Posted in Railways on Friday 23rd January 2004 at 11:57pm

A lazy start to my last day of holiday. Up and out for the 11:34 to Bristol TM after needing to write a disagreeable email which took me right back to work mode a weekend early.

Mooched around Temple Meads for a bit, getting some pictures of the Class 31's on the Brighton service. Finally away on time - a promising start arriving early at the first couple of stops prior to Bath Spa.

After Bath, things started to sound a little odd from the front of the first coach. We struggled into Salisbury a minute or so early, and a fitter took a look at 31452 which was leading. With some help from an EWS driver who signs 31's and was travelling with us, they noted that fuel was not getting to the engine - a switch had been set which prevented a flow from the main tank on each engine leaving us with the emergency header tank. The engine speed governor had then shut down the engine. We appeared to have 450 gallons or so of fuel, so that was not likely to present a problem. Off we went, much more smoothly from Salisbury onwards.

Things got sticky again on the South Coast, and by Worthing we had real problems. 31454 had shut down after leaving Worthing, and on entering Southwick, 31452 failed. We were approximately 4.5 miles from Brighton, and were blocking the entire South Coast route. Within 20 minutes of desperate efforts to get started we had nine services behind us, and no local hope of a rescue. Since nothing was getting into Brighton, nothing much was getting out in the opposite direction. Well and truly stuck.

I fell in with a Wessex guard I recognised and some EWS staff who'd come some distance for 31 mileage, and we shared a taxi to Worthing in the hope of getting something back towards the West Country (at least trains stop at Worthing - which appears not to be the case at Southwick!). Long wait for a Bognor Regis train as far as Barham, and then a Southampton service. This ended up terminating at Fareham (South Central not wanting to stray too far away from their home area in the chaos of which we'd caused). Hopped off at Cosham for refreshments (courtesy of the now legendary Dong's takeaway) then onto the 20:39 to Bristol - which arrived on time but lost minutes as we continued. I finally arrived back at Temple Meads at 23:02 - with only 20 minutes to spare before the last Weston train. A bit of an epic day - quite sociable in many ways, despite being disappointing in terms of traction.

The eventual cause of the failure was pretty frustrating - we ran out of fuel in both locomotives. They'd been taken to Merehead for refuelling the previous day, and the driver who did so had not checked they were filled before returning to Westbury. A faulty gauge (reporting 450 gallons back at Salisbury!) had not helped at all. Someone has a lot of very expensive explaining to do!

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I've had a home on the web for more years than I care to remember, and a few kind souls persuade me it's worth persisting with keeping it updated. This current incarnation of the site is centred around the blog posts which began back in 1999 as 'the daylog' and continued through my travels and tribulations during the following years.

I don't get out and about nearly as much these days, but I do try to record significant events and trips for posterity. You may also have arrived here by following the trail to my former music blog Songs Heard On Fast Trains. That content is preserved here too.

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