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Sugar Loaf Mountaineer II: 7/09/19

Discussion in 'What's Going On' started by bleeder4, May 30, 2019.

  1. mattspencer

    mattspencer Member

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  2. Davo

    Davo Member

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    My pic from Carmarthen. A good experience steaming through the Brecon Beacons on elusive 5mt 45231 Sherwood Forester. (P.S. Why doesn't 45231 do more tours and yet it's part of Jeremy Hoskin's fleet of steam locos). Very nice countryside indeed.
    Davo on tour 56F.
    20190907_131359.jpg
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2019
  3. KRM47827

    KRM47827 New Member

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    Some of the answer "might" be obvious on one front at least. The 75mph locomotives 45231 = 60mph) are favoured for timings purposes, can pull a heavier train more swiftly and perhaps (45231 may require more water stops on some jobs which also affects schedules/day length. The "5" is fine for short distances on slow routes but even just a bit of fast mainline on a journey can keep it off the roster. In this case Heart of Wales routing means only paperwork in place for this loco.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2019
  4. LMarsh1987

    LMarsh1987 Well-Known Member

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    Sounding very well on approach to Dorrington as the crew put down the power as they hit the bottom of the climb to Church Stretton !
     
  5. Bulleid Pacific

    Bulleid Pacific Member

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    A trip worth doing for the sound effects alone. Apart from grease on the rails at Shrewsbury on the outward, the sensible load meant 45231 and crew delivered precisely what was said on the tin - a highly unusual return trip over the Heart of Wales line.

    Delays were broadly the result of external issues such as the level crossing at Llandovery and a late-running unit at Llandrindod Wells on the return.

    The times over Sugarloaf northbound had plenty of slack built in, so anything up to a major issue with the locomotive could be accommodated. As a result, we arrived at the Llandrindod water stop early, with enough time to purchase supper and a half-pint of Rhymney Export (always a delicious beer) at the Llanerch Inn.

    The only thing that went wrong was what was assumed to be lineside vegetation smashing a support coach window somewhere near Broome. Luckily no one was reported to be hurt. Crews were from the DB stable, and did a great job in what seemed to be ideal weather.

    Carmarthen was the scene of a family reunion and I enjoyed an excellent stewing beef madras at the Boar's Head, washed down with a fine pint of Felinfoel Stout (rare to find on cask; it's usually found in keg), before a wander to the Queens Arms for a delicious pint of Glamorgan Brewery's Jemima's Pitchfork.

    No doubt a more detailed account of performance will be forthcoming, but it was an 'old fashioned' outing over a classic route that despite its length, should see much more steam than it currently does. It was a route I had put off about 6 years ago, after which RTC stopped running them, so this was a chance to put that right. So glad I did, and thanks go to everyone who made it possible.
     
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  6. garth manor

    garth manor New Member

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    Awesome return climb up Sugarloaf.
     
  7. 5098

    5098 Member

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    45231 at Cynghordy viaduct:
     

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  8. MellishR

    MellishR Well-Known Member Friend

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    I agree with that. More sound from the loco than on several previous trips combined.

    I understand that there was some serious shunting at Carmarthen. Once a service train had departed I watched the loco run forward into the headshunt then round round, but I didn't stay to watch the rest. Apparently that included the loco coming onto the other end and propelling the train to get the support coach onto the headshunt, then presumably pulling the rest of the train clear of the turnout before going back there to collect the support coach, take that round and put it on the other end; and of course having to turn on the triangle.

    I wasn't aware of the broken window until I read post #45 but I'm not altogether surprised, because there were an awful lot of branches hitting the train. I had no inclination whatsoever to stick my head out except when the train was stationary.

    Edit: only got home this evening after staying a second night in Craven Arms and visiting Ironbridge before coming home.
     
  9. mattspencer

    mattspencer Member

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    My video from yesterday including the climb of Sugar Loaf in both directions.
     
  10. acorb

    acorb Member

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    The line really is in a dire state vegetation wise, there appears to be little inclination to sort this. From a lineside perspective the train is in a green tunnel for much of its length. Two shots I took just 6 years ago are no longer possible and another is rapidly disappearing.

    I hope LSL claim off NR the costs of the replacement window - how does encroaching vegetation fit into their legal responsibility to maintain a safe, gauged route?

    This is a wonderfully scenic line, if some views were opened up I am sure more tourist trains would be viable, as well as boosting service train usage. However, the state of the windows on Cambrian line trains would indicate seeing scenery is low down the list of priorities..
     
  11. green five

    green five Well-Known Member

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    45231 was also assaulted by the vegetation as this still from a video on YT shows:
    45231 tree.png
     
  12. KRM47827

    KRM47827 New Member

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    Remember the situation all too well from regular journeys down there in the past. One of the best lines in the country aside from the very best in Scotland hides between gaps in a forest like tunnel. People still want to visit but NR needs a good few visits from the tree surgeons booked to open it up/get rid of obstructions as it's very bad for branches hanging too close and evidently isn't getting any better 5 years since my last traversal. Same issue as Helensburgh to Crianlarich and much of the Oban line. Although Heart of Wales route in even more urgent need of tree purge by the looks of it as broken windows are not an acceptable side effect of the route vegetation.
     
  13. MellishR

    MellishR Well-Known Member Friend

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    I've just looked at my video covering the first bit of running round at Carmarthen. It's not worth posting, but it has reminded me that, after the loco had run forward into the headshunt, and before it set back through the empty platform, both the turnout for the headshunt and the trap point at that end of the platform were clipped and scotched.I know that that has to be done for any passenger train movements over facing points that don't have locks, but why for a light engine movement?

    Edit: Or, to put it another way, if a light engine movement can't be made over a point that isn't locked, what movements can be made?
     
  14. Davo

    Davo Member

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    One thing about the heart of wales line it has 4 trains daily and has a token system in place luckily no E.T.C.S. Just the amount of level crossings on the stations that are tedious and water stops, but i hope for all rail enthusiasts a 2020 steam hauled tour can do this route for anyone who missed out on the sugar loaf mountaineer 2019, nice to hear a 5mt in full cry going up the steep gradients.
    Davo 56F
     
  15. CLN_WVR

    CLN_WVR Member

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    Some shots from the return over Cynghordy Viaduct - the sound echoing up the valley as she approached was awesome.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  16. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Your second shot is very nice.
     
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  17. Davo

    Davo Member

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    One thing i do know N.R. could keep the shrubs cut back a bit on the heart of wales line i know when i were window hanging i had the toplight a quarter way down and kept well back when going through the deep overgrown cuttings, but there again 110 miles of single line would be hard for a team of N.R. loggers to give a good pruning back of the shrubs.
     
  18. Groks212

    Groks212 Member

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    True, but it shouldn't have been allowed to get that bad if cutting back was done regularly. However it seems that keeping vegetation in check is not a high priority for NR anywhere on the network.

    Dave B
     
  19. Davo

    Davo Member

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    Snap! Say like if there were a rare breed of falcon or a bird or any other rare species that is not vast in numbers the R.S.P.B. and wildlife trust are up in arms not for the trees and bushes to be pruned back, but the highways and railways still need clearing if are used for any vehicles of public passage of travellers.
     
  20. 1020 Shireman

    1020 Shireman Well-Known Member Friend

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    Had to be done: one report on how it went.

    Sugar Loaf Mountaineer II

    Almost a year on we got the chance to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Central Wales Line. Up at 0300 hrs for breakfast and then armed with stout boots and crampons we set off from home at 0400 hrs to drive to Shrewsbury as we don't altogether trust Transport for Wales to run the services we'd have needed to use. That was a shame as we'd have started our day on Abergavenny Station in the shadow of Monmouthshire's own Sugar Loaf Mountain. We had a good run up the A49 and the Satnav managed to navigate us around the Shrewsbury one-way system to the Howard Street Car Park. We met our friends off the early Manchester which was on time. Then we watched the stock came in just before 0700 hrs, headed by LSL's pristine looking Class 37. 7 coaches but one a brake to be taken off the train. It was a bit of a Back to the Future moment seeing so many familiar faces on the train. 45231 and POB backed on with Fred Lewis in charge.

    Unfortunately we weren't on the milepost side so all timings were done on the GPS with the odometer being synchronised at suitable mileposts on the journey. 3rd coach on the outward so plenty of noise guaranteed. It seemed as if there were some issues with the brakes as we didn't get away well and stopped before English Bridge. Underway again and some nice running up to 40 at the end of the 2 miles of 127r; then we were stopped at a red signal close to 4 miles out on the 134r. The low bridge behind it used to subject to a speed restriction in the 1990s. Away again and a noisy Black 5 charged the 134r, 17, then over the 1/2m 279f, took advantage to get to 39.5. a mile and a half of 562r showed a nice acceleration as we passed Dorrington Box at 50 and maxed out at 51.5, the speed we took onto the climb to Stretton Summit.

    It starts with 1/2m 105r, 51.3; 1m of 90r, fell back to 46.5; 1/4 117r, 46.2; then the 3m+ of 100r; 1m in46.1; 2m in 46; 1/4m easing 168r, 48.5; then a really noisy charge to the end of the 100r, 48.3; then the easing to the 1m+ at 252r, to cross the summit at 52.7. fun climb. Fred let the 5 run down the close to 2m of 112r, 60; then over Marshbrook LC at 61. Apart from a 3/4m 110r/125r, 56.4; it's all downgrade to Craven Arms where we arrived 6 late.

    Indicators on for the crossing onto the Central Wales Line. A nice section to start with 3/4m at 103r, 12, then 1 1/2m of 1in80, 27.7. next comes a mile+ of mixed 220r/101r/200r, 43.5 before running down to Hopton Heath, 48. No pick up on the 80f-479f, but at mp6, a reference one for me, Fred opened the 5 up and the sound level rose considerably up the 2m 130r/150r/101r. Just into the 150r, 36.3, the 5 was eased on Bucknell approach, 10 through the station. The 5 was opened up again over the level, 43.8. there's a mile+ of 200, noisily left at 39.2; up to 40 over a 1/4m of 440, then eased to run into Knighton for our first water stop, 8 late.

    From Knighton there's 6 1/1m climb to summit as we burst out of Llangynllo Tunnel. Off the platform end at 194r for 3/4m, 26.6, nice noisy start; then 1/2m of 151r, 35.2, and a momentum 37 onto the 5 1/2 mile 90r. Bit of a slog even for a Black 5 with 7. Plenty of bits of coal battering the train as the 5 roared up the first mile, 30.2. Despite the racket from the front, speed was down to 24 through Knucklas Station. A short distance later we climbed through the castellated portals onto the magnificent Knucklas Viaduct at 21.4. the 5 dug in but 1/4m off the viaduct we slipped but it had no effect on our speed, 21.5. Black 5s are famous for their slogging ability and we did just that. A mile past the viaduct speed had risen to 24.6; fell back to 21.1 at mp17; then picked back up to 24.2 as the gradient eased to 100r into the tunnel, 24.2. the summit is inside the tunnel and we charged out of it at 29. That was what we came for!! The views across the valley were spectacular and we picked out 7/8 hardy souls with cameras on the top of the opposite mountain. Pity there were so many trees close to the track.

    The line limit is mostly 45 mph and that was our max on the 14 miles downgrade to Llandrindod Well, with a 10mph crossing at Dolau. There are a few of those, one in a particularly poor location for us. We lost more time and left some 12 minutes late. No worries but it could eat into our time at Carmarthen.

    Llandod is on a 110r so we had a noisy departure, 23 at the end of the mile climb. Downgrade, including some fun for the return, close to 3 miles of 74f, to Builth Road, 47. 3/4m of 80r into Cilmeri Tunnel, 36.6, then rolling road to Garth, 49. The mile+ of 80r through Llangammarch Tunnel got noisy, 35.1 min. Through the station at 47 and onto close to 2m of 80r/100r, left at 41. Now on down to Llanwrtyd Wells for a token stop to let us onto the climb to Sugar Loaf Tunnel. We'd only need the crampons for walking up the carriage on the return as on the outward it's only 80r.

    Token taken we stomped away onto the short steeper 1/4m of 70r, 16, then accelerating noisily to take 20 onto the 2 1/2m+ of 80r. Who doesn't love the sound of a Black 5 being worked hard - some notable residents of Nat Pres surprisingly, but they seemed to think a return run to Carmarthen would take days. How little they know.... we roared up the grade to pass mp49, 1m in, at 24.8; mp 49 1/4 at 28.5, our max; before we hit the 10X board for a particularly awkward road crossing; steep on both sides and a bit of a problem for trucks and trailers. Fred opened the 5 up as soon as he could and speed rose nicely to 30.1 in sight of Sugar Loaf Halt, more or less the summit, passed at 30.

    Then what was going to be the highlight of the day, the close to 5m of 60f over the splendid Cynhordy Viaduct, 35.7 and then braking through Cynhordy Station, 17.5. then we drifted down the bank to arrive at Llandovery, now almost 20mins late. Then it was through the beautiful rural scenery, what could be seen between way too many lineside trees, down to Pantyffynnon. We stopped for 4 mins and were now 25 late. Hmmm. A gentle run down to the Swansea and District Line at Hendy Jn before the 5 was opened up. Only 40 through Morlais Jn and 45 through Bynea, the end point of last year's diesel hauled train.

    Out onto the main at Llandeilo Jn, 20; nice and noisy pick up to pass Llanelli at 51; but then the brakes came on and speed fell to 23. Quick check on RTT showed us less than 10 mins behind the Manchester-Carmarthen. The signal blocks are long in west Wales. Once away on the level speed picked up to 50 through Pembrey and Burry Port and a max of 60 through Kidwelly. Got too close to the ST again and drifted through the still semaphore signalled Ferryside at 9 mph. A nice noisy pickup thereafter but only a 58 max around the coastline. We finally arrived in Carmarthen at 1253, 21 minutes down.

    Off to find somewhere to eat. We had hoped that Diablos on the riverside, now Dexter's Steak House, would be open. The storm damage had been repaired and the door was open but there was no sign they were open and doing food. We finally wandered in to a very crowded Yr Hen Dderwen (Priory Oak). We found a table for 4 and went back to the bar. Abbot, SOD and Pale Rider, the latter mine. Well kept beers and a decent meal, all day brunch, no beans, extra black pudding for me. We had a second pint and 3 of us the small pancakes and maple syrup with extra ice cream. Pleasant afternoon. We wandered back down to the station to find the stock still in Platform 1. Shortly after the 5 backed on and we were ready to depart and did, right time at 1530.

    Nice acceleration and noisy running to our max of 62.6 at Bertwyn, 10 moles out. Nothing worthy of account to Ammanford. We got there after a signal check RT. Not a serious climb but 1 1/2m of 108r, noisy with a 25 max 1 1/4m in before being checked for Llandybie. Only 401r, topped at 36 before rolling down to Llandeilo. A max of 45 on the level and a bit noisy even 6 1/2 back on the gentle climb to Llandovery. After the 2min token stop we all settled in for the highlight of the day, the 8 1/2m climb to Sugar Loaf Summit. Out of the station onto the 3/4m 87r, left very noisily at 21. Bit of level, 25; then 1 1/4m of 100r, left at 33.1. Then just under a mile of 200r/80r/210r, left at 36, the 5 really making its presence heard!! A mile of 120r/100r took us onto the 4 1/2m of 60r at 34.

    Just over 1/2m in, running at 24, we braked for that 'orrible 10 mph road crossing, 11.3mph. just what you don't want on a 60r. Still it was a lovely sunny afternoon and the sound from the 5 reverberated around as our driver - later found out to be the well known Welshman, Wayne Thompson!! - dug in to tackle the rest of the climb. The 5 responded well and with the fireman working very hard, speed rose to 19 as we reached Cynhordy Viaduct, made famous steam wise by 2968's 5 traverses of it on the memorable 18th October 1997's Central Welshman. Work it out... A mile further on the 60r we were up to 21 and a 1/4m later to a max of 22. Despite the tremendous sound from up front, speed fell back slowly to 19.4 in/18 out of Sugar Loaf Tunnel and the summit. Not got any references to compare with but 45231 seemed to give all she had on the bank. That 10mph crossing really took the momentum away and to get back to 22 was an excellent effort from the crew. Found out at Llanwrtyd Wells that another famous Welshman, 'Geordie' Steve Hanczar, the driver on 60163's 100mph run, had been in charge of the shovel!!

    Yes, it was a real surprise to find the crew from Carmarthen had been Wayne Thompson, driver; Steve Hanczar, fireman. There was actually one Welshman, Newport's redoubtable Tommy Rees, as Traction Inspector. Steve was as entertaining as always to talk to and was enjoying the day out though he found the small firebox strange. He said how weird it was looking back at such a short train as he's normally in charge of Tornado with anything up to 14 coaches and well over 500 tons on the drawbar. Wayne hadn't been on the footplate of a since taking 45231 and POB back after it's sojourn on the Mid Hants. Really experienced Black 5 crew!!

    One interesting climb before Llandod; the 1/2m 80r/140r leading on to 2 1/2m+ 74r after Builth Road. We charged through the station at 43, dropping to 38 as we started the 74r. Lots of noise and bits of coal rattling against the coaches as speed fell slowly to 28 at mp36, a mile in. A lovely noisy climb for the next mile, 27 min, then 28 at the end onto the 1/2m 302r, left at 42. Nice interlude after the long downgrade sections.

    We rolled into Llandod some 20 early so had plenty of time to go for a stroll and try the Evan Evans' Warrior, a delicious 4.6% ale at the lovely old Llanerch Pub across the road, an old haunt of mine back in the day when the NHS in Wales regularly held meetings in Llandod and I was able to sneak across there during long lunches at the Metropole Hotel

    Despite the tanker being there on time, a late service train delayed our departure a bit, 9 down. 3 miles out there's 1 1/2m of 74r, started at 36.5, ended after Penybont Tunnel at 31.6. After drifting through Dolau, another 10 mph restriction, there's 1/4m of 290r, 20 on, 33.7off; a mile of 256r, left at 35.1. then it got noisy again as the 5 attacked 1 3/4m of 90r from mp22 3/4. At mp22 speed was 31.7; through Llanbister Road, 33, and end section at mp21 1/4, 34.1. then after a bit of downgrade there was almost 1 3/4m of 123r, on at 42; off at 36; before a mile of 100r into Llangynllo Tunnel, 33.9. nice interlude before the run down over Knucklas Viaduct, 46. We drifted down to Knighton still 9 down. All down grade thereafter to Craven Arms where we arrived still 9 down. Our friends from Cmwbran and Newport bailed there in case we were late getting back to Shrewsbury for the last train down the Marches.

    We were delayed by the need to call in the damage to a window on the POB caused by a lineside obstruction. The Central Wales Line had mile after mile of trees close enough to the line to scrape along the carriage sides. It also spoils the scenic views from the train, what the live is rightly famous for. Typically the WOW Group have tried and failed to get NR to address this issue. Where have we heard that before???

    We left 22 down with the final climb of the day, climb of Stretton Bank to look forward to. Shorter and gentler than the outward but always noisy and fun. The 5 didn't let us down. Over the mile of 403r speed rose to 27; on the 1/2m of 130r to 37.4; then noisily up to 41 on the mile of 105r. On the mile of 268r/lev/164r, speed rose to 48.7. using the 125d/110d we got to 51 by Marshbrook LC. Then onto the 2m of 112 to the summit. Lovely sound 6 1/2 back as we hit it at 49. Half way through the 112r speed had fallen slowly to 47 and then over the final mile to 47. Nice climb and a good end to the mountaineering. We arrived back in Shrewsbury Station at 2137, 18 down.

    A great day out with 45231. Previous and only other time we'd done the Central Wales Line with a Black 5, 44676, was on 23rd May 1993, a train to celebrate the 125th Anniversary of the line; one way only because the locomotive was running trains from Swansea and Carmarthen over the 30/31 May Bank Holiday Weekend. Incidentally the line is generally referred to these days as the Heart of Wales Line.

    Lovely to be on an old fashioned enthusiast supported Pathfinder Steam Tour complete with 2 boxes of real ale and 1 cider. The atmosphere was quite different from trains dominated by diners. So many familiar faces, all now the silver army as one Brummie called us!!

    It was good to spend time on the train and lunchtime with Dan, our journalist friend. He's written a number of interesting articles in RAIL Magazine and has one due probably next month that will encompass running Charter Trains on the modern railway. We had an interesting discussion about one of his recent articles on the Digital Railway and many other issues of the current rail scene.

    Many thanks to Peter for taking us oldies 'back in time' to the good old days of Pathfinder Steam Hauled Trains; and introducing the younger generations to what it was like 'back then'. From conversations I had with many people enjoyed by we oldies and the younger generation. It's a pity there are such few short trains with little locomotives on fun and challenging routes these days. The Pathfinder Stewards were a friendly bunch and enjoyed the train as much as we did. Some of them, like us, were due at Temple Meads for the final Torbay Express in the morning.

    Many thanks to Jeremy Hosking and LSL for providing their excellent Black 5; and the crew for the outward journey; to DB and TfW for making the train possible; lots of planning issues with so many stations and slow road crossings. Comfortably done both ways in a day. Thanks also to DB for the entertaining honorary Welshmen for return. Thanks to Riviera Trains for the stock. Wise not to send any nicely finished carriages down the line. And thanks to Network Rail for allowing us to play on the big railway.

    Back to the car park and a 2 hour drive home. At least we didn't have to get up until 0615 to have breakfast and drive to Bristol for the Torbay Express and sadly, probably, No9's final run in the South West.
     

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