Saturday, 26 April 2014

North Yorkshire Moors Spring Steam Gala 25 April 2014

We decided on a trip to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway as it’s the first weekend of their spring steam gala. Unfortunately the weather wasn't any better up on the North Yorkshire Moors, not that I was really expecting it to be, in fact it was worse and we ended up by abandoning the outing before we ended up even more soaked than we were.

When the heritage railway are holding a gala they usually arrange for a “visiting star attraction” a locomotive not normally seen on the railway. This gala is no exception especially as the star attraction in question is the fastest steam locomotive of the heritage era. 4464 Bittern made three 90mph trips along the East Coast Main Line last year to commemorate its sister locomotive Mallard’s world record speed of 126mph set in 1938. Bittern is normally restricted to 75mph operating main line charter trains but was granted special permission to exceed this limit on the national rail network on these three occasions. 4464 Bittern now carries a plaque to mark this event.

4464 Bittern with a fully loaded tender of coal and water weighs in at around 165 tons. You would think it wouldn't be easy to hide something that big but it can also create an enormous amount of steam allowing the locomotive to leave Grosmont station bound for Pickering engulfed in steam and almost hidden from view. 

Just as well that we'd managed to capture a few shots of Bittern before it took its place at the front of the train.

By the middle of the afternoon the morning drizzle had turned into heavy rain and we decided to head home before the thoroughly wet weather did some damage to our camera and soaked us to the skin. An hour and a half’s journey in soggy clothes wasn't something we fancied.  

Sunday, 13 April 2014

The White Rose

On Saturday 12 April 2014 we decided on a trip out to the East Coast Main Line to see 60163 Tornado in action with the The White Rose tour from London Kings Cross to York and return.
I still haven't found a good spot on the ECML for photography. The railway heads north through mainly flat agricultural land. The weather wasn't particularly good either as it was cloudy and windy.

We decided on a spot we've used before near Temple Hirst Junction between Doncaster and York. It's about the nearest location for us to the ECML. For anyone who doesn't know there are ways to follow the progress of most trains operating in real time so there isn't a need  to arrive at a location long before a train arrives. The on line schedule for 60163 on Saturday looked like this, well the portion of the route we were interested in did.
The first time after the location name is the planned time of arrival with the actual time given next to it. At Temple Hirst Junction Tornado was due to arrive at 12:53 but actually arrived at 12:54 a minute late. The Real Time Trains web site can be found here.

This web site has saved us a few trips to photograph trains which have run very early or alerted us to trains running very late.

With this little App we didn't have long to wait for Tornado to arrive. The windy weather resulted in any exhaust smoke blowing away from the locomotive and over adjacent fields but at least we'd chosen the side where the train didn't disappear in the smoke.

I'd still like to get some better pictures of 60163 Tornado but I think the best opportunity will be when the locomotive is making an appearance on a Heritage Railway line rather than operating a main line tour. That might be when Tornado is scheduled to appear at the Nene Valley Railway in September.

More details regarding 60163 Tornado can be found on the A1 Steam Locomotive web site.