The Sector Swansong, Saturday April 2nd 1994
This tour had all the ingredients of being a true classic, featuring a bonanza of motive power from the sectorised railway in its last weekend before another advance towards privatisation. Sadly this tour was never a classic, a loco failure causing serious late running on perhaps too ambitious an itinerary, with, at one stage a real fear of not being able to get home. (most of used relied on the train to get to tours then.). There was plenty of power, which was reflected in the high £44 tour ching. Most of the power was “common” stuff to the majority on board which added to the largely downbeat atmosphere. Writing up these notes 15 years later perhaps we should have enjoyed rather than endured this tour, time mellows us all
A right time 0524 off Leighton, as usual busy with railway staff and clubbers with 321421 as power. This useful early morning service was soon to be cut, in another small example of the “benefits” of railway privatisation. The “basher”consist increased en route. From Northampton, it was a “real unit” in a roasting, hot 310102 forward. All the connections worked this morning with 156419 forward from Coventry to Nuneaton.
A longish Nuneaton fester with much derision at the 2 86’6’s hovering to work the tour forward. 86613 and 86627 were once both 86’3’s, so common they were considered a “curse”, “we should have stayed in bed” was my Wolverton colleague’s repost. . The 86’6 class contained many rarer loco’s from the former 86’0 sub fleet and it was 2 of these, most punters would have preferred.
The “rancid cans” quickly replaced the Parcels sector 47626 that had brought the tour up from the West Country. It seemed strange to be on a “tour” back at a haunt where you had been 3 hours earlier. The Northampton loco change here was a slow one and we effectively blocked the up platform for over the booked 20 minutes. The forwarding power being “goyles” was never going to generate much excitement amongst the tour’s consist and 31105 and 31107 were again former passenger regulars on Norwich-Birminghams and alike. The ritualistic bellow through my home “shack” a staggering 20 minutes after leaving Northampton was very muted as a result.
The next loco change was deep in Willesden Yard and here things began to go seriously wrong. The allocated 33021 forward had expired and after a delay of well over an hour, trapped in WN yard, the mood aboard the tour was not good. Eventually a bonus in 73141 was attached to our stock and we tottered through Mitre Bridge Jn and Kensington for a further delay at Clapham Jn making us almost 3 hours late!. Here the common, but a personal favourite 33030, was attached to the ED. The ED was, I believe then shut down, leaving 33030 to put in a rousing, gutsy performance, the highlight of the day. On joining the Midland main line the 33 was really worked hard, Crompton thrash and clag, fast line running, plus snow showers out Chiltern Green way, magic stuff.
At Bedford, during yet another protracted loco change (no shunter) I did consider going home at this stage as we were still nearly 3 hours late but there were rumours of an itinerary change which should make up most of the lost time and a Bedford bail was perhaps a “man of jelly” move! It was only 1530 and we still had almost half the tour and power to do. 58037, a rare un I’m told, whizzed us up Sharnbrook and beyond with much 80 mph plus running improving the tour atmosphere, 60098 was our forwarding power to Nottingham (platform 6), from Leicester. Confirmation then finally came through off us now going direct Derby-Crewe rather than via Sheffield.. This was met with a few whingers as we lost a few miles as a result, but it at least made things re getting home a bit better.
The pace and spirits improved again as we got a loco in 56106 that could at least storm and all too soon we were at Derby where 20075/187 were waiting to join on the rear of our tour, on the revised route, straight back to Crewe. This loco change took time and our group’s last direct connection home, again looked tight, especially as the 20’s tottered a little. At Crewe, a required, for me, 37675 was the tour’s power South and it couldn’t be flagged. There was , despite the late running, a “plus 15” onto the last Liverpool-Euston the only move home.
A typically slow Crewe loco change had us slightly worried as the 37 growled and snarled along the up slow, shattering the peace of the Staffordshire landscape. To our horror 87013 drew level and then overtook us with the 2010 Liverpool-Euston, yes, this was our train home. For once our luck held, a farce (or did Control help us that night) on the UF outside Stafford, saw 87013 checked and we triumphantly passed a stationary 87013 and train. At Stafford it was a quick goodbye to 37675 and the Brum men then 87013 back to Rugby for the 321 home.
I vowed never to do a Chingfinder tour again, and didn’t for 7 years!…
321421 0434 Euston-Northampton L.Buzzard-Northampton
310102 0615 Northampton-Birmingham Northampton-Coventry
156419 0705 Coventry-Lincoln Coventry-Nuneaton
47636 0615 1Z46 Bristol-Leicester Railtour
86616} 0615 1Z46 Bristol-Leicester Railtour Nuneaton-Northampton
86627} (via Northampton goods loop)
31107} 0615 1Z46 Bristol-Leicester Railtour Northampton-Willesden Yd
73141 0615 1Z46 Bristol-Leicester Railtour Willesden Yd-Clapham Jn
33030} 0615 1Z46 Bristol-Leicester Railtour Clapham Jn-Bedford
73141(d)} (via Kew and Midland main line)
58037 0615 1Z46 Bristol-Leicester Railtour Bedford-Leicester
60098 1445 1Z46 Leicester-Bristol Rtn Railtour Leicester-Nottingham
56106 1445 1Z46 Leicester-Bristol Rtn Railtour Nottingham-Derby
20075} 1445 1Z46 Leicester-Bristol Rtn Railtour Derby-Crewe
37675 1445 1Z46 Leicester-Bristol Rtn Railtour Crewe-Stafford
47823 1445 1Z46 Leicester-Bristol Rtn Railtour
87013 2010 Liverpool-Euston Stafford-Rugby
321432 2221 Birmingham-Euston Rugby-L.Buzzard
Sector Swansong photspot