In an extract from his new book, Chasing Trains, Martin Buck recalls the lengths he went to tracking down his last ‘Whistlers’ for sight and haulage.
A QUESTION I am often asked is: “Why Class 40s?” Well, some people like to drive fast cars, experience the acceleration, how fast will it go, and the ‘revs’ building in the process.
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For me, it is much the same – except I prefer the experience on a train, where the train driver is in control. The distinctive ‘whistling’ sound of a Class 40, the shrill of its engine rising to a crescendo, has no equal in my mind.
After seeing all 4057 locos listed in my Ian Allan loco shed book by mid-June 1976, I needed a new challenge – opting first to go out photographing trains, followed by some memorable years chasing ‘40s’.
This was not easy, however, as I lived in Swindon – far from their normal stomping grounds. So I used my annual leave and weekends to go after these wonderful machines, spending every summer in North Wales when many holiday trains attracted no-heat examples of the class. In time, getting ‘new’ Class 40s became harder, so I set out to accrue 1,000 miles behind as many ‘40s’ as possible, reaching a total of 13 in the end.
By late 1975, I had managed to see all but one of the 200-strong fleet of Class 40s, and that was No. 40182 allocated to Springs Branch, Wigan.
Rather than leave it to chance, I decided to go out and track it down. Being a Wigan machine, it was not unreasonable to expect it might be found locally working freight.
I thought Warrington would be a good starting point, so I booked two days off work and set off by train on Monday, December 9.
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