This was only our second trip out on the mainline, hauling a train of fare-paying passengers, for a long time. In that time, we have been lucky enough to gain several new support crew members, and two of them were out with us for the first time. Some of the other members have been doing it for more years than they care to remember, so were able to show them the ropes.
As usual, the fire was lit two days before the trip to allow the boiler to warm up slowly. On the Thursday, the rest of the support crew arrived, ready to complete the cleaning and polishing of the engine. On the “prep” day, it is not all about cleaning, though.
A Fitness To Run (FTR) examination has to ba carried out by a DB Cargo representative to try to ensure that Clan Line, and the support coach, are in a fit state to be allowed out onto the big railway. This includes doing a brake functionally test, along with TPWS and AWS. The safety valves are tested. The steam chest is pressurised to make sure that there are no leaks. All appropriate nuts and bolts are tested for tightness.
As well as the FTR, there is also the oiling to do, coal to be loaded, and the tender tank to be filled with treated water. It is also important to make sure that the water tanks in the support coach are full, and the gas supply is working, so that the support can get their tea.
After a period of fine weather, the day of the trip was wet. We left Victoria on time, and we made our way to Chertsey for the water stop via the West London Line, Willesden South West Sidings, Brentford and Virginia Water. This took getting on for two hours, and our arrival was five minutes late.
We recouped a bit of time taking water from a tanker, and pulling coal forward, and were only a minute late departing.
Even though we didn’t have to stop at Shalford, as we used to do, we were following a stopping train from Guildford, so we weren’t able to get a run at Gomshall Bank.
Once out on the Brighton Main Line, we were due to move to the fast line at Stoats Nest Junction, but this was delayed by a late-running service train.
When we finally got back to Victoria, several of our passengers came forward to see Clan Line, and to express their appreciation.