Sunday 11 March 2012

10: Double Duffs and a Drag

Welcome again to the latest Railwaymedia Blog.

My body clock is now trying to get adjusted to not being on nights; three weeks of going to work at the same time of day is not something that happens too often. I do however like nights and I shall be very much missing them at the end of this week when I have to get up at the ungodly hour of 5am.

The day, or rather night, after I posted the last Blog I came across Virgin Thunderbird 57309 at Preston. It was in charge of the Monday to Thursday Pendolino drag, which takes the empty coaches off the 2030 London to Preston service back to the depot at Longsight in Manchester. The use of a 57 is for two reasons; firstly as the route it takes is not yet electrified, but secondly to keep drivers familiar with the proceedures of the coupling mechanisms and with the handling of the train.

It is widely rumoured that from the new West Coast franchise in December the use of class 57s will cease. To that end six of the 'Thunderbirds' have already gone off lease and it looks like 57309 is next as all the nameplates (it's got no 'Brains' anymore...) and Virgin markings have been removed. Very scruffy it now looks! I made the effort and took my camera in the next night to get a picture of it.

It is suspected that this, with two others, are going to be heading to DRS shortly, which will leave Virgin with only 3 in standard livery plus the 4 in blue for the Arriva Holyhead to Cardiff service.

Still on Virgin news, the following night I got to Crewe in time to witness an 18 car Pendolino arrive from the south. Testing had been taking place all week with one unit between Stafford and Crewe, complete with light on the pantograph to measure the forces on the overhead wires, but by Thursday morning they had moved on to trialling two 9 car units coupled, and powering, together. It actually just fitted in platform 12, though as I doubt it would fit in any other station on the West Coast Main Line, and certainly none at Euston, so don't expect to see 18 coach trains running anytime soon!

On a similar vein, there is also going to be a Pendolino out on the East Coast Main Line this week. It's leaving Edinburgh late night Monday morning to work down to Kings Cross and then doing the same in reverse Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. Rumour on this one is that Alstom are trying to sell the Pendolino to East Coast rather than the expensive 'IEP' that the government seems keen on.

So onto Saturday. As regular readers will have worked out, when I've been on nights Saturday is very much a day for beer rather than photography. Well, I'd taken the Friday night off so I could attend the Leicester Beer Festival which is, in my humble opinion, one of the best in the country, with a good venue and an outstanding selection of rare beers from new breweries. This meant I wasn't in so much of a rush to get to the pub on Saturday so had time for a little bit of time out with the camera.

There were three special trains due through Preston northbound in just over an hour so I forced myself to get up and head to Brock. The weather was somewhat dull, except needless to say for one shot of a Pendolino, though being cloudy this in a way helped as with most of the interesting trains being northbound the sun shining would actually have been problematic.

First up was 47786 heading a Nottingham to Fort William train, which was followed 10 minutes later by West Coast Railways' stablemate 47500 (pictured above) on the first leg of a Tyseley to Carlisle charter. 47500 took it as far north as Carnforth where it handed over to double headed steam in the shape of 5043 (Earl of Mount Edgcombe) and 6201 (Duchess of Sutherland). 47500 ran light engine back past Brock about an hour later. The third tour was 67025 also heading for Carlisle.

On top of these charters, there were also 3 freight trains in the 2 hours I spent at Brock, the last one being the regular Saturday run of the 6K73 flask train. All in all worth making the effort to get up for, though it was touch and go whether I could be bothered when the alarm went off!

The rest of the pictures from the morning can be seen HERE, but I'll leave you with, appropriately, the last picture of the morning. Once again thanks for reading!


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