Cromwell Conquers Cumbrian Fells
Last Saturday 70013 Oliver Cromwell was in charge of the second train in the February Winter Cumbrian Mountain Express programme sponsored by the Railway Touring Company. This 12 coach train followed the route taken by the previous week's inaugural charter hauled by 45305 but with one coach more reflecting the Class 7 power status of the 'Britannia' as opposed to that of the 'Black Five'. Once again the train was a sell out, having started at Euston and arriving at Preston on time behind preserved electric loco 86259. Here Cromwell took over for the run to Carlisle via Blackburn and the northbound route over the Settle-Carlisle line.
After working service trains on the Great Central Railway over Christmas and at the Steam Railway Gala there a little later, 70013 had undergone a programme of winter maintenance at Loughborough before being despatched by road to Carnforth on the 8th February. Here it joined 45305 and will remain at the West Coast depot for the rest of the month before moving to Southall to continue its scheduled main line activities.
Even with the 12 coach load Cromwell was able to keep the required point to point timings, arriving in Carlisle two minutes early. Despite being held in the station for an extra half hour and not being able to access the servicing point at Upperby because of the volume of late running and on time service trains in the vicinity, slick coaling, watering and fire cleaning operations enabled the very tight turn round time to be almost met. The charter was a quarter of an hour late away on the southbound run to Carnforth over Shap but no further time was lost and Cromwell gave a splendid performance on the long climb to Shap summit and on the downhill run beyond.
70013 will haul another sell out train on the 25th February, this time going over the route in the reverse direction. Another fine performance is in prospect.
Next Saturday 45305 is back in action, this time double heading with sister 'Black Five' 44932. The steam section of the route will be Carnforth-Shap-Carlisle-Settle-Blackburn-Farington Junction and the load is booked for 13 coaches. This is reported to be another sell out. It is turning out to be a very interesting February!