Posted in Railways on Saturday 4th September 2010 at 9:32pm
Another leisurely start this morning, wandering across a bright and breezy Manchester and side-stepping the detritus of what looked like it had been a good night out. Time to get a decent coffee before boarding a local service out to Stockport where I was to pick up today's excursion. Ideally, I'd have boarded further back on it's journey from the East Lancs Railway - allowing a chance to traverse the connection at Castleton and the Brewery Curve, left out of a tour last summer due to stock clearance issues. However, the impossibility of finding anywhere reasonably priced to stay or fairly close to the railway, and the unreliability of an early tram to get me out to Bury meant I'd gone for the easy option. So, today presented a fairly gentle itinerary - a spin out to Cambridge with 40145, then some uncharted territory for the loco on a Stansted-bound minitour. Time for breakfast at Stockport as a few others gathered ready for the picture of the 40 crossing the viaduct and arriving in the station.
Settled in, finding myself sitting with a veteran from a previous tour. He proved equally as miserable as last time, so I resigned myself to a quiet day of travelling - wondering if it would be rude to don headphones and provide a soundtrack to the scenery as we entered the Hope Valley, with amazing views of Kinder Scout and Mam Tor or "The Shivering Mountain". As we headed into less dramatic scenery I began to zone out a little and for the first time in a few days, found myself feeling genuinely relaxed. Dozed my way along the Erewash Valley before realising we would pass Toton Depot. It was strange not to have any advance notice of the times or routing of the trip, but nonetheless a passing of the last major locomotive depot in the country is always welcome, especially as a few locos which are currently based in France were present for attention. From Toton we headed through Nottingham and pressed onwards towards the East Coast Mainline.
A little after leaving Gonerby Tunnel we slowed to a stand. Stopping here seemed fairly routine, given how busy the line is through Grantham. However a few minutes soon turned into a longer wait, with little evidence of activity in the deep cutting. A look back along the train confirmed the worst though - with the headlights of a following service evident in the tunnel, our assisting engine 67023 was being started. As we began the slow propelling movement into the Up and Down Goods Loop at Grantham, the situation became clearer. 40145 had suffered a flashover on the No.4 traction motor and couldn't continue. Considering the tricky location, the 67 was run around as soon as possible and we pressed on around 90 minutes late. The Stansted trip was now out of the question with just one engine, as the reversal at the airport and Bishops Stortford couldn't happen. So pressing on through Peterborough and across the Fens to Ely I consoled myself with a longer break in Cambridge and some mileage with 67023 which was, after all, a required engine.
Didn't stray far from the station at Cambridge, with the city a very long walk away. Rewarded with some interesting activity around the station, and rather surprisingly a flypast by a Lancaster Bomber - a plane I built endless models of as a child but never dreamed I see flying! Took some hurried pictures, hampered somewhat by the overhead lines here. Managed a spot of lunch too, before lining up for a shot of the strange and rather sad sight of 67023 hauling a dead 40145 into the station with the stock. The route back largely reversed the outward run, but in order to stay awake and to enjoy the tail end of the warm sunny day, I found myself near the window enjoying the views. In any case, my miserable seating companion was upset that he'd sustained a splinter by licking the wooden coffee stirrer he'd picked up in the buffet. I had to retreat to avoid laughing openly at what he obviously considered a grave misfortune. A pleasant, quick run back despite the change of traction.
At Stockport, a quick cross-platform connection into a late running Pendolino bound for Piccadilly. The evening was just beginning for the considerable crowd of pretty people waiting for the train into the city. For me though, sleep beckoned after a rather odd day out. I can only hope that the CFPS is able to get 40145 back on the mainline soon.
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.