Weardale Railway 11th February 2017
Outings for anything at the Weardale Railway, other than on their festive Polar Express trains, are quite rare; yet in February 2017 the Weardale Railway advertised two running days, one involved T&T 47’s but the other involved the first workings of Harry Needle Railroad Co. (HNRC) 31465 since it had been bought it from Network Rail the previous year.
31465 had been sent to the Weardale Railway in December as a standby loco for the Polar Express trains as the only loco there with ETH was 47712. Many had suggested it get used on a running day there, while the opportunity presented itself, and the railway kindly indulged everyone.
On the weekend of the races the weather took a turn for the worse and people had to drive through snow to get there; but it didn’t stop people driving over 4 hours to get there in some cases. While I only went on the Saturday there were good turnouts on both days and the station cafe at Stanhope kept everyone fed, while the local pubs kept everyone watered! 31465 was operated on a load 6 set of air-con MkII’s, which all had operable air-con, door locks and more importantly train heat! 5 round trips from Stanhope to Scotch Isle were operated, starting at 0930 and finishing just after 1700 back at Stanhope. 31465 was faultless throughout the day on Saturday and managed to provide heat effortlessly; despite its train heat not being used in anger since it went to Bournemouth with 31466 in 1998. It sounded the part too, it was very crisp sounding and was driven well throughout the day. It was a shame that after a good day out it could well be some time before 31465 worked passenger trains in the future; but with rumours afoot that it would be getting a bogie change in the near future things could only look up for it.
All-in-all a good day out, despite the 2h30m drive to get there. It’s a shame that trains can’t be operated through to Bishop Auckland at the moment and I’m glad I managed to make it to Stanhope in April 2012 when 31601 was pressed into service while the railway was operating through to Bishop Auckland.
Photos from Saturday 11th February 2017: