03 August 2011

Pictorial: Railrover Day 7

Our final day did not start well. I was awoken by my complimentary breakfast being delivered and after opening the adjoining door to m'colleague's birth, was informed of our location. It was 0730 and we'd just departed Newtonmore, where we should have left at 0712. Our connection in Inverness was the tightest of the entire jaunt - just 14 minutes. Things were not looking good, although the scenery was sufficiently dramatic to take my mind off the problem that may lie ahead.

We then came to a standstill at around 0815. We were clearly being held in a loop for a southbound service from the single track that lay ahead to Inverness. I suspected this was East Coast's daily service to London, named the Highland Chieftain. Checking the time this service departed Inverness against the time it took to pass us, meant that we shouldn't arrive 18 minutes late, but a 'mere' 7 minutes behind schedule.

Following the HST's passage, the driver gave it the beans our final sleeper journey soon came to an end (I plan on ensuring it's not another 6 years before I travel on another!) and we were heading down towards Inverness at a shade over 80mph according to our GPS device. DB Schenker's 67030 was once again hauling us north of Edinburgh (it had been our motive traction on Tuesday morning).

I love this shot. To me it says: no matter what colours you adorn the exterior with and no matter which multi-national bus operator operates applies its franchise name to the side, some things were built to last and endure.

Our driver should be congratulated as we arrived in Inverness at 0839, just 8 minutes late. While Scotrail will legitimately class this journey as having arrived on time, it was the difference between a trip on the West Highland Line or heading back to Edinburgh with our tails between our legs for us. At a not inconsiderable pace, we made our way to the bus station where we saw our Service 919 Scottish Citylink coach awaiting its 0845 departure. As ever, Stagecoach was using one of its own liveried coaches on the service Volvo B7R/Plaxton Profile, 53209 (SV54 EKP). Our friendly English driver said we weren't leaving until his wingmirror was fixed and so feeling a little silly at the sight that must have greeted him as two unfit 30-something year old men came sweating to his vehicle, we took our seats inside and awaited a chap in overalls. The wingmirror was fixed by 0915 and we left with the same vigour displayed by our Class 67 driver.
I feel a little guilty about criticising the driver too much as he did completely ignore the overheating alarm for the last hour of the trip, despite visiting a petrol station at Invergarry to add cool water to the system. Other drivers would have pulled over to seek advice which, knowing our luck, would have been to stay where they were and send another bus out. This would have been worse than missing the connection in the first place as the frequency of trains from Loch Ness is nil. Once at Fort William, we headed to the local supermarket to purchase drinks and then to the station to take some photos. This is one of West Coast Railways' 37676 Loch Rannoch.

I'd planned on us catching the Fort William service from London last night, but two months before our jaunt commenced, ScotRail said the service was fully booked. This is the portion of last night's train that was hived off at Edinburgh, and hauled here using another of DB Schenker's Class 67s. I'm not too sure of when it is cleaned and prepared for its return journey to London as it appeared to be sitting idle.

We would now head back to the Lowlands aboard a ScotRail Class 156. Two of them, in fact. 156465 lead 156485 in from Mallaig, where upon the driver changed ends (actually, he probably handed over to another) and 156485 lead for the remainder of the journey. The number of reservations aboard this journey was very high indeed and a load boarded. Initially I didn't think we'd be able to sit together, though we did manage to find some seats together. It was a wonderful journey to Glasgow - some very impressive scenery and while not as dramatic as that to Mallaig, is certainly some of the best in the country. We waited at Tulloch for a northbound service and again at Ardlui, where a trio of two-car Class 156s were heading north. One would be hived off at Crianlarich for the Oban branch.

Our next train was 170428, working the 1545 ScotRail service to Edinburgh via Falkirk. It was a three-car unit that became very well loaded indeed. I think most of our train in from the Highlands occupied it. We, however, took solace in First Class, where we sat alone save a guard and his family. The '156' was very nice, but the air conditioning and complimentary refreshments with a much firmer suspension were a welcome addition. Sadly the scenery didn't live up to that which we'd experienced.

From Glasgow Queen Street to Doncaster sidings. We managed to board East Coast's 1700 departure from Edinburgh Waverley to London King's Cross, though it wasn't announced until 6 minutes to go before departure so there was a scrum to board and I didn't fancy missing it for the sake of a photo. We were served a very nice meal and with a crew change at Newcastle had the option for second helpings, too. As we departed Doncaster, I spotted Deltic - Royal Scots Grey stabled in some sidings, attached to a rake of heritage coaches that would presumably work a rail tour tomorrow. Initially numbered D9000 and then 55022 when British Rail introduced TOPS, this was quite a welcome addition to my photos during the jaunt. I took a video of Royal Scots Grey plying its trade along its old stomping ground and it can be seen by clicking here.

91102 propelled us from Edinburgh to London, driven from 82230 at the front.

The 2200 East Coast departure from London King's Cross to Newcastle was to be my last of the jaunt, with 43313 at the rear (above) and 43257 leading (below).

Hell, I could have had third helpings of the evening meal offering aboard the East Coast trains today. I turned it down though had some more gin and tonic. A very civilised finale to the 2011 LEYTR Railrover. As I needed to photograph the front HST I made my way through the train after Holme (one of the lowest points on the national rail network) and jumped out of the front carriage at Peterborough. Here the train sat for over 5 minutes as British Transport Police had been called to remove a trouble-maker. Listening to an officer allay the fears of a bystander, it appears the miscreant is known to them. The policeman showed his disdain for 'the system' as the guy who was arrested commits an offence in London and is issued a rail warrant to take him home to Peterborough where he then kicks off and has been banned from using the train. A vicious circle and what annoys me most is that he is given free travel on a service where a turn-up-and-go ticket costs almost £30.


Guzzibasher said...

m'colleagues birth! They start 'em young these days (or do you mean berth?).

LEYTR said...

Very good. I did that once before but spotted it on the first read through before posting it. Decided to refer to it as a cabin thereafter to stop falling into the trap, but clearly forgot!!