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SRPS Railtours 1999 Reports

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SRPS Railtours in 1999

Fife to Mallaig on 1 May 1999
SRPS Railtours 1999 Programme started with a tour from Glenrothes with Thornton to Fort William and Mallaig. The eight coach train of SRPS maroon Mk1 coaches was double-headed throughout by EWS liveried 37 411 Ty Hafan and 37 419. Timekeeping was good throughout, with arrival at Fort William 25 minutes early. This gave nearly an hour and a half to spend visiting Fort William in warm sunshine before continuing to Mallaig. It was the first occasion for many years that an SRPS Railtour was double-headed between Fort William and Mallaig.

Kilmarnock to Kyle of Lochalsh on 8 May 1999
The second tour of the season comprised nine SRPS maroon coaches and was double-headed throughout by Transrail liveried 37 424 and 37 410 Aluminium 100 (pictured at Kyle of Lochalsh). The weather started very wet and misty and this persisted until beyond Inverness. A 15 minute delay at Motherwell on the outward journey was recovered by Perth, and timekeeping for the remainder of the day was very good. The weather improved on the Kyle Line and many passengers took the opportunity to visit Plockton.

Charters from Morpeth to Oxford on 15 May
and Newcastle to Wembley on 16 & 22 May 1999

The train of ten maroon SRPS Railtours coaches was chartered by North East Railtours. On Saturday 15 May the train was hauled from Morpeth to Oxford by EWS 47 726 Manchester Airport with second nameplate Progress. On the outward journey the train reversed at Newcastle (due to a fault in the leading cab) and departed over the High Level Bridge, then ran via Darlington, Ferrybridge, Treeton and Derby. The return was via Derby, Sheffield, Doncaster, York, Yarm and Stockton, terminating at Newcastle due to engineering works.
On Sunday 16 May the train conveyed supporters of Bedlington Terriers to see their amateur football team in the FA Vase Final. Unfortunately they lost to a goal in the 88th minute. The train was hauled by 47 767 Saint Columba and ran via Durham, Stockton and Yarm, then south on the ECML and used the North London Line to Primrose Hill, then the WCML to Wembley Central. The return journey took the main line instead of the engineering diversion through Stockton.
The following Saturday, 22 May, the train conveyed supporters of Newcastle United to Wembley for the FA Cup Final. The ten coach train was hauled by 47 778 Irresistible.
On all three days time-keeping was very good.

Dunbar to Kyle of Lochalsh on 29 May 1999
This fully booked train of ten coaches was double-headed throughout by green liveried 37 403 Ben Cruachan and 37 405 in EWS livery. Once again the weather started very wet and misty. At Pitlochry the train was delayed because the speedometer of the lead locomotive, 37 403, was faulty. The two locomotives were interchanged and the tour proceeded about an hour late. The weather improved on the Kyle Line with superb views along Loch Carron (photo), and many passengers took the opportunity to visit Plockton. The journey home was in evening sunshine without any further significant delays. It was a very busy day for the SRPS catering volunteers who very efficiently prepared well over 700 full meals on the train.

VIP Steam Charter on 11 June 1999
The train was chartered by the Scottish Business Achievement Awards Trust to carry four hundred VIP guests from Edinburgh to Dunfermline. The 11 coach train was hauled by 60532 Blue Peter. In addition to the passenger section there were steam-hauled empty stock runs from Bo'ness via the Suburban Circle to Edinburgh and from Dunfermline via Thornton and the Suburban Circle to Millerhill. The photograph shows Blue Peter and the train at a water-stop in Thornton Yard.

The Fife Coast Express on 12 June 1999
Two trips were hauled by 60532 Blue Peter from Edinburgh Waverley over the Forth Bridge, round the Fife Circle, back over the Bridge and round the Edinburgh Suburban Circle. Although the weather was poor, the views were clear and Blue Peter performed very well throughout, hauling 11 coaches (10 SRPS Railtours coaches and support coach). The trains ran late, initially due to shunting problems at Millerhill and a Virgin service blocking access to platform 11 at Waverley. Prolonged stops for water and a faulty cab radio later extended the delay. Both trains were well loaded, and the second train would have had more passengers but for completely incorrect announcements at Waverley Station that the engine had 'broken down'.

Perth to York on 19 June 1999
The ten-coach train was double-headed from Perth to Edinburgh by Transrail liveried 37 430 Cwmbran and 37 409 Loch Awe. At Edinburgh the Deutsche Bundesbahn liveried electric loco 90 029 Frachtverbindungen took over. After a delayed departure from Waverley due to late running GNER services, time was recovered on a fast run along the East Coast Main Line. A large party from Perthshire SWRI travelled on the train. Passengers enjoyed a warm and dry afternoon in York, before returning to Scotland where it had been wet and windy all day. 37 409 and 37 430 took the train from Edinburgh back to Perth.

Kirkcaldy to Inverness on 26 June 1999
Passengers on this railtour included 320 members of Fife Link (Guinness/Distillers pensioners). The ten-coach train was double-headed by Transrail liveried 37 423 Sir Murray Morrison and E&WS liveried 37 419. The passengers appreciated the excellent sunny weather which gave good views along the Highland Line. The volunteer staff had little time to enjoy the views as 320 breakfasts were served at an average rate of one every 15 seconds. After a few hours in Inverness the same number of dinners were served on the return journey. There were many compliments to the volunteers particularly those who sweltered in the kitchen.

Charter from Newcastle to Gourock on 3 July 1999
This eight coach train, chartered by North East Railtours, was hauled from Newcastle to Gourock by Res 86 210 C.I.T. 75th Anniversary. After a late start, time was recovered and the train arrived at a very wet Gourock a few minutes early. The passengers then transferred to the ferry for a visit to Dunoon. Departure time, 17.30, arrived and we were informed that 86 210 had failed. A taxi was sent from Glasgow to transport the train crew to Motherwell to fetch another locomotive. Eventually 47 756 Royal Mail Tyneside departed at 20.55 towing the dead class 86 and the train.

Steam Special from Linlithgow to Preston on 10 July 1999
This tour took 60532 Blue Peter south after a short stay in Scotland. Ten coaches (including support coach) were hauled via the Edinburgh Suburban Circle to Waverley station, then south along the West Coast Main Line over Beattock and Shap summits. 60532 performed well and was running ahead of time on several occasions. The train returned from Preston behind 47 747 Res Publica.

Charters from Dyce to Carnoustie on 15, 16, 17 & 18 July 1999
The seven coach train, chartered by Grampian Railtours, conveyed passengers from Dyce and Aberdeen to Carnoustie for the Open Golf Championship. It was hauled on all four days by 47 634 Holbeck.

The Total Eclipse from Linlithgow to Penzance on 10/11/12 August 1999
This record-breaking tour for SRPS Railtours started from Linlithgow on the afternoon of Tuesday 10 August. The fully booked eleven-coach train was double-headed by Transrail liveried 37 410 Aluminium 100 and EWS liveried 37 405. The train ran to Edinburgh, then reversed to take the Shotts line to Motherwell and headed south, picking up passengers as far south as Crewe. Timekeeping was very good, but the intensive special traffic in the west of Cornwall caused minor delays with arrival in Penzance a few minutes late at 05.45. Most other special trains were class 66 hauled, and 66 096 hauled the ecs working of the SRPS Railtours stock between Penzance and St Blazey.
The purpose of the tour was to allow passengers to experience the Total Eclipse of the Sun at 11.11 on 11 August. On arrival in Penzance the weather was good with a glorious sunrise over Mount's Bay. Unfortunately over the next few hours the weather deteriorated and by the time of the eclipse it was cloudy and wet. However the effect of the sudden darkness when the moon's shadow came across was an experience never to be forgotten.
Penzance station was extremely busy with special charters and service trains. The SRPS Railtours train left Penzance shortly before 5pm and was again slightly delayed in Cornwall. Time was recovered throughout the journey and by Edinburgh the train was half an hour early. The final leg to Linlithgow was hauled by 37 410 only, since there is a limit on the length of train which can return to Bo'ness Junction.
Special mention should be made of the SRPS volunteer staff who served over 800 meals, kept the buffets open and cheerfully stewarded the train through two long nights. This tour holds the record for the longest distance and longest duration of SRPS Railtours (so far!).

Grampian Railtours Charter on 15 August 1999
The ten coach train was chartered by Grampian Railtours for a return excursion from Aberdeen to Kyle of Lochalsh. Due to engineering works the train started from Elgin, with passengers being conveyed by bus from Aberdeen. The train was double-headed by EWS liveried 37 114 City of Worcester and 'Dutch liveried' 37 156. Before reaching Nairn, 37 114 failed, but was successfully restarted. However between Inverness and Dingwall it failed again and this time would not restart, so the tour continued with 37 156 hauling ten coaches and pushing a dead locomotive over the severe gradients of the Kyle Line. By Strathcarron the train was two hours late and was terminated. On the return journey 37 114 restarted and the train completed its journey, arriving on time at Aberdeen.

Dunbar to Kyle of Lochalsh on 28 August 1999
This train of ten coaches was double-headed throughout by EWS liveried 37 411 Ty Hafen and 37 413 The Scottish Railway Preservation Society. Many passengers took advantage of the good weather to spend 2½ hours visiting Plockton, while the rest had two hours in Kyle of Lochalsh. Timekeeping was very good until, at Kingussie, a signalling error, admitted by Railtrack, resulted in a half-hour delay. With further delays for pathing the train returned about an hour late.

Ayr to Keighley and York on 11 September 1999
This tour over the Glasgow & South Western and Settle & Carlisle lines was double-headed throughout by EWS liveried 37 413 The Scottish Railway Preservation Society and 37 416. The weather was dull but mostly dry and warm. The eight coach train ran early for much of the tour, being held for time at stations on the outward journey. Arrival in York was about five minutes early, and on the return the train was back at Ayr 20 minutes ahead of schedule.

Edinburgh to Buxton on 9 October 1999
The final SRPS Railtour of 1999 was a ten coach train organised jointly with North-East Railtours. The outward journey, hauled by 47 742 The Enterprising Scot, ran via Doncaster, Sheffield, the Hope Valley and the freight lines through Peak Forest. At Sheffield 47 746 The Bobby was attached at the rear, and hauled the train for the final short distance into Buxton station, where arrival was five minutes early. 47 746 hauled the train back to Edinburgh.
The return journey, via Stockport, Denton, Stalybridge, Standedge Tunnel and Wakefield Kirkgate, was marred by an unfortunate incident at New Fryston, east of Castleford. The train was stoned by vandals and two windows in coach H (the RMB) were broken. The train stopped at York and passengers were evacuated from the coach. Unfortunately because the train was platformed on the wrong side it was not possible to fix a board over the large broken window, and the train was instructed to proceed. Near Northallerton a passing HST sucked some remaining glass out of the broken window which broke a further four windows in coach G. Passengers were moved out of this coach and the train proceeded to Darlington where the second large window was boarded over and all glass removed from other broken windows. In all two large windows, three top-lights and a toilet window were broken, and paintwork on coaches had been damaged in many areas by the missiles. Passengers organised a collection and the SRPS is very grateful for their generous donation towards the repair costs. The train continued on its return journey 1¼ hours late.

The Aberdeen Requiem Branch Line Society Charter on 16 October 1999
The Branch Line Society hired a six coach train for a circular tour from Linlithgow. It was double-headed from Linlithgow to Aberdeen by 37 419 and 37 424, then top-and-tailed to Kincraig, and double-headed for the remainder of the trip. Unusual track on the tour was a run through Thornton Yard, into Aberdeen Guild Street (site of the former Caledonian Railway terminus), to the buffers beyond the former Elgin GNSR station site, Roseisle on the Burghead branch, the remains of the Inverness Harbour branch, and the Strathspey Railway platform at Aviemore. For most of the tour the train ran ahead of time and had to wait for time on several occasions. However a delay of about an hour ensued due to a late running GNER HST at Slochd, a signalling delay at Aviemore, pathing and a problem with multiple working of the locomotives at Kincraig.

1999 was an outstanding year for SRPS Railtours with a record turnover and record profits. This was mainly due to increased charter business with new customers and routes and SRPS Railtours' longest and most profitable tour ever, The Total Eclipse from Linlithgow to Penzance. The year also included our first steam tours since 1994. It is pleasing to note that a significant number of bookings were generated by the new Web site.

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