Galatea and Leander con­tinue to put in solid per­for­mances on test­ing North West routes. But it isn’t all about Shap and the S&C…

Steam Railway (UK) - - Contents -

Two ‘Ju­bilees’ com­pared over the Cum­brian Coast route

Ihave fea­tured a num­ber of runs on the Rail­way Tour­ing Com­pany’s ‘Cum­brian Moun­tain Ex­press’ in re­cent is­sues, showcasing the se­ries of ex­cel­lent per­for­mances by ‘Ju­bilee’ No. 45699 Galatea north­bound over Shap. On March 24, it was the turn of sis­ter en­gine No. 45690 Leander to tackle the North­ern Fells, this time on RTC’s al­ter­na­tive itin­er­ary, the ‘Cum­brian Coast Ex­press’ which re­turns from Carlisle to Carn­forth the ‘long way round’ via White­haven and Bar­row-in-Fur­ness. It is a co­in­ci­dence that both the Carn­forth­based ‘Ju­bilees’ were long-term sta­ble­mates at Bris­tol Bar­row Road along with an­other seven ‘5XPs’. Their nor­mal sphere of op­er­a­tion was on cross-coun­try Bris­tol New­cas­tle ser­vices which they worked as far as York, but the pair look quite at home in the North West scenery. Pre­served elec­tric No. 86259 whisked the ‘Cum­brian Coast Ex­press’ Down from Lon­don, but owing to sig­nal checks, ar­rived 13 min­utes late at Carn­forth Up & Down Goods Loop where the usual trac­tion change from elec­tric to steam takes place. For­tu­nately, the sched­ule al­lows an am­ple 32 min­utes for this pro­ce­dure, up to the train’s pathing slot, so the fact it came in late did not ul­ti­mately cause any de­lay. How­ever, the 1000 Manch­ester Air­port to Ed­in­burgh Waver­ley mul­ti­ple unit was run­ning 4 mins late, de­lay­ing Leander’s de­par­ture by 5 mins. With the sup­port coach now added, No. 45690 had 11 coaches weigh­ing 405 tons tare be­hind the draw­bar. The train was en­cour­ag­ingly full so I es­ti­mate the gross load at 440 tons. West Coast Rail­ways’ crew of David Blair and Chris Holmes was as­sisted by Trac­tion In­spec­tor Roly Parker. My col­league Sandy Smeaton is a reg­u­lar trav­eller over Shap on these trains and con­firmed that No. 45690’s time from the start to the top of the 1-in-134 rise which

ter­mi­nates at Mile­post 9½ is the fastest he has recorded by a ‘Ju­bilee’, pro­duc­ing 980 es­ti­mated draw­bar horse­power (edbhp). A good ef­fort for an en­gine start­ing ‘cold’.


I have set out Leander’s run in the right-hand col­umn of Ta­ble 1, com­par­ing it with one of Galatea’s best ef­forts on March 4 last year with a sim­i­lar load, timed by Peter Gre­gory. Chris Holmes was the fire­man on both. While Leander reached 38mph at the foot of the climb, speed fell off to 33½mph at Mile­post 9½, whereas No. 45699, with a more mod­est start, was still ac­cel­er­at­ing at the top, at­tain­ing 38mph at this point. Nev­er­the­less, Leander was al­most half a minute ahead. David Blair is no slouch, but from here on Leander be­gan to fall be­hind Galatea and by Mil­nthorpe, No. 45699 had drawn level, mak­ing al­lowance for the timer’s rel­a­tive po­si­tions in the trains: tenth coach for Peter Gre­gory and sev­enth coach for me. While No. 45690 kept the sharp 19-minute booking to pass Ox­en­holme from the start, Galatea was al­ready a minute ahead. Driver Blair pressed No. 45690 a lit­tle harder at Hay Fell, ac­cel­er­at­ing on the 1-in-131 up-grade from 38 to 40mph, ex­ert­ing around 1,300edbhp, and fell only to 35mph on the en­su­ing 1-in-106 to Grayrigg, com­pared with No. 45699’s 37mph. Both breached the 70mph mark in the Lune Gorge, at­tack­ing the foot of the fi­nal climb to Shap with con­sid­er­able élan to the ac­com­pa­ni­ment of a stir­ring three-cylin­der roar. Leander was pro­duc­ing around 1,430edbhp at this point but a brief shower, com­bined with the ef­fect of the flange lu­bri­ca­tor at Scout Green, caused the lo­co­mo­tive to slip twice, quickly con­trolled by Driver Blair. Thus, speed fell to 23½mph at the sum­mit.


Galatea’s speed at the sum­mit was 26½mph, an ex­cel­lent ef­fort which put it 2¾ min­utes ahead of Leander. The de­scents from Shap sum­mit to­wards Carlisle were sim­i­larly paced and with a slightly faster fin­ish in from Up­perby, Galatea achieved a gain of 3¼ min­utes over­all on Leander’s time. While No. 45699 knocked 6½ min­utes off the sched­ule, No. 45690’s more mod­est per­for­mance meant the sched­ule was beaten by 3¼ min­utes, with an ar­rival only 1¾ min­utes late at the Bor­der City.


The Cum­brian Coast line has not fig­ured pre­vi­ously in these col­umns, with the pos­si­ble ex­cep­tion of Lin­dal Bank, the most test­ing sec­tion of the line in ei­ther di­rec­tion. Com­pared with 63 miles di­rect via the Shap route, the dis­tance from Carlisle to Carn­forth via the Coast is 114½ miles, al­most twice as far. That is only ten miles shorter than from New­cas­tle to Ed­in­burgh! The line has three sin­gle-track sec­tions to­talling 16 miles. There is a pass­ing loop at St Bees on the long­est of these; the 11 miles be­tween White­haven and Sel­lafield. The line car­ries an over­all speed limit of 60mph, with a num­ber of sec­tions at 50mph and many se­vere re­stric­tions on top of that, mainly for cur­va­ture. Given these con­straints, fit­ting a steam char­ter into the nor­mal Satur­day timetable and al­low­ing a wa­ter stop at Sel­lafield is a chal­leng­ing task. Net­work Rail de­serves credit for pro­duc­ing an em­i­nently work­able path, though it en­tails main­tain­ing a 14.06 de­par­ture from Carlisle, which gives only 85 min­utes to turn, ser­vice and wa­ter the steam lo­co­mo­tive af­ter the booked ar­rival of the out­ward leg at 12.41. This in turn means that co-op­er­a­tion of the sig­nallers to fa­cil­i­tate the nec­es­sary en­gine and sup­port coach move­ments is es­sen­tial if the al­lot­ted time is not to be ex­ceeded. Leander was back on the train promptly, but de­par­ture was still 1¾ mins late. The West Coast Rail­way crew on this leg of the jour­ney were Driver Steve Chip­per­field and Fire­man Rob Rus­sell. The first sec­tion is over the met­als of the orig­i­nal Maryport & Carlisle Rail­way. From Cur­rock Junc­tion, where the goods lines avoid­ing Carlisle sta­tion trail in on the right, the line rises at 1-in-309 for nearly three miles, by which time No. 45690 had at­tained 43½mph. The log of the run ap­pears in Ta­ble 2 and I have set along­side it the run of No. 46115 Scots Guards­man on the equiv­a­lent train a year pre­vi­ously. On that oc­ca­sion, the ‘Scot’ had an ad­di­tional ve­hi­cle, mak­ing a 12-coach train of 480 tons gross in the hands of Driver Mick Rawl­ing and Fire­man Chris Holmes. Af­ter a slightly quicker start, the ‘Scot’ was slower up the 1-in-309 than Leander by a small mar­gin, reach­ing 41mph. Once through Dal­ston, both lo­co­mo­tives at­tained 60mph on the gen­tle down­grade to­wards Wig­ton. We were now in Melvyn Bragg coun­try, with a fine view of the moun­tains of the Lake Dis­trict to our left, and Skid­daw prominent. The line rises at 1-in-241 from Wig­ton for a cou­ple of miles, con­tin­u­ing at 1-in-389 up to­wards Lea­gate. The min­ima recorded were 50½ for Leander and 51mph for the ‘Scot’. Speed is lim­ited to 20mph through the short As­pa­tria Tun­nel be­cause of its very tight clear­ance and 30mph through As­pa­tria it­self. In fact, the clear­ances on the Maryport to Carlisle sec­tion as a whole are very re­stricted, and in the early days of ‘Cum­brian Coast Ex­presses’ in the preser­va­tion era, steam was not per­mit­ted north of Maryport. Leander was the quicker to re­cover from the As­pa­tria slack and al­most touched 60mph on the 1-in-279/294 de­scent to­wards Bull­gill, where the speed re­stric­tion was closely ob­served. The de­scent con­tin­ues at 1-in-294 through Dearham Bridge which al­lowed speed to rise into the 50s on both trains. The Gal­loway Hills make a pleas­ant back­drop to the north across the Sol­way Firth at this point. By Maryport, where there is an­other per­ma­nent se­vere re­stric­tion, the times of the two trains were within ¾ minute of one an­other, not quite achiev­ing the 39-minute booking. From Maryport to White­haven, we passed onto Lon­don & North West­ern Rail­way ter­ri­tory on the sole rem­nant of a for­mer com­plex net­work of lines serv­ing the West Cum­brian coal­field and iron­stone de­posits.


Both lo­co­mo­tives re­cov­ered well from the Maryport slack and were soon into the 50s, the ‘Ju­bilee’ al­most reach­ing 60mph be­fore brak­ing for the slack at Der­went Junc­tion, ap­proach­ing Work­ing­ton. The next sec­tion is a slow one, with a se­vere re­stric­tion through Har­ring­ton and the cu­ri­ous short sin­gle line sec­tion be­tween Par­ton North and South Junc­tions, both of which have 15mph re­stric­tions. The line hugs the coast along this scenic stretch.


Leander passed Par­ton on time, hav­ing made up the 1¾ minute late­ness from Carlisle and ar­rived at the token stop at Bransty Box for the sin­gle line ahead hav­ing gained 2 mins on sched­ule. Scots Guards­man, with its ex­tra coach, did not do quite as well and reached the Bransty stop 4¾mins late. The one minute al­lowed at Bransty was not suf­fi­cient and the two trains left re­spec­tively 2¼ (Leander) and 6¾ (Scots Guards­man) min­utes be­hind sched­ule. Af­ter pass­ing through White­haven sta­tion, the line plunges im­me­di­ately into White­haven Tun­nel (1,283 yards) to emerge at Cor­kickle. White­haven Tun­nel was too nar­row and curved to ac­com­mo­date sleep­ing cars in the days when there was an overnight through train to Work­ing­ton from Eus­ton, so they were de­tached at Cor­kickle. From White­haven through to Carn­forth, the line was pure Fur­ness Rail­way. The short sec­tion to the pass­ing loop and token stop at St Bees was run in­side the 11-minute sched­ule by both trains with the lit­tle dip be­yond Mile­post 72 en­abling both lo­co­mo­tives to ex­ceed 50 mph. Leav­ing the small set­tle­ment of St Bees, the ma­jes­tic St Bees Head is prominent on the right hand side, while across the sea the Isle of Man is clearly vis­i­ble on a good day. The sin­gle line again hugs the coast and gra­di­ents are gen­tle which en­abled both lo­co­mo­tives to reach speeds in the mid50s. A very cau­tious ap­proach was made to the wa­ter­ing point just south of Sel­lafield sta­tion which caused both trains to lose a few sec­onds on sched­ule. Twenty min­utes were al­lowed for the wa­ter stop, but the ‘Scot’ ex­ceeded this and left 9½mins late, com­pared with Leander’s 1¼ minute late de­par­ture. A gen­tle start was made by both lo­co­mo­tives and the same


Blue skies and yel­low gorse greet Leander at St Bees, Cum­brian Coast, on March 24.


Per­fect con­di­tions at Nether­town as No. 45690 skirts the Ir­ish Sea on March 24.

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