Pondered dropping this in and decided I might as well 'for completion'. The double header vs 35018; a short performance orientated report of 2nd Feb's WCME... Disappointed to have an unnecessary B1 on the train. Dislike double headers unless it's for a good reason, like an overloaded train for a single engine. Definitely wouldn't have booked if it had been advertised as such. Booking early does backfire sometimes. Even the weather cleared. 5" of snow Thursday; frosty nights but still the hill was passable at 0500 Saturday morning so a run over the Cumbrian Fells in the snow beckoned. No snow on the ground all the way to Abergavenny; trains on time too, and even better, the Station Cafe was open for a superb large bacon roll at 0555. So, in a better mood I got on the 0623 for Crewe to join the WCME at Crewe. We timers love the CME with Yealand, Grayrigg, Shap, the S&C South and Wilpshire for us to time, mull over and compare the performance with equivalent trains. Thing is there hasn't been a similar combination of locomotives over the CME route; Class 10 1/2 or 11 for 11 coaches? Seriously? Probably a 'one-off'. So what to expect? In Crewe and on the train before we got to Carnforth D&UGL, we mused that on the outward in such good conditions, Yealand Summit at 45; Grayrigg at 60 and Shap at 55 should be possible; as should 60 at Ais Gill. Then there was Wilpshire with little doubt that on a fine day the pair should set a record for the climb with a summit speed in the high 40s or even the low 50s a distinct possibility if it was dry through the cutting. As we drew into Carnforth D&UGL, we saw the front of a Class 47 then coaches behind it. Thought for a minute it was going to attach a few more coaches to our train to make the load worthwhile!! But it was a top and tailed diesel tour set. We heard both whistles as the pair and reported back to us, a single support coach (we'd hoped for 2) backed on. The TPE to Edinburgh was a few minutes late, no surprise there; and we were then held for the Barrow train to cross. We left the loop 5 late. We had excellent crews, the 2 Micks, Kelly and Rawling driving, and 2 of the best firemen, Chris Holmes and Frank Chippendale. Didn't find out who the TIs were. From the start things looked good as the smoke was more white than black. The acceleration out of the loop onto the mainline was good so it looked as if the Micks meant business. So the DH vs 35018 with the same load went like this... Yealand - quite impressive; loop to summit taking 6m 29s, with a summit speed of 45.5 against 35018's 7m 31s and 38. Not mighty acceleration to the foot of Grayrigg at mp13; the DH did it in 10m 15.38s with a passing speed of 69; 35018 in 11m 32.5s at the same passing speed. As expected the double header produced a stronger performance on the 13 mile climb, but not a spectacular one. The DH passed Oxenholme in 15m 54.4s at 65; 35018 in 17m 16.5s at 59. At Lambrigg Crossing the differential was slightly less, the DH in 21m 11s at 59; 35018 in 23m at 54. At mp26, the summit, the differential was a bit higher; the DH 22m 44.2s at 57; 35018 24m 42.8s at 51. On 12th May last, there was a TSR 60 through to Low Gill that slightly compromised the pickup through the Lune Gorge. Interestingly through the Gorge, despite the TSR, 35018 picked up more than the double header - that could be for many reasons but it was interesting that we passed mp30 on the DH in 26m 25.3s at 70; 35018 in 28m 36s but at a faster 72. The DH passed mp31 1/2, the start of the 1in146, after 27m 42.2s at 71; 35018 in 29m 50.4 and still a little faster at 73. So onto the 4 miles of 1in75. How much quicker would the double header be and how much faster would their speed be over the summit? As they were steaming so well I still thought the high 50s possible. Into the climb the double header passed mp33, the start of the 1in75 in 29m 01s at 69.5; 35018 in 31m 8.3s at 66.4. Scout Green was passed by the DH in 30m 53.8s at 57.5; 35018 in 33m 10.2s at 51.8, so far not a huge extra performance. Onwards and upwards to mp36. The DH passed it in 31m 58.6s at 52.8; 35018 in 34m 23.9s at 46.6. So 2m 25s and 6.2 mph better to that point. By mp37 the difference was slightly greater, DH in 33m 10.5s at 49.4; 35018 in 35m 45.2s at 42.3 but again, not as great as expected. The climber's summit at mp37 1/4 didn't offer a real comparison as 35018 slipped/was eased; DH in 33m 28.8s at 49.5; 35018 in 36m 6.6s at 40.7. For finality, the Summit Board was passed by the double header in 33m 47.69s at a speed of 49.3; 35018 in May last in 36m 26s at 39.4. I did note that my GPS read higher on Shap. I was on the milepost side in the cutting and that can have an effect though the readings stayed 'solid'. Unlike Don, my GPS seemed to be reading high so checking the quarter miles the 'old fashioned way'; 900/time elapsed; mp36 3/4 to mp37 indicated a speed of 48.9; mp37 to mp37 1/4 indicated a speed of 49; mp37 1/4 to the plateau summit board at mp37 1/2 indicated a slight fall in speed to 47.8. So perhaps the GPS was misreading a bit. Who knows. They aren't 100% accurate. Also we've never been totally convinced mp37 1/4 was put back in the correct position after being taken down during engineering work in the late 1990s, a frequent topic of conversation over many years with Mike Notley in the Woodrow. Time elapsed showed that with the same load, from Carnforth D&UGL to Shap Summit the double header was 2m 38.3 secs quicker than 35018 on its own last May. Strangely we hardly heard any noise from up front on Grayrigg or Shap, despite us being in the 3rd coach. The linesiders and photographers had the best of the day in that respect. Arrival in Carlisle was in just about even time, giving us a little extra time to eat and drink. Off to the Woodrow Wilson and a large mixed grill and a pint of Jaipur for me. Then the Jaipur went, so a Great White IPA followed for seconds. Then Andy (andalfi) came over for a chat on his way to the bar and introduced me to David (Oswald T Whistle). It was good to meet and chat with David after many instances of 'ships passing in the night' syndrome in the Woodrow. Andy is a well known bad influence and as he was so impressed with the beer he was drinking, I had to buy us one. Interesting name, Saddle Black, a black IPA, and excellent it was too. Thanks Andy - though not good having 3 with an afternoon's timing to come!!! Only just over 10 minutes from departure time so a brisk walk to the station. As David said in his report, no time to do anything other than rejoin the train, Coach G, 10 back for me. A smart departure and good running on the 1in132 got us to 51 by Howe and Co.; 35018 at 50 in May. Then things went pear-shaped at Armathwaite as we slowed for the tunnel and thereafter for every significant tunnel to act as icicle spotters for NR. There was some nice acceleration away from the slowings. The announcement about 'Icicle Watch' was a downer as it meant no worthwhile comparisons were going to be possible for the southbound long drag because of the need to make checks through Helm and Birkett Tunnels. Then, unlike 35018 last May, we stopped in Appleby to water the B1. Might just as well have with 'Icicle Watch' beckoning. We set off for mp275 and the start of the long drag with a nice smoky departure and in the 2 1/4 miles from Appleby to mp275 the double header got to 55. 35018 ran through Appleby at 54 and passed mp275 at 60. Then we slowed through Helm Tunnel and left at speed of only 24. The run to Crosby Garret Tunnel was decent, in the mid forties, but then we braked quite hard on the approach to Kirkby Stephen and came to a stand. After a decent restart we slowed to close to 30 for Birkett Tunnel. After we left the confines of the tunnel the crews had fun and stormed off up the final 4 1/2 miles of 1in100 to Ais Gill Summit. From mp264 to Ais Gill Climbing Summit at mp260, the comparative timings/speeds were: DH 5m 2s, passing speed 36 at mp264 to a max of 50 and a summit speed of 49; 35018 4m 23s, passing speed 53 at mp264, to a max of 58 and a summit speed of 53. A superb effort in the magnificent snow covered setting as the filming showed. I'd never been on a double header up Wilpshire Bank and was intrigued to see what they could do as the coal was obviously good and both engines steaming beautifully. The 2 Micks always got the best out of their charges so with no service trains about we had an uninterrupted run through Clitheroe and beyond. And how they dismissed the formidable bank. We blasted through Whalley, mp17 1/2, at 49.3; Langho, two miles into the 1in81 1/2, was blitzed at 47; speed slightly increased to mp14 1/2, passed at 48; then into the tricky damp section through the tunnel. Didn't trouble them at all and we left Wilpshire Tunnel at 47, then passed the summit at 45ish after 5m 44s. In May, 35018 passed Whalley mp17 1/2 at 44; Langho at 37; left Wilpshire Tunnel at 32 and passed the summit at 29ish after 8m 8.5s. Probably the fastest climb and summit speed on Wilpshire in preservation. The run to Preston was interrupted by the need to water at Cherry Tree as David reported and we were consequently 33 late, arriving at 1839. The loco change was a decent one but we didn't leave until 1908, a bit worrying as our return train was due off Crewe at 2005. The 86 did us proud and we stopped in P1 at Crewe at 1951, even having time for a coffee. Was it worth turning up? Performance-wise, yes and no. Yealand was good; bit disappointed we failed to top Grayrigg at 60; and been over Shap at 50+ with a single Class 8 with 11 and 12 up. The southbound run, in particular the long drag, was seriously affected by 'Icicle Watch'; but we did have that superb run around Mallerstang to Ais Gill Summit. Then the end of the day and an unmatched spectacular climb of Wilpshire. So on balance, yes. We had an enjoyable day out in the magnificent backdrop of the snow covered Cumbrian Fells in bright winter sunshine. The sunshine and snow over the fells made a superb backdrop for photography and provided some of the best photographs and filming for many years. Thanks to everyone for posting them for we 'on train' travellers to enjoy. What 35018 might have done on such a beautiful dry day on Shap we'll never know. Thanks to RTC for running the Winter CMEs in my favourite time of the year 'up north'; to WCR for the management on the day and providing us with excellent drivers and firemen, TIs and support crew; and to NR for letting us play on the big railway. I know the 'icicle watch' spoiled much of the return for us but we were the only train out there. So 2 more WCMEs to go, and hopefully a chance to have another proper day out with 35018.