With the Santa trains out of the way Boxing Day through to New Years Day saw regular timetabled services as well as the Christmas Cracker Gala, being run for the final time before it reverts to normal running days in 2019. Due to its boiler capabilities English Electric Type 3, D6948, was in use for the GREEN timetabled days on Boxing Day and New Years Day. It was also rostered to work both days of the Christmas Cracker, again utilising its heating capability. It would also get an extra day on the 27th December after the DMU was declared a failure; seeing a BLUE day become a PINK day.
I was rostered on the Green Machine for Boxing Day. The GREEN timetable was amended to see D6948 run light to Winchcombe to collect the 3rd rake and to take it back at the end of the day. It created a long day but also gave the opportunity to do something that we don't do a lot of.......run in the dark! The railway takes on a very different air when darkness falls, especially if its foggy, and the only things you can see are the lights burning brightly on the signal posts! It presents a new set of challenges, but I find it quite enjoyable! I was joined by Simon T with Kev J and Mark S in the boiler room. With the loco prepped it was time to head off to collect the 3rd rake. Kev and Mark made a start on prepping the boiler as we were en route, however, the boiler wasn't to be so willing and it was well into the first run from Cheltenham before a fault was found and rectified - a loose electrical contactor! This wasn't to be the only problem encountered over New Year, although for the remainder of Boxing Day, the boiler worked very well! Sadly, the issues didn't stop there as on our second run the loco cut out on three occasions. In the front cab Simon and I were mystified as to the cause however, Kev (in particular) and Mark, who were in the rear cab, were well aware of what had happened. An electrical short had occurred due to some errant wiring around the hot plate and caused arc-ing around the hot plate surround. Mark isolated the offending circuitry as we travelled onto Broadway and, on arrival back on shed, with the loco out again the next day, he stayed behind to make the wiring safe in the cab and to fix the loose contactor on the boiler.
|As your blogger (in Hi Viz) heads to uncouple the loco the light is already fading and the headcode glows brightly. (Courtesy of K. Jarvis)|
As mentioned earlier, D6948 was given an extra day's running because of a failure with the DMU. After completing its turns on the Santa Specials it was found that one of the DMBS vehicles (W51363, possibly) had suffered a grumbling roller bearing and would require a possible axle (or bogie) swap. With DMS W51405 still awaiting the finishing touches to its overhaul it leaves the DMU set without a second Driving vehicle. Luckily the required repairs should be completed before the new running season begins - however, there is now a long queue of motive power needing use of the lifting jacks in the David Page shed!
The Christmas Cracker Mixed Traffic Gala saw D6948 joined by sister 37215, Class 45, 45149, and Class 20, D8137 along with 'P&O' and 'Foremarke Hall' from the Steam department. All locos performed well, as you would come to expect. Due to car troubles I couldn't attend however, one of the members of our Youth Group was able to provide some great photos. Thanks Tom!
|D6948 at Cheltenham as 37215 runs round to the front. (Courtesy of T.Clarke)|
|37215 after running around at Cheltenham about to lead the 2B10 to Broadway. (Courtesy of T. Clarke)|
|Mark S gets 37215 to clear her throat as it hauls 2B10 1205 to Broadway. (Courtesy T. Clarke)|
|'Peak' 45149 awaits the RA at Toddington with 2C17 1300 to Cheltenham. 'Foremarke Hall' is on the rear. (Courtesy of T.Clarke)|
|With the orange glow from the station lamps cutting into the approaching darkness 45149 and 'Foremarke Hall' prepare to leave Cheltenham with 2T30 1700 to Toddington. (Courtesy T. Clarke)|
With the running season over, the first week of 2019 has still seen a couple of diesel movements centred around Winchcombe with a lot of moving around of vehicles - not only within C&W but also in the P'Way yard. The big P'Way project for the close season sees the renewing of sleepers, ballast and track at Toddington, from the signal box to the new turnout at the end of the MPD. This is some of the oldest track on the railway with sleepers that date back to the relaying of the line in the 1980s! You can keep up to date with the wonderful work of our P'Way team courtesy of Jo Roesen's excellent blog here. In order to make access to provisions easier the P'Way team requested the movement of their train from Winchcombe to Siding 1 at Toddington. Therefore on the 3rd Jan the Class 73, E6036 was fired up and taken to Winchcombe to pick up the mess coach and the associated wagons.
|Electro-diesel E6036 heads the P'Way Mess Coach and tools wagons on their temporary move to Toddington. (Courtesy of M. Peers)|
So, Winter maintenance is now the name of the game. The major overhaul continues with Class 47, 1693, the bogie overhaul on Class 24, 5081, is reaching its final stages before reassembly and replacing under the loco and, our Bubble Car (W55003) overhaul continues with undercoating continuing on the the outside and the cabs being refurbished on the inside.
|W55003 in the David Page shed during undercoat application. (Courtesy of GWSR DMU Group)|
Speaking of the new season - it is just 63 days away! The new timetable is available to view here with the special events list here. On the diesel front there are a number of changes from our 2018 timetable. Although the mainline locos don't see any further allocated running days, there are more days where mainline locos will see use for a whole day rather than just on one trip. There is also more running during the week and we will also see greater running over weekends - particularly during the high season in the summer. The timetables that see diesel running are:
BLUE - DMU only
PURPLE - Diesel hauls 1510 from Broadway to CRC and 1625 CRC to Toddington
GREEN - Full day diesel turn starting with 1100 Toddington to CRC
RED - DMU only.
Work is also continuing behind the scenes with improvements to the yard at Toddington that includes a new overhead gantry crane, a diesel fuel tank and fuelling point entering the next phases of the implementation process. Planning for both the Gala in July and Diesel weekend in October is well under way with discussions for guest locos well advanced. Our October date has been pushed back from its usual first weekend of the month to cover the 12th/13th October. This is to prevent a clash with our neighbours at the SVR and to look at the possibilty of securing a guest loco from the SVR event.
Finally, a sad note. Just before New Year the Railway lost another of our elder statemen, Bernard Dudfield. Bernard was one of the 'originals' having been there at the beginning of the fledgling GWR in the early 1980s and taking on roles across the railway including being Director of both the GWSR and GWRT. Even after finishing his tenure in the Boardroom, Bernard continued to work in a variety of the departments including P'Way, Lineside and S&T; working right up until his death. A no-nonsense but affable character who would always greet footplate crew with a cheery wave when out and about on the lineside. Our collective condolences to Bernard's family.
|Bernard at Broadway in March 2018. Rest in Peace. (Courtesy of M. Elvey/GWR Broadway Blog)|