In news relayed to 5305LA this morning, Oliver Cromwell may now return to the main line sporting a new number for 2014.
The Riddles ‘Pacific’, synonymous with the Settle and Carlisle line, over which it worked the very last steam-hauled train for British Railways in 1968, has apparently been usurped - by an invader from North America.
Delivered at the end of December 2011, some 60 years after the ‘original’ 70013, Freightliner’s locomotive of the same number now works regularly over the Settle and Carlisle line, as seen passing Appleby in this picture by 5305LA supporter George Woods.
Of course, when running on Network Rail metals, the ‘Brit’ is officially identified by its ‘TOPS’ number, 98713, and although accommodation has historically been made for historical painted numbers to be carried, the confusion caused by two ‘70013’s, each plying their trade over the ‘long drag’ in particular, has caused consternation for traincrew and signallers alike. It is not commonly known that on April 1 last year, the driver of 70013 (‘Oliver Cromwell', not ‘70013') was mistakenly signalled into a power station in Yorkshire, where staff were somewhat bewildered by the train only conveying 7 tonnes of coal, some of which it had already burned.
Fortunately, a shortage of diesels means that both ‘Sir Lamiel’ and 45305 do not clash with a TOPS-numbered locomotive, but if the proposal were to be extended, certain other main line steam locomotives such as A4s could also see their iconic and highly historic numbers consigned to history - on the main line at least.
We at 5305LA are proud of the standards which we maintain, and the positive working relationships we have with our counterparts elsewhere on the ‘big railway'. To this end, we are carefully considering this request.
Mindful however of the internet storm recently caused by our Twitter headboard, before we respond we are soliciting views from our supporters, and have produced this mock up of what the ‘Brit’ would look like in future as ‘98713’. Owing to the relatively short period of time before 70013 hauls RTC’s ‘The Cheshireman’ on 26 May, and the lead time on having a new smokebox numberplate cast, we ask people to share their views by posting on our Facebook page, Twitter or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org - ideally by lunchtime today.