Friday, 23 December 2016

Festive Festering

"We've been away for far too long but now we're back..."

Don't think I'll be getting any haulage in over this Christmas & New Year period, but that hasn't always been the case...

The Derby - Crewe line became a Sprinter (Class 150/1) Stronghold from January 1986, but that didn't stop things from getting interesting from time to time, especially between October 1988 and right through the following year. These notes detail the Christmas / New Yesr period 1988.

THE (usual) DIAGRAM:
2K51 0642 Derby - Crewe
2P86 0809 Crewe - Derby
2K49 1008 Derby - Crewe
2P84 1138 Crewe - Derby
2K59 1258 Derby - Crewe
2P82 1439 Crewe - Derby
2K51 1604 Derby - Crewe (SX)
2K51 1613 Derby - Crewe (SO)
2P88 1739 Crewe - Derby

Early in the morning of Wednesday December 21st, and I heard to distinct sound of a 'Goyle' working with stock on the first leg of the usual diagram, so I made sure I saw the return, which revealed Skinhead namer 31444. With the light now slowly improving, I captured 31444 on film while working its second trip of the day, on the 2K49. Briefly I was tempted to take a trip to Derby with 31444 on the 2P84 1138 Crewe - Derby, but decided against it, as a lack of gen coupled with recent form suggested that a Sprinter would probably work back on the next leg. I did, however, keep a lookout for 2K59 and for the first time since the beginning of the month, a loco that was out during the morning on the route, was still out in the afternoon. Chris then called around just after the passage of 31444 going back to Derby (for the third time) on 2P82. Would 31444 now go on and complete the diagram we both wondered? Chris suggested a car move to Blythe Bridge as a way to find out, as from there, if 31444 was replaced by a Sprinter we could walk away but if 31444 came back to complete the diagram we could pay on the train without penalty. So a plan was formed. If 31444 was coming back it would surely be a few minutes down, but as we arrived at the station, at around the booked time, the crossing barriers were already down, while we expected a freight, but our train arrived as we screeched to a halt in the car park, but now with 47431 up front and formed by a different short rake of stock than earlier in the day. We could probably have made it onto the train, but we both decided against it on this occasion, and instead we left for home… A fresh set of stock for the afternoon (after two full round trips) was known to occur previously, but a fresh set just for the last 2 legs was yet another operating variation.

Thursday 22nd saw almost a repeat of the previous day, but with the more common 31416 working the first three round trips before 47431 once again came out to work the last round trip just as the day before.

Friday 23rd and 31444 was back out on 'the diagram' during the morning, but more remarkable was the unexpected sight of a second hauled rake turning out. The second rake was working the 0908 Derby - Crewe and was hauled by 31423, and with 31444 following just one hour behind it with the more usual 2K49 1008 Derby - Crewe turn. Was this the first time that consecutive Derby - Crewe trains had been hauled since steam days? I went out to record on film the rarely hauled 1038 Crewe - Derby service, which was getting later and later as I waited around in the freezing cold, for it. When it did finally appear, 31403 was hauling the now dead 31423. I later discovered that 31423 had failed at Kidsgrove. After only two round trips, 31444 had been replaced on 'the diagram'. During the afternoon, it was 47431 which again came out on both afternoon trips. And so had now worked on the lines passenger turns for the third day running.

Saturday 24th, Christmas Eve, but all was not quiet, not on table 80 anyway. 97480 was out first thing, on the usual diagram. Named 'Robin Hood' and previously numbered 47480, this departmental Brush, a large loco machine was more at home on test trains around this time, but it was not unusual to use a departmental loco on a passenger turn. Renumbered into this guise early September 1988, its only previous known passenger duties since then were a stint with Nuneaton drags in mid November. Chris called around just after the passage of 97480 going back to Derby for the third time that day on 2P82. Would 97480 now go on and complete the diagram we both wondered? Chris suggested another car move to Blythe Bridge as surely this time we would be lucky, but, no, once again we were bowled out as 47431 came out once again to finish off the diagram, four days on the trot!

For the few days after the Christmas break, Plastic Sprinter normality returned to table 80, but not for long. For on Friday 30th December, green liveried survivor 45106 was turned out, complete with matching Green tinsel embellishments to work the full four round trips. I was aware of the first leg, so was waiting the second clutching a day return. At an almost deserted cold and damp Derby I took photos in very poor light giving poor results. Enjoying the thrash, on the way back, the sun coming out to improve photographic prospects, spirits only dampened slightly when my compo was invaded by a couple of unaccompanied spoilt brats. I photographed the following legs while sunlight lasted and noted timekeeping wasn't bad all day, given the tight turnaround times and lack of a button to close the doors to be no more than ten late through Stoke was pretty good doing for the last surviving Peak I felt?

What were your moves and railway experiences around Christmas 1988?

© 'UD' & 'Clayhead' - Preserving the gen online since 1999...

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