Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Great Train Chase

This was a big day for steam enthusiasts. The two West Coast Railways locomotives which will pull the Jacobite on its regular Fort William - Mallaig run over the summer months were coming up from England. So I was ready with my camera this morning in the expectation of capturing London Midland and Scottish Railway Stanier Class 5 4-6-0 No. 5231 (British Railways 45231), The Sherwood Forester, and 62005, a Class K1 2-6-0 built for British Railways in 1949, and called Lord of the Isles. 45231 knows the way north well, and indeed has already featured on the Skip Cottage blog last month, see here.

I had picked out a couple of places near home to see if I could get some interesting pics. The first of these (above) was a couple of miles north of Lockerbie. That's a First TransPennine Express from Manchester Airport. I waited... and waited. No steam train. Now, a good photographer has to have experience and patience. I have neither.

Even though I knew that the timings of these steam locomotive movements on the main line are only approximate, for all sorts of reasons, I left my post, and headed into Lockerbie to find out what had happened. I arrived just as the train had left on its journey north, leaving in its wake a host of mothers and toddlers still excited by seeing their first real live 'choo choo'.

Knowing that it was scheduled to stop at Beattock, it was a swift drive up the M74, only to find several enthusiasts packing up their cameras and heading for their cars. Should I give up, and go home? Don't be silly. The second spot I had picked out for this morning's photography class was actually on the climb out of Beattock. I had missed that, but I judged perhaps that the road north might just be quicker than the rails. This proved to be the case, and I caught up with the two engines and their carriages just at Beattock Summit.

I can tell you that was a scary place to be - a busy motorway and not one driver was paying full attention to the road in front, as the locos steamed alongside the M74!

I pulled off at Crawford, thinking I would have time to get near the line, only to see the back of the carriages pulling away in front of me. But all was not lost, as the train had to pull into the loop at Abington to allow a faster group to play through. So I eventually got my shot, below, just a mile or so past the Abington Services, just off the A702.

The excitement of seeing, and hearing, a steam train approach is as great as ever.

That's 45231 in the lead. And if you think I'm daft, one of the other enthusiasts at this spot had already been to Beattock, and was heading up to Crianlarich to get more pics there, before heading home to Stirling.

Not from today. I took this pic when visiting friends in Kinlocheil in July 2006. The Fort William - Mallaig line runs past their door. This is a London Midland and Scottish Railway 8F class 2-8-0 designed for hauling heavy freight. No fewer than 852 were built between 1935 and 1946, as a freight version of William Stanier's successful black five. This is LMS 8151, renumbered as British Railway's 48151.

The schedule for the Jacobite service this year is here, one of the Great Railway Journeys of the World.

Pics by Bob.

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