Belmond Chiltern Hills – 8th December 2018

Clan Line only got back from Cardiff, where it had hauled the Royal Train, with His Royal Highness The Prince Of Wales on board, at about five o’clock in the evening. This meant that we weren’t able to clean it to our usual standards, but we still think that it looked pretty good. Some things, however, still had to be done. They included the lubrication, loading coal and water, and passing the Fitness To Run examination.

Because of planned engineering works in the Redhill area, we were unable to take our usual Surrey Hills route, so we went round the Chilterns instead. Because of more engineering work, we were unable to access Clapham Junction by way of our usual route, so we had to go via Herne Hill and Tulse Hill at the start and the end of the trip. This meant that we had to start about an hour earlier, and finish an hour later, than usual. The engineering works also meant that Stewarts Lane was inaccessible during the main part of the day, so we sat in Victoria for three and a half hours before the trip, and another three and a quarter hour afterwards. This made for a long day for the support crew, but did allow us to make the footplate available to more members of the public.

Because of suspicions about the health of the generator car, it was decided to take the Class 67 diesel with us, just in case.

We were held by signals on the approach to Herne Hill, and again in the station. This meant that we were sixteen minutes late passing Tulse Hill. However, we had regained all this time when we got to Mitre Bridge Junction., only to be delayed at Acton Wells Junction, making us nine minutes late.

Clan Line passing over Chelsea Railway Bridge – photograph by David Element

We were delayed by a unit in front on the approach to Saunderton, but once that had cleared, we were able to accelerate up the climb, and we were doing about fifty five miles per hour at the top. We were booked to stop at Princes Risborough, but the diesel on the back meant that we were too long for the loop, so we arrived at Oxford Parkway for the water stop thirteen minutes early.

We were ready to leave ten minutes early, but actually left five minutes ahead of schedule. We arrived at Didcot for a pathing stop early, and left on time. We had some good running to Reading, where we stopped again, but we were held up in the Hanwell area. We were held again at Clapham. Our driver said “Getting away from Platform 17 at Clapham with nearly 600 tons behind us was interesting to say the least”. We finally arrived at Victoria two minutes early.

It was a long day for the support crew, with getting on for seven hours spent in Victoria, but our passengers enjoyed their day, and many visitors seemed happy, too.

error: Content is protected !!