January: Waverley route closes, LMR Class 24's withdrawn.
February: Two periods of severe weather across the country.
March: D5033 reaches Wareham. (SR)
April: Class 31 re-engining complete, 7535 & 7649 reach Littlehampton?
May: 98 reaches Netley, over a route from which the Class is banned!
June: Last summer of the Peak hauled Stirling - Newhaven Motorail.
July: Four Class 24's written off in Chester runaway train incident.
September: Luton Town football specials frequently Type 2 hauled.
October: LMR Class 24's reinstated & overhauled before transfer to ER.
November: Class 24 trapped by rockslide on Kyle of Lochalsh route.
December: Training of WR Laira/Newton Abbot crews continues on the Peaks.
The New Year brought bad tidings for the Class 24ís. One of the principal mainlines they had seen service over for a number of years, the Edinburgh - Carlisle ĎWaverleyí route was closed on January 4th 1969 with BR expecting to save GBP 300,000 per annum after closure. The final week was not without its problems, the steam heating boilers of the various Type 2ís continued to be unreliable, especially during this time of unusually bad weather. So affected was 5187 working the 09:20 Carlisle - Edinburgh on December 30th, 1968, remedial action by a fitter cured the fault, for on the next day it continued the passenger diagram, working the 07:06 Edinburgh - Carlisle and the 13.00 return. On 2nd 5350 on the same train had similar heating problems, attempts to fix it at Stainton Jcn failed, so 5340 was obtained from Kingmoor. On the final day the first station to close, due to having only two trains each weekday was Tynehead. Its last service was the 16:12 Edinburgh - Hawick, headed by 5070 and four coaches complete with a small amount of mail which was met by the local postmistress. Ironically on the last day ĎGrand Tour No. 6í, an excursion hauled by 1974 with a full complement of passengers traversed the Waverley route en route to Newcastle. From here a trip to Benton & Tynemouth used 250, on return to Newcastle 1974 came back on for the run to Edinburgh via the coast route. The last scheduled train, the 1M82 21.55 Edinburgh - St. Pancras, with eight coaches and two sleepers was handled by Class 45, 60. Carlisle was reached over two hours late caused by the boisterous activities of many local people protesting the closure of the route. The Hawick pilot, 8606, was sent ahead light engine to ensure the integrity of the line south of Hawick. A light snow fall had taken place during the day, but the evening saw clearing allowing the sun to set one last time on this run and providing the protesters with a chilly night out.
In addition to this major line closure the first twenty of the class 24's, all allocated to Crewe, were slated for early retirement. Many were due for heavy shopping and lacked certain improvements fitted to later members of the class, with the first withdrawn being 5000/01/05/10/19 whilst stored were 5002/07/11/12/17. Still active 5006 made a rare visit to the WR on January 24th taking a welded rail train from Hookagate to Oxford, returning north light engine. In an unrelated but significant move the Research Department at Derby acquired recently retired Metro-Vick 5705 for its motive power needs, initially being used in adhesion experiments using a plasma torch device.
Type 2ís were no stranger to the short distance services in the Liverpool area, 5204 put in a strong performance on January 4thís 09.00 Liverpool Exchange - Glasgow. With a heavily loaded seven coaches Preston was reached in under thirty three minutes, here 438 took over. In the opposite direction on January 14th an ailing Class 40 on a Glasgow - Birmingham working received the assistance of 5212 at Lancaster with 5291 added at Preston to take the train on to Crewe, regrettably the service was eighty five minutes down at Preston.
A routing change for the 17.34 Fridays only Manchester Exchange - York found it taken off the Hebden Bridge route and reverted back to the Standedge line. 7574 worked the last Hebden Bridge route on January 3rd whilst 5194 took it over the new route on January 10th, with ten coaches in tow.
Continuing troubles in January with the Rolls Royce engined dmuís working out of St Pancras found trains cancelled or shortened. Substitutions using rakes of eight corridor coaches powered by Type 2ís were frequent. These replacements did not have the acceleration of the dmuís but were able to produce some lively running once they had found their legs, especially between Flitwick & Bedford. St Pancras also lost its Glasgow/Edinburgh sleepers from January 5th with the Glasgow sleeper operating out of Euston, gaining the Midland route via Northampton & Market Harborough! Likewise the Luton - Bathgate car train was now routed via Newcastle, frequently in the hands of LMR Peaks. The troublesome withdrawn Cravens units, previously stored at Cricklewood had migrated to Rugby & Derby.
Another Class 25 to reach Paddington on a passenger working was 7666 on January 21st bringing in the 07.35 Oxford - Paddington after the booked locomotive, 1925 had failed. The Class 25 was manned by a Bletchley crew with a WR pilot, seven minutes were lost on the journey, final arrival was thirty five minutes late.
January 22nd found 7579 shunting vans at the south end of Ayr station, at some point the rear vehicle POS M798W became derailed, fouling the mainline, being immediately struck by the 7.03 Girvan - Glasgow, both vehicles being badly damaged.
February 7th brought some intense severe weather to most parts of the country. The low level wind speed record for the month was set at Kirkwall on this date with a speed of 118kn. Blizzard conditions in the London area affected many services, Waterloo was badly impacted, as in many places the gas powered point heater pilot lights were blown out by the gale force winds. Many of the SRís VEP & REP emuís were taken out of service, their already troublesome lighter weight shoe gear suffered badly from the quantities of snow & ice encountered. In Kent the 21.36 Charing Cross - Ramsgate formed of 4-CEPís 7107 & 7201 became well and truly stuck in a drift between Herne Bay & Reculver. The train had left London two hours late becoming stuck just before 3am. In trying to protect the train the guard had trouble in laying the detonators, the snow was so deep. The darkness and depth of the snow prevented rescue by air or road, the neighboring A2 had accumulated eight foot drifts. Just after 7am E6036 & D6596 reached the stranded train, pulling it and its three crew and seven passengers back to Herne Bay. The last down train of that night, the 23.10 Victoria - Ramsgate with 4-CEPís 7113/31 arrived at Herne Bay at 09.45, just over nine hours late! It remained there for another half hour until snowploughs powered by 6571/91 had finished clearing the route. The Midlands also bore scars from the blizzards. In the Derby area the point heaters were operational, but the point rodding froze up, throwing the evening commuter services into chaos. Manchester was ill prepared for the storm, suffering many cancellations to both local & long distance services. On the Woodhead route the Manchester - Sheffield electric service encountered delays, diesels taking over a number of the services. East of the Pennines delays occurred and services were amended to fill in the gaps. The 21.50 eight coach York - Aberystwyth mail was surprisingly hauled by 5150, filling in between Leeds & Huddersfield as a local. Hopeless road conditions necessitated the rescue of fifty students from Marsden by a two car dmu. Scotland appeared to miss the worst of this weather though services from the south were often hours late. Such was the 23.35 (Fri) Euston - Glasgow Central which arrived behind 445 at 13.52, almost seven & half hours late. When another storm hit the Manchester area on the 14th the previous lessons had been well learned with an almost normal service operating.
On an unrecorded date early in February a late running Derby - St Pancras service popular with Bedfordís commuters was reported running an hour late. Authorities at Bedford pulled an unserviceable four car dmu from the sidings with a Peak and worked this formation to St Pancras in the timings of the express, presumably a rather rough but spirited ride was encountered.
The 20th produced even worse weather, with the 7.56 Sheffield Victoria - Manchester stuck in a drift for five hours. A similar situation befell the 18.02 New Mills - Sheffield Midland on the Hope Valley route, this dmu becoming stuck at the west end of Cowburn tunnel. The 19.10 Sheffield - New Mills only reached Chinley with the help of two Class 20ís taken from Earles Sidings. These machines then rescued the passengers from the stranded 18.02, this dmu not being dug out until the next afternoon! At Diggle the semaphore signaling froze, with hand signaling being resorted to. At the same location the 17.05 ex Liverpool (to Newcastle?) with 174 took three attempts to break through the snow drifts. The dmu service on the Penistone branch became superpowered on the 19th when 399 piloted all trains between Clayton West Jcn & Penistone due to the appalling conditions. So bad was the weather that 6922 even after splitting the 27 loaded wagons was unable to depart Skelmanthorpe for Clayton West. The train was abandoned and 6922 set of for Healey Mills only to become a total failure near Brockholes, eventually being pushed into Huddersfield by two local dmuís. That night the Penistone line was kept clear by two snowploughs handled by Healey Mills 37ís making four trips over the line. Coventry was prepared for this blizzard having steam lance equipped 1950 available to free frozen pointwork. It was however not able to handle ice accumulation on the overhead line equipment which did cause some delays. The blizzards had also wreaked havoc in the West Country. Spring tides coupled with the strong winds damaged the WR mainline in the Dawlish area and along the River Exe. Single line working created major headaches, made worse by twenty four hours of snow, which blocked the line between Plymouth & Totnes. To open up an alternative route the authorities sent out 865 with two snowploughs to clear the closed St Budeaux - Bere Alston - Tavistock - Meldon Jcn - Okehampton - Cowley Bridge route. The same trip was made the next day, however the use of these lines as a through route presented difficulties as all signaling & phone equipment had been removed when the line closed in August 1968! All local services were cancelled with the late running expresses filling in as locals. In the London area the blizzards of the 19th created problems too numerous to mention.
Possibly the extreme weather took its toll on Gatesheadís paired Class 03ís used in the Sunderland area on the South Dock - Silksworth turns. The regular machines were all under repair necessitating the borrowing of a Tyne Dock Class 24. This was quickly missed by the Consett trains, Claytons then being utilized until at least one of the 03 pairs, 2071/74 returned from repair.
The 20:05 Ellesmere Port - Wareham has already been noted bringing Class 25ís deep into SR territory, on March 3rd a Class 24 made the trip, though how 5033 returned home is not recorded. Also noted in the area on March 18th was 7520 in charge of York - Weymouth empty van train. Although reported quite frequently on these workings many of the LMR locos were changed at Basingstoke for an SR machine
The clear out of the remaining steam locomotives continued at a somewhat pedantic pace, at the beginning of March Lostock Hall shed still contained twelve machines. However March 10th saw 5238 remove 44713, 44950, 45073 & 45269 to Drapers, Hull, whilst sixteen days later 5262 followed with 44874, 45318, 45386 & 45444. The last machines there, 44894, 45017 & 45388 remained until late April when they moved on to Drapers, Hull, haulage unrecorded, this move was the last of any non-preserved standard gauge steam engines to leave a BR shed. A more glamorous duty befell 7586 on March 12th following the failure of Deltic 9017 on the 16:00 Edinburgh - Kings Cross at Newcastle with boiler trouble. Gateshead had no other air-braked machine available so the Class 25 was given the run of the ECML as far as Doncaster, putting up a creditable performance. An equally bizarre duty, though this one on a weekly basis, utilized a Class 25 on a Kidderminster to Highley station turn. This locomotive was used on Thursday afternoons solely to deliver wage packets to the signalman & shunter stationed at Highley, who coincidentally had no gainful employment since the closure of Highley colliery at the end of January. The local press were quick to ridicule this situation whilst BRís comment did not offer much logic, especially at a time of much service reduction and line closures elsewhere. A little further north the John Summers iron ore trains were being successfully worked by pairs of Crewe based Class 24ís
By April two more Class 24ís had been stored 5013 & 5016. And a portent of future issues was the completion of the engine replacement programme for the Brush Type 2ís, with the outshopping of 5500, the first built. In the north east April saw a number of unusual workings. On April 1st the 10.50 Elswick (Newcastle) - Ellesmere Port special (7Z21) had 5195 & 5031 whilst at noon the next day 5112 was noted at Malton with DE900271, a maroon inspection saloon. Six days later 6782 hauling the 11.40 Lincoln - Newcastle failed at Darlington, 5158 came to the rescue taking the train on to Newcastle. Over the border Easter Monday (7th) saw ten relief trains for London, with Cl 40 & 47 haulage predominating. The 16.30 ex Aberdeen arrived at Edinburgh behind 5120 & 1999 (41A). Ten relief trains also ran between Glasgow & Edinburgh with the 20.50 service using corridor stock and 5072. On April 26th the 12.30 Aberdeen - Edinburgh had 5095 & 5072, the next evening found them working a single parcels coach to Carstairs. Major change was coming for this part of the world with the announcement on April 30th that electrification was planned from Weaver Junction to Glasgow. During these line improvements pairs of Class 50ís would be rostered in an attempt to maintain schedules, test runs were scheduled for May.
Southern Region incursions early in April included 131 on a Narborough - Hamworthy freight and 78 on a Newcastle - Portsmouth Senior Citizenís special. A special Coalville - Littlehampton was noted on the SR behind 7535 & 7649 on April 17th - itís not recorded whether these three services reached their destinations still with the LMR locomotives in charge.
A stranger into Harwich on April 16th was 148 with a freightliner, the locomotive returning light to March. Further north the use of Class 45ís on passenger services out of Edinburgh Waverley was quite normal, however their use on freights in the area was mostly limited to the car trains arriving from the south.
On the Liverpool - Newcastle route certain intermediate stops were removed from at least two services without adjusting the timings, leaving the Peaks & Class 40ís working this route to frequently gain ten or so minutes on the timetable leading to lengthy station stops at Manchester Victoria & Leeds. So noted on April 19th was 181 on an afternoon Newcastle - Liverpool, gaining nine minutes between Leeds & Manchester and another nine minutes between Manchester & Liverpool.
The new timetable introduced from May 5th produced a revision to the LM electric services between Euston & Birmingham. For the new half hourly service departure times were standardized, much 100mph running allowed the 113 miles to be covered in ninety minutes. The newly introduced timetable worked well, the only minor upset occurred on May 8th when a class 25 became derailed at Stechford. The services north of Birmingham remained little changed for the time being. On the NE/SW route accelerations were made and many services gained extended routes. One major time saver was the plan to reverse the York - Poole service in New Street station, rather than use the circuitous run over the Camp Hill line and the Lifford curve. Gone from May 6th was the dmu operated ex-GC Rugby Central - Nottingham Arkwright St passenger service. The last runs were made on May 3rd, the 18.55 ex-Rugby, two three car dmuís being the final train. In the south-west the Bristol - Cardiff service now featured a number of diesel powered workings, by Class 35ís, however Peaks were frequent substitutes including one working going through to Swansea.
It was seaside duty on May 15th when 98 surprisingly ended up in charge of a Senior Citizenís York - Bournemouth special. After arrival at Bournemouth the Peak took the empty stock to Fratton, but on arriving at Netley it was realized this Class was not permitted over the Netley line! After consultation the train was allowed to proceed at a maximum speed of 20mph to Fratton. When the summer timetable commenced at the end of May the Fridays only 23.12 Sheffield Midland - Portsmouth and 10.12 return (Saturday) was diagrammed for a Toton class 45 throughout. All other SR bound summer dated services from the Sheffield/Bradford/Leeds area were diagrammed for Class 47ís.
May 18th found the Up Thames Clyde off its normal route when a bridge near Hurlford needed repair, the express, in charge of 112, was sent via Prestwick. At this time there were other diversions in place due to an accident on Beattock involving Class 50 400. Bristol based Peaks somewhat adrift included 141 noted on May 30th at Kings Cross with the 14.20 Kings Cross - York and on June 17th 151 in charge of the Yorkshire Pullman!
By June 5000 in poor external condition was stored in the roofless steam shed at Shrewsbury, a little further north Chester had accumulated 5002/07/10/12/16/17/19. Crewe South had 5001/13 whilst Derby Works held 5004 (a recent arrival from Cockshute with fire damage), heavily stripped 5005 and accident damaged 5090. The transfer of the Midland Lines class 27ís continued in June with nine more moving north, exchanged for 7602-05/07/08. The Duke of Edinburghís visit to the Yorkshire area on June 26th utilised a four coach train hauled by ĎRoyal Regularsí 5226 & 5223 from Moston.
Testing of freightliner stock for the soon to open Trafford Park facility included the use of 97 during June. The 10.00 Sheffield - Llandudno on June 27th with 5211 in charge was diverted via Romiley, Guide Bridge, Stockport & Northenden Jct due to a derailment near Disley tunnel.
The investiture of the Prince of Wales at Caernarvon created much special traffic for the region, including the use of Class 40ís 216 & 233 on the Royal Train. The only recorded use of a Sulzer Type 2 was the stationing of 5080 at Caernarvon as a shunting locomotive! The Household Cavalry and a section of the Metropolitan Mounted Police made the trip from Kensington Olympia to Caernarvon. Willesdenís Class 25ís were used for the short hop to the WCML, the heavy train comprised three baggage vans, twenty seven horse boxes and three corridor coaches. Three trips were made on June 23 - 25, returning July 2 - 4. The WR ran a number of extra freights on Sundays from Severn Tunnel Junction to Acton/Old Oak Common for forwarding to the ER or SR. Four ran on June 29th and nine on July 6th, all were hauled by Class 45ís which returned light engine to Severn Tunnel Junction. The three destined for Temple Mills changed locomotives at Didcot. The use of Peaks in the Welsh Valleys was rare but one was diagrammed for a Severn Tunnel Jct - Bargoed freight to allow it to then work the 12.15 Bargoed - Middlesborough freight.
A working of much interest that was discontinued after the summer 1969 timetable was the inter-regional service to Newhaven from the north, currently running to Stirling as a Motorail service. This had been instituted during 1958 as a through Glasgow - Eastbourne service, moving to Newhaven in 1964 to provide a connection with the cross channel car ferry service to Dieppe. Its long distance and roundabout route through London caused it to visit all of BRís regions. Regular power was usually a Class 45, by this time quite a rarity on SRís Central Division. Failures were not frequent but when they occurred trouble followed. On July 13th 5214 was sent from Cricklewood to Lewes to recover 41 which had failed on the previous dayís 19.19 northbound service. In fact the Peak had only reached Southease before expiring, E6031 pushed the train into Lewes, sidelining the Peak, then taking the train to Clapham Jcn where 18 had arrived to take over. That same day (12th) an Open Day held at Cricklewood Diesel Depot featured three preserved steam locomotives: 45428, 5593 & 7029, two LMR electrics E3044 & E3156, Peak 36, HS4000 and two diesels frequently found on Royal Train Workings, 216 & 5223. The electric E3044 had featured in an exhibition on July 3rd along with 390 & 5190 at Carlisle station.
A Nottingham - Ramsgate holiday excursion on July 5th was worked throughout by 154, the empty stock was returned to Cricklewood.
The summer only passenger workings between Newcastle, Ayr & Stranraer continued to feature Sulzer 2ís. The 23.45FO Newcastle - Stranraer and the 13.50SO return working brought the following machines in July: 5188/5190 (5th), 5147/5281 (12th), 7555/7564 (19th) and 5182/5196 (26th). This service had seen Class 40ís in 1968, though these had not ventured beyond Ayr due to lack of driver knowledge on the Stranraer line. Loads varied between nine & twelve coaches. Other services over this route featured Class 27ís in pairs west of Carlisle. An unusual diagrammed working for an LMR Type 2 was the 10.38 Yarmouth - York, an ER Cl 31 or 37 would have seemed a more likely candidate for this service. Its southbound counterpart the 10.00 York - Yarmouth featured haulage by a number of 25ís mixed in with most everything else! From the Midlands the Class 25ís were diagrammed to handle many of the summer season trips to the East Coast resorts including Yarmouth. These trains were well loaded, upto ten coaches and featured sections of track not normally used by regular passenger trains, e.g. the Syston north curve. They also ran a limited stop service, the Derby - Yarmouth called only at Peterborough and the Leicester - Yarmouth ran non stop from Stamford to Norwich. Generally at Norwich the last part of the journey was by local ER power with the 25ís waiting for the booked return working, a judicious use of Midland power and drivers. In the opposite direction the summer timetable brought weekend only workings to the North Wales coast. The 7.35 Nottingham - Llandudno, and 13.52 return featured pairs of Type 2ís, noted were 5298 & 5299 (7th), 7537 & 7533 (14th), 5236 & 5246 (21st). The 10.00 from Sheffield & 14.28 return featured 5198 & 5210 (14th) and 7540 & 7594 (21st).
Observation of the southbound ĎDevonianí during the summer found it to be a very poor timekeeper, frequently running over thirty minutes late, motive power was either a Peak or Class 47.
Chaos reigned at Chester in the early hours of July 9th after the 02.25 Birkenhead - Etruria iron ore train, weighing approximately 1,000 tons and hauled by 1617 was reported out of control and diverted into the diesel depot to avoid the station area. Two locomotives and eleven wagons were derailed, with 5031/43/93 & 5138/39 extensively damaged. The crew escaped major injury, though were treated for shock, not surprisingly. The latter four machines were quickly placed to store at Chester and then withdrawn during August, joining stored machines 5007/10/17/19 already there. No doubt because of the loss of these five Type 2ís it was not unexpected that a number of the stored examples would be returned to traffic, those reinstated were 5010/11/16/17. In a continuing rationalisation of motive power the remaining Class 20ís at Willesden were moved to Toton leaving Willesdenís duties completely in the hands of Class 25ís. Included were some express passenger turns, albeit of a short distance on the Kensington Olympia - Willesden leg of the Perth car sleepers!
August 2nd proved to be a very busy day at Carlisle due to the ending of the Paisley & Kilmarnock works holidays and the beginning of the Glasgow holiday. The majority of the specials ran with Peaks, Brush 4ís and EE Type 4ís. Class 45ís were in charge of the Glasgow trains coming off the Leeds route, because of the quantity of trains this day the locomotives were quickly turned round to take up their next workings. However the lucky passengers on the relief Morecambe - Glasgow (1Z10) had the thrill of 5259 & 5196. Also in the area this day was 94 in charge of the Leicester - Blackpool. Down south parts of Kent enjoyed a gloriously wet summer, in the middle of the month Thanet enjoyed 4 ĺ inches (120mm) of rain!
The derailment of a number of wagons of August 8thís 00.30 Wolverhampton - Ripple Lane at Kings Langley whilst on the up slow line caused quite an operating headache. The wreckage partially fouled the up fast, being run into by the 19.45 Perth - Kensington Motorail hauled by E3129. Although damage to this train was minor a number of coaches were derailed. For the Motorail terminal at Kensington a very busy weekend ensued. With Kensington servicing trains to St Austell, Fishguard and Perth, all in a very short period of time problems could quickly escalate due to the limited loading facilities and the necessity to separate the passenger coaches from the Cartics. Willesdenís 7667 & 7669 were on the terminalís shunting duties that night and required some smart workmanship in train marshaling, especially following the delayed arrival of the vehicles from the derailed train. This was not made any easier by the use of this route for a variety of scheduled inter regional freights and other special movements.
Another summer dated working, the Saturdays only 09.09 Leeds - Poole was scheduled non-stop between Market Harborough & Basingstoke, on August 16th 22 was in charge and is believed to have worked through to Poole. Another choice working was the 16.35 Inverness - Edinburgh, which on August 22nd arrived at Waverley behind 88, where the Peak joined this train is not known.
A late summer excursion from Bedford to Southend on September 1st arrived with eight coaches behind 5223 & 5228. Another of the Scottish Grand Tours (No 9) ran on September 13th also with eight coaches behind 5071 & 5342 from Edinburgh to Inverness. An unscheduled stop was made at Aviemore to fill the water tank on 5071. From Inverness 5120 & 5117 made a round trip to Kyle of Lochalsh, reverting to the outbound power at Inverness for the run home over the Highland mainline. September 20th found an enterprising use of the ĎTees-Tyneí stock to work an excursion from Darlington to Welshpool via Newcastle, Carlisle and Crewe. The motive power whilst not spectacular was certainly varied. Tinsley based 1510 made the short hop to Newcastle, 46 across the Pennines to Carlisle leaving 211 for the long leg to Crewe. Here 5056 & 5146 finished the trip to Welshpool, the return working had the same power as outward except for the last leg. Not a bad run for GBP3.00.
An enterprising venture by Luton Town football club was the use of chartered specials to their away games. The intention had been to run only trains for the longer distance matches, but the idea worked so well that it was applied to most away games. The train was usually formed of twelve coaches including a buffet car, haulage being by regular Midland Lines machines. This included a number of workings by Type 2ís. October 18th saw two specials work to Brighton, 5183 & 5184 worked their train throughout whilst 5213 & 7651 were replaced at Acton by 6552 & 6555. Another football special for a First Round FA Cup match between Darlington & Barnsley ran into trouble with the failure of 1575. Rescue came in the shape of 5163, albeit with an hourís delay. During some heavy shunting of the ecs the last vehicle, SO E4536 hit the loading dock, beyond No 1 platform, causing the body to part from its bogies! An eight car dmu filled in on the return working.
During October the Eastern Region experienced an upswing in traffic volumes, so much so that their diesel allocation could not handle the extra traffic. In looking to other regions for help the LMR had available a number of stored Type 2ís. Most of these machines had been in store for at least nine months, clearly reflected in their external appearance. Thus in October 5000/01/13/18 and November 5090 were reinstated to Leeds Holbeck though most visited Derby Works prior to being handed over to the ER. Derby already had 5090 still awaiting repairs after its collision at Rugeley. In outshopping these machines Derby chose to repaint 5000 into blue but left 5090 in green! By the end of the year the remains of 5005 were cut up, this was the first of the original build to be broken up and the only Class 24 to be broken up at its birthplace. Further north Eastfield still held withdrawn 5067 & 5122 keeping company with NBL 6111.
The 1V80 Bradford - Paignton ĎDevonianí continued to be a notoriously poor timekeeper, allegedly November 5th was the first time this train had reached its destination on time since the start of the May 5th timetable. Class 46ís took over this working from October 6th, which improved timekeeping somewhat and allowed Newton Abbot crews to be trained on the 46ís. If a Warship was provided by Newton Abbot a locomotive change would take place at Bristol. By late December a Class 47 would handle this working south of Bristol with the Peak now taking over a Liverpool - Plymouth working, used for the training of Laira drivers.
November saw contractors working on the dismantling of the old GC line between Rugby & Leicester. The recovered materials were destined for the permanent way yard at Lenton, necessitating the use of a train to remove the materials. Class 25ís were mostly used, 7618 being observed on November 16th. Other Midland machines having adventures were 5246 & 7504 working a 22.00 Narborough - Hamworthy special on November 11th, going as far as Eastleigh, thence returning light to Banbury, where they were procured to work the 12.10 Banbury - Reading West and 14.50 return, this last working regularly featured Class 25ís.
Early November found major highway improvements being made to the A890 between the junction of the A896 at Strathcarron and Stromeferry. Just west of Strathcarron rail and road run alongside Loch Carron hemmed in by the loch and a cliff. It is believed the contractors improvements loosened the rock formation causing a landslide that severed the line trapping 5125 and a set of coaches on the Kyle side of the blockage. This equipment was used to operate a temporary service west of the landslide. On January 5th 1970 in a delicate move over temporary track using a set of wagons the Type 2 was gingerly retrieved from its isolation, with its place being taken by another. To mitigate this landslide problem the line would remain closed whilst a concrete avalanche style shelter was constructed to provide protection for both railway & road. During construction of the shelter a temporary track was laid on the loch side of the shelter. Through services were restored on March 4th though construction expected to be completed by April 1970 actually ran over to July.
Unusual visitors to Severn Tunnel Junction shed were 6512 and 7569. At this time the Class 25ís were not generally found west of Gloucester, the Class 33ís were familiar visitors to the Exeter & Bristol areas of the WR, but not west of the Severn.
A relief Glasgow/Edinburgh - Liverpool (1M58) on December 28th featured 410 leading 5071, suggesting the heating equipment on 410 was defective. Both machines were replaced at Carlisle by 249, the Class 50 retiring to Kingmoor, the Class 24 returning quickly to Carstairs, perhaps to resume its next working.
The last day of 1969 saw a couple of Class 25ís called out to work those duties that they seemed so familiar with, but were of such a non-routine nature. AM10 071 working the 10.43 Coventry - Euston service collided with some empty derailed wagons near Roade. The leading coach M76155 was severely damaged in the collision. For the clean up Rugby sent out a wiring train led by 5239 whilst 7601 arrived with the Bletchley crane. Mainline services into Euston were routed over to the Midland mainline, via Nuneaton & Wigston using an assortment of diesel power. Tremendous delays were encountered in the St Pancras area due to lack of platform space and the extreme length of the trains, especially the sleepers. The following day creativity took over through the use of the Bedford - Bletchley line, using part of the truncated Hitchin branch, a number of freight sidings and the sharp single track curve at Bedford No 1 box. By the turn of the New Year the lines at Roade were back in service, but the overhead wiring was still inoperative. Southbound electric locos were doubleheaded with diesels over this short section, with a number of Class 25ís acting as pilots, including 7503.
The Research Centre at Derby continued its policy of using castoffs by acquiring recently retired Baby Deltic 5901 from the ER. This joined Metro Vick 5705.
Laira crews continued their training on the Peaks, on December 30th D151 took over the 08.30 Paddington - Penzance at Plymouth returning with the 16.20 to Plymouth. This working would continue well into January, other Peak turns in the area were the 07.40 Plymouth - Bristol, the locomotive coming back on the 08.40 Liverpool - Penzance, and thence back to Laira on the 21.00 to Plymouth, mostly Class 46ís covered these turns.
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