A great night out: 1V01 01:40 Waterloo – Exeter - thanks to Jason Hall
At the inception of Network South East on 10th February 1986, the Southern region still boasted an intensive network of overnight newspaper, parcels and passenger services. Naturally it was Class 33 and 73 power that would dominate those services but there was one exception. 1V01, the 01.40 Waterloo to Exeter service, and later Yeovil Junction saw not only the diagramming of Class 33s of various sub classes, but also Class 47s and 50s. This is its history, from the beginning of NSE, a service that was to become a regular start to many a 1000 mile day out following 50s and for me, almost a way of life.
Up until the end of the summer timetable of 1986 the train had been booked for a Bescot allocated 47. This would return on the 06.43 to Waterloo and at the time would be the only regular 47 diagram over the route. Class 47s were to return to part of the route from the start of the winter 1986-1987 timetable though with a SO, Plymouth – Brighton and return Exeter service. I rarely covered 1V01 at this time.
The winter 1986-1987 timetable would be the last to see the Monday to Saturday service going through to Exeter St.Davids. On Sundays the service would terminate at Yeovil Junction with a 33/0 diagrammed to replace the 50 at Salisbury.
From the start of summer 1987, the train terminated at Yeovil Junction, running round there to form a service back to Salisbury. Stock would be one MK1 open, one MK1 half brake and three or four GUV/BG vans. All accommodation was 2nd class only. From Salisbury the stock would run ECS to Eastleigh with a 33, the 50 coming off to work a 06.40 service to Waterloo with a set of MK2s. The Sunday service would depart Waterloo at 01.30 with once again, a 33/0 relieving the 50 at Salisbury.
Winter 1987-1988 brought no change to these arrangements but Sundays became a non-starter when from 7th February to 20th March the Sunday service would terminate at Salisbury for a bus forward.
Summer 1988s timetable would see the service now diagrammed a 50 through out on seven days a week, an arrangement that suited me just fine but this was only to last to the end of that timetable. Its close would bring the end of what I considered to be the real 1V01 experience. With a lack of newspaper and parcels traffic, the MK1s were withdrawn, but 1V01 continued to run despite many other services being withdrawn completely.
For the winter of 1988-1989 the service would see 33/1s and a 4TC employed. This stock was far from ideal despite the compartments as with a door on both sides and no blinds, it was to be a very draughty and uncomfortable experience.
From Summer 1989, the last four 33/1+TC diagrams were handed over to 50s. This would mark the start of 100% class 50 operation over the route and as a result a set of MK2s were now diagrammed to 1V01. This of course meant the return of decent compartments, all be it in the 1st class half brake. The Mon to Sat to service was retimed to depart at 01.45. This I considered to be another little dent in the services traditional lay out.
Further retiming came with the 1989-1990 timetable. Departing now at 01.05 the service was now booked via Southampton during October and on various Sundays during December. This was normally track only enjoyed on a Sundays as a result of engineering work so was a pleasant change from the norm.
From the summer of 1990 the train was booked via Southampton every night with stops at Winchester, Eastleigh and Southampton as well as the usual stops at Woking, Basingstoke, Salisbury, Gillingham and Sherborne. Andover had now lost its night service. I dare say the regular opera goers were less than pleased but it did mean less chance of being woken by them before departure from London. The train was lost from the end of that summer. Never did 1V01 gain the title of ‘Network Express’.
My first run with 1V01, ironically, was not exactly a success. At Waterloo I found 33043 tied to the train, a short set of MK1s and GUV vans. I got my head down in a compartment regardless and remember saying to myself that I wouldn’t bother with the train again. As fortune would have it 50019 relieved the crompton at Salisbury. I later found that the allocated 50 had failed at Stewarts Lane with a brake problem. That 50 was 006, one of seven that I never had on the service! The stopping pattern of the Exeter service was unusual in that the train ran fast from Honiton to St.Davids, not calling at Central as all the routes other services did.
A typical journey: 50021, Monday 16/11/87
Of all those many journeys made in 1987 this one always sticks in my mind. When I think about it I recall all the things that made 1V01 that little bit special. I had arrived at Paddington late the previous evening with 50020 from Bristol. The outbound trip had been made with 50047 and I was already especially pleased with that, so naturally, a few cans were consumed amongst my merry band. By the time we arrived back at Paddington I was at that very happy stage. I swayed along the taxi road and onto the pub on the concourse. My mission was simple; enjoy a few more ales before heading over to Waterloo for 1V01. I had no idea what was allocated that night but as was usual, concluded that several different machines would be quite acceptable. Most of my party made their way home but my remaining companion and I were soon heading for a late tube to Waterloo.
Waterloo at midnight was a busy place. Brutes full of parcels and newspapers hauled by yellow buggies would hum up and down the platforms and concourse making the place something of an assault course. On top of this the occasional lorry would back up and unload another pile of traffic. On the stops of a number of platforms would be the locos that had brought in short rakes of vans for later departures. Normally an EDL would have performed the ECS duty with a 33 or 73 tied to the other end ready to head south. The ECS for 1V01 was no exception. Boarding the train would not be allowed until loading had completed and this was usually about 45 minutes before departure. If for some reason loading was delayed to near departure time you would have to climb over piles of traffic to get to the doors. This was always a mad dash as the lack of compartments made it vital to get on as early as possible! The coaches would usually be in darkness and when the lights were switched on, it was clear the batteries had pretty much had it as the lighting was very dim. Not until the train moved would it brighten up, and then, not by much. It was normal though to unscrew the light bulbs and place them in the luggage racks. This was of course ideal for sleeping, unlike modern trains were every effort is made to blind you completely. Blinds were pulled down on both sides making the compartment a dark and impenetrable cocoon. Assuming you had managed to bag a compo you then had to fend off constant invasions by normals. This was not easy if on your own but this night there were two of us. This could be done by feigning death and refusing to move at any request or prod. Once the train moved it was safe to move again. The compartment seats themselves were pretty much filthy and I recall there was always a taste of dust in the air once you had lain down. I dread to think what was living inside those seats. This was enhanced by the heating coming on and then frying all the filth on the heaters causing a pretty horrible greasy and dirty atmosphere. The open coach was in similar condition. Oh how I miss it!
On this night I was more than impressed to see that ‘Rodney’ was our steed for the night. I only managed a quick glance as it backed on, daring not to leave seats unattended in our ‘bedroom’. An invasion was never far away! Sleep was far from easy on 1V01 during the MK1 period. It was normal to grab short naps between some of the stops. I usually managed to drop off shortly before departure only to be woken again by the loco being started. This was assuming that it hadn’t arrived at the last minute, which was not uncommon. Departure from London was always worth being awake for. That initial burst of power and acceleration was to be savoured. I recall that if you were laying on the loco side of the compo the inertia of that departure would almost roll you onto the floor! The racket was tremendous and intense, no doubt enhanced by the lack of any background noise at that time of the morning. There was no need to drive the locos so hard with such a light load but that is exactly what they did.
Braking was also an experience. The sound of the vacuum brakes rubbing and finally biting as the train stopped usually woke me. Then whilst at the stations doors would slam and staff would chatter and whistle. The storm along the chalk cutting north of Andover was always something to savour. The constant thudding of 16 cylinders of EE, combined with the clatter of MK1s over jointed track was really something here.
At Salisbury I would listen for any evidence of a loco change. On this night it didn’t happen and it was at Yeovil Junction that I awoke to the sound of silence. I pulled the blind aside in time to see ‘Rodney’ roll by and shortly after felt her ease up to the front. A kind driver would leave the engine idling with ETH on. Some would not and it’s surprising how quickly those compartments would freeze.
Departure normally woke me again and that morning I recall I had my head out of a window to see some sparks blow back off the exhausts. At Salisbury it was usually a scramble to get off for the early Exeter departure, assuming the loco took your fancy, but on this day it did not and I decided to stick with 21 and head back to London. One occasion when I did have to run like mad through the underpass was on 11th June 1988 when I spied 50036+50041 ready to head to Exeter as I arrived at Salisbury with 50024. I recall doing the manoeuvre with shoes in one hand and bag and jacket in the other. Getting off though was still not easy to contemplate as by now I was actually ready for some proper sleep! On those nights when I had gone from a hot rancid compo to freezing platform I recall how awful I often felt. A ‘bog wash’ on the 06.40 up was always in order before contemplating any gen and deciding on the day’s move. Many years after I would recount my description of that rancid feeling over a few beers, when you woke up in a sweaty, greasy compartment and we named the condition, ‘compo face’. It was reassuring to discover the condition was so common amongst regular overnighters. And just why did your tongue always feel as if it was covered in lime scale?
Network Day: 50010, Saturday 24/10/87
Those early network days were to see some of the worst overcrowding I have ever endured until recent times on the Victoria Line or a 73 bendy bus. Hardly surprising really as to travel such a vast network for only a few English pounds was an opportunity not be missed by any self respecting ‘crank’. I recall being sat, four to each side of a compartment long before departure, and even then quite literally hundreds of people kept arriving. Eventually the corridor and the space between our feet was packed with standing passengers. I dread to think of the state of the open coach. As things got worse people were allowed to stand in the vans but they also became wedged. Once we were all asked to get off to allow regular ticket holders to board but I then heard rumour that alternative stock was being sought. A crompton and TC was muted. That idea didn’t suit me or my party. Later more MK1s were rumoured but that was all deemed too much trouble and from where exactly? Eventually people were turned away and pointed towards alternative overnight services which if you were going beyond Basingstoke, could only be the 07.00 Exeter! Sleep was impossible that night and I recall the day was something of an endurance test.
Bowl outs: 47401, Saturday 19/8/89
An unavoidable part of the bashing experience and this one always sticks in my mind. On this night I was fast asleep right up to departure time to be woken by the whistle. It was at that point I realised that I was now alone and that the sound I could hear was not a 50, but a large Sulzer machine. I grabbed my gear and ran for a door as the train began to ease away. Somehow I managed to get off and close the door behind me and then in the panic became conscious of laughter. My party had left me to sleep and to what they considered an unwelcome surprise when I did wake during the journey. I was informed that 47401 was the Brush and at that I have always thought that not waking up in time to get off wouldn’t have seemed so bad. I would never admit that at the time though. We strolled over to Paddington for 50023 on the early Paignton service. Revenge is sweet though however and I savour the knowledge that many of those same characters were enjoying 47835 on the morning of 14th January 1990. I was to meet some of those happy travellers later that day on 1V09 headed by 50003.
Fiascos and Failures:
These, like bowl outs, were impossible to avoid. The trick though was not to let them destroy your day and recover as soon as possible. I was lucky to have only three in traffic failure on 1V01. One was 50049 on Tuesday 4th July 1989. I recall being especially pleased to see ‘Defiance’ at Waterloo that morning as 50027 had been constantly bugging me on the train. It just ALWAYS seemed to be ‘Lion’. Testament perhaps to what a good engine it actually was. It was at roughly Weybridge that I was aware that 49 was very quiet and this was confirmed by a total lack of sound as we glided into Woking. Several attempts were made to restart her but she was having none of it. Naturally it was ‘Lion’ that came to our rescue. With ‘Defiance’ dumped in the bay at Salisbury, 27 took up her diagram for the day.
Cancellation for no obvious reason became an issue for a short time during early 1990. One such night was Saturday 3rd February. What else but ‘Lion’ was at the head that morning and I became conscious of a lack of progress from Salisbury. I went back to sleep and woke to find that we still hadn’t moved. I never did find out what had happened that morning but I’m assured that it was an all too common event at the time. This was however the one of only a couple of times I was there for the farce. I recall that no member of staff said a word to the passengers. Perhaps they recognised us all as the regular clientele who used the train as a travelling hotel.
During a period of low 50 availability in summer 1989, replacements had to be hastily employed. Although not often affecting 1V01 it did on 20th August 1989 when 33113 arrived for the train just a few minutes before departure. On the 18th December another shortage saw 207017 employed on 1V01.
During the latter part of 1989 a shortage of stock became a serious issue. So much so that it was not unusual to see a rake of five or even four coaches on a Waterloo to Exeter service. I recall seeing such a set made up of three half brakes and two open coaches. Very cosy! Naturally these problems affected 1V01.
On Wednesday 11th October 1989 I was disgusted to find a TC as the set for 1V01. I was equally impressed to find ‘Lion’ at the head. I tried to sleep but recall that 50s and TC brakes didn’t exactly like each other leading to a delay in the braking on the TC and an attempt to throw you out of your seat into the person opposite. Someone will know the technical reason for this. I recall also seeing a full rake of IC liveried MK2 air cons also in regular use. Fortunately these didn’t turn up for me on 1V01!
The ‘boat train’ set was now seeing regular use and this was always welcome on the overnight. The set was made up of a full rake first class compartment MK2 stock. This set was in use on the Thursday 12th October 1989 with 50048 at the head and nicely made up for the TCs of the previous night. 50007 was 1V01 with the same set of coaches on Saturday 28th October.
Diversions routes for engineering work was sought after information and I was fortunate to have many. Last minute diversion due to a problem was not so common though and normally only resulted in a run via Southampton or waiting somewhere for the problem to go away. One such diversion was on Saturday 17th February 1990 when 50005 was diverted via Andover of all places. Hardly rare but it was pleasant to blast down that cutting again in the darkness. The 18th June 1989 would see 50009 run to Southampton, then run round to head for Salisbury via Chandlers Ford. On Wednesday 9th May 1990 the train was diverted via Southampton and Westbury. It was almost unheard of to divert via Westbury as for the short run from Salisbury to Yeovil, a bus was the preferred alternative.
Most memorable was on Thursday 16th April 1987 when 1V01 was diverted out of Victoria via Tooting! 50010 did the honours that morning. Another was Thursday 25th January 1990 when 50049 was diverted via East Putney. This was probably one of the rarest routes you could have and this was to be my only run over there with a 50.
Double heading on 1V01, by any class, was almost unheard of. I myself only managed one pair and that was very early in 1987. The discovery of 50005 + 50001 8th January was probably the night I became hooked on 1V01. It later transpired that ‘Dreadnought’ had been shut down at Salisbury. I never did find out why.
Two other pairs are recounted. 50041+50029 on 25th September 1989 but ‘Renown’ suffered a fault at Vauxhall and was shut down. The other being 21st September 1990 when 50030+50043 had 1V01 but a multi fault on ‘Eagle’ saw it just idling. Hardly the most successful record.
The last one: 50007, Sunday 30/9/90
The last 1V01 was something of a let down, or so it has been recounted to me. I was beginning what would be become a 20 year run of visiting foreign lands and on this occasion was visiting Germany, so to hear that is somewhat reassuring. The train started at Clapham Junction that morning due to engineering work. Hardly a fitting start to the last 1V01 and the last diagrammed class 50 hauled overnight. What is more, trouble on board would see some ejections at Woking. Given all this, I’m glad my memories of 1V01 remain untainted.
Of all the overnight services I used, 1V01 was the most regular and with over 200 runs out of Waterloo, is the one that I miss the most. Never again will I suffer a severe case of ‘compo face’. Farewell rancid overnight!
Thanks again to Jason Hall for the cracking memories