SRPS Railtours in 2016
Delayed start to 2016 Programme
Due to issues between the train operating company, West Coast Railways, and Network Rail a planned excursion in March and a charter in early May had to be cancelled,
Tweedbank to Kyle of Lochalsh on 7 May 2016
The ten-coach train was top-and-tailed by West Coast Railways 47 832 and 47 826. The weather was fine and bright and passengers were able to enjoy their visit to Plockton or Kyle of Lochalsh. On the return journey there were excellent views of the mountains with large herds of deer on the moorland. A problem with one of the locomotives resulted in a delay at Achnasheen and consequently arrival back at Tweedbank was over an hour late.
North Berwick to Fort William & Mallaig on 21 May 2016
This train featured steam-haulage between Fort William and Mallaig. From North Berwick the eight-coach train was top-and-tailed by West Coast Railways 47 832 & 47 854 Diamond Jubilee. From Fort William six carriages continued to Mallaig hauled by Black Five 45407 The Lancashire Fusilier which performed excellently. During the morning there were heavy showers which resulted in some spectacular waterfalls down the mountainsides. The weather improved leading to spectacular views of the mountains, lochs and herds of deer during the return journey.
Over the few days prior to the tour Network Rail had stated that due to 'pathing' issues the train would not reach Mallaig. However thanks to support from higher levels in the railway industry the train ran as planned, although final timings after Fort William were not issued until the tour was already under way. SRPS Railtours and our passengers were very grateful that this situation was resolved.
Gourock to Grosmont & Whitby on 28 May 2016
The first SRPS Railtours excursion from Gourock for over 25 years ran to Whitby, a destination which, for operational reasons, it hasn't been possible to visit for 16 years. The ten-coach train, top-and-tailed by West Coast Railways 47 854 Diamond Jubilee & 47 832, called at stations via Motherwell and Edinburgh, then headed along the East Coast Main Line through Durham. The outward route was then via Stockton-on-Tees and the return via Darlington. The train stopped at Grosmont where passengers had the option of taking a trip on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway to Pickering. As the NYMR had to cancel one of their services to accommodate the SRPS Railtours train, their passengers were conveyed between Grosmont and Whitby, which was rather busy on an English Bank Holiday weekend. The weather was dry albeit unseasonably chilly on the east coast, but brightened up and was sunny for the return journey.
Glenrothes with Thornton to Liverpool on 11 June 2016
Over three hundred passengers enjoyed this excursion to the city of the Beatles. SRPS Railtours were once again pleased to welcome aboard a large party from Diageo Retirement. Despite a poor forecast and periods of heavy rain during the journeys, the weather in Liverpool was warm and dry for most of the time. Passengers took the opportunity to enjoy the many attractions of this famous city. As well as visiting the shops, many headed for a trip on the ferry across the Mersey or visited the Beatles Experience, Cavern Club or museums. Four SRPS Railtours volunteers amused passengers by donning Sergeant Pepper style outfits. The nine-coach train was again top-and-tailed by West Coast Railways 47 832 47 854 & Diamond Jubilee.
Charter from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Chester & Holyhead on 25 June 2016
This nine-coach North East Railtours charter was top-and-tailed by West Coast Railways 47 832 & 47 854 Diamond Jubilee. Departure from Berwick was delayed by 35 minutes due to the station being locked, but, once passengers were able to board, the train headed through Newcastle and along the Tyne Valley line then over Shap summit. The lost time was recovered and passing Lancaster the train was five minutes early. For those visiting Chester the historic city was busy with visitors to the races. Passengers could also choose to alight at Llandudno Junction or Bangor. The weather was sunny with showers and although raining at Holyhead it was fine for those who chose the other destinations. After the early delay, the train ran close to time throughout the rest of the day.
Aberdeen to Kyle of Lochalsh on 10 July 2016
The eight-coach train was again top-and-tailed by West Coast Railways 47 832 & 47 854 Diamond Jubilee. The weather was fine when the train departed from Aberdeen but deteriorated during the journey. Despite the weather, many passengers told us that they had a great time. The train arrived at Kyle of Lochalsh ten minutes early and a fifteen minutes delay (due to a signalling problem) departing was recovered during the journey back to Aberdeen.
Linlithgow to Inverness on 16 July 2016
The Golden Stag was the first passenger train hauled by preserved 37 025 Inverness TMD following its restoration by the Scottish Class Thirty Seven Group at Bo'ness. The locomotive performed faultlessly and the seven-coach train was 25 minutes early reaching Inverness. The weather was mostly sunny with a few showers. The northbound route was over the Forth Bridge and along the Fife Coast. Southbound the train ran via Dunfermline. Due to a ScotRail strike which meant there would be no connections from Linlithgow, the train was rerouted into Edinburgh then round the Suburban Circle and back to Linlithgow.
ScotRail Sunday Steam Specials on the Borders Railway from 7 to 28 August
The SRPS Railtours train was chartered by ScotRail for a series of steam specials on the Borders Railway. These ran between Edinburgh Waverley and Tweedbank on Sundays during August. SRPS Railtours volunteers were stewards on these trains. There were two trains each Sunday, steam-hauled to Tweedbank by 46100 Royal Scot with a diesel on the rear which hauled the train back to Edinburgh. The diesel locomotive for the return journey was 67 009 for the first three Sundays and 67 008 on 28 August.
ScotRail Steam Specials to Fife and Stirling 13 & 20 August
These trains were also hauled by 46100 Royal Scot and ran from Edinburgh Waverley via the Fife Circle to Stirling, then back through Falkirk and Linlithgow.
Edinburgh to Carlisle Steam Special on 29 August 2016 featuring 46100 Royal Scot
46100 Royal Scot hauled this ten-coach train from Edinburgh to Carlisle. The route was via the Edinburgh Suburban Circle then south to join the West Coast Main Line over Beattock Summit. The locomotive performed excellently and arrived at Carlisle on time. The weather was warm and sunny. After a break in Carlisle the return journey, diesel-hauled by 67 008, was via the Tyne Valley to Newcastle and the East Coast Main Line through Berwick-upon-Tweed. The train arrived back in Edinburgh in time for many passengers to enjoy the Edinburgh Festival Fireworks.
ScotRail Sunday Steam Specials on the Borders Railway from 4 to 25 September
The ScotRail steam specials on the Borders Railway continued for four Sundays in September. Because the planned steam locomotive, 60009 Union of South Africa, had suffered a major mechanical failure 46100 Royal Scot returned north after the tour on 29 August and hauled the trains from Edinburgh to Tweedbank, with a diesel on the rear which hauled the train back to Edinburgh. The diesel locomotive for the return journey was 67 008 on each Sunday.
Charter from Carnforth to Bury on 30 September 2016
This ten-coach train was chartered by the Class Forty Preservation Society (CFPS) and hauled by preserved 40 145. The route was via Wigan, Chat Moss, Manchester Victoria, Denton and Stockport to Buxton. The train traversed the freight line through Peak Forest to Chinley and ran via Disley Tunnel, Altrincham, Northwich and Warrington Bank Quay then non-stop through Manchester Victoria. After reversal at Castleton the train ran onto the East Lancashire Railway to Bury Bolton Street. West Coast Railways 57 313 was on the rear of the train except for the short sections where reversal was required. The weather was fine throughout the day with excellent views, particularly in the Peak District.
Charter from Bury to Stratford-upon-Avon on 1 October 2016
Following the previous day's one-way railtour the ten-coach train was again chartered by the CFPS and hauled by preserved 40 145. The route was via Manchester Victoria, Chat Moss and Wigan to Blackburn, then over Copy Pit Summit to Hebden Bridge. The train continued through Mirfield, Barrow Hill, Chesterfield and past Toton Yard and Castle Donnington. From Tysely the route was through Shirley, Henley in Arden and Wootton Wawen to Stratford-upon-Avon where the Mayor greeted the train. The weather was mixed but there were some thundery showers, one of which unfortunately started while passengers were in Stratford. For the return journey 57 313 hauled the train via Hatton to Warwick where the train reversed to ensure that 40 145 led for almost all the journey. The return route was similar except that it ran via Derby and from Blackburn over the line through Darwen and Bolton. The train terminated at Manchester Victoria.
Dalgety Bay and Tweedbank to Fife Circle on 10 October 2016
This train featured the first northbound steam-hauled train over the new Borders Railway. The train started from Dalgety Bay hauled by 37 669 with the steam locomotive on the rear and ran via Edinburgh Waverley to Tweedbank. Black Five 45407 The Lancashire Fusilier then hauled the ten-coach train along the Borders Railway and the Edinburgh South Suburban Circle before crossing the Forth Bridge and running round the Fife Circle through Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy. After returning to Tweedbank the train was hauled by 37 669 back to Edinburgh via the Suburban Circle, and was then steam-hauled back to Dalgety Bay. The weather was bright and sunny for most of the day and the train ran close to time throughout.
Linlithgow to Ravenglass & Grange-over-Sands on 22 October 2016
This tour was organised jointly with North-East Railtours. The nine-coach train was top-and-tailed by West Coast Railways 57 601 and 47 851 and ran close to schedule for most of the day. The route was down the east coast to Newcastle then along the Tyne Valley Line and over the direct curve onto the Cumbrian Coast Line. The weather was clear and bright giving views of the autumn colours on the Lakeland Fells and across the sea to the Isle of Man. Passengers were able to enjoy a trip on the narrow gauge railway from Ravenglass to Eskdale or travel by coach from Grange-over-Sands to Lake Windermere for a cruise to Bowness-on-Windermere on England's largest lake. For the return journey 57 601 was replaced by 47 826. The route was via Carnforth then over Shap Summit to rejoin the Tyne Valley Line using the direct Upperby Curve at Carlisle. On the Tyne Valley Line there was some delay due to leaves on the line but time was recovered in the remainder of the journey.
Polmont to Fort William Steam Special on 29 October 2016
As in previous years this steam special was arranged to coincide with a steam locomotive movement south from Fort William at the end of the Jacobite season. The seven-coach train was hauled from Polmont to Fort William by West Coast Railways 47 826. Northbound the train was delayed by the late-running sleeper. The weather was cloudy but mostly dry throughout the day and, as in previous years, passengers were able to see large numbers of deer on the moors. From Fort William to Polmont the eight-coach train, comprising the SRPS Railtours carriages and steam locomotive support coach, was hauled by Black Five 44871. The locomotive performed excellently and the train arrived back at Polmont a few minutes early.
Charter from Bishop Auckland to London on 19 November 2016
This twelve-coach Bishop Trains charter was top-and-tailed by West Coast Railways 57 313 & 57 316. The Festive Capital Express, which was the first direct train from Bishop Auckland to London for over fifty years, arrived at Kings Cross ten minutes early. The many families on-board were treated to a visit from Santa who had a present for each child. Carol singers entertained the passengers as they travelled. The weather was good and passengers were able to spend over six hours visiting the sights of the capital, Christmas shopping and seeing the Christmas lights. The return journey ran close to time throughout and arrived back at Bishop Auckland on time.
Linlithgow to Lincoln on 2 December 2016
The Christmas Cracker to Lincoln was a nine-coach train top-and-tailed by West Coast Railways 47 854 Diamond Jubilee and 47 804. As in previous years the tour was organised jointly with North East Railtours. Mince pies and mulled wine were served to all passengers before arrival at Lincoln. The weather was mild and dry. Passengers had five hours to visit the historic city and its famous Christmas Markets. Christmas Dinner was served on the return journey. The train ran close to time throughout the day.
This completed an another eventful year for SRPS Railtours which despite several setbacks outwith our control has again been successful.