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On Oc­to­ber 13, ex­actly four weeks af­ter No. 60009’s ex­ploit, it was the turn of the only sur­viv­ing ‘A3’, Fly­ing Scots­man, to grace Cu­bitt’s ter­mi­nus. It was at the head of a Steam Dreams spe­cial to York, com­mem­o­rat­ing the life and work of the lo­co­mo­tive’s saviour, Alan Pegler OBE, who pur­chased No. 60103 from BR in 1963.

A 12‑coach rake was pro­vided, made up prin­ci­pally of Mk 2 ve­hi­cles weigh­ing only 32 tons each, with the re­sult that the tare weight of 406 tons was only slightly heav­ier than No. 60009’s train four weeks ear­lier.

The ‘Farewell Alan Pegler’ was also fully booked and I es­ti­mate the gross weight af­ter the last pick‑up stop at Peter­bor­ough to be 445 tons. The lo­co­mo­tive was in the ca­pa­ble hands of West Coast Rail­ways’ Driver Ron Smith. The fire­man was Clive Goult as far as Gran­tham and Andy Simkins be­yond.

Un­usu­ally, since the train did not stop at Gran­tham, the changeover was shown in the crew’s di­a­gram to take place us­ing the cor­ri­dor ten­der, which may be the first time this has hap­pened since the ‘El­iz­a­bethan’ last ran steam‑hauled in Septem­ber 1961!

The rem­nants of Storm Cal­lum were still mak­ing an im­pact and No. 60103 was no doubt aided to some ex­tent by the strong southerly air­flow. The train ran via Hert­ford North, pick­ing up there. I have not tab­u­lated this sec­tion as there were a num­ber of clear­ance and bridge re­stric­tions in force.

Leav­ing Hert­ford North ¼ min late, there was a gen­er­ous al­lowance of 22 mins to pass Steve­nage (9.45 miles), but a se­vere sig­nal check at Lan­g­ley Junc­tion, where the main line via Pot­ters Bar is joined, caus­ing a minute’s loss on sched­ule.

In the right‑hand col­umn of Ta­ble 1,

I have set out the log from pass­ing Steve­nage at 37mph com­pared with

No. 60009’s run from a stand­ing start. The times of the two runs were just one se­cond apart be­tween Hitchin and Temps­ford. Unchecked, No. 60103 achieved an av­er­age speed of 74.1mph be­tween Hitchin and Ab­bot’s Rip­ton (31.60 miles), a per­for­mance which could scarcely be bet­tered un­der cur­rent con­di­tions. This in­cluded a spec­tac­u­lar as­cent of Stuke­ley bank, the three‑mile climb from Hunt­ing­don to Mile­post 62, dur­ing which speed dropped only from 75½ to 70½mph.

David Paw­son ad­vises that No. 60103 may have been ex­ert­ing around 2,000edbhp at this point, though the ef­fect of the southerly wind and its an­gle to the train rules out any pre­cise es­ti­mates. The Holme water stop was reached 9¼ mins early.

Af­ter a pick‑up stop at Peter­bor­ough, and leav­ing on time, No. 60103 was sched­uled on the Slow line like ‘Num­ber Nine’, but made more mod­est progress up Stoke bank.

A pathing stop at Stoke Junc­tion was sched­uled, await­ing pas­sage onto the main line. Un­for­tu­nately, rail con­di­tions were very poor, with damp, com­pacted leaves, and on the restart No. 60103 strug­gled to keep mov­ing at all. Driver Smith skil­fully coped with the in­ces­sant slips and we crawled along at be­tween 1 and 2mph, so much so that it took 26 mins to reach the mouth of Stoke Tun­nel!

The de­scent from the tun­nel al­lowed speed to pick up quickly and No. 60103

av­er­aged 75.5mph over the 17.50 miles be­tween Gran­tham and Bath­ley Lane Box, to ar­rive at the Carl­ton water stop 22¾ mins late. Wa­ter­ing was com­pleted within the 31 mins al­lowed, but it was nec­es­sary to wait a fur­ther 22 mins while a suc­ces­sion of trains over­took be­fore the sig­nal cleared for our de­par­ture.

An in­ter­est­ing as­pect of the sched­ule was that the train was routed from Ham­ble­ton South Junc­tion via Ham­ble­ton West Junc­tion, Gas­coigne Wood Junc­tion and the spur down to Sher­burn-in-El­met on the Sh­effield-York line, con­tin­u­ing via Church Fen­ton to re­join the main line at Colton Junc­tion.

With the train now run­ning 45 mins late, it was de­cided in­stead to head di­rectly to York in or­der to recoup some time. Any dis­ap­point­ment was mit­i­gated by the fact that this now en­abled a di­rect com­par­i­son with No. 60009’s run from Carl­ton to York on the 61-min sched­ule, as de­scribed ear­lier.

No. 60103 proved more than equal to the task, record­ing a net time of 57½ mins against No. 60009’s 59 mins. The fly­ing av­er­age from Ret­ford to Cop­man­thorpe was 73.6mph for the 46.15 miles, in­clud­ing a sig­nal check to 55mph at Ark­sey.

The high­light was the climb to Pipers Wood sum­mit, topped at 70mph – an­other ex­hil­a­rat­ing run over­all. With an ex­tra coach, the ‘A3’ had beaten the ‘A4’s’ time.


I am in­debted to the fol­low­ing cor­re­spon­dents who have com­mented or con­tacted me about re­cent trips – Bill Long, Sandy Smeaton, Alas­tair Wood, Dave Brad­bury and Rod Payne. I am al­ways pleased to re­ceive de­tails for con­sid­er­a­tion in fu­ture columns. They can be emailed to me at mthed­derly @ bt­in­ter­

Les niXon

Fly­ing Scots­man takes the di­rect route to­wards York near Ham­ble­ton North Junc­tion with the ‘Farewell Alan Pegler’ spe­cial on Oc­to­ber 13.

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