WITH FULL REGULATOR LOCOMOTIVE PERFORMANCE THEN AND NOW

By Don Benn

The theme this time is heavy loads at home and in Europe, though I start with a series of climbs from Taunton to Whiteball. I have been following the exploits of LMS ‘Black Five’ 4-6-0 No. 45212 which has been producing some fine running with 10 coaches unassisted on a number of charters.

I wanted to sample one of these and thought that The Railway Touring Company’s ‘Dartmouth Express’ would be a good choice and so made my way by means of First Great Western to Bristol Temple Meads on Saturday, June 9, where the ‘Black Five’ was booked to take over from a Class 47 diesel, No. 47746 and take the train on to Kingswear.

Having watched the Class 47 detach from the train, and as booked, leave light engine for Taunton in order to take over the train on its return there, I walked down the train to get the load, which was 10 coaches for 369½ tons tare.

SR Merchant Navy Pacific No. 35028 Clan Line passes Newington on the Belmond Pullman on March 30, 2018. BRYAN BENN

However, I noted with dismay that No. 47760 was still attached at the rear – the two diesel locos having been needed for the reversals at Guildford and Westbury. In addition, the recommended load limit for a class 5 on Whiteball westbound is eight coaches, plus of course No. 45212 would face the steep climb to Churston on the Torbay and Dartmouth Railway.

I was particularly annoyed as this class 5 had been proving to be in the class 6 category and also the train manager had found me a milepost side seat in the front passenger coach, which was now to be spoilt slightly by the likelihood of diesel assistance.

The class 5 had been in position west of the station since our arrival, but continued to sit there – a victim of the new ‘improved’ shunting arrangements which have already delayed the charters on June 3 and 17.

Eventually our loco appeared at around departure time of 10.23am and we were ready to go a few minutes later. But no, the signallers saw fit to let the 10.26am stopper to Weston go in front, also late. Therefore of course, we followed that to Worle and got looped at Yatton as well. I could detect no help from the Class 47 and we ran steadily to the Taunton stop, reached 37 minutes late.

Taunton was better organised than Bristol and after being held for a couple of service trains we left 49 late for the climb to Whiteball, the main reason for being on the train. Spike Hodges was driving and young Mathew Earnshaw on the shovel. With 10 coaches for 395 tons full plus the Class 47, we made a very good noisy start.

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