‘A3’ ver­sus ‘A4’ on the ECML

Sir Nigel Gres­ley would be thrilled – ‘Num­ber Nine’ and ‘Scots­man’ – run­ning a month apart, and on the ECML. MIKE HEDDERLY com­pares their per­for­mances.

Steam Railway (UK) - - CONTENTS -

When Fly­ing Scots­man made its non-stop run from King’s Cross to Ed­in­burgh on May 1 1968, to cel­e­brate the 40th an­niver­sary of the in­au­gu­ral non-stop ser­vice, who would have thought that an­other 50 years later it would be pos­si­ble to ex­pe­ri­ence two King’s Cross de­par­tures just four weeks apart, and with two dif­fer­ent Gres­ley ‘Pacifics’? How very for­tu­nate we are in this day and age!

THE ‘TALISMAN’

The first of these de­par­tures was the A1 Lo­co­mo­tive Trust’s ‘Talisman’ from King’s Cross to New­cas­tle on Septem­ber 15. ‘A4’ No. 60009 re­placed Tor­nado, which was still un­avail­able fol­low­ing its fail­ure near Sandy on the in­au­gu­ral 90mph run in April (SR486). If John Cameron’s stated in­ten­tion to with­draw his lo­co­mo­tive next year is ful­filled, this was one of the last chances to en­joy ‘Num­ber Nine’ on the south­ern end of the GN main line. The load was 11 coaches of mainly Com­mon­wealth bo­gie stock, mak­ing ex­actly 400 tons tare and a gross load ris­ing to 435 tons on de­par­ture from Peter­bor­ough, the train be­ing fully booked. The DB Cargo train crew as far as Peter­bor­ough com­prised Driver Paul Ma­jor, Fire­man Wayne Thomp­son and Trac­tion In­spec­tor Bob Hart.

With a pick-up stop at Pot­ters Bar and Slow line run­ning be­yond, there was noth­ing of per­for­mance in­ter­est un­til Steve­nage, whence de­par­ture was 4¾ mins late. Once into her stride, No. 60009 per­formed beau­ti­fully. The log of this sec­tion of the run ap­pears in Ta­ble 1 (top half, left-hand col­umn). ‘Even time’ was achieved by Sandy, passed in 16 mins 12 secs for the 16.55 miles. The fly­ing av­er­age over the 15.60 miles from Hitchin to Temps­ford was 75.5mph. Ap­proach­ing St Neots there was a sig­nal check to 32mph which spoiled the rest of the run to the Holme water stop. Af­ter pass­ing Hunt­ing­don at 58½mph, speed fell to 55½ up the 1-in-200 to Stuke­ley sum­mit, but Holme was reached only 1¼ mins late. Only 10 mins were al­lowed for the 7.45 miles to the fi­nal pick-up stop at Peter­bor­ough, a tall or­der with a slow exit from the water stop onto the main line and, de­spite reach­ing 55mph at Flet­ton Junc­tion, 1½ mins were dropped.

There was a crew change at Peter­bor­ough, in which Steve Hanczar took over the fir­ing, while Paul Ma­jor re­mained at the reg­u­la­tor and Jim Smith re­lieved Bob Hart as trac­tion in­spec­tor. De­par­ture was 1½ mins late, tak­ing the Down Stam­ford Line (which serves as the Down Slow as far as Help­ston), where a 25mph re­stric­tion ap­plies over the turnout onto the Down Slow proper. By Talling­ton, speed had re­cov­ered to 60mph and to 63 be­yond Essendine. Af­ter a min­i­mum of 56mph up the 1-in-200 to Mile­post 95, the short level stretch lead­ing

to Corby Glen en­abled a re­cov­ery to 60½, be­fore the en­su­ing 1-in-178 brought speed down to 58½mph at Mile­post 98½. Here, steam was shut off for sig­nals ap­proach­ing Stoke Junc­tion. Speed was now re­duced to walk­ing pace to al­low an ex­press to over­take. This called at Gran­tham and checked the ‘Talisman’ once again on the de­scent from Stoke.

De­spite this, No. 60009 passed Gran­tham half a minute early at 57mph and ac­cel­er­ated into the 70s on the favourable gra­di­ents be­yond, av­er­ag­ing 72.5mph from Clay­pole through Ne­wark North­gate to Bath­ley Lane Box (7.60 miles), be­fore Driver Ma­jor be­gan to ap­ply the brakes for the next pathing stop at Carl­ton Loop. With ap­proach con­trol in oper­a­tion, the last 3.30 miles took 6 mins 17 secs. There was a fur­ther crew per­mu­ta­tion at Carl­ton, with Paul Ma­jor swap­ping roles with Steve Hanczar, who now took over the driv­ing as far as New­cas­tle, while Paul Ma­jor fired as far as York, where he was re­lieved by Tony Jones. Jim Smith con­tin­ued as trac­tion in­spec­tor right through to New­cas­tle.

The most en­ter­pris­ing sched­ule of the day was be­tween Carl­ton Loop and York, an un­usual ‘even time’ book­ing for steam over the 62.25 miles, and al­lo­cated 61 mins. The 14-min sched­ule to pass Ret­ford (12.35 miles) proved quite un­re­al­is­tic in view of the nec­es­sar­ily slow exit from Carl­ton Loop, fol­lowed by ris­ing gra­di­ents to Tux­ford, and was ex­ceeded by 2¾ mins. How­ever, as the lower half of Ta­ble 1 shows (left hand col­umn), res­o­lute run­ning meant

that the 36.35 miles be­tween Ret­ford and Ham­ble­ton North Junc­tion was cov­ered in 29 mins 49 secs at a fly­ing av­er­age of 73.1mph, in­clud­ing a min­i­mum of 61mph at Pipers Wood sum­mit af­ter al­most 3 miles at 1‑in‑198. This sprightly per­for­mance re­alised a gain of 6¾ mins on the sec­tional tim­ings.

We had left Carl­ton 3¾ mins late but had eased ahead of sched­ule by Ham­ble­ton North. We were in line for an ac­tual time of 59 mins to York when sig­nal checks were en­coun­tered at the north end of Ryther Viaduct.

The over­all time to York was a minute over the 61‑min book­ing, but still just within ‘even time’ from the Carl­ton start. A slow water sup­ply at York de­layed de­par­ture by 10 mins. The re­main­der of the run to New­cas­tle was un­ex­cep­tional, with Slow line run­ning north of York and an easy sched­ule, which re­sulted in an ar­rival at New­cas­tle 1¼ mins ahead of time.

EIKI SEKINE

De­spite the ‘Bon Ac­cord’ head­board, ‘A4’ No. 60009 Union of South Africa is ac­tu­ally pre­par­ing to take the ‘Talisman’ away from King’s Cross on Septem­ber 15.

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