SRPS Railtours in 2003
Fife to Mallaig on 3 May 2003
The first tour of SRPS Railtours 2003 Programme ran from from Glenrothes with Thornton to Fort William and Mallaig. The fully-booked eight coach train was double-headed throughout by EWS 37 411 The Scottish Railway Preservation Society and 37 426. The weather was mixed with sunshine and showers. There were clear views of lochs and mountains. The summits had a good covering of recent snow. The train arrived at Fort William over ten minutes early. On the return journey the train ran early, completing the tour about half an hour ahead of schedule.
Charter from Newcastle to Oban on 5 May 2003
As on the May Day Holiday Weekend last year, the stock from Saturday's tour did not return to Bo'ness but ran to Millerhill where three more SRPS Railtours carriages were attached. This eleven coach train then went to Newcastle for a charter by North East Railtours. It was again double-headed by EWS 37 426 and 37 411 The Scottish Railway Preservation Society. The Monday Holiday weather was mixed, very with sunshine and heavy showers. There were good views of the spectacular scenery along the West Highland Railway.
Ayr to Keighley and York on 17 May 2003
This nine coach train was double-headed throughout by EWS 37 411 The Scottish Railway Preservation Society and 37 426. The train ran via Kilmarnock, Dumfries and then over the spectacular Settle and Carlisle Line. Some of the passengers alighted at Keighley to visit the Worth Valley Railway and Haworth, a few passengers decided to alight at Leeds, but most stayed on the train to spent the afternoon in York. The weather at the destinations was generally good with a few showers. For both outward and return journeys the train was on time.
Linlithgow to Crewe and Shrewsbury on 31 May 2003
Two new destinations for SRPS Railtours proved very popular. Royal Scotsman liveried 37 428 Loch Long / Loch Awe and EWS 37 427 hauled this almost full ten-coach train. After an exceptionally early start from Linlithgow there were some fleeting glimpses of an eclipse of the sun through the early morning mist. The route was via Newcastle, York and through Standedge Tunnel. The weather was very hot and sunny. Many passengers chose to visit Crewe Works Open Day and the platforms at Crewe station were crowded with enthusiasts. Over half the passengers stayed on to Shrewsbury and enjoyed a pleasant few hours in the Shropshire county town. On the return journey the train was delayed nearly half-an-hour by a failed GNER service south of Durham. This was passed on the wrong line and by Edinburgh the lost time had been recovered and the train was five minutes early.
Dunbar to Kyle of Lochalsh on 14 June 2003
This ten coach train was double-headed throughout by EWS 37 406 The Saltire Society and 37 416 Sir Robert McAlpine / Concrete Bob. The timings for the tour gave much concern but despite a very early start and late finish many passengers said how much they enjoyed the trip which was blessed with fine weather. The timings showed a wait of over an hour at Garve and a severely curtailed time at the destination, but in the event the train was permitted to run through and arrived at Kyle of Lochalsh almost an hour early. This gave sufficient time for some participants to walk over the bridge to Skye. On the return journey the train could not return to East Lothian and instead terminated at Brunstane where passengers transferred to buses. This was probably the first time a locomotive hauled passenger train has used this new station.
Kirkcaldy to Liverpool on 21 June 2003
Once again over 200 members of Diageo Retirement (Guinness/Distillers pensioners) boarded the train for their annual rail excursion. The ten-coach train was hauled by EWS 66 152 from Kirkcaldy to Edinburgh and RailFreight Distribution 90 021 to Warrington. For the final section to Liverpool via Rainhill the train was hauled by 56 038 Pathfinder Tours - 30 years of railtouring (a relative youngster by SRPS Railtours' standards!). The train ran close to time throughout. In Liverpool the weather was good with just a few spots of rain as passengers made there way back to Lime Street station for the return journey. Passengers enjoyed visiting the many attractions of the 2008 City of Culture, including the Cavern and Albert Docks or spent the afternoon shopping, and many took the Ferry across the Mersey.
Charter from Morpeth to Blackpool on 28 June 2003
Ten SRPS Railtours coaches, chartered by North East Railtours, were hauled by Res 47 776 Respected. Leaving Newcastle the train was signalled onto the wrong route and had to set back over King Edward Bridge and into the station before proceeding along the Tyne Valley and Settle & Carlisle lines. Some further delay was caused by sheep on the line at two locations near Horrocksford, between Hellifield and Clitheroe. The weather started poor but soon improved. Most of the lost time was recovered and the train arrived in Blackpool about five minutes late. The return journey ran ahead of time and the train arrived back at Morpeth over twenty minutes early.
Edinburgh to Thurso and Wick on 4 & 5 July 2003
The Far North Explorer left Edinburgh on Friday evening double-headed by 37 416 Sir Robert McAlpine / Concrete Bob and 37 418 The East Lancashire Railway. The ten coach train ran via Stirling to Perth then overnight along the Highland Line and Far North Line to reach Thurso on Saturday morning. While the train ran to Wick, some passengers then took a coach tour via John o'Groats to Wick. Another group then took the coach tour and rejoined the train at Georgemas Junction as it headed south. The weather was cloudy but mostly dry. An RETB failure caused delays around Lairg and Ardgay but the lost time was recovered as the train continued south.
Edinburgh to Mallaig on 23 August 2003
The nine coach train was double-headed between Edinburgh and Fort William by EWS 37 406 The Saltire Society and Royal Scotsman liveried 37 428 Loch Long / Loch Awe, and top-and-tailed between Fort William and Mallaig. The weather was excellent and the train arrived in Fort William a few minutes early. The reflections of the mountains in the lochs were spectacular.
Grampian Railtours Charter on 31 August 2003
The ten coach train was chartered by Grampian Railtours for a return excursion from Aberdeen to Kyle of Lochalsh. The train was double-headed by EWS 37 406 The Saltire Society and 37 421.
Carlisle to Oban on 6 September 2003
After some early morning mist the weather was good. The ten coach train was double-headed throughout by EWS 37 405 and 37 406 The Saltire Society. The train was on time or early throughout until a delay at Taynuilt caused by a late-running ScotRail service resulted in arrival at Oban a few minutes late. On the return journey Ben Lomond and Loch Lomond were particularly impressive in the evening sunlight.
Charter from Newcastle to Aberdeen on 13 September 2003
This ten coach train was chartered by North East Railtours. It was hauled throughout by 67 030, the first time passengers on the SRPS Railtours train have been class 67-hauled. The locomotive performed excellently throughout. A twenty minute delay at Edinburgh for a crew change was reduced to a two-minute late arrival at Aberdeen. The weather was bright and sunny throughout the day. On the return journey the train was running early at Berwick but was delayed north of Alnmouth by an incident on the preceding GNER service. Arrival back at Newcastle was just over an hour behind schedule.
Aberdeen to Par on 19/20/21 September 2003
This three-day landcruise was organised in conjunction with Grampian Railtours. The eleven coach train headed south from Aberdeen on Friday morning and was hauled by 67 004. At Preston 47 773 The Queen Mother took over the train for the section via Crewe, Shrewsbury, Hereford and the Severn Tunnel to Bristol Temple Meads, where passengers left the train to spend the night in hotels. On Saturday the train continued through Somerset and Devon into Cornwall hauled by 67 017. From Par passengers were taken by coach to visit the Eden Project, then returned from Par to Bristol for the second night. Sunday's journey north was via Bristol Parkway, Swindon, Oxford and Birmingham, hauled by 47 773. At Crewe this was replaced by 67 004 which was then hauled, with the train, by 90 040. At Edinburgh 67 004 took over for the final leg back to Aberdeen. After some rain on the southbound journey, the weather for the rest of the tour was very good and particularly hot on Saturday. The train ran to time throughout and arrived back in Aberdeen over 45 minutes early.
Charter from Newcastle to Bournemouth on 29 September 2003
This ten coach train was hauled throughout by 67 003. The southbound route was along the East Coast Main Line and Hertford Loop, then via the North London Line and Great Western Main Line to Reading, and through Basingstoke and Southampton to Bournemouth. The return ran via Woking, Virginia Water and the North London Line. The train arrived back in Newcastle over half an hour early.
Edinburgh to Buxton on 11 October 2003
This railtour was organised jointly with North East Railtours. The ten-coach train was hauled by EWS 37 419 and 37 427 and ran via York, Ferrybridge, Sheffield, the Hope Valley Line and Peak Forest. In good weather the autumn colours through the Peak District were much appreciated. There was a significant delay at Peak Forest due to Network Rail, but most of this time was recovered when the final reversal at Buxton was accomplished quickly. This entailed EWS 60 004 attaching to the rear to haul the train the short distance into Buxton station. The return route was via Whaley Bridge, Stockport, Stalybridge and through Standedge Tunnel. The train arrived back in Edinburgh a few minutes early.
Linlithgow to Lincoln on 5 December 2003
This additional railtour was organised jointly with North East Railtours. The eleven-coach train was hauled by EWS 47 727 Castell Caerffilli / Cearphilly Castle. The train was running well to time when it was brought to a halt at a signal just north of Cramlington. Unfortunately there had been a fatality near Cramlington station and it was over two hours before the journey south continued. This resulted in a late arrival at Lincoln and the return departure was rescheduled an hour later. The passengers were able to enjoy exploring the city and its Christmas Market in the afternoon sun. Due to a faulty buffer, 47 727 was replaced by Res liveried 47 739 Resourceful at Doncaster on the return journey.