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East or West - Cromwell's At Its Best  Now with photos

70013 Oliver Cromwell worked charter trains from London on Sunday 4th September and Tuesday 6th September, one to the east and one to the west. The first one, The Spitfire, sponsored by Shepherd Neame brewery, took the 'Brit' to the company's headquarters at Faversham, out via Gillingham and back via Sevenoaks. Despite an initial delay due to engineering works and an unscheduled trip over the rusty rails of the old Eurostar flyover at Nine Elms, Cromwell and its crew rose to the task of pulling back the 15 minute deficit that had accrued. Some spirited running in north Kent resulted in an on-time arrival into Faversham.

Faversham Platform 3 Before the Run (Steve Talbot)

Afrer a run to Dover and back with the Hop Picker, a charter within a charter, 70013 was serviced for the 106 mile return journey to London. With the Class 47 diesel that had been required for the Hop Picker return leg now discarded, Cromwell kept good time with its 10 coach train over the tricky route to Dover via Canterbury East and then on the climbs to Westernhanger and Sevenoaks. Signal failures in the London area looked destined to cause serious problems but despite a 10 minute signal stop at Bickley Junction the charter arrived at its destination of Kensington Olympia only five minutes down. Many passengers came up to the locomotive and support coach at the end of the run to register their thanks for a splendid day out.

Steve Talbot sent several photos of the run, when you have seen them, don't forget to scroll further for details of Cromwells exploits on Tuesday.

Approaching Canterbury East. Photo Steve Talbot

 Dover Priory - Picture would have been better but I forgot to change the camera settings. Photo Steve Talbot


Shepherdswell up platform. Photo Steve Talbot

Faversham Platform 2 after return from Dover. Photo Steve Talbot

Faversham Platform 2 after return from Dover. Photo Steve Talbot

Being serviced in Faversham Down Sidings after return from Dover. Photo Steve Talbot

For its second trip in three days Oliver Cromwell went west, being called upon to work both outward and return legs of the Dorset Coast Express to Weymouth for the Railway Touring Company.

At Victoria prior to the run (Tom Jones)

Time keeping was exemplary on the outward leg, despite poor weather leading to bad rail conditions, especially on the route through the New Forest. Driver Mel Cox was master of the situation and with skillful use of the sanders he kept up the speed of the train to avoid losing time.

Ian Wylie sent a link to a photo of Cromwell haulling the train through Chiswick (don't forget to come back once you've visited his Flickr Site!)

The visit to Weymouth town in the dark, rainy conditions was probably the passengers' 'lowlight' of the day, for once they got back on board and endured the diesel haulage to Southampton, Cromwell was back in charge. After signal checks near Redbridge had put the train 10 minutes adrift, Cromwell nibbled away the deficit with some splendid running between the Laverstock curve and Andover with Basingstoke being reached five minutes early. The run up the South Western Main Line was a little disappointing. Signal checks and temporary speed restrictions caused a seven minute late arrival at Waterloo.

Once again many passengers enthused about Cromwell's performance and the sight of the loco at the platform 16 buffer stops created great interest amongst members of the general public just passing through the station. All this indicates that steam on the main line brings great enjoyment to large numbers of people. Operating the locomotives up to their design capabilities also brings enjoyment to those members of 5305LA who freely give their time to ensure that this happens.

I don't have any photos to paste into this report yet, but Chris Quinnell kindly sent a link to his Flickr site which has a few nice shots of the Hop Picker


By Info | Thursday, September 8, 2011 | Tags : 70013

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