SRPS Railtours in 2017
Charter from Newcastle to Fort William on 1 May 2017
The ten-coach North East Railtours charter was operated by GBRf and hauled by Colas 47 737Robin of Templecombe, 1938-2013. The train ran close to time or early throughout the day. A spectacular view of the Mayday sunrise was witnessed over Alnmouth. The weather was excellent throughout and passengers enjoyed short breaks to enjoy the warm sunny weather at Crianlarich, Bridge of Orchy and Rannoch, and a longer time in Fort William. Large herds of deer were seen on the return journey over the moors.
Forth Circle steam specials on 7 May 2017 cancelled
Two steam specials to be hauled by 60009 Union of South Africa were cancelled at short notice due to mechanical issues with the locomotive. It proved impossible to secure route clearance for another steam locomotive.
Glenrothes with Thornton to Fort William & Arisaig on 13 May 2017
This train featured steam-haulage between Fort William and Arisaig. Due to network constraints affecting the return journey the destination had to be changed from Mallaig and the compromise of terminating at Arisaig was agreed only three days prior to the excursion. The eight-coach train was hauled by West Coast Railways 37 518. From Fort William six carriages continued to Arisaig hauled by Black Five 45407 The Lancashire Fusilier which performed excellently. Due to extremely dry conditions diesel locomotive 37 685 Loch Arkaig was on the rear in order to reduce the fire risk. Ironically the first rain for several weeks fell on the day of the excursion. The weather was mostly cloudy with a few showers, much better than forecast, and once again large numbers of deer were to be seen on Rannoch Moor.
North Berwick to Kyle of Lochalsh on 27 May 2017
The eight-coach train was top-and-tailed by West Coast Railways 47 237 and 47 826. Speed restrictions on the Kyle Line, imposed by Network Rail only hours before the tour, delayed the train on the return journey but it was back on time by Perth. Contrary to a forecast of heavy rain, the weather was mostly dry and very hot and the rain only started shortly before departure from Kyle of Lochalsh. There were some showers during the return journey but passengers were able to enjoy views of the mountains and lochs.
Edinburgh to Thurso & Wick on 2/3 June 2017
This eleven-coach train set out late on Friday evening for an overnight journey to the Far North of Scotland. At this time of year it is light for the journey over the scenic Far North line. The train was double-headed for most of the journey by preserved 37 025 Inverness TMD which is owned by the Scottish Class Thirty Seven Group and Colas 37 421, and top-and-tailed from Georgemas Junction to Thurso and then to Wick. The weather in the Far North was fine with sunny periods except for a few heavy showers during the southbound journey. There were excellent views of the coast, moors and mountains with many deer seen on the moors. Passengers were able to spend time in Wick or take the optional coach tour to John o' Groats which also visited Dunnet Head, the northernmost point on the British mainland.
Glenrothes with Thornton to York and Scarborough on 10 June 2017
Once again SRPS Railtours were pleased to welcome over a hundred passengers from Diageo Retirement and many other familiar faces on this ten-coach train. Many passengers took the opportunity to enjoy the attractions of York, while the rest stayed on the train to visit the Yorkshire seaside resort of Scarborough. The weather at the destination was warm and dry, and the return journey gave excellent views in the evening sunshine. The train ran close to time throughout and arrived at York early hauled by DB liveried 67 013, which then top-and-tailed with EWS liveried 67 016 to Scarborough. 67 016 hauled the train from York back to Fife.
Edinburgh to Blackpool and The Farington Reverser on 1 July 2017
This train was arranged jointly with GB Railfreight. Several coaches were reserved for GBRf staff and families. The eleven-coach train was double-headed for most of the journey by preserved 37 025 Inverness TMD and Colas 37 219 Jonty Jarvis, and top-and-tailed between Preston and Blackpool. The locomotives performed excellently throughout the day. Many passengers took the opportunity to take a heritage tram trip along the seafront between Blackpool and Fleetwood. The weather was fine with sunny periods, except for a shower as the train was about to depart from Blackpool. Many enthusiasts travelled on a short extra excursion, The Farington Reverser, to Bamber Bridge and Wigan which reversed the train for the return journey. A late running Virgin West Coast service delayed the return to Blackpool and although the train back to Scotland was late setting out the time was made up and arrival back was close to schedule.
Sunday Steam Specials from Linlithgow and Fife to Tweedbank from 6 to 27 August
SRPS Railtours organised a series of steam specials featuring the Forth Bridge and the Borders Railway. These ran on four Sundays during August from Linlithgow over the Forth Bridge and round the Fife Circle, then over the Borders Railway from Edinburgh Waverley to Tweedbank. Borders Council Tourism arranged excursions from Tweedbank to Melrose, Abbotsford House and Seasons Restaurant in Gattonside. Other passengers chose to visit Galashiels. The trains were steam-hauled to Tweedbank with a diesel on the rear which hauled the train back as far as Niddrie, where the train reversed and was steam-hauled for the remainder of the return journey through Edinburgh and Fife. On 6 & 13 August the steam locomotive was Black Five 45407 The Lancashire Fusilier and the diesel was 37 685 Loch Arkaig. On 20 and 27 August the steam locomotive was Black Five 44871.
The train on Sunday 27 August carried guests to the unveiling of a plaque at Galashiels to commemorate the Jellicoe Express trains which carried servicemen to Thurso during the First World War. Galashiels was one of the stops on their route.
Inverurie to Oban on 16 September 2017
The ten-coach train, comprising nine SRPS Railtours carriages and a generator coach for train heating, was hauled by West Coast Railways 37 685 Loch Arkaig and 37 669. Departure from Inverurie was delayed by a signalling issue and more time was lost during the outward journey due to the resulting conflicts with other services. However passengers were able to enjoy over two hours in Oban in fine weather, contrary to the adverse forecasts. The return journey ran to time and the evening sunshine afforded fine views of the mountains and lochs.
Ayr to Aviemore and Inverness on 30 September 2017
The nine-coach train was hauled by GB Railfreight 66 764 and Caledonian Sleeper liveried 73 970. The train ran via Hamilton, Motherwell and Larbert. Passengers were able to alight at Aviemore for a steam-hauled trip on the Strathspey Railway. Being the first passenger train hauled by 66 764 attracted a number of diesel enthusiasts to travel on this tour and they were able to stay on board at Inveness while the train was shunted by 08 523. The Strathspey Railway also organised a special diesel train featuring 27 050 and 31 327. The weather was mainly dry throughout the day and the train ran close to time.
Linlithgow to Skipton, Keighley (for Saltaire) & Bradford on 14 October 2017
This railtour, organised jointly with North East Railtours, headed south along the East Coast Main Line to Newcasle then over the Tyne Valley and Settle & Carlisle Lines. The ten-coach train was top-and-tailed by West Coast Railways 57 315 and 47 804 and ran close to time thoughout the day. Mist and rain over the Settle & Carlisle Line restricted the views, but the weather was good at the destinations and had improved for the return journey. Passengers chose to visit the Yorkshire Dales town of Skipton, visit the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Railway, or visit the World Heritage Site of Saltaire. Saltaire had originally been the destination for the tour but due to pathing issues Network Rail required that the train called instead at Keighley from where passengers were able to use one of the frequent service trains. Passengers were also able to remain on the train to Bradford Forster Square station where it stabled during the afternoon.
Charter from Bishop Auckland to Edinburgh on 18 November 2017
This eleven-coach Bishop Trains charter was top-and-tailed by West Coast Railways 47 772 Carnforth TMD & 47 804. The Festive Capital Express called at stations via Darlington, Stockton and Durham and ran non-stop from Chester-le-Street to Edinburgh Waverley. The weather was clear and sunny and passengers were able to spend over seven hours visiting the sights of the Scottish capital, the Christmas Market in Princes Street Gardens and Christmas shopping. The train ran close to time throughout.