By Don Benn
The week to Sunday, July 9, saw three main line special trains commemorating the 50th anniversary of the end of steam worked trains on the Southern, plus a big gala at the Mid Hants Railway over two weekends, which included four working Bulleid Pacifics.
The weather was generally fine and warm throughout and there was some concern that the risk of lineside fires would cause Network Rail to impose a steam ban or at least insist on the addition of a diesel locomotive to the main line trains as a precaution.
However, even on a very hot day, No.35028 Clan Line ran unassisted on its main line debut on Wednesday, July 5, turning in a superb performance on the ‘Bournemouth Belle’ special with its big load of 10 Pullmans and three bogie vans, 504 tons tare, around 530 tons full.
The engine crews of Rob Binsted and Dave Proctor had charge of the Down train, the 9.52am from Waterloo to Bournemouth and Wayne Thompson with Paul Major shared the work on the return journey. The Down train was delayed in places by the late running 9.39am from Waterloo to Poole as South West Trains were having yet another bad day, which have been all too common this summer. There were also clearance restrictions to 30mph through Woking and 10mph through Basingstoke.
Some delay was experienced getting away from Waterloo and the train was five minutes late most of the way to Woking, then recovering well from the speed restriction to reach 59mph at the summit of Milepost 31. The work away from the severe Basingstoke check was even better and 57 at Battledown with this big load was truly excellent.
After some very fast running downhill to Winchester, the ‘Bournemouth Belle’ caught the aforementioned 9.39 from Waterloo making its Shawford and Eastleigh stops but still managed to keep the overall time loss to the water stop in the Southampton Down goods loop down to just over three minutes. Here the engine was watered having used 3,700 gallons on the run down from Waterloo.
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