The "Mothball" Railtour, Sat May 29th 1993
Pre Tour moves.
Despite the very late 1050 tour start I was at Leighton to join the 0654 up with a lively 321430 as power. The morning was sunny and warm
a good day was in prospect. 90 minutes of intense EPB bashing on the Charing X - Waterloo E - London Bridge corridor. A respectable haul of
3202, 3205, 3306, 5160, 5421, 5437, 5455, 5496, 5604, 5614, 5617, 6221, 6324 were caned in.
1Z40 The Mothball tour summary
Waterloo - Staines - Reading - Didcot - Oxford - Bicester London Rd - Claydon - Winslow - Bletchley Flyover - Fenny - Millbrook - Bedford SJ- Bedford M - Woburn Sands - Bletchley - Leighton - Watford Jn - Euston
56046 (NKJM sector)
5341, 5316, 5323, 9424, 9418, 13227, 5433, 4930, 5008, 5389
Decent stock in 10 "Mule" early mk II's with big windows, big seats and tables were well welcomed. Departure time of 1051 came and went with
no loco up front, worries of a 47 deputising began to circulate. "I'm not paying 17 quid for 182 duff miles" was one loudly bellowed claim, but all rumours
were silenced when Dutch 56046 backed on. I was happy with this as a winner, but not many others seemed happy. We departed about 15 down with
the usual stagger via Staines. From Reading on the GW mainline, speeds and screams increased for the short section to Oxford.
We then joined the Oxford-Bletchley for the last time. As usual this was a 25mph stagger but the atmosphere was good doing such rare track.With the
Claydon-Bletchley section "mothballed" after this weekend this was to be the last passenger train over the Bicester - Claydon line and the last
loco hauled tour over Bletchley flyover. A Branch line Soc DMU tour the following Bank Holiday Monday worked the Bletchley-Claydon
section on an itinerary that included the Wolverton Works "diveunder". Once busy with stone traffic, the ending of the Wolverton ARC traffic
the previous year and curtailment of the Akeman "UKF" traffic a few weeks earlier meant the Bicester- Bletchley line had no regular traffic
and closure was inevitable in a privatised railway environment.
at Fenny. Bletchley TMD can be seen behind the grid.
Many local connections followed, a photo stop at Winslow before the station yard was lost to housing was interesting. Passing Swanbourne a
good few locals were out to wave us by. A ritualistic bellow by the whole train climbing onto Bletchley flyover, before a long signal check due
a points failure at Fenny Jn. (the points and track had not been used for some time). Passing Forders the green containers used in "plaguex" and
other recently ceased "contaminated waste flows" were piled high, another reminder of a more recently ceased local freight traffic flow.
At Bedford, a "Logs" contributor saved the day by donning his orange jacket and gloves to uncouple the grid allowing the booked run round
before a lively return run back down the branch with a Bletchley driver in the hot seat too, through Leighton (to much flailing) and Euston around 1730.
The Bicester - Claydon was closed soon after, but reopened for the Avon bins in 1994. Once this flow ceased 10 years or so later, the line was kept open
for occasional engineers workings from Hinksey Yard until late 2018. The last passenger train to work Bicester - Claydon was Hertfordshire's Missing Link
tour with 66110 and 66111 on March 17th 2018. As reported elsewhere on the logs recently track removal has taken place between Bicester and Claydon.
Even Chris Grayling got involved as it appears the "East West link" stage 2 from Bicester to Claydon is now underway, better late than never!
The Claydon - Bletchley section was mothballed from June 93 with much of the track being stolen. Minor track bed vegetation cut backs occured
but there has little to disturb the moths in 28 years now! A short section to Newton Longville and the flyover was reopened in March 2006 for
ballast train reversals and a few tours and network rail track trains went over the flyover once more but possibly the East - West link will "soon"
see more activity on the Claydon -Bletchley section too, its been an awful long wait..
Thanks to "RM" and "Six Bells Jn" for additional gen