‘Number Nine’ hits hot spot

By Cedric Johns

JOHN Cameron’s A4 No. 60009 Union of South Africa hit a hot spot on Thursday, July 26 – the warmest day recorded in the month – when temperatures soared into the eighties as the 4-6-2 led Railway Touring Company’s first summer season ‘Dorset Coast Express’ to Bournemouth, Wareham and Weymouth.

Led is the operative word because in keeping with Network Rail’s fire risk edict that steam locomotives would only be allowed to represent the image of coal-fired power, the A4 appeared more or less as a token gesture, with an accompanying diesel actually working the trains.

The 11-coach Southend Victoria to Poole Cathedrals Express on July 21 was hauled by LNER A4 No. 60009 Union of South Africa, assisted by Class 47 No. 47760, and at the rear of the train, No. 47580. The train reversed direction at Southampton Up Goods Loop and was taken forward to Poole by No. 47580. The West Coast train is seen here approaching Millbrook, Hampshire. MARK V PIKE

In the event, the ‘Express’ was accompanied by two Class 47 diesels.

As laid down by Network Rail, the train was worked by a Class 47 diesel positioned immediately behind ‘No. 9’, the second Class 47 tailing at the rear.

Why two ‘47s’? Whether Network Rail’s instructions were taken literally with regards to the positioning of a diesel behind the locomotive or not, the second 47 was attached in order to work the whole train back as far as Southampton from Weymouth that evening.

Then, as has become practice, the ‘Express’ and A4 were facing the right way around for the remainder of the homeward journey, travelling via Romsey and the Laverstock loop, Whitchurch, Andover and Basingstoke.

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