SRPS Railtours in 2006
Charters to FM Rail from 15 March to 26 April 2006
The SRPS Railtours train was chartered by FM Rail for a series of steam specials in southern England operated by Past Time Railtours to mark the 40th Anniversary of the closure of the Somerset & Dorset Railway. The train was also used for the West Somerset Railway Steam Gala and several photographic charters. Several SRPS Railtours volunteers accompanied the stock.
Saturday 18 March
: Steam-hauled excursion from London Victoria to Minehead, on the West Somerset Railway, hauled by Battle of Britain
Class 34067 Tangmere
and piloted on the West Somerset Railway by BR Class 4MT 76079. Despite the large load of 13 coaches and a diesel for train heating Tangmere
was able to easily keep good time. The return leg was hauled by Tangmere
and Black Five
45407 on WSR metals and then back to London by former Scottish Region Class 47 diesel 47 703.
Thursday 23 March : The tour departed from Minehead on the West Somerset Railway in glorious spring sunshine. Passengers joined at stations renamed as former Somerset & Dorset Railway stations. The tour was double headed by 76079 and 34067 Tangmere. Due to unforseen circumstances the departure from Taunton was an hour late and on the next leg a spirited climb to Whiteball summit was achieved. Unfortunately the train was unable to get up the steep climb on the curve between Exeter St Davids and Exeter Central. Eventually the train had to set back to Exeter St Davids where the tour was terminated.
Saturday 1 April : Excursion from London to Plymouth hauled from Paddington to Taunton by ex Scottish Region Class 47 diesels 47703 and 47712. From here the train was steam-hauled to Plymouth and back, over the famous South Devon banks, by Black Five 45407 BR Class 4MT 76079. The train kept good time, arriving back at Exeter St Davids early, however a series of problems due to pathing issues resulted in a late arrival back in Taunton and subsequent termination of the train at Reading. The weather was glorious all day and the train made a superb sight as it passed along the sea front at Dawlish.
Wednesday 12 April : Tour from Clapham Junction to Weymouth. The train was steam-hauled from Salisbury by Black Five 45407 and BR Class 4MT 76079 and ran via Yeovil to Weymouth, then back via Bournemouth to Salisbury from where a diesel took the train back to Clapham Junction. It arrived late into Weymouth due to a long service stop at Yeovil. However time was regained by Salisbury with a good climb from Weymouth and a quick water stop at Eastleigh.
The SRPS Railtours stock was used on the West Somerset Railway to carry large numbers of passengers at their Somerset & Dorset gala events on 19, 24, 25 & 26 March. It also featured on a series of photocharters on the same line on 20, 21, 22 & 27 March. SRPS Railtours volunteers manned the buffet on these occasions and this was greatly appreciated by the photographers on the cold days.
Charter from Newcastle to Fort William on 1 May 2006
A May Day Bank Holiday excursion to the West Highand Railway has been a feature of North East Railtours programme for several years, but unfortunately this year the train was cancelled due to unsuitable timings from Network Rail. Transporting passengers by bus from Newcastle and Cramlington to join the train at Morpeth for an 05.01 departure was considered to be unacceptable.
North Berwick to Mallaig on 6 May 2006
The first tour of the SRPS 2006 Programme was also the first ever SRPS Railtour to start from North Berwick, where over 120 passengers joined the train. The nine-coach train was top-and-tailed throughout by West Coast Railways maroon 47 245 and green 47 851 Traction Magazine. Despite adverse forecasts earlier in the week the weather during the day was warm and dry with plenty of sunshine providing clear views of the lochs and snow-capped mountains. The train ran close to time throughout the day and was a few minutes early back at North Berwick.
Linlithgow to Kyle of Lochalsh on Sunday 28 May 2006
This tour was scheduled for the previous day, but due to new services between Inverness and Dingwall it was rescheduled for the Sunday, and consequently had to start from Linlithgow instead of Dunbar. The fully-booked ten coach train was was top-and-tailed throughout by West Coast Railways green 47 851 Traction Magazine and maroon 47 245. The weather was sunshine and showers with excellent views of the mountains and lochs, although a heavy shower co-incided with arrival at Kyle of Lochalsh. The evening light during the return journey gave many more excellent views.
Glenrothes with Thornton to Chester on 10 June 2006
This tour started in an East Coast haar but this soon gave way to bright and hot sunshine. The ten-coach train was top-and-tailed throughout by West Coast Railways green 47 851 Traction Magazine and maroon 47 245. The southbound journey ran close to time arriving a few minutes early at Chester. A pleasant breeze ensured that passengers were able to view the historic city, many passengers taking advantage of special tickets on the open-topped sightseeing bus. Due to a buckled rail the northbound train was diverted through Earlstown and Newton-le-Willows. The return over the Settle & Carlisle Line gave magnificent views of the Dales and Pennines. A overheating fault with 47 851 was fixed at Carlisle. The 80 minute delay resulting from both problems was largely recovered and the train was back in Fife less than ten minutes behind schedule.
Charter from Morpeth to Chester & Shrewsbury on 24 June 2006
This ten coach North East Railtours charter was top-and-tailed by West Coast Railways maroon 47 245 and green 47 851 Traction Magazine. The train ran via the Tyne Valley and the Settle & Carlisle Line and arrived in Shrewsbury about ten minutes early. The weather in Chester and Shrewsbury was pleasant and warm. During the return journey 47 245 failed at Preston and 47 851 ran round the train to continue the journey over Shap Summit. Arrival back was about half an hour behind schedule.
Edinburgh to Mallaig on 12 August 2006
The eight-coach train was top-and-tailed throughout by West Coast Railways Inter-City liveried 47 826 Springburn and green 47 851 (D1648) Traction Magazine. Over-generous Network Rail timings between Edinburgh and Motherwell resulted in a very early start and some lengthy waits for time at the start of the day. The weather was good with clear views throughout the journey.
Grampian Railtours Charter on 27 August 2006
The annual charter for Grampian Railtours this year ran from Aberdeen to Arrochar and Tarbet. The eleven-coach train train was hauled by EWS 67 030. The weather was bright with sunny periods and occasional showers. After the outward journey via Perth and Stirling, arrival at Arrochar was on time and passengers had the option of a cruise on Loch Lomond or a coach trip to Inverary. A late running ScotRail service delayed the return departure. The route was via the spectacular Forth and Tay Bridges.
Charter from Newcastle-upon-Tyne to Inverness on 9 September 2006
This ten coach North East Railtours charter was top-and-tailed by West Coast Railways Inter-City liveried 47 826 Springburn and maroon 47 245. The weather was excellent with a spectacular misty dawn as the train ran north along the East Coast soon developing to warm sunshine. Passengers were able to leave the train at Pitlochry, Aviemore or Inverness. At Pitlochry the annual Highland Games were in progress. An operating problem resulted in the train stopping at Carrbridge instead of Aviemore, but hastily arranged transport for fifty passengers allowed passengers to enjoy a trip on the Strathpey Railway with visiting Great Western locomotive City of Truro. A similar problem on the return journey resulted in a delay at Pitlochry. Consequently arrival back was about 45 minutes behind schedule, but after such an excellent day this didn't seem to matter.
Linlithgow to Inverness on 23 September 2006 hauled by Deltic 55 022 Royal Scots Grey
This fully-booked eleven-coach train marked the return of 55 022 to the mainline following a major overhaul. Early morning mist soon gave way to warm sunshine giving passengers superb views on the northbound run, but undoubtedly the star attraction was Deltic 55 022 Royal Scots Grey. Its immaculate appearance was matched by its performance, a credit to its owner Beaver Sports (Yorkshire) Ltd. Some passengers chose to take a coach tour through Speyside including a visit to the Glenlivet Distillery at Ballindalloch, and rejoined the train at Elgin. After a pleasant few hours in Inverness the train returned via Aberdeen with an excellent run down the east coast main line over the Tay and Forth Bridges, and arrived back at Linlithgow five minutes early.
Perth to Skipton & Keighley on 7 October 2006
This nine-coach train was top-and-tailed throughout by EWS 67 018 Rapid and 67 004 Post Haste. The southbound journey was routed over Shap summit to Carnforth where a half-hour stop allowed time to see the Brief Encounter Visitor Centre. The train then travelled over the scenic line through Wennington and Bentham to Skipton where some passengers left the train for a coach trip into the Yorkshire Dales. The final destination was Keighley and most passengers chose to travel on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway which had laid on extra services for our visit. The weather was dry throughout but became rather overcast later in the day. The train returned over the Settle & Carlisle line and ran close to time throughout.
Linlithgow to Lincoln on 8 December 2006
The final railtour of the year was our fourth annual Christmas Special to Lincoln. As previously this was organised jointly with North East Railtours and this year was hauled by preserved diesel 40 145 and West Coast Railways 33 029 Glen Loy. 40 145 was standing-in for Deltic 55 022 Royal Scots Grey which had sufferered a major engine failure in October. This fully booked tour was the longest SRPS Railtours train in recent years consisting of the two locomotives, a generator coach and eleven SRPS Railtours coaches. The southbound journey ran close to time throughout except for a 15-minute delay due to a points failure at Lincoln. The bright and sunny weather was ideal for passengers to visit the historic city and its famous Christmas Market. Christmas Dinner was served to 200 of the passengers soon after leaving Lincoln. The return journey was top-and-tailed by 40 145 and 33 029, and although being significantly delayed up to York was back on time by Edinburgh.