I HAVE to start this month by thanking Pathfinder Tours, the Class 50 Alliance, Riviera Trains and GB Railfreight for a fantastic day on April 14 that saw many Rail Express readers join our ‘Cumbrian Hoovers’ tour from Birmingham to Carlisle.
Locos Nos. 50049+50007 ran faultlessly throughout, perfectly matched with Riviera’s blue/grey stock, and the only hiccup was a delay watering the stock that was outside any of the organisers’ control.
The outward journey via the Settle & Carlisle line provided its own brand of grey weather for much of the journey.
However, the highlight was the return via the Cumbrian Coast route, a line rarely visited by ‘50s’ and therefore a haulage-first for many onboard – myself included. Not only that, but the sun came out too, and once back on the West Coast Main Line we were treated to sections of near 100mph running.
There’s a full account of the day starting on page 20, plus a bonus feature showing that – contrary to popular opinion – Class 50s did work along the coastal route in BR days, and we now have the photographs to prove it.
All profits from the day will go The Railway Children charity. The final sum was still being calculated as this issue went to press and we will announce the total in due course, but it is shaping up to be a substantial sum all thanks to the generosity of those who took part.
Blackpool now and then
Speaking of classic traction, we have taken the opportunity of the newly-electrified line to Blackpool reopening (page 12) as an excuse for a look back to its diesel past in the latest of our ‘When Saturday Came’ series – when summer days would bring in extra loco-hauled workings from around the country. Sadly those days are long gone (pages 13-17), but at least electrification opens the door to a whole new chapter of possibilities.