Green British India Line ‘stopped’ at York on debut


By Cedric Johns and Robin Jones

BULLEID Merchant Navy 4-6-2 No. 35018 British India Line has made its passenger hauling main line debut in BR green.

The shiny black livery the newly restored West Coast Railways locomotive carried during its test runs in recent months has given way to the historically correct colour, to the delight of enthusiasts.

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The green livery was not previously applied in case it was damaged during the fine tuning of the locomotive at its Carnforth base.

SR Merchant Navy Pacific No. 35018 British India Line rounds the curve into Long Preston station with West Coast Railways’ ‘Lune Rivers Trust’ special from Carnforth to York on September 30. EMMA SEDDON

However, British India Line’s debut run on Saturday, September 30, heading its first passenger train since withdrawal in August 1964, ended somewhat disappointingly.

Launched without prior notice – although word soon got out – the 4-6-2 departed Carnforth in fine style, heading the annual ‘Lune Rivers Trust Special’, bound for York via Hellifield, Skipton, Church Fenton.

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However, the Merchant ran into trouble shortly before the end of the outward journey when a noticeable ‘knock’ developed on the approach to York, apparently as result of lubrication problems to a bearing.

The 4-6-2 was stopped at York, where Jubilee 4-6-0 No. 45699 Galatea was waiting to work the train back
home, single-handed, rather than double-headed.

Repairs were quickly effected at the National Railway Museum and the engine returned to Carnforth under its own steam on October 12 double-headed with another Pacific; LNER A4 No. 60009 Union of South Africa. The A4 was en route from York to the East Lancashire Railway’s autumn steam gala.

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