A trip to Scotland aboard the Sleepers; among other stuff….. 21st to 23rd June 2015
Sunday 21st June 2015
I was lucky enough to get a ride out on the Caledonian Sleepers in late June through work and had some time in Scotland to a few bits and bobs while I was there. Sunday 21st June got off to a cracking start with 92014 & 87002 allocated to 1S25 2028 Euston – Inverness; which 92014 worked to Wembley Yard and 87002 then worked forward to Edinburgh via Primrose Hill, Camden Road and the East Coast Main Line. 1S26 2145 Euston – Glasgow Central was allocated 92032 & 92033 and we passed 92032 leading 5S96 into Euston from Wembley, as we departed on 1S25; 92033 would work to Wembley and then 92032 would work forward to Glasgow via the ECML and Carstairs.
Having not actually done a sleeper train in the UK for a good 10 years I didn’t quite know what to expect but essentially nothing much has changed as regards the trains, formations, operation, etc, etc, however Caledonian have added their branding where it’s required and made a few things a lot better since my last trip. The main changes are the staff uniforms and more important for me the bedding in the berths; this is now basically the same as you’d expect in a hotel with proper quilts and excellent pillows. The essentials are still provided with those in seating given eye masks for the journey and those in cabins a small package containing toiletries, eye mask and ear plugs.
The journey north went as smoothly as could be expected and 1S25 was right time into Edinburgh; where the fun begins! Unfortunately due to the locos for the “portions” having to run via the Edinburgh Sub to Millerhill for fuelling the first two were late back as a result. The downside of this being that 1S25, heading to Inverness, was 16 minutes late departing Edinburgh after 67004 was attached to the Inverness portion. This meant that 1S25 missed its slot over the single line section from Ladybank to Perth and was held there to await the next path some 80 minutes later! If 1S25 is more than 10 minutes late at Ladybank Network Rail hold it for a barage of empty stocks that head from Perth to the Edinburgh suburbs for service start-up; of course you could ask whatever happened to a class 1 train getting the priority over class 5 trains…… 1S25 was ultimately 66 minutes late into Inverness and this was the 3rd time in 6 attempts that it had missed its slot at Ladybank!
Once the Inverness portion had gone 67010 then dropped onto the Aberdeen portion and worked 1A25 0440 Edinburgh – Aberdeen forward to its destination. Meanwhile, last but not least, 67009 turned up from Millerhill and shunted the lounge car & brake van out of the motorail sidings, at the Berwick end of the station, and onto the rear of the Fort William bound sleeper coaches. Once 1A25 had departed 67009 was then run round and attached to the front of the train to work 1Y11 0450 Edinburgh – Fort William.
Once removed from 1S25, 87002 was stabled in the motorail siding, once the Fort William stock had been removed from it. Adjacent to it was 67020 and a coach, the coach had been shunted out of the inbound Fort William set and a fresh one shunted into it, and 67020 was the loco for 5B26 0818 Edinburgh – Polmadie T&RSMD. The coach was bound for maintenance at Polmadie and the stock for 5B26 was the Edinburgh portion of 1S26 2145 Euston – Glasgow Central; which was detached at Edinburgh instead of Carstairs when 1S26 ran via the East Coast with 1S26 stopping additionally at Carstairs on its way to Glasgow.
92032 arrived promptly with 1S26 and was stopped part way down the platform to detach the Edinburgh portion in a position that would then allow the additional coach to be shunted onto the Berwick end by 67020; which would then work 5B26 via the Edinburgh Sub to Polmadie. 92032 then drew its stock down the platform and awaited a right time departure. I was lucky enough to ride in the cab of 92032 from Edinburgh to Carstairs and got a first hand view of what the 92’s are all about; needless to say there were no issues at all during our ride but it was good to see just how the 92’s handle and their strengths/weaknesses; if driven correctly though 92’s can be the Rolls Royce of electric locos…….
Upon arrival at Glasgow Central it was time to do some work………..
Monday 22nd June 2015
After our day at work a short visit to Polmadie T&RSMD was slotted into our itinerary, where we were very expertly inducted and then shown round the facility; which was basically deserted apart from Sleeper stock and locos as nothing had come on for servicing by that point. Everything was already set up to go and inside the main shed 67020 was already running as it waited to head to Edinburgh with 5C11 2043 Polmadie – Edinburgh; this set would then form 1C11 to Carstairs and marry up with 1M11 Glasgow Central – Euston there; the set for which was also sat in the shed with 92044 on the Glasgow end to work 5M11 2107 Polmadie – Glasgow Central and 92032 on the south end to work 1M11 from Glasgow. Under normal circumstance 5M11 would run into Glasgow via the Hamilton circle on a Monday after East Coast diversions, to correct the set orientation after the Wembley reversal, but as 5B26 0818 Edinburgh – Polmadie had run via the Edinburgh Sub to accommodate the additional coach transfer that morning the turning move wasn’t required so 5M11 would run direct to Glasgow instead.
47812 & 47847, along with the depot’s own Class 08’s, were literally the only other things on the depot that evening; the 47’s not having seen much work since 92044 arrived on the scene to act as Polmadie’s empties engine. The easiest way back into Glasgow for us was to ride in with 5M11 and again we were lucky enough to be allowed in the cab for the short journey into the Central. A good day was had by all and the following day would offer more insight into the Sleeper operations; albeit some of it not planned!
Tuesday 23rd June 2015
A trip to Scotrail Control beckoned and unfortunately while it was an eagerly awaited on it couldn’t have been at a worse time for them as overnight 1M16 Inverness – Euston has never left Inverness and unfortunately 1Y11 0450 Edinburgh – Fort William had failed in section on the West Highland Line near Ardlui; 67009 suffering from high water temperature and West Coast Railway’s 37516 was being dispatched from Fort William to rescue it. Scotrail’s WHL service took a bit of a bettering as a result of the failure and as Scotrail’s crew still work the sleepers in Scotland their issues didn’t just stop while trying to recover their train service. Still it was a cracking insight into what goes on and how things are dealt with and we were out on the platform at Springburn just in time to witness Deltic 55022 heading back through with 5D15 1031 Glasgow Works – Shields TMD EMU transfer move with translators. At that point I didn’t realise that there was a real possibility that the Deltic would be picked up the moment it had got back to Glasgow Works and run light to Fort William to work 1B01 1950 Fort William – Edinburgh; this would have been to allow 1B01 to run with ETH capabilities after 67009 had failed, allowing 37516 to be stood down on arrival at Fort William. There was no panic though as DB Schenker were providing 67007 at Millerhill to run light to Fort William for 1B01……..
The afternoon plan was simple, nip over to Edinburgh and do the DRS 68’s on the Fife Circle commuter’s. With 68002 & 68006 having worked that morning, and being allocated to the evening train as well, I was surprised to find 2L69 1719 Edinburgh – Cardenden with 68007 at its helm; which arrived a few minutes after 68002 had departed with 2G13 1708 Edinburgh – Glenrothes with Thornton. I hadn’t ever planned to venture too far and took the opportunity to get some much wanted photos of the Forth Bridge so did 68007 to North Queensferry, walked down to get some photos, did170395 back to Dalmeny and did the same there, before boarding 68002 on its way back to Edinburgh with 2K14 1814 Glenrothes with Thornton – Edinburgh. Job done!
While I’d been sat in the park at Edinburgh eating a late lunch it had been revealed that 67007 was in fact not going to Fort William and that 37516 was going to work 1B01 1950 Fort William – Edinburgh with 67009 on the rear providing power through it’s ETH. A rethink of my plans had me getting off 2K14 at Haymarket and doing 156485/156477 to Glasgow Central via Shotts for a selection of EMU moves to Helensburgh Central; ultimately I could have gone into Edinburgh and done the 1951 Edinburgh – Helensburgh Central EMU throughout but I wasn’t fancying that much at all and the 156’s were a far better move. I ended up on the 1951 ex Edinburgh from Hyndland anyway and had plenty of time to kill at Helensburgh Upper, mostly being attacked by midges, before 37516 arrived 3 minutes early with 1B01; having departed Fort William 12 minutes late!
The run to Edinburgh was a good one and as 1B01 was the only train that ran via the new Airdrie – Bathgate line into Edinburgh it was the first time I’d done the line ever beyond Drumgelloch. At Edinburgh the fun began though. 1M16 2044 Inverness – Euston was held outside near Haymarket for all the shunting to be completed and 1B01 overtook it heading in. Firstly 67009 had to be shunted off the rear of 1B01 and into the Klondyke Siding to then allow 37516 to shunt the Fort William sleeper coaches onto the rear of what would become 1M16, which was currently formed of 90039 which had been attached at the Haymarket end of the Aberdeen portion upon arrival, 1B16 2115 Aberdeen – Edinburgh. The 67 that had worked 1B16 had already run light to Millerhill.
Once the sleeper coaches were attached the lounge and brake were shunted off and into the motorail siding by 37516 and then 67010 brought 1M16 round the formation that was in platform 11 and then shunted the whole of its train onto the rear so 1M16 was then formed of 90039 at the Haymarket end with the Aberdeen, Fort William & Inverness portions in that order. Having witnessed the shunting I boarded the Inverness portion and was in my berth before 1M16 departed Edinburgh, 30 minutes late. The next thing I knew was being woken by the coach attendant at 0715 as we approached London Euston, having clawed back all our time. My phone seemed to have been in overdrive while I’d been asleep as well; 37516 had seemingly worked back to Fort William on 1Y11 0450 Edinburgh – Fort William on its own and 1S25 2116 Euston – Inverness had been held at Ladybank again after missing its path on the single line due to the locos being late back from fuel after the shunting at Edinburgh the previous night involving 67009, 37516 and the late inbound 1M16! Not so happy days for plenty that morning unfortunately; my journey to Euston had been a cracking one though, despite the fact 90039 had headed the train, and I’d slept almost solidly from Edinburgh to Euston!
A really enjoyable few days out had been had and thanks have to go to those who made it happen; it seemingly is still possible to have a decent few days out cranking in the UK, although I’m not sold on the 68’s like a lot are. Once up to speed there’s nothing to hear at all and even when idling or at low speed there doesn’t seem to be a great deal to hear anyway. They do however remind me of an Amtrak Genesis P42 when idling; a very similar noise, unfortunately its not a similar noise emitted once under power. Of course I will go and do some more; and lets not forget that had I got off at Carlisle on my way south 37218 was the no heat 37 on the Cumbrian Coast turn so there was no end of loco-hauled options on the cards at the moment, some would say spoiled for choice…….
The Cranking Photos:
The Forth Bridge Photos: