Eurotunnel 9th November 2015
Having almost not made it back into the UK on our last attempt to do some Eurotunnel locos, this trip couldn’t have gone anymore straight froward. We turned up a little later than we had done on our previous trip and breezed through the ticket gates; having got straight onto the 0649 departure from Cheriton to Coquelles. There were hardly any folk about at all and the queue for the 0649 as we waited to board was virtually non-existent. You know a shuttle isn’t well loaded when there are on three more cars behind you on the lower deck, with almost half the train behind them empty!
There were three sets in the platforms when we got downstairs, the set we boarded had 9026 at the Cheriton end with the other sets having 9005 & 9022 at their Cheriton ends respectively. 9022, and what turned out to be 9840, departed Cheriton at 0640 and could only have been heading out empties as the 0619 to Coquelles had already departed and the set was in the platforms at Coquelles when we arrived; we could only assume it was the spare set and were proven correct later in the morning.
There was no queue at all when we drove out of the Coquelles terminal and thankfully there wasn’t a queue of lorries on the motorway; which allowed us to turn round at the first junction and head straight back to get ourselves onto our next train back. We’d figured out, based on info we’d been given by the train crew on our previous trip, that each set would ultimately depart the opposite end an hour after it had left it’s origin. This was based on an approx 35 minute journey from end to end and a 26 minute terminal time allowed at either end. With that we deduced that we needed to be on the 0919 Coquelles – Cheriton to avoid having the same set back that we’d just come out on; which by our calculations would do the 0849 back to Cheriton. We had no problems getting tickets for the 0919 to Cheriton and sure enough were presented with 9806/9825 for our return journey and as we departed we left 9022/9840 in the platform.
Bizarrely the driver from terminal exit to terminal entry at Cheriton is about twice as far than that in Coquelles. Still we were back at the ticket gates in less than 10 minutes and had no problems getting ourselves onto the 0949 Cheriton – Coquelles. The big issues, or so we thought, might arise as we attempted to depart the UK for France only 3 hours after we’d done it once on this particular day. We were both surprised and also quite relieved that there weren’t a thousand questions asked, although it did seem clear that the UK customs knew we’d been out of the country once and seemed to make it clear in their body language to make sure we knew……
With 9037 being the visible one at the bottom of the ramp as we boarded the 0949 ex Cheriton, we soon confirmed with the on board staff that 9820 was at the opposite end of the train. With there clearly only being 4 sets required on a routine day we headed back to France fully expecting 9005/9801 to be our set home, assuming we could of course get onto the 1220 Coquelles – Cheriton when we arrived; that hope was dashed as we rolled round the loop into Coquelles only to find 9005 and 9801, plus their set, parked up on the shed! And guess what; 9022/9840 had disappeared from the platforms. What that technically meant for us was that we’d be having a dud pair home instead of a new pair; and a pair we’d had on our last trip, which surely couldn’t still be together since August?
Despite the woman in the ticket booth at Coquelles saying no when I asked for the 1220 departure back to Cheriton we were given boarding cards for the 1220 anyway; maybe my Yorkshire accent wasn’t understood so well in those parts eh? Sure enough our day ended with 9022 sat waiting at the bottom of the ramp and the on-board crew confirmed that 9840 was indeed at the opposite end of the set; the English train manager also confirmed that 9005/9801 + set had been taken out of service as a precaution due to smoke being seen coming from the bogies of the set. Can’t blame Eurotunnel for being cautious there I guess?
We found out during the day that there are indeed only 4 sets out on a routine day, with a spare. Each set has a 26 minute turnaround time at either end and basically departs each end an hour after its previous journey departed the originating end. While there are obviously more sets out at busier times of the year there is of course no guarantee that you’ll get onto the trains you need to be on with heavier traffic; which we of course have first hand experience of.
Despite the day not yielding as many new engines as we’d all liked it was an enjoyable morning and all over in Cheriton by midday!
Sets out on Monday 9th November 2015:
9026/9036 – 0649 Cheriton – Coquelles, 0849 Coquelles – Cheriton
9005/9801 – didn’t see them actually work a train but must have worked at least one way to Coquelles and then swapped for 9022/9840 (assumed 0819 Cheriton – Coquelles)
9825/9806 – 0919 Coquelles – Cheriton, 0919 Cheriton – Coquelles
9037/9820 – 0949 Cheriton – Coquelles, 1149 Coquelles – Cheriton
9022/9840 – 1019 Coquelles – Cheriton, 1019 Cheriton – Coquelles, 1220 Coquelles – Cheriton
Photos from 9th November 2015