On the 23rd July 2016 the Railway Touring Company operated a railtour from Crewe to Carlisle featuring steam haulage by LMS Princess Coronation Class 4-6-2 Pacific No.46233 ‘Duchess of Sutherland’ which my son Josh and I were fortunate enough to travel on.
Originally advertised to start in Liverpool at a reasonable hour of the day, unfortunately due to gauging problems with the Duchess at Liverpool, the steam section was altered to run north from Crewe, but with the train diesel hauled to and from Liverpool both in the morning and evening to pick up the many people that had booked from Liverpool. This meant a very early departure from Crewe at just after 5am, but this was more than made up for as upon arrival at Crewe. The stock was spotted top and tail by West Coast class 37 locos (a particular favourite of mine).
After arrival back at Crewe the two class 37s were swapped for the Duchess which left on time for the run north. The Duchess ran well north stopping at Wigan and Preston to pick up more passengers before a water stop at Carnforth. North of Carnforth the line climbs the northern fells, skirting the Lake District, culminating in the climb to Shap summit which was breasted in the high 30s mph. The Duchess could be heard working hard all the way back in the rear coach.
A short break was taken at Carlisle where the Duchess was turned and serviced before the run back to Crewe, which was originally planned to run round the Cumbrian coast route via Workington and Sellafield but, once again, gauging restriction on the Duchess put a stop to this, so we retraced our outward route south along the West Coast main line. The southbound climb to Shap summit is not quite as steep as the northbound run, hence the summit being taken in the high 50s mph.
The return stops for water and passengers were repeated before arrival back at Crewe on time, where the Duchess was removed to the Heritage centre for the night before return to its base at the Midland Railway Centre at Butterley on the Sunday lunchtime. We left the train at Crewe, but not before watching the stock leave for Liverpool behind the West Coast class 37s again.
5am and West Coast Railway Company class 37 No. 37706 waits at Crewe to start the day out with 1Z61, 05.19 Crewe – Liverpool Lime Street (via St Helens Jnc) - Crewe leg of the Cumbrian Mountain Express charter.
WCRC 37668 waits departure time at Liverpool before returning 1Z61, back to Crewe ready for the Duchess to continue north.
WCRC 37706 and 37668 are stabled up at Crewe after working 1Z61, 05.19 Crewe –Liverpool Lime Street - Crewe leg With one of WCRC Pullman car sitting in the background waiting its passengers to load for the run to Carlisle.
LMS Princess Coronation Class 4-6-2 Pacific No.46233 ‘Duchess of Sutherland’ at Crewe before departing with 1Z62 08.20 Crewe to Carlisle leg of the charter.
Upon arrival at Carlisle, the Duchess was removed from the train for turning and servicing before the run back to Crewe and is seen as she runs tender first with support coach through Carlisle station.
During the break in Carlisle, various services were seen going around the station including Scotrail liveried class 156 No.156432, which is waiting departure with the 14.22 to Dumfries local Scotrail service.
First TransPennine class 350 No.350402 arrives at Carlisle with the 12.00 Manchester Airport to Edinburgh service. These units are very similar to the class 350 Desiro units that operate London Midland services locally.
Colas class 60 No.60021 stabled at Carlisle.
DRS retro liveried class 37/4 No.37402 Arrives Carlisle with 2C45, 11.38 from Barrow. DRS has recently repainted a number of its class 37/4 into this 1980s large logo blue livery and operates them on the Cumbrian coast route for Northern Trains as a stop gap measure as there is a shortage of DMU units available.
To save running the loco round at terminating station, DRS operate some of the ex-Scotrail/Anglia driving coaches on these services. Here DBSO No.9704 departs Carlisle on 2C34 14.33 to Barrow. These coaches were converted in the late 1970s for the push pull services between Glasgow and Edinburgh and were later used on Anglia trains between London and Norwich.
Most of the train was made up of West Coast railways maroon MK1 coaches in both first and standard class, but also used were two of their Pullman stock. Here 1960 built Metro-Cammell Pullman No.348 in full Pullman livery and carrying the name Topaz sits after arriving at Carlisle. These coaches were originally built for use on the East Coast main line. The other Pullman carried WCRC maroon livery.
An inside view of the above Pullman set up for dining passengers.
46233 Duchess of Sutherland at Carlisle, having just backed on to the train after turning and services, and ready to work 1Z63, the 14.52 Carlisle to Crewe return leg.
37668 departs Crewe with 1Z64, 19.07 Crewe to St Helens via Liverpool last leg of tour.
Returning to base 46233 Duchess of Sutherland passes Stafford with 5Z66, 12.18 Crewe Heritage centre to Butterley MRC on Sunday 24th July 2016.