All photos and images reproduced courtesy of Keith Long - 'Cabsaab900'
As the title suggests this is the final page of Fireman Fred's railway stories...though with Freddy you never know! He seems to have an endless repository of hairy tales to tell about his experience on the footplate from steam days through dieselisation to ECML electrification, spicing his writing with liberal doses of caustic comments. Of course, regular visitors to the Freddy's pages know all about his constant railing against authority, but then his narrative wouldn't be the same without his witty anecdotes since they add credence to his stories.
Indeed there seems to be a common strand in the decline of respect for people in authority today, mainly because people at the top seem to have conditioned themselves into believing that they know better than the rest of us. This is not always the case, of course, and Freddy's frequent clashes with the 'men in suits' demonstrates the point perfectly.
Quite simply, Freddy tells it as it is...
Another major contributor to this site is retired signalman, Keith Long, who goes by the name of 'Cabsaab 900' on his excellent Flickr website - links at the bottom of the page.
Keith's photos of 1960's steam and diesels are the best on the Internet, and so I am delighted he has agreed to release some of his shots of ECML electrics for publication here. However, I haven't cherry-picked the best, merely chosen those shots that are relevant to Freddy's page. Keith started working in signalboxes at the age of 15 in 1960, first as a train recorder and then passing out as a signalman in 1965. He retired at the end of 2005 after working in 21 different boxes. Throughout his 45-year career he was only made redundant twice, the first when Leeds PSB opened in May 1967 and the second when Leeds PSB closed in June 2002.
'As a signalman at Leeds I must have worked Freddy's train and maybe even spoken to him on the SPT. If a traction motor was out on a 91 or a Power car out on a HST it was the driver who informed the signalman before departure from Leeds, the signals had to be off as far as Ardsley to make sure it got up Ardsley bank, the 89 was a much better loco on Ardsley bank than a 91, until GNER mucked it up. I'm pleased to supply photos for Freddy's page. Photo details at the bottom of the page. Having a driver and signalman together on the same page is a little bit different...'
And so...here we go again, only this time we're at the dawn of a new age on the ECML...
But I'll let Freddy take up the story...
(Above Right) Two views of the same platform at London Kings Cross station taken some forty years apart.The topmost shot shows 60014 Silver Link and D9009 Alycidon on 15th May 1962, while the bottom shot was taken on 2nd July 2002 and 3310 has just arrived with 1X23 the 1105 from Leeds. (Below) On a very wet morning at Leeds 43105 with 1S11 0707 to Aberdeen and 90022 with 1A04 0700 to London Kings Cross on 18th December 1996.
THE CLASS 91 ELECTRIC LOCOMOTIVE...THE INTRODUCTION AND MEETING WITH MISTER GEC!
Davey, the bad penny surfaces again with tales of woe and suffering that would be hard for a professional writer to dream up, suffice it to say that the wife keeps nagging me to start the stories again, and I feel guilty about leaving you hanging on, but I've got a regular little brains trust going at the moment, so I will continue where we left off at the end of the 'Fireman Fred and Friends' page on the 'Extra' site...
During a turnaround at London, my mate and I were walking to the north end of the platforms, having a fag and discussing the merits of different Dahlias (we were both keen gardeners) when out of the tunnel burst a gleaming, brand spanking-new Class 91 All Electric, the first we had ever seen! The cab was literally bursting with management suits, and I must say, as it glided into the platform it made a surprising amount of racket, which we later found to be the roar of the cooling fans.
When the rear end ghosted to a stand exactly opposite us, we decided to do a fact finding tour, but imagine our frustration when we found the cab doors securely locked. However, we discovered that if you stabbed a button beside the carriage door, the door hissed and then slid open in a most obliging manner. We quickly jumped aboard and had a gander at the passenger accommodation, then turned our attention to gaining access to the driving 'compartment' - as it was to be called. So with my mate leading the way, we opened the door into what we thought would be the engine room, when I heard him say - 'What the bloody hell! There's nothing here!'
I peered over his shoulder, and sure enough, there was a just an empty space, with another door at the far end. On opening it we found the most luxurious Driving Cab, with proper cushions on the chairs - even air conditioning. The Controls were quite tiny compared with the HST 'power cars', but the good old master controller was still present. Suddenly, a voice behind us growled - 'Oih! What the bloody 'ell are you doing? You're not supposed to be on here, now bugger off!'
We both turned as one to observe a tall skinny bloke, who looked like he'd been weaned on a pickled onion - 'Well, before anybody goes anywhere,' my mate challenged - 'You had best tell us who YOU are, and what authority you have to tell us what to do?'
'I am in charge of this train, and as it has not yet been signed over, I am ordering you to get off or I'll call the Transport Police and have you arrested.'
It was then that I noticed the GEC badge on his overalls so I nudged my mate and murmured - 'Howay, let's bugger off like he says. We don't want any bother with the Boys in Blue do we?'
I could see my mate was still visibly fuming at being spoken to in such a manner, so in an effort to calm him down I told him one of my famous parables about painting the staircase in our house, and spilling a gallon tin of magnolia emulsion paint down the staircase - 'Good grief ' I cried, 'That was a stroke of luck!'
The wife shrieked 'Stroke of luck! How do you make that out you barmy bugger?'
'Well,' I replied - 'It might have been a five gallon drum...'
My mate looked at me as if I had flipped my lid, so I hurriedly continued - 'The point is, we accomplished what we set out to do; we had a look inside and you didn't bruise your knuckles on that bloke's conk, and the Gendarmerie never got involved, and we are still free as birds, and if that feller shows his face in the Tappers at home, then you can throw him out of the window with my blessing!'
'But what's that got to do with spilling paint down the stairs?'
'Ah...well now, that was just a psychological ploy to stop you thinking about the skinny bloke and getting yourself all wound up for the back working...'
He looked at me for a long time and then eventually said - 'You're as weird as a twelve bob note!'
'Beats being miserable though,' I said and we both had a good laugh...
(Above Left) 91013, 91016 and 91026 at Kings Cross station London 26th March 19971. (Below Right) 91104 passing Doncaster Decoy with the 1100 London Kings Cross to Edinburgh
About six or seven weeks after our run in with the GEC gentleman, I found myself rostered for the '91 Class introduction Lecture' - and lo and behold, the lecturer turned out to be Mister GEC himself. I felt a surge of anticipation when I learned this information, and started swotting up on alternating current theory, just in case there was a question time during the lecture.
When the big day arrived, about twelve of us were present in the classroom, and the hubbub was quite noisy with rude jokes being told about the new barmaid in the Forth Banks Club, whose attributes were quite prominent - another two inches and she wouldn't have been able to reach the pumps!
Anyway, Mister GEC swept in eventually, and took his place at the podium, called for order and shuffled a bunch of papers in his hands, and then started talking...and what a start it was - 'Gentlemen, you will not be driving these trains,' he announced - 'You will be supervising them because these trains drive themselves.'
I knew immediately that he had been watching too many Rambo movies.
He went on - 'Everything on these machines is failsafe and interlocked with each system, and nothing has been left to chance. They are clean and super efficient, and will start their load on the steepest incline in any weather conditions.'
We were all suitably impressed by these claims and waited with bated breath for him to continue.
He gave a broad outline of the machine, stating that each traction motor developed the same horsepower as a Class thirty-seven English Electric, and then made the fatal mistake by asking - 'Are there any questions?
I raised my hand then stood up; I could tell by the telltale furrow forming in his brow that he recognised me immediately. I coughed to clear my throat - 'You stated before that the overhead line voltage was twenty-five thousand volts alternating current...could you please say whether that figure would be Root Mean Square, Peak or Peak to Peak Voltage because as we all know that if it is Peak to Peak the actual Root Mean Square Voltage will be considerably lower, and thus affect the Horsepower calculations, assuming that the formulae of seven hundred and forty six Watts to one horsepower was used in the calculations?'
You could hear a pin drop for three or four seconds, and then a few of the lads started to giggle, and someone said - 'Trust that barmy bugger!'
I struggled to keep my face straight before continuing - 'I would also be intrigued to learn whether the Traction current to the Motors was controlled by Pulse Width Modulation or the gating action of TRIAC on DIACS. I think everyone here present will be very interested to know that Sir Clive Sinclair was responsible for the control of dc motors by Pulse Width Modulation in his C5 buggy, and everyone laughed at him. Yet it's Sir Clive that's laughing now from the top of a pile of money as big as a house.'
'Oh, and another thing,' I added, as if in afterthought - 'The primary to secondary ratio of the windings in the main Transformer...'
By this time the lads were having a good laugh and Mister GEC was looking at me as if he wanted to chuck me out of the window - 'Alright, alright!' he growled - 'You've had your laugh, now let's get on with it.'
From that moment on, he totally ignored me and for the next two hours proceeded to bore everybody to death. Then lunchtime came around and we were all dismissed to the pub, where I regaled the lads with the happenings at Kings Cross. It all turned out quite satisfactory from my point of view, but big Lennie still reckoned I should have punched his lights out!
(Below) 91012 91009 and 89001 at London Kings Cross.
THE STATIC BRAKE TEST AND HOW IT CAN TELL LIES!
One of the most important duties for a footplate person on joining a train was the Static Brake Test. This consisted of the application of the brake by applying it from the rear of the train, either by the brake valve, or by exhausting the Train Brake Pipe at the actual pipe cock itself. In the case of Vacuum braked trains the pipe was taken off the plug and the air would rush into the pipe with a 'whoosh' indicating that the pipe was continuous through to the loco. It was the Driver's duty to observe the fall of pressure/vacuum on the Brake Pipe gauge, which indicated that the brake pipe was open on the last vehicle and the subsequent rise in pressure/vacuum when the pipe or valve in the rear was closed.
Meanwhile, at the rear of the train the Guard or Shunter performing the test would ensure that the brake blocks or pads were solidly clamped to the last two or three wagon or coach wheels, indicating that the brake was working at the rear.
However, the forgoing procedure in itself did not indicate to the Driver the 'goodness' of the brake, but only that the brake pipe was complete through to the rear vehicle. He was ultimately responsible for performing the Running Brake test, which involved making a brake application while the train was en-route and at a suitable location, thus satisfying himself that the brake was working in a satisfactory manner to enable him to stop where required.
With the introduction of the GEC Class 91 locomotive, all of the aforementioned palaver was swept away by the 'simple' inclusion of a switch in the cab that took care of everything - a giant leap forward for footplatekind? The procedure then was that the Brake Pipe was charged with air, the switch moved to the 'Isolate' position and the pressure in the Brake pipe was monitored with the gauge to ascertain that there were no leaks on the system. Then the switch was moved to the 'Test' position, which magically sent digital time division multiplex signals along a wire to the trailing cab and ordered the brake valve situated there to vent the brake pipe. This then was the space age Brake Test which did away with a shunter...
(Above Left) 82207 leading the 0655 Edinburgh Waverley to London Kings cross at Eaton Lane crossing.(Below Right) A Class 91 passing a grey and misty Retford with 1S21 the 1100 Kings Cross to Edinburgh on 22nd January 1998.
My regular mate, Geoff, and I were about to work one of the late afternoon Kings Cross-Newcastle commuter trains stopping at every lamp post, booked to arrive Newcastle at 2130hrs and so promising me the last hour in the pub for some Electric Soup. However, before going any further I must first say that Geoff was a Jonah of the worst kind and I do not mean to be unkind, but if his bad luck was present all the time and showed up as little upsets it would have been bearable. Instead he seemed to save it up and have a catastrophe every now and then when you least expected it. And so it came to pass that we mounted 91003, divesting ourselves of our bags and coats and set about readying the loco for the run home. Putting the Master Key in the pedestal I switched him on and brought him to life with lots of buzzing and roaring noises and lights suddenly gleaming up at me. I applied the parking brake and unlocked the Brake valve (which was really a switch) and charged up the Brake pipe. After a couple of minutes we did the brake test successfully, tried for power and sat chatting until the communication buzzer buzzed twice, indicating that we were 'right away'...
Everything went well until we reached Welwyn Garden City. A quick look at the instruments showed the Brake pipe pressure was slightly low, only about one sixteenth of an inch, but enough to make me feel uneasy. Over the viaduct and into Welwyn North platforms and another peep showed a further fall in pressure. Then into the tunnels and out the other end and the pressure was starting to really bottom out, yet the loco was still pulling like a good 'un, when really the loss of pressure should be applying the train brake and shutting off the traction current!
I turned to Geoff and said in a matter of fact voice - 'We've lost the Brake pipe, Geoff'
'Har-har' he chuckled - 'You'll have to do better than that....' He stopped suddenly, saw my earnest expression and realised I was not speaking with forked tongue; his eyes widened - 'Bloody hell's teeth, how's that happened?'
My brainbox went into overdrive trying to make sense of what I was seeing, and it was obvious that Geoff was having the same problem. I knew we had the loco parking brake and the straight air brake and the emergency position of the brake valve, but I wasn't sure if it would vent the brake pipe through the brake valve or directly from the pipe itself. At the same time there was no indication of any pressure to release on the brake gauge, which by this time was resting on the Zero mark. We both agreed that we needed to stop, but neither of us could agree on how to do it. Geoff suggested making an emergency brake application to stop in the immediate vicinity of a signal short of Stevenage, which was about two miles away, whereas I wanted to try and stop in the platform.
Anyway Geoff's idea of making educated guess seemed the more sensible than mine so we both picked a point about nine hundred yards from the next signal and I punched the Emergency brake button and also slammed the brake valve to Emergency. The relief I felt when the brake started to bite and the Speedometer start to drop was something else. I sneaked a look at Geoff and cracked - 'Bet you a shilling we pass the signal...'
Geoff wouldn't dare gamble so much money, but was willing to go to a tanner that we'd stop short.
Sure enough, we glided to a stop about two coach lengths short and immediately began to figure out a way to resolve the situation. The first thing we had to do was to put the Signalbox in the picture so they could arrange to run trains past us on the slow line, and so prevent stopping the job altogether.
I jumped off to do that and left Geoff talking with the Guard on the train phone. After phoning the box, I phoned the Control to explain events as best I could - 'Hullo Control, this is the Driver of 1E26 and we are stuck outside Stevenage. Total failure, I'm afraid...'
'What's the problem Driver?'
'I honestly couldn't say...'
'How do you mean you couldn't say?'
'Well, it's very confusing for me. And if I try to explain I don't think you will believe me...'
'Just a minute Driver, I'm going to put another technical chap on to you...'
After trying to explain to the mechanic what had happened, I could tell by his attitude that he hadn't believed anything I had said, so I gave it up as a bad job!
Climbing back up on to 91003 I found Geoff trying all sorts of stuff to get us moving, but to no avail. The Guard came on the phone and told me that he was sending some help along in the shape of a GEC engineer who was a regular passenger. I had a good idea who this particular 'regular passenger' was going to be and said to Geoff in a solemn voice - 'Everything's going to be alright, Mister GEC himself is coming to rescue us!'
'Now don't get winding him up and let him get us going,' he advised.
'Who me?' I said innocently - 'I don't know where you get your ideas from. I've no intentions of being anything other than helpful...'
And as I said that, up the ladder came Mister GEC himself, resplendent in smart suit and tie, and struggling with a large case, which he lobbed ahead of him into the cab - 'Right!' he said in a brusque manner - 'What's the trouble?'
'It's broke,' I replied - 'What I mean to say is, it'll go but it won't stop...it was going but it's not now, if you see what I mean? When we were going I was afraid we wouldn't stop because the brake was on...or at least it was showing on, but it wasn't on because we were still going and so we decided to stop in case we couldn't stop after...'
His brow furrowed; he had recognized me from our previous encounters. He stretched to his full height and regarded me in the way Clint Eastwood might eyeball a villain just before he shoots them, even Geoff was giving me the evil eye and shaking his head. Sensing another altercation heading our way he butted in and told Mr GEC exactly what had transpired.
I thought it best to keep my trap shut, seeing as I was outnumbered two to one. Meanwhile Mister GEC opened up his case to reveal all sorts of electrical tools and gadgets. He began talking into his mobile phone in an animated fashion, then grabbing a test meter and tools from his case he went into the engine house. Continued below...
(Above Left) 142028, 91113, 91111 and 155344 in the yard at Neville Hill 14th June 2009 (Below Left) 91005 waiting departure from York with the 0805 York to Kings Cross train 6th December 1990.
I planted my bum down in the driving seat and had a good think, before saying to Geoff - 'You remember what Billy Welsh always preached when we were doing our Diesel training? In case of any bother, always go back to the last thing you did, and the last thing we did before the trouble was to use the Brake test switch...'
With that I jumped up and went into the engine house where Mister GEC was taking panels off cubicles and poking terminals with his test prods. Above the noise of the fans and the general uproar I shouted at the top of my voice - 'GEOFF AND ME THINK IT'S THE BRAKE TEST SWITCH!'
You'd have thought the poor bugger had just been shot!
He jumped three inches off the deck and spun round, his features all screwed up in anguish - 'You effing idiot, you could have electrocuted me there '
'SORRY MATE,' I shouted back - 'But me and Geoff thinks...'
'Yeah, alright...I heard you the first time for hell's sake'
I could tell he was having a tough time and decided to retire back to the cab. Mister GEC appeared in the doorway behind me, his brow dripping with sweat - 'And so what makes you think it's the switch?'
'Because it's the last thing we used!' we chorused as one.
'Okay then, we'll have a look at the bloody switch,' he scowled back, yet averting his eyes from my beaming fizzog. He started to remove the screws that kept the switch plate fastened to the bulkhead. Eventually the plate came away far enough for him to see behind it.
I was nearly sitting on his shoulders trying to get a view of it myself when I caught sight of a piece of broken switch wafer behind the plate. In my excitement, I gave out a triumphant cry - never thinking that the poor bloke's port ear'ole was a mere four inches from my gob - 'YUP! WE WERE RIGHT, GEOFF!' I yelled - 'The friggin switch is in bits.'
Mister GEC winced and I thought he was going to have a fit.
'Sorry mate...' I said genuinely repentant - 'I was only trying to help.'
I cannot repeat what he called me, but Geoff nearly peed his pants laughing.
During the next few minutes Mister GEC continued to fiddle with the plate, tugging it this way and that, but he couldn't remove it. In the end he decided that the damaged switch would have to be prised from the plate and finished up with a handful of broken bits hanging on strands of wire. After studying it for a while longer he decided he would have to remove the wires and partly hard wire it. This met with my wholehearted approval and I praised him up no end, which impressed him not one jot!
I was beginning to think that he had taken a baleful dislike of my jolly demeanour, so I just sat quietly in the Driving chair until he said victoriously - 'Right get the brake up.'
Joining in the drama I snapped the Brake valve open and gave a cheer as the valves sissed and the Brake pointer rose to working pressure.
'Right!' says he - 'Let's get moving...'
'Not until I get my brake test,' I replied.
'You must be friggin' joking,' says he.
'Oh no, chum! We started off like this, and I want a brake test. You've done your stuff, now let me do mine.'
I contacted the guard via the train phone and asked him to drop the brake with the Emergency brake button in the trailing cab. I watched the Pointer drop, before telling the guard to put the button back to running. When the brake pipe pressure came back up to running pressure, I announced - 'Okay, I'm happy with that.'
Geoff climbed down to phone the Signalman and we got ourselves moving, first stopping at Stevenage and then on to Peterborough, along the way acutely aware of an uneasy lack of conversation in the cab until I uttered Danny Gooch's maxim - 'KISS is the way to go.'
'What's that supposed to mean?' asked he.
'KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID' I replied, giving him a sly look.
After gliding to a stop in the platform at Peterborough, he collected his case, climbed out of the cab and his parting shot was - 'Don't touch that BRAKE SWITCH!'
As he was walking away from the loco, I jumped off and shouted after him - 'Don't forget to include in your report who told you where the fault was...because it's going in ours.'
He turned around, put his case down, extended both arms and with two fingers gave me the rudest 'V' sign I had ever seen before or since. I'm sure I heard him shout something like 'Sod off!' and that's the last I ever saw of him.
(Below) 91005 has just arrived at London Kings Cross with the 0805 additional from York and 43066 on a train from Leeds 6th December 1990.
THE RULES & REGULATIONS AND HOW THEY CAN BE CONVENIENTLY IGNORED!
Raking through some memories of the 91 class, I remember one occasion when Control ordered me to ignore the books of rules and regulations - and the 91 Locomotive Driving Instructions - and just do as I was told!
It happened on a lovely autumn evening when myself and a canny lad called Les were working an Edinburgh train from London. Yours truly was in the Driving chair, chasing the Leeds bloke up Stoke bank and could see the double yellows switching to green as he cleared the track circuits, keeping us about three miles behind him. Coming up to Little Bytham, however, the double yellow stayed yellow and we could see in the distance a single yellow, and so I shut the power off and dropped the brake valve into the second notch, and watched the speed dropping off. Les piped up - 'Here we go again...'
I squeezed the brake on a bit more as the red came into view in the distance. We were busy discussing the likely cause of this delay and slowed to a stop about eight feet from the signal showing a red aspect. Immediately the train phone buzzed and I guessed it would be the Guard wanting to know the details. I picked the phone up and hollered - 'Hang on! Les hasn't even got off the friggin engine yet, so just be patient and you'll be the third to know, alright!'
A little female voice came back - 'Sorry,' she said.
'What's up?' Les asked.
'It's a lassie,' I replied meekly.
Giggling to himself, Les climbed down off the machine and headed to the signal post phone to discover the ins and outs from the signalbox. He returned to tell me that the train in front had broken down and we were to pass the signal at danger and proceed to the rear of the train, couple up to him with the main air pipe, air brake pipe, Train electric supply jumpers and the Train control jumper plugs and sockets; these wires went under the splendid name of the 'Chemin'd fer'...I often wondered which pub the lunatics were in that thought up that dozy name! In no way did 'Chemin'd fer' tell you anything about what it was for or did. In fact it was the wires that carried the time division multiplex and frequency division multiplex, which was another load of bull because both systems were the same! Time is frequency and frequency is time...but 'nuff said about that!
Anyway, the way the procedure was going to work was that it enabled the Driver of the broken down train to take charge of our coupled train, even though his own was a total failure, and drive both trains forward from his cab using the 'Chemin d fer' signals, all of which sounded brilliantly simple and straightforward.
I phoned the lady guard, apologised profusely for my previous lack of courtesy and explained briefly what was happening. Meanwhile Les was busy perusing the pages of his Driving Instructions and finally volunteered that the procedure was all proper and correct. So I crept slowly towards the rear of the breakdown trying to avoid bumping him and spilling every cup of tea on the train, and we joined up with an imperceptible thud...continued below.
(Above Left) The cover of the Class 91 Drivers' Manual. (Above Right) 82219 waiting departure from Darlington with the 1200 Glasgow Central to London Kings Cross 24th July 1996. The modern thermometer in the background is showing 9 degrees centigrade (about 48F). The thermometer is a replacement for the one on the Richardson Engineers building, but as this is summer it's probably not as accurate as the original! (Below Left) Twenty eight years have elapsed between these two views of HST's arriving at York station. The topmost shot was taken on 14th March 1984 and shows 43107 arriving with a London Kings Cross to Newcastle train. In the bottom shot we fast-forward to 21st April 2012 and 43062 John Armitt arrives with the New Network Rail Mesurment Train. Gone are the through lines and some signals, the platforms have been renumbered and platform 9 has now become 5. New are the overhead wires, but most trains are still diesel even when running for hundreds of miles under them, but the station is much cleaner and brighter...
Les climbed down to help the Leeds Guard couple our trains together, while I started readying our end, first locking the brake valve out and shutting the driving controls out to enable our Yorkshire brethren to take control of both trains from his cab. It was then that the radio phone started to buzz and a rather excitable voice squawked - 'Driver, on no account couple the Chemin'd fer wires!'
'What did you say?'
'DO NOT COUPLE THE CHEMIN'D FER WIRES! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?'
'Aye alright, keep your socks on! What's going on like?'
'Just don't couple the wires, and I'll talk to you later...'
So I opened the cab door and shouted down to Les - Les, the control has just told me not to connect the Control cable.'
A puzzled Les came out from between the two vehicles and shouted up - 'How's that going to work then? We've got to have them coupled or else we can't go!'
'Search me mate,' I called back - 'He must have something against it because he sounded as if he was crapping hisself! I'll find out what's happening...'
Back on the Radiophone I asked the Control what was happening with the Train control wire.
A different bloke came on this time - 'You haven't coupled them have you Driver?'
'No! But how are we going to get out of this mess?'
'You will have to propel him into the platform at Grantham...'
'Are you friggin' crazy! I'll get locked up if I do that, especially since there's a tunnel to go through...'
'I'm afraid it's the only way...'
By this time Les had climbed back into the cab - 'So what's up?' he asked.
'The daft twat only wants us to shove him to Grantham, with no communication with him...no nothing!
Forgetting that the control bloke could hear every word, I got back on the phone - 'Okay, you get me a clear road into Grantham. Order me to do it and we'll think of something.'
'You already have a clear run into the platform.'
'And is that my order?'
'Yes!' he came back.
Les and me had a powwow and came up with the best solution we could think of...Les would ride in the back cab of the breakdown where I could see him through the windscreen. The Leeds Driver would then keep him informed via the train telephone, and Les would give me hand signals from the back cab! Simple!
So that's the way we did it. The Leeds Driver talked via the train telephone to Les, who relayed the message to me with hand signals, which, of course - was breaking every rule and regulation in the book and it occurred to me that if anything untoward happened we were condemning ourselves to a life of sweeping the messroom floor for the rest of our time!
But as it happened all went well, and after dumping the breakdown at Grantham and getting away again, I phoned the Control to find out why we couldn't couple the 'Chemin d fer' cable, only he seemed very shy about telling us. I wasn't satisfied with this and told him that after the risk we had taken on his behalf we had a right to know, but still the twat wouldn't tell us. It wasn't until two years later I found out that if we had coupled the wires, all the doors would have opened!
Of course it was a failsafe situation because you cannot get traction current with the doors open, so we could not have moved. However, anyone on the train leaning against the doors would most likely have fallen headfirst into the ballast, provoking frantic headlines in the press and incurring a big compensation bill.
Anyway, a few days later, whilst signing on at the little window I was given three letters. The first one was from the Manager of East Coast Mainline congratulating Les and I on the efficient and expert way we had handled of the situation at Little Bytham, and how our efforts had kept delays to a minimum. The next one came from my Traincrew Manager saying that he didn't quite know what we had done but that congratulations were in order and many thanks. I felt quite light headed and thought I should go for a lie down...then I opened the third letter and this one was also from my Traincrew Manager giving me a good bollocking for not signing for my Permanent Way and Rules and Regulations updates, after which I felt much better...and got on with my job!
(Below) 43121 and 82208 at the buffers at Kings Cross London 4th May 1990.
COLLISION WITH A CART HORSE AT TOAD HOLE LANE
On one occasion, whilst working north from London with a mate named Gordon, we passed Ranskill in good time, so I shut off power and let the train slowly lose speed for the 115 mph over Bawtry Viaduct. With the speedometer just touching 115, I put power back on to drag the train over the viaduct and around the curve, and opened him up full to get back to 125mph on the straight down to Rossington. I was whistling softly to myself as Rossington Barriers got closer, then abruptly stopped and sat bolt upright in the chair - in the distance I saw a large animal on Toad Hole Lane footpath crossing.
Gordon had seen it too; and in a matter of fact tone of voice, said - 'Blimey! Is that a horse?'
My first instinct was to try for an emergency stop, but there was so little time therefore I opted instead to keep line speed, and so if we did hit the animal it would either explode or get pushed out of our path. The last thing I wanted was to hit the animal at 60 or 70 and get derailed, because the first thing we would meet would be the overhead line posts on our left side or a train coming in the opposite direction if we went right...
Valhalla here we come!
You can imagine my relief when the animal turned away and slowly plodded off the railway. Gordon cried out - 'Bloody good job! Oh no, he's coming back!'
Sure enough, the beast had turned around and was just roaming aimlessly back onto the track again, only we could now see that it wasn't some puny pony, but a full blooded Shire horse about the size of a small Elephant! I pulled the power controller full open, grabbed the horn and gave a series of blasts, but he plodded on and on, and I knew we were going to collide. I stiffened my legs and slid my back up the chair thinking this is it - shit or bust!
I shut my eyes and we hit the poor bugger with a tremendous bang; I felt the loco lifting off the rail but miraculously it dropped back on again. Then the brake went on with a whoosh and I opened my eyes to see the windscreen covered with blood and strings of intestines getting pushed up the glass like some macabre oil painting. I was shaking, mainly because I thought that we were all going to die and looked at Gordo, who glanced back but not a word was spoken. As we came to a stop, Gordon took the detonators and track circuit clips then climbed down onto the ballast to protect the facing road, while I contacted Doncaster box on the Radiophone and told the signalman to stop the facing road.
After informing the guard on the telephone I opened the cab door and the stink was unbelievable; the door was dripping blood so I opted for the other door reasoning that Gordon would have at least cleared the handrails of claggy stuff before climbing out. Once down on the track, I walked round the front and found myself in a nightmare scene from a horror movie; all around great chunks of flesh were jammed in every gap you could see, everything dripped blood, bits of bone had been driven into the casing and tufts of hair were everywhere. The only recognisable bits of the horse was its head and one foot, whereas everything else was in takeaway-sized bits which the foxes and crows would no doubt soon take advantage of.
I was shocked to see that the impact had not only pushed the buckeye coupling down about four inches it had torn the brake pipe fitting completely off. The train supply plug and main air reservoir pipe were gone but the valve was still there, albeit bent right back against the buffer beam. This may sound silly, but I reasoned that all I had to do was to bung the brake pipe up to regain the brake and we should be able to move, and so I started hunting around for something to use for the purpose. There were some hazel bushes close by the track, and after looking around I found one branch slightly larger than the bore of the brake pipe, and began cutting off a one foot length with my trusty six inch blade (it went everywhere with me) and then chewed away with the blade until I had shaved a reasonably straight wooden plug into a slow taper so it would fit into the pipe. I screwed the wood back and forth into the pipe until it would go no further, and then began scouting around for something to use as a hammer...eventually I found the ideal tool for the job - half a fishplate! Tapping the wood plug gently to avoid splintering it, I was pleased to see it going into the brake pipe a fraction with every tap. I kept tapping away until about seven inches of the plug was into the pipe, and was about to climb back into the cab, when a toot made me turn to see another 91 on the facing road coming slowly towards me. When he stopped opposite our loco, Doncaster Rescue Squad in the form of the most diminutive fitter I had ever seen climbed down followed by my mate. Charley, the Driver of the train came to the door and started asking if there were any cheap steaks to be had, but if not he would settle for a pound of them sausages wrapped round our pantograph. After a bit more banter Charley buggered off and the little chap started asking what was going on and so I showed him my makeshift plug in the pipe.
'Thats no bloody good!' he sneered - 'It waint stop thee in a month of Sundays!'
'It's going to get its chance,' I replied, and climbed up into the cab, plonked myself in the Driving chair and gingerly opened the brake valve up. I was mighty relieved to see the Brake gauge start to rise to the regulation five bar.
The small fitter bawled - 'Yoo won't get into Donny wi' that like that, ahm tellin' yer!'
'We can but try, and if we fail, twill be a glorious failure. Come, my diminutive friend, let us to arms and smite the enemy with all our might!'
Even Gordon was looking at me as if I had lost some slates. I gave him the wink and he hid his face from the small man. I could see his shoulder's shaking.
Lovingly caressing the power controller, I opened it up to the first notch and was well satisfied to see Traction Current and hear a low hum from the engine room - 'Are you going to tell Doncaster we are ready to try for the platforms?' I asked Gordon, then while he was phoning the box I entered into a big argument with the smallest fitter in all the world about the pros and cons of what we were about to do.
Gordon broke in to say that there wasn't a Driver available for the Thunderbird loco, and so the Control was up for us to have a go and we had a clear road into platform five. And so, feeling full of confidence I released the brake and gradually opened the power controller until he slowly started to glide forward. Then with one eye on the road and the other on the brake gauge - and trying hard to ignore the mutterings of the tiny fitter - we eventually rolled into the platform, which was quite crowded with passengers, some of whom seemed most interested in this new colour scheme of blood red interspersed with skeins of intestine blue-grey extending right up to the pantograph. Then as we rolled closer they realised what it was and turned away in disgust.
The Station boss was waiting at the end of the platform with the news that we were to transfer to an empty set that was waiting in platform eight and to carry on with our working diagram...but there were no thanks, no questions about whether we were fit to continue, or would we like a short break or nothing - just get on and get out of my station!
At the same time, the little one was telling the Station bloke what a jammy bastard I was to have used a bit of wood to salvage the situation. I felt I had to break in and say my piece before he went any further, so I said - 'Listen Shorty, if you kept your trap shut and listened a bit more you might learn a trick or two off us native Comanches!'
Anyway, the elation I felt at getting us out of trouble started to wear off a bit, and I remember having a feeling of apprehension as we approached every farm and foot crossing, but the rest of the trip passed uneventfully.
As we rolled into Newcastle I was expecting a reception committee of some sort, but strange to tell there was nobody there. Along to the sign off point and still nothing, so I put my gear away, got on my trusty Kawasaki 500 and hit out for home, arriving there about half an hour later feeling bloody awful. After putting the bike away I went inside and started to empty cans of strong lager down my neck, and suddenly started sobbing uncontrollably for about half an hour. I was a total wreck by the time our lass got home. The next two days were Rest days so I maintained the level of blood in my alcohol stream, and kept busy in the garden and my radio room. On returning to work, I was expecting piles of letters, but again nothing - and to this day I never heard a squeak off the Powers on high about the about the incident, and neither did Gordon.
The tiny fitter and I eventually became good sparring partners and he turned out to have a very sharp sense of humour. He told me that the loco involved spent six months in Crewe works getting straightened up and fit for duty.
(Above-Below) 43304 at York leading the 0632 Dundee to Plymouth 10th June 2009. (Below Right) 254009 and 55006 Fife & Forfar Yeomanry on display at Neville Hill Open Day on 22 April 1979.
THE JOYS OF SINGLE MANNING
Shortly after the men who must be obeyed decided that it was perfectly all right for the cabs of High Speed Trains to be single manned, I was working an Aberdeen HST train out of London (I believe it was the Highland Chieftain). Everything was going according to plan and we were doing that well...we kept catching the Leeds bloke who was nine minutes or so in front. Chased him from Peterborough to Stoke Tunnel on switching twin yellows, but I knew he stopped at Grantham, so I eased off on the speed and drifted through the tunnel at about seventy mph, putting the brake valve in the first application notch as I caught sight of the double yellow and the single yellow beyond, slowing even more, to give the Leeds bloke chance to get going again after his stop. The single yellow changed to two, telling me that the Leeds bloke was on the move, round the curve the next signal was two yellows, through Grantham platforms at fifty mph and on to Peasecliffe Tunnel with the Power on and accelerating as the two yellows turned to greens. Then through Peasecliffe just in time to see the Barkeston Junction signal switch to green.
I shuffled my bum around and slouched comfortably in the chair as we raced round the curve, only to sit up and swear as I saw the next three signals two yellows, one yellow and red. In the distance I could see Claypole Box, and what looked like the Leeds bloke standing just past the Box and I started humming the old Fred Astaire song 'There may be trouble ahead'. As the red got closer, I could see figures moving around on the ground by the stopped Train and knew he was either a failure or he had run somebody or something down.
After stopping at the red, I climbed down and reported to the Signalman on the signal post phone. He informed me that the Leeds was a total failure that we would be there for a while, and to keep reporting in every fifteen minutes. I climbed back into the cab and informed the Guard on the Train phone what was happening. He was full of Hell because he had a hot date that evening and went on and on about how long it had taken him to get this lass to go out with him. I sympathised with him saying there were plenty more fish in the sea, but he was inconsolable, and I quickly put the phone down before he started crying!
On the next call to the Signalman, I was told that the new plan was for me to change ends, and he would tell me when it was safe to reverse to the signal controlling Barkeston Junction and that way they could get us on the up road and around the casualty running wrong road. This seemed like a good idea to get us moving again, so I phoned the Guard to put him in the picture. He was over the moon as he thought his night of passion was as good as in the bag. Anyway, I changed ends and had a cuppertea while we waited...and waited...and waited.
After two hours of being told by the Signalman that we would be away shortly, and the Guard coming on the phone every ten minutes worrying about his date, I was getting a bit fed up, however the radiophone started squawking and on answering the conversation went something like this...
Sigs in a cheerful voice - 'Hullo Driver, is anything wrong?'
Me - 'What do you mean, is anything wrong?'
Sigs - 'Well you've had the signal for ten minutes now and you've never moved'
Me - 'What friggin signal?' snarling now.
Sigs - 'Can I remind you that my last instructions were to take this train to Barkeston Junction from where we were to proceed through the road and go wrong road to Newark. Is this not correct?
Silence ensued for a few seconds and a new voice came on - 'Hullo Driver this is the Supervisor, which end of your train are you?'
I repeated the original plan and told him the South end.
Supervisor - 'Now then Driver, there's been a change, if you go back to the North end, you've got your signal and your clear to proceed...'
Me - 'How the flaming June has this happened?'
Supervisor - 'Not quite sure Driver, but if you will just go back to the North end we can get you moving again'.
I knew we couldn't stand arguing all day, so I did as he said and we got underway. As we passed Claypole the phone went again and I snatched it up and just about screamed into it - 'What the f--- is it now?' But it was just the Guard to say his date had buggered off with her mates, and why were we going the right way? I just couldn't help but laugh at the situation...if I had just gone to Barkeston when first told, there would have been an almighty snarl up, if not a collision, and all the Guard was worried about was his date!
This was another adventure that I never heard a squeak about afterwards, and my new philosophy of 'don't shoot if nobodies shooting at you' came in handy.
(Below) 91013 Michael Faraday waiting departure from Newcastle at the rear of 1A16 the 0900 to London Kings Cross 18th December 1996
During one trip to London on a lovely Autumn afternoon, single manned and singing some old sea shanties and Army Marching songs regarding the size, or rather the lack of size of the Sergeant-Majors reproductive organs, about a mile past Ranskill, the train phone started screeching, and at the same time I saw the traction current indicator was showing zero. Snatching the phone up, the Guard is telling me there has just been a terrific rattling at the rear end. Braking hard I fetched the train to a stand at Sutton about a yard past the signal post. Quickly climbing down I got the signalman on the Signal post phone, told him where we were and the circumstances, he replied that they thought that the overhead power line was down as the section was dead. Would I go to the rear and examine the locomotive?
I agreed and got an assurance that the facing road was stopped, then started walking to the loco. When I got up into the cab, everything seemed OK except for the silence which told me that everything was far from all right. I went into the equipment, or what I always called the engine room. In their wisdom, the designers had incorporated a small window in the roof of the loco beside the pantograph so that it could be observed whilst the loco was in motion. Unfortunately there was no way of keeping this window clean without going on the roof in the immediate vicinity of the live wire and its load of near unlimited alternating current at a pressure of twenty-five thousand volts, which if you touched it would keep your ears clear of wax for the rest of your life, which would be about ten milliseconds!
So the window might just have been black enameled for what help it was. Anyway, I decided to walk farther back to try to get a view, and lo and behold all that was left was a few pieces of twisted metal, and some bits hanging over the right side, although the high wire was ok, well it would be as there was nothing to interfere with it since our pantograph was smashed to bits! Continued below...
(Above Left) 89001 arriving at Leeds with 1A19 1136 Bradford Foster Square to London Kings Cross 4th June 1997. (Below Right) 89001 waiting departure from Leeds at the rear of 1A19 1136 Bradford Foster Square to London Kings Cross 4th June 1997.
Of course, the main drawback with losing power like this is that you lose everything else, the most important from my point of view is the compressors and auxiliaries, from the passengers point it is the loss of air conditioning, and it was not very long before the temperature in the train started to rise and the complaints start flooding into the Guard, everybody breathing oxygen in and exhaling carbon dioxide and Heaven help you if somebody close by has been eating sprouts.
Making my way back to the Driving Van Trailer I phoned the Signalman and told him the Pantograph was destroyed and he confirmed that the overhead line was down at Ranskill, that the Thunderbird loco was enroute from Doncaster with a technical body to make the Panto safe, and that they were putting single line working in between Newark and Ranskill so trains would be passing in both directions on the facing road so watch your back. The Thunderbird would come past us to Newark and then back on to us and tow us away to London...
And that was that...lovely!
I climbed up into the cab and went through to the Guards office to acquaint him with the plan, and was surprised to find him in shirt sleeves and all sweaty, complaining of the heat in the train. Of course, the windows could not be opened, nor the doors for ventilation purposes, and with the brilliant sunshine beating on to a train with a black roof and midnight blue sides, both colours which absorb heat, (as any sixth former would tell you) our punters were now sitting in a long version of a slow cooker!
I had absolutely no idea what to do about their predicament, and felt a bit stupid as well as helpless, considering the money that they had paid for the privilege of being cooked alive. However, I had to get myself away to protect the train from the front with detonators one at a quarter mile, one at a half, and three, ten yards apart at three quarters of a mile to ensure that the Thunderbird didn't get to enthusiastic and crash into us.
Anyway, by the time I was getting the detonators out, the dreaded suits started to arrive, two vans and a Range Rover with five suits. I started muttering to myself - 'Keep calm, do not lose it.'
Then as I climbed down with my detonators and set off towards the thirteen hundred yard, one of them called - 'Are you the Driver?'
I nodded - 'Yes, I'm going to protect, so if you'll excuse me...'
'Oh well just let the Guard do that, we need to talk to you for a minute,' came the reply.
Okay, what is it you won't to talk about?' says I, and gave the detonators to one of them, thus relieving me of that responsibility, I reasoned.
'Now then Driver what do you think has happened here? Did you see anything untoward, anything at all?'
'Well,' say's I - 'Whatever happened, happened at the locomotive end, which is about five hundred yards that way, so the first indication I had that anything was amiss was the Power indicator and the Guard reporting noises at the rear end.'
'Was the Guard at this end of the train when he told you about the noises?'
'I don't know, he was on the telephone at the time, but I would assume that if he could hear noises at the rear, then he would surely be at the rear at that particular time, as it would have been practically impossible to have heard noises at the rear from the front end of the train particularly as we were travelling at a velocity of two miles a minute. And by the way the Guard seems to be extremely concerned about conditions in the train, as the air conditioning is off due to the lack of power and it is only a matter of time before something serious happens...'
He looked a little surprised at this and told one of his entourage to look into it, then started rubbing his ear, as he looked at me quizzically, I stared back in a deadpan fasion, and I could tell that he knew he was going to have a tough time with me.
Meanwhile, single line working had been started and trains were passing in both directions on the down main and a few more suits arrived, and I reckoned that I was outnumbered seven to one. There was a shout from the train from the bloke who had been sent to check the temperature, telling everybody in earshot that it was boiling hot and something needed to be done quickly to get some fresh air into the train. Two of the brains trust turned to me and seemed to think I could get the doors open. I told them it was not in my jurisdiction and they should consult the Guard, who was by now three quarters of a mile to the south protecting the train, but the day was saved by another suit who was conversant with the mechanics of the doors, and he proceeded to open the doors on the cess side, one at a time and saved the day for the punters.
Just then I heard the distinct rumble of a Hawker approaching and guessed it was the Thunderbird coming to save us all. True enough, as he got closer I recognised the Driver as a Doncaster bloke named Tommy. He slowed right down and started shouting that he had dropped two technical bodies with ladders at the loco to secure the bits of pantograph and that we were to detrain all our punters at Newark and an empty set was following from Leeds to pick 'em up and he was to take the cripple to Bounds Green Depot. I made my mind up then that there was going to be no Bounds Green for me and that I would jump ship at the first chance I got. I climbed up into the cab to check that the Brake valve was in the emergency notch, and watched the suits milling about and exchanging pleasantries with each other, and after a while I could see the Thunderbird approacing from Newark...
I got up and opened the door and in my best Parade ground voice, hollered - 'Thunderbird is approaching on the UP Man - Stand clear!'
All heads turned and looked at me, so I added '- 'For those unfamiliar with Railway jargon that means that way,' and pointed to the Hawker which by now was barely a hundred yards away and all heads turned to look in that direction. Tommy stopped about six feet short of buffering up to allow the shunter he had brought with him to get both ends ready for coupling. I climbed down and went along to have a word with Tommo, but before I got to him, one of the suits started waving him on to buffer up until I mentioned to him that the shunter was busy in the fourfoot and it would be best if we didn't run him over until he had coupled the loco to the train.
I climbed up into the cab and found Tom chuckling away. He told me there was about three quarters of a mile of wire down at Ranskill, but that it was mostly on the cess side...
At this juncture perhaps a short word about this 'wire' wouldn't be amiss...it will be correct to call it wire when it is in a long length, but short lengths, about a foot long would be referred to as rod because it is about half an inch in diameter, or as thick as your little finger. It is made of a Copper alloy to increase the hardness which makes it quite heavy. Along one side of it runs a pair of grooves which take the clip that is connected to the dropper wire, which is then fastened to the catenery. The dropper wires are spaced at short distances along the conductor to enable the weight to be evenly distributed to the catenary and keep the whole shooting match in a balanced condition. Looking from above, the conductor wire zig zags along from post to post. This is so that the conductor will traverse the full width of the pick-up carbons on the pantograph and thus equalise the wear across the whole of it, and prevent grooves being worn in the carbons...
Also a word about the pantograph may help to clarify things. The pantograph is kept in contact with the conductor by a small piston which keeps the collector at a constant pressure against the conductor. As a cunning ploy to protect the overhead conductor in the event of the carbon collectors becoming damaged, a pipe from the reservoir that feeds air to the piston that keeps the pantograph up also feeds a channel behind the carbon collectors, ensuring that if the collectors become damaged, the air in the channel will vent, and the pantograph will come down, thereby safeguarding the overhead conductor. only on this particular occasion it was the droppers that failed, thus smashing the panto to pieces!
Okay, to get back to the tale...Tommy plonked himself down in the driving chair and I dropped into the secondmans chair, and we started chatting about the job in general, deploring the fact that it was going down the tube faster than a motion to the ocean, at which point the head of all the suits climbed up into the cab and announced that we were ready to couple onto the train.
Tom asked where the shunter was, the top suit was not sure, but insisted that we buffered up and got the coupling on and brake pipes connected to try and avoid more delay, hence the Guard would do the shunters duties in coupling up he decided.
So Tom crept up to the train and I dropped off to watch the Guard couple up. The buffers clopped together and the Guard heaved the coupling on and then the brake pipe and the main reservoir pipe.
I mentioned to the Guard that it would be better if he screwed the coupling up but he thought it didn't need it, so rather than make a song and dance about it, I ducked in between to screw it up myself, but before I could stand upright, the buffers decompressed and the coupling tightened as the train started to roll back. I started yelling - 'Hold, hold it'!'
But of course Tommy was at the other end and couldn't hear me so I smartly pulled the brake pipes apart, and the brake went on with a whoosh of escaping air. I dived out from in between and ran to the leading cab shouting and bawling...
'TOMMY! WHAT THE FLAMING HELL ARE YOU DOING GETTING THE BRAKE UP FOR?'
Tommy's head came out of the window - 'What's up like...what's going on?'
'There's men on the roof of the loco, that's what's going on! How the friggin brakes came off I don't know, I left it in Emergency and just to make sure, I popped the Emergency button as well...'
Tommy said the head suit had told him to get the brake up and he would arrange a brake test. I told him not to move and ran back to the train, climbed up into the cab, and found the Brake valve locked out and the Emergency button pulled up. I quickly opened the brake valve up and placed it in the emergency notch so that together with the brake pipe being open it would take a miracle to release the train brake. Neither wonder it had rolled back. I nipped through into the Guards place, asking if he had touched anything in the driving cab?
He replied that he had not, however he had seen one of the suits in there about ten minutes ago.
It all started clicking into place now. I asked him which one it was but he had only seen his back but he did have a trilby on he said, which wasn't much help because they were all wearing bleedin' trilby's...brilliant!
I could hear shouting noises outside, so I opened the door and stood taking in the scene...
Tommy was arguing the toss with the two travelling maintenance men who had come up from the loco demanding to know who was responsible for the train moving back when he was on the roof!'
Looking around, there seemed to be a remarkable absence of suits compared to twenty minutes earlier so I climbed down and walked along to the fracas where the shunter and Tommy, along with the maintenance blokes were all shouting together. When they got their eye on me they pounced like Rottweiler's at fresh meat - 'How had the train moved?' they demanded to know in a very aggressive manner - 'Why hadn't I secured it?'
I calmly replied that he should ask the people who were in overall charge, since I had ensured the train was immobilised, but interfering fingers had been busy undoing all my good work, and all we had to go on was the fact that the owner of the interfering fingers wore a trilby, as did the lot of them, so blame must be laid fairly and squarely on their doorstep. And anyway, I ventured - why on earth had he not ensured that the train could not move by the simple expedient of opening the brake pipe tap himself, thus ensuring the brake could not be released, and so possibly taking some of the blame?
Meanwhile the head suite had come out of hiding and took the Maintenance bloke around the front of the loco, and just in time too - I thought he was going to jump on me! Continued below...
(Above Left) 43094 departing from York at the rear of a train to London Kings Cross 27th September 1985. (Below Right) 40132 and 31407 wait departure from London Kings Cross with the 1820 to Cleethorpes, 254011 has just arrived with a train from Newcastle 27th July 1978.
Tommy mentioned almost as an afterthought that the Control had radioed with the next plan, which involved detraining all our punters at Newark Northgate, and then on to Bounds Green Depot as an empty train to facilitate the fitting of a new pantograph. But no mention was made of how I was to get back, so I resolved to jump ship at Newark and get back on the first available, and then ask what they wanted me to do!
Anyway, the Suit came back with the Maintenance man, who was a bit more subdued by this time. He asked if we had been informed what was taking place and was everybody happy. We both nodded and set about getting the train ready and closing all the doors, had a brake test and proceeded to Newark where all the punters detrained, looking half cooked and sticky with sweat.
I never did find out if the passengers got their money back, but had it been me I would have wanted compensation as well.This was another event which seemingly was swept under the carpet, for I never heard a squeak about it from the inquisitors...
(Above) All the photographs on this page were taken by retired railway signalman, Keith Long, who goes by the name of 'Cabsaab 900' on Yahoo's online photo management facility, 'Flickr'. Keith has a large collection of UK railway photos from 1956 to the present day. To help visitors find what they are looking for in his 'Railways in the British Isles' section, Keith has split the collection into Steam, Diesel & Electric, then again into the various different classes. Other sets include signalboxes and signalling, railway infastructure plus anything else that has taken his fancy. It really is a fantastic site to behold...in fact he reminds me of the proverbial magician pulling rabbits out of the hat! All in all Keith's photostream of 1960's steam and diesels is the best collection you'll find anywhere on the Internet, and so I am delighted he has agreed to release some of his railway photographs for publication here. Click here for a link to his 'Rail Cameraman' page on this site, or here for a link to his fabulous 'Cabsaab900' collection - highly recommended!
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