and tail steam with 11 coaches made quite a mess of things at S Pk but the railway managed to keep running.
     

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