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Mid-Hants Loco Roster for Santas

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by Mighty Mogul, Dec 3, 2009.

  1. LN850

    LN850 Member

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    GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!! Come on mid hants, many of u r ex BR enginemen, surely u know what these beasts can do!
     
  2. 73129

    73129 Part of the furniture

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    Yes but it's great to see some diesel action on the MHR.

    :) :)
     
  3. LN850

    LN850 Member

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    thats why there was a diesel gala. On the back of the train with a tender first loco sucks.
     
  4. ralphchadkirk1

    ralphchadkirk1 New Member Account Suspended

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    But you get two steam galas a year.
     
  5. rsfaithfull

    rsfaithfull Member

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    The box on the back is not at our request I can assure you, that decision is made by those that must be obeyed. I'd much rather run without.
     
  6. Bean-counter

    Bean-counter Part of the furniture

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    I am sure the family market on the trains would have been really pleased if any of the trains had slipped to a stand and they were stuck on the bank awaiting diesel assistance. Or the lcoo couldn't run round due to frozen points etc.

    "Keeping the windows shut" may be all very well, but what about the doors when people need to get on and off the train?

    Santa Specials are a high intensity operation that needs to be slick and run as planned whenever possible. I have put in over a decade of service as an elf or very occasionally the "main man" and I can fully understand the Mid-Hants deciding not to take any risks with delivering the planned service - I believe the Santas are amongst their busiest times of the year, and they wouldn't want to cancel trains and turn people away while a train was recovered from stalling on the bank, no matter how unlikely that may have been. That is quite apart from the risk of delays running round due to frozen/snow blocked points etc. And the heating issue.

    Steven
     
  7. Platelayer

    Platelayer Member

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    Three different reponses showing how diverse the 'hobby' of steam railways is and I believe that two of the three will seldom be reconciled:


    Person involved in managing and operating a railway:


    'Macho' loco crew

    The box on the back is not at our request I can assure you, that decision is made by those that must be obeyed. I'd much rather run without.


    Train-spotting frother

    GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!! Come on mid hants, many of u r ex BR enginemen, surely u know what these beasts can do!

    thats why there was a diesel gala. On the back of the train with a tender first loco sucks.
     
  8. 50002

    50002 Member

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    Absolutely spot on. You couldn't be more right. Another relevant point here is that the MHR Santas are not conceived and run on a 'turn up and go' basis like the normal service trains. The passengers on MHR Santas have paid in advance so cancelling a train on the day while a stalled train is dealt with is not an option.

    I'm old enough to remember the days when BR ran the line and it was used at weekends to divert main line services. Steam hauled trains stalling on the 1 in 60 was by no means uncommon. Neither was diesel assistance. BR experienced enginemen or not, adverse rail conditions can get the better of even the most determined crews.
     
  9. 5944

    5944 Resident of Nat Pres

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    The Bluebell were running with delays of up to 90 minutes yesterday due to frozen points and point detection not working properly. There were some pretty irate passengers towards the end of the day, as the staff were trying to get everyone on the last train. When I left about 4pm they announced an additional train would be running about 16.30 for anyone unable to get on the 15.40 (which was actually the 15.05 running nearly an hour late).

    The operation at the Bluebell is different to Mid-Hants (full line running with trains passing at every station rather than 2 shuttles going up and down half a dozen times), so is more likely to suffer severe delays if anything goes wrong, but there doesn't seem to be another way of doing it due to the number of passengers involved. All trains seemed full yesterday despite the state of the roads, and there were 3 trains of 6 carriages running.
     
  10. LN850

    LN850 Member

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    Well. i can understand that it is a high intensity service, however do remember i have been riding behind these santa trains for many years now (that makes me feel old) and there had
    never been a diesel on the back.

    There were no delays and conditions have been much the same. People arent paying fora diesel ride, but for steam ride. I remeber last year the standard 5 came off at Ropley and we have 33053 taking us the rest of the way.

    However, i do understand that it is not at the request of the loco crews. I do not know a huge amount about loco driving (something i am hoping to remedy next year) however surely its not hard keep a steam loco going up medstead bank in these conditions?
     
  11. Widge

    Widge New Member

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    As some posters have pointed out, the Santa trains are all about the family market, and all the families I spoke to on Saturday were having a fantastic time - none mentioned the diesel at all. Although we may not have needed it with the 9F, heavy snowfall is rare enough in these parts for the railway's management to very sensibly take the safe option of having diesel backup available had either train started to slip on the 1 in 60.
    And the need not to couple and uncouple every 20 minutes in freezing conditions was certainly appreciated by me, if not by the train spotters. With the "Santas" nearly done, the purists should find plenty to enjoy at the 1940s-themed "Christmas Leave" event this weekend.
     
  12. 50002

    50002 Member

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    I admire your confidence, but experienced BR steam crews could and did find it difficult to keep going in such conditions.

    So let me assure you that assisting diesels have certainly been used on MHR Santas in previous years. Even if you can't remember that I certainly can, and my knowledge of the railway goes back even before the MHR opened to the public as a preserved line. There was even one year when some of the Alton Santas had to be hauled, not merely assisted, by the line's 08 shunter - no train heat at all and when you do have that experience of driving locos I'll leave you to work out how fast that went up Medstead Bank.
     
  13. royce6229

    royce6229 Well-Known Member

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    Some years ago when the WD was on the Midhants it had a diesel pilot on some of the Santas, at least the photographers can be gratefull the diesels are on the back now.
     
  14. PhotoMatt

    PhotoMatt Well-Known Member

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    On Sunday the diesels were only on the back for the first two trains, so if you want a phot without the diesel go later in the day.

    That said we've had about 6 inches of snow in Hampshire this afternoon so things maybe very different tomorrow. The roads around Basingstoke are totally impassable (as my wife who's been stuck 4 miles from home from 6 hours will testify).
     
  15. LN850

    LN850 Member

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    Yes I believe in 1999 the 08 shunter was on the back of 1625's (back then it was James) christmas eve train, but other than that i cannot remember an occasion when there was a diesel on the back.

    Im guessing the 08s speed was a whopping 10mph or less.
     
  16. royce6229

    royce6229 Well-Known Member

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    Heard earlier A31 at medstead was impassible, not sure if it was an acident in the snow or just the snow.
     
  17. PhotoMatt

    PhotoMatt Well-Known Member

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    Roads are definitely in a bad way, wife still not home!
     
  18. royce6229

    royce6229 Well-Known Member

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    Hope she gets home safely soon Matt.
     
  19. PhotoMatt

    PhotoMatt Well-Known Member

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    9 hours for a 15 mile journey and she's back!

    Weather conditions at the MHR could be great tomorrow but not sure if the roads will be clear to get there.
     
  20. 50002

    50002 Member

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    Since class 33 diesels have been available on the MHR, i.e. at least the last 5 years and very possibly longer, one of them (often the green narrow bodied one ) has on several Santa days been pushing on the back of the first Alton departure. On arrival at Ropley it usually detached and ran light engine down to Alresford to provide similar assistance to the first departure from Alresford. After those first 2 trains it was left up to the steam crews to judge whether they needed diesel assistance on later departures.

    You are probably right about the uphill speed of the class 08. The 08 occasion I was thinking of would have been in one of the peak years sometime in the late 1980s. Having to find a total of 4 locos, 2 for each end of the line, sometimes proved an elusive target and thus on at least 2 days the 08 had to work some of the Alton departures. In those days the Santas were run in a different format with 2 trains running from each end of the line with Santa's Grottoes in the station buildings at Ropley and Medstead instead of now with Santa travelling on the trains. That meant about 10 departures from each end per Santa day instead of the 5 that run now. In that way there was one year when we carried close to, and possibly even more than, 40,000 visitors in the period leading up to Christmas. Nowadays the figure is only about half that total.

    One December in the early 1990s the town of Alresford arranged a Christmas Late Shopping event. The shops stayed open into the evening and there were lighted streets and entertainment and so on. On the MHR it was thought there would be local interest in such an event so 2 steam hauled round trip specials were arranged at fairly short notice departing from the Alton end of the line. It wasn't worth the Alton BR ticket office staying open late so I volunteered to work the trains as TTI. The engine used was the USA S-160 2-8-0 , chimney first out of Alton and with the usual formation of 5 coaches. Well we got to Alresford OK but on the return journey running tender first the loco slipped to a stand in the long cutting leading up to Medstead & Four Marks. The frost had descended into the cutting and the railhead conditions provided virtually no adhesion even for an 8-coupled loco. I heard later from the engine crew that it was not easy for them even to stand upright on two feet in that cutting, so bad were the track conditions that evening. At least two attempts were made to set back down the bank towards Ropley and take another run at the 1 in 60 climb. Both tries ended with no greater success than on the first occasion. We were well and truly stuck in the middle of nowhere, or as near as you can get to it on the MHR. My late friend known to many on the line as 'Dear Boy' was manning the buffet car, so between us we offered free hot drinks and refreshments to the few passengers who had braved the conditions and Fortunately another loco, the WD 2-10-0, had been lit up at Ropley MPD and when it had raised sufficient steam it set out to provide banking assistance. So with a 2-8-0 pulling and a 2-10-0 pushing we did get on the move again and were able to return to Alton after a round trip which had taken us about 2 1/2 hours if I remember the time correctly. There were still hardly any passengers on board or people waiting to join the train, so we gave the few hardy souls who had braved the weather their fare money back and needless to say the scheduled second round trip was caped without further ado.

    Another year I was on platform duties and was sent up to Medstead station for a special task. It was to collect a bucketfull of sand ( if you've not tried it. they're somewhat heavy at first) and walk the track towards Alton hand-sanding the rails from the summit downwards to give the steam locos a fighting chance of getting up the bank. Two of us were thus engaged and we successfully sanded to as far as Hampshire Hunt overbridge and a little beyond. It worked. But I can't help thinking a better method would have been if the engines had their sandboxes filled before leaving shed. Apparently it was the policy at the time not to do so, don't ask me why because I don't know.
     

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