We were booked to haul four trips for Steam Dreams on Tuesday 14th December 2021. They were three Santa Steam Expresses and one Christmas Steam Express. They all started and finished at London Victoria. Most of the train was vacuum braked, so, as our support coach only supports air braking, we had to leave it behind. This meant that the people waiting at Victoria were able to witness the once common sight of a steam locomotive backing onto its train at the platform.
The first trip, which left at about 9:30, had Clan line on the front of the train for the whole trip, which lasted a couple of hours. We had to give Father Christmas time to visit all of our passengers, so there wasn’t any fast running. In fact, we didn’t exceed forty miles per hour the whole way round. We kept to the schedule all the way until we got to Clapham Junction. We were held here for ten to fifteen minutes because of a line possession.
For the second trip, just after midday, Clan Line started at the back of the train. This meant that the diesel had to haul us to Willesden, where we could reverse, and our engine could take over. After stopping at Kew to take water from a waiting tanker, we got back to Victoria more or less on time.
The third trip of the day started in a similar way to the second, with Clan Line at the rear of the train. When we got to Willesden South West Sidings, we were held for about an hour before we could haul the train back to London. We managed to make up some time, but we were still about forty minutes late getting back to Victoria.
Before the evening trip, we had to vacate Platform 2, and go back to Willesden again, to take some more water from the tanker with the very helpful driver. Taking on water takes time, so we were unable to make up all the time that we had lost.
The evening trip was a little longer than the other three. The earlier delays meant that we started about half an hour late. We’d made up about half of this until being held at Hounslow by a problem with the train in front of us. We were then more or less half an hour late for most of the rest of the trip. We paid another visit to Willesden on the way back to Victoria. The last bit of the journey, from Clapham Junction, had some pathing allowances built in, so that our arrival back at Victoria was only about ten minutes late.