SRPS Railtours in 2008
Charter from Newcastle to Oban on 5 May 2008
The first excursion of 2008 was a charter by North East Railtours. From Newcastle the eleven-coach train was top-and-tailed by West Coast Railways 37 248 Loch Arkaig and DRS 37 688, the replacement for Deltic 55 022 which was unavailable. The weather was sunny and warm throughout providing excellent views of the lochs and mountains along the West Highland Railway.
Re-opening of Alloa to Stirling railway on 15 May 2008
At 11.30 the inaugural passenger train left the new station at Alloa for a return journey to Stirling. The SRPS Railtours train, chartered by Transport Scotland, was steam-hauled by 61994 The Great Marquess and carried 300 guests for the official opening of the new Alloa station. Deltic 55 022 Royal Scots Grey was on the rear of the train and hauled the return journey from Stirling back to Alloa. Hundreds lined the route from Alloa as the train headed for Stirling.
In the afternoon SRPS Railtours organised three public return trips along the line and these attracted almost as much attention as the earlier special train. With all seats sold, a total of 1,200 passengers were able to travel on the re-opening day of the line which had been closed in 1969.
Edinburgh and Fife Circle steam specials on 18 May 2008
61994 The Great Marquess hauled its support coach and eight SRPS Railtours coaches for two excursions round the Edinburgh South Suburban line and Fife Circle. Both trains were almost fully booked and in excellent weather there were good views from the Forth Bridge and along the Fife Coast. 61994 performed very well and the train ran close to time or early throughout the day.
Recent electrification has resulted in Network Rail prohibiting steam through Mound Tunnels, so the train had to leave and return to Edinburgh Waverley via Portobello and the South Suburban line. Preserved Deltic diesel 55 022 Royal Scots Grey was used to haul the train into Edinburgh before the first train, and to take the steam loco and carriages to Niddrie for turning between trains.
North Berwick to Mallaig on 24 May 2008
Preserved Deltic 55 022 Royal Scots Grey hauled this nine-coach train with West Coast Railways 37 248 Loch Arkaig on the rear. The day started dull with light drizzle at North Berwick, but soon improved to give clear views of the lochs and snow-capped mountains along the West Highland Line. Passengers enjoyed the warm sunshine during the breaks at Fort William and Mallaig. The views of the Western Isles from Arisaig and Morar were particularly outstanding. The train ran close to time throughout the day and arrived at Fort William ten minutes early. It was hauled throughout by 55 022 except for the return from Mallaig to Fort William which was hauled by 37 248.
Edinburgh to Dunrobin Castle & Brora on 21 June 2008
This excursion was double headed both ways between Edinburgh and Rose Street (Inverness) by EWS 37 401 and 37 422 Cardiff Canton. The start from Edinburgh Waverley was delayed by a locomotive problem, but the train was back on time soon after Perth and ran early for much of the day. 37 401 was taken off the train at Inverness and 37 422 hauled the train to Brora and back to Inverness. The weather was sunny and bright, only turning wet when the train reached Perth in the late evening. Many passengers took the chance to visit Dunrobin Castle with its magnificent gardens and views across the Moray Firth. The remaining passengers spent a pleasant summer afternoon in Brora.
Dundee to Scarborough on 16 August 2008
This nine-coach train was hauled between Dundee and York by preserved Deltic 55 022 Royal Scots Grey. West Coast Railways 37 712 was on the rear and hauled the train between York and Scarborough where the locos ran round. Apart from some light rain around Edinburgh on the southbound journey, the weather was dry and bright throughout the day and passengers were able to spend the afternoon exploring the historic city of York or the attractive Yorkshire seaside resort of Scarborough. The train ran to time throughout except for a few minutes delay approaching York and on the return through Fife.
Bo'ness and Glasgow Routes & Branches on 24 August 2008
The seven-coach train, top-and-tailed by preserved 40 145 and Deltic 55 022 Royal Scots Grey, was only the second main-line railtour to depart from the SRPS station at Bo'ness. The previous was a joint SRPS Railtours & Branch Line Society special exactly twelve years to the day before. The train travelled almost 300 miles to visit Queen Street High Level and various branch lines in the West of Scotland, notably Helensburgh Central, Drumgelloch, Paisley Canal, Ayr, Ardrossan Harbour and the recently opened lines to Larkhall and from Maryhill to Anniesland. The weather was generally fine and bright and the train ran to time or early throughout the day. The Class Forty Preservation Society particularly enjoyed the evening climb through the tunnel out of Queen Street behind their locomotive.
Ayr to Mallaig on 6 September 2008
This nine-coach train was top-and-tailed by West Coast Railways 37 248 Loch Arkaig and 47 804. The day started mostly cloudy but bright. By the time the train reached Fort William it was mostly sunny and this continued along the Mallaig line. During the return journey the spectacular evening views along the West Highland Railway were enjoyed in almost unbroken sunshine.
Aberdeen to Kyle of Lochalsh on 14 September 2008
This fully-booked ten-coach train was double-headed by EWS 37 401 and 37 417 Richard Trevithick. The train ran early for much of the day and arrived at Kyle of Lochalsh ten minutes early. Apart from a heavy shower while at Kyle, the weather was dry and bright with clear views of the lochs and mountains along the spectacular Kyle Line. The return journey arrived back in Aberdeen over half-an-hour early.
Charter from Newcastle to Inverness on 20 September 2008
This nine coach North East Railtours charter was top-and-tailed by West Coast Railways 47 804 and 47 854. There were good views of sunrise over the North Sea as the train ran north along the East Coast and over the Forth Bridge. Passengers were able to leave the train at Pitlochry, Aviemore or Inverness. The weather was generally sunny providing excellent views along the Highland Line. The train ran to time or early throughout the day.
Dundee to Skipton and Keighley on 18 October 2008
This eight-coach train was top-and-tailed by West Coast Railways 47 787 and 47 854 and ran close to time throughout the day. The southbound route was through Perth, Stirling and Motherwell then over Beattock and Shap summits to Carnforth, from where the train took the line through Bentham. At Skipton some passengers opted to take a coach tour into the Yorkshire Dales. The remaining passengers continued to Keighley for a trip on the Worth Valley Railway to visit Haworth and Oxenhope. The K&WVR steam trains were hauled by BR Standard 4 Tank No 80002 and USATC S160 No 5197. The return journey was over the Settle & Carlisle Railway.
Linlithgow to Lincoln on 5 December 2008
The annual Christmas Special to Lincoln was a ten-coach train top-and-tailed by West Coast Railways 47804 and 47826. As previously this tour was organised jointly with North East Railtours. The snow-covered landscape of Northumberland and Durham added to the festive atmosphere. As in previous years arrival at Lincoln would have been about half an hour early but the train was held at signals on the approach to the station. The weather was fine in Lincoln for passengers to visit the historic city and its famous Christmas Market. Christmas Dinner was served to passengers soon after leaving Lincoln. There was a delay on the return journey due to earlier problems at Dunbar but the train was back on time by Edinburgh.
The final SRPS Railtours train of 2008 arrived back at Linlithgow on time, completing a difficult year for SRPS Railtours. Several tours had to be cancelled due to pathing problems including tours which should have been among the most succesful of the year.