SRPS Railtours in 2014
Charter from York to Aberdeen on 12 April 2014
The eleven-coach 52A Tours charter was hauled by preserved Deltic diesel 55 002 The Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. This was the first main-line passenger train hauled by 55 002 since its withdrawal from service by British Rail in 1981. The weather was bright and sunny throughout and the locomotive, which is owned by the National Railway Museum, performed excellently.
Forth Circle Steam Specials on 21 April 2014
As in recent years the SRPS Railtours 2014 programme opened with Forth Circle Steam Specials. The eleven coach train, hauled by A4 Class 60009 Union of South Africa, comprised the locomotive, support coach and ten SRPS Railtours coaches. As usual there were two excursions round the Forth Circle, over the Forth Bridge and through Fife, Clackmannanshire, Stirlingshire and West Lothian. The morning train was from Linlithgow and the afternoon train from Dalmeny and Inverkeithing. The weather was cloudy but fortunately the forecast rain held of until after the afternoon train had run. 60009 performed excellently and the trains ran close to time throughout the day.
Charter from Newcastle to Oban on 5 May 2014
This 11-coach North East Railtours charter consisted of ten SRPS Railtours carriages and a West Coast Railways generator car to provide train heating. It was double headed by West Coast Railways 37 516 Loch Laidon and 37 685 Loch Arkaig. The weather was mostly dry, much better than forecast, and there were good views of the lochs and mountains along the West Highland Railway. The train ran close to time throughout the day.
North Berwick to Kyle of Lochalsh on 10 May 2014
The nine-coach train comprised eight SRPS Railtours carriages and a West Coast Railways generator car to provide train heating. It was top-and-tailed from North Berwick to Edinburgh by West Coast Railways 37 516 Loch Laidon and 37 685 Loch Arkaig and was double-headed by 37 685 and 37 516 for the rest of the journey. Contrary to the forecast, the weather was mostly dry. Despite several delays caused by late running service trains the train arrived at Kyle within a few minutes of schedule and was back on time.
Edinburgh to Fort William & Mallaig on 24 May 2014
This train featured steam-haulage between Fort William and Mallaig. From Edinburgh the seven-coach train, which ran via Carstairs, Motherwell and through the Argyll Line, was top-and-tailed by West Coast Railways 47 804 & 47 854 Diamond Jubilee. From Fort William five carriages continued to Mallaig hauled by Black Five 44871. The weather started dull but improved on the West Highland Line and for the steam section was warm and sunny. The views of the mountains, glens and lochs were crystal clear. 44871 performed superbly and passengers enjoyed travelling over Glenfinnan Viaduct on a steam train. The train ran close to time throughout.
North Berwick to Fort William & Mallaig on 7 June 2014
This fully booked train featured steam-haulage between Fort William and Mallaig. From North Berwick the nine-coach train was top-and-tailed by West Coast Railways 47 804 & 47 854 Diamond Jubilee. From Fort William seven carriages continued to Mallaig hauled by Black Five 45407 The Lancashire Fusilier which ran ahead of time for much of the trip. Contrary to the forecast the weather remained fine and warm for most of the day. The forecast heavy rain was not encountered until crossing Rannoch Moor well into the return journey.
Glenrothes with Thornton to Holyhead on 21 June 2014
Holyhead was a new destination for SRPS Railtours and proved very popular. The eleven-coach train was top-and-tailed by West Coast Railways 47 854 Diamond Jubilee & 47 804. The other optional destinations were Chester, Llandudno Junction and Bangor. Trains along the North Wales coast were delayed by a signal failure which meant a reduction in the time at Holyhead. However passengers enjoyed the spectacular coastal views, including Conway Castle and the bridges there and over the Menai Strait. The weather was excellent, warm and sunny and the views of the Snowdonia mountains were clear. The return journey ran to time until a few minutes delay on the approach to Edinburgh which then increased because the train followed a stopping service into Fife.
Charter from Alnmouth to Chester & Shrewsbury on 28 June 2014
This nine-coach North East Railtours charter was top-and-tailed by West Coast Railways 47 854 Diamond Jubilee & 47 804. The outward route was via the Tyne Valley and Settle & Carlisle lines. Passengers had the choice of visiting Chester or continuing through Wrexham and Chirk to Shrewsbury. The weather was dull on the journey south over the Settle & Carlisle line but bright with sunny periods at the destinations. For those visiting Chester the historic city was busy with visitors to the races. The train ran close to time throughout.
Polmont to Crewe Steam Special on 12 September 2014 featuring 46233 Duchess of Sutherland
This steam special was organised to bring 46233 to Scotland for Sunday's Forth Circle specials. The eight-coach train was top-and-tailed from Polmont to Crewe by West Coast Railways diesels, 47 804 and 47 786 Roy Castle, OBE. The nine-coach northbound train, comprising the passenger carriages and the loco's support coach, was hauled from Crewe to Polmont by Coronation Class 46233 Duchess of Sutherland. The weather was fine throughout and the climbs over Shap and Beattock were impressive. Apart from some minor delays due to late-running service trains, 46233 ran close to time throughout and reached Polmont on time.
Forth Circle Steam Specials on 14 September 2014
The ten coach train, hauled by Coronation Class 46233 Duchess of Sutherland, comprised the locomotive, support coach and nine SRPS Railtours coaches. As usual there were two excursions round the Forth Circle, over the Forth Bridge and through Fife, Clackmannanshire, Stirlingshire and West Lothian. The morning train was from Linlithgow and the afternoon train from Dalmeny and Inverkeithing. The weather was mostly cloudy but fine throughout. This is thought to be the first time that 46233 has hauled a passenger train over the Forth Bridge since withdrawal by British Railways 50 years ago, and The Duchess performed excellently throughout the day.
Newcastle and Linlithgow to Ayr and Stranraer on 27 September 2014
This tour was organised jointly with North-East Railtours. The ten-coach train was double-headed by Inter-City liveried 37 518 Fort William / An Gearasdan and West Coast Railways 37 516 Loch Laidon. The train started from Newcastle upon Tyne and ran via Linlithgow and the City Union Line across Glasgow. Passengers had the option of leaving the train at Ayr for a coach trip to Culzean Castle. The train continued over the scenic line to Stranraer. Passengers enjoyed fine weather with much sunshine throughout the day. At Glenwhilly 37 516 ran round and the train was top-and-tailed from there to Stranraer and back as far as Ayr. The return route was via Kilmarnock and the Nith Valley Line through Dumfries to Carlisle, then over the Tyne Valley Line to Newcastle, returning to Linlithgow along the East Coast.
Aberdeen to Kyle of Lochalsh on 5 October 2014
The ten-coach train was hauled by West Coast Railways maroon 37 516 Loch Laidon and Inter-City liveried 37 518 Fort William / An Gearasdan. 57 313 was on the rear of the train between Aberdeen and Inverness (both ways) to provide train heating. The weather was mostly fine and dry apart from a heavy shower on arrival at Kyle of Lochalsh. Passengers enjoyed spectacular autumn views of the lochs and mountains along the Kyle Line and herds of deer were seen on the moors. The train ran close to schedule throughout the day.
Polmont to Fort William Steam Special on 25 October 2014 featuring 44871 & 45407 The Lancashire Fusilier
As in recent years this steam special was arranged to coincide with the movement of steam locomotives south from Fort William at the end of the Jacobite season. The eight-coach train was top-and-tailed from Polmont to Fort William by West Coast Railways 57 313 and 37 516 Loch Laidon. Although the weather northbound was wet and windy, passengers were able to view large numbers of deer on the moors. The ten-coach southbound train, comprising the SRPS Railtours carriages and the two locos' support carriages, was double-headed from Fort William to Polmont by Black Fives 44871 & 45407 The Lancashire Fusilier. Contrary to the forecast, the weather for the return journey was better with some sunshine between heavy showers affording views of the autumn colours along the West Highland Line. The locomotives performed excellently and the train ran to schedule throughout the day.
Linlithgow to Lincoln on 5 December 2014
The popular Christmas Cracker to Lincoln was a ten-coach train top-and-tailed by West Coast Railways 47 786 Roy Castle, OBE and 57 315. As in previous years the tour was organised jointly with North East Railtours. The train ran close to time throughout. Mince pies and mulled wine were served to all passengers before arrival at Lincoln. The bright and sunny weather was ideal for passengers who had over four hours to visit the historic city and its famous Christmas Market. Christmas Dinner was served on the return journey. Bottles of a special Christmas Cracker Commemorative Ale brewed by the Kinneil Brew Hoose were particularly popular. This festive train completed another very successful year for SRPS Railtours.