Blyth Spirit Keeps Time to Tyne
For its latest charter in the Railway Touring Company's 2012 programme, 70013 Oliver Cromwell operated The Tynesider from Cleethorpes to Morpeth and back to York on Saturday 10th March. 5305LA engineers had replaced the broken rings on the left hand piston which caused 70013 to be taken off the previous week's charter at Cleethorpes and the locomotive was passed fit to haul the train.
A feature of the run was the excellent timekeeping throughout. After the first leg, from Cleethorpes to York for the first water stop, arrival into York was quarter of an hour early! Passengers, enthusiasts and casual observers had a good chance to view the engine as it stood in platform 11 for almost an hour. Then it was a burst down the East Coast Main Line for the next 76 miles to Tyne Yard, just south of Newcastle, for another water stop. With half an hour in the schedule for a stand at platform 2 in Newcastle station, 70013 was in close view to the public once again.
The next section over the Blyth and Tyne freight only line through Bedlington and round to Morpeth, gave ardent track bashers an opportunity to travel over lines that rarely see steam. There was time for passengers to have a short stay in Morpeth whilst Oliver Cromwell and the stock recessed off the main line to allow service trains to pass before the charter returned to Newcastle up the main line. From here the route was retraced back to York, with a further water stop in Tyne Yard, where coal was also loaded into the tender.
A spirited run up the ECML, with a pathing stop near Durham and a station stop there to pick up the passengers who had alighted earlier in the day, saw 70013 back in York station on time. A diesel took the train back to Cleethorpes whilst Cromwell made the short journey to the National Rail;way Museum. It will stay there until Saturday 17th March, when it will be in charge of yet another RTC charter, this time from York to Edinburgh.
The busy schedule continues after that with an Edinburgh-Manchester train, The Auld Reekie, on Saturday 24th March and a Cumbrian Mountain Express on the 31st March, both for the Railway Touring Company.
Meanwhile back at Loughborough, the engineering team were busy preparing No. 30777 Sir Lamiel for some 'bottom end' engineering work: the engine is going to Tyeseley for tyre turning while the tender will stay at Loughborough for a bit of fettling in the shed. This means that the engine & tender need to be split apart. Unlike, say a Black Five, where splitting the engine & tender just needs 3 pins removing, with Lamiel you first have to slacken off a huge nut on a sprung linkage. This needs about three or four people: one to put the spanner onto the nut, one to flog the spanner with a large 'persuader' and the third to tension the spanner with a strap. Luckily for Kevin and Tom they managed to collar a couple of drivers who had just been relieved after a morning driving at the GCR so they probably had the smartest fitting crew in the shed with two people in smart bib & brace with collar and tie helping what's usually a boiler suit job - 5305la like to do things in style.