Steam is still king in the bleak midwinter
OLD-fashioned steam trains were running while modern electric ones were brought to a standstill during this week’s snow.
A pleasure service ran to time between London, Ashford and the Kent coast on Monday while Eurostar and high speed domestic trains ground to a halt.
The Cathedral Express even picked up some of the stranded passengers in London.
Marcus Roberts, chairman of the organisers Steam Dreams, said: “Snow does not affect steam trains at all. But it affects the power supply to electric trains.
“We were even able to take some passengers stuck in London Victoria where there was room.”
The Cathedral Express consists of 55-year-old carriages and a newly-built replica of a 1948 A1 Class Tornado engine.
On Monday it was taking tourists and enthusiasts through London, Ashford, Folkestone, Dover and Thanet on the White Cliffs Christmas Luncheon Circular Tour.
The train went full steam ahead on Monday while Eurostar had to suspend its services for the third day running and thousands of passengers were trapped on five trains in the Channel Tunnel during the weekend.
Southeastern confirmed that some of its 140mph high speed trains, which had been introduced in full on December 13, were cancelled on Monday.
That morning saw no Ashford to Dover service on the standard main line service and there had been delays and cancellations on both forms of service over the weekend.
Spokesman Sarah Boundy said: “The problem occurs when ice forms on the third rail, which is the conductor rail although efforts have been made to deice these.”
Mr Roberts said: “During the very severe winter of 1962-63 steam trains that were about to be scrapped were brought back into service to pull the carriages of electric trains.
“It shows that steam wins over electric in these conditions.”
Monday’s Steam Dreams journey in Ashford was one of 12 Christmas period trips run by the Surrey-based company throughout the country.
White on schedule: Tornado at Cheriton as it ran to time despite the weather. To the left is the deserted high speed line