We had not been out on the mainline for well over a year, our last trip being on 15th February 2020. In that time, where Covid-19 restrictions had allowed, we have done quite a bit of work on Clan Line, including replacing the white metal in the middle big end bearing. We had taken the engine out on a test run to bed the bearing in, and that went well. But, for our own peace of mind, we wanted to give the engine a proper test with a full load. Our colleagues at Belmond and DB Cargo also wanted to make sure that they were all up to speed before they start taking passengers again.
Therefore, between us, we arranged for a loaded test run, with no passengers, round the Surrey Hills.
In the last year or so, things on the railway have moved on, and our previous path wasn’t available any more. This meant that we now have to stop to take water, and pull coal forward, at Chertsey instead of Shalford. Our hope was that this would give us a better run at the climb of Gomshall Bank, but it wasn’t to be. The train in front of us was on time, but it still wasn’t far enough ahead to allow us a good run through Shalford. We didn’t quite come to a complete stop, but we almost did. The climb itself went well.
There are also changes on other parts of the route.
In the end, we got back to Victoria successfully. We will now give the locomotive a thorough inspection, and prepare it for its first revenue earning train in fifteen months. This is due to be a trip to Bath and Bristol on Wednesday 19th May.