The Branch Line Society


The Nosey Peaker Railtour
Thursday 14th June 2018

Report by Malcolm Rose

My arrival at Stafford for our tour to Crewe (!) had been on the first Virgin Euston to Liverpool South Parkway service of the day (Lime Street was closed). There were already a good number of tour participants, mostly familiar faces, waiting on the platform for the arrival of the empty stock from Nemesis Rail's base at Burton-on-Trent.


Mileage table

After a platform change announcement, the tour ECS arrived in P3 double headed by 'Growlers' (Class 37s) 37424 & 37407, the former masquerading as 37558, the fleet number of the last airworthy former RAF Avro Vulcan bomber aircraft, which I saw during its last operational year at the Clacton Air Show. As is usual with this event some of the carriages remained empty (actually packed full of food and drink which our Stewards had helped to load in the short time available at Crewe) for later in the day when the stock formed the set for the annual three-day Three Peaks by Rail Challenge charity event.

We were soon accommodated in the rear portion of the all First Class train and set off a little late (08.00) via the Down Slow to Crewe Basford Hall Yard with 37401 bringing up the rear.

From Basford Hall we ran to Crewe P12 via the Down Fast Independent to 157m 16ch to access the route past the DRS Coal Sidings (nuclear flasks) and the South Yard outlets to the Up Nantwich line just south of Crewe station. Leaving P12 we were able to access Crewe PAD (Pre-Assembly Depot) Siding No2, making up for last year's tour when it was occupied by an OTM (on track machine).

As is normal on BLS trips, we reached Denton station for an operational stop (originally a photo stop but late running prevented that) via some very esoteric moves, the highlight for your reporter, and others, being the use of the Down Fast to Down Slow crossover (182m 28ch) before Edgeley No1 box. Also of note there was a freight train, inert spoil to Roxby, in Collyhurst Street Sidings (once the start of the Oldham Road Goods branch) at the top of Miles Platting bank with the now resident shunter 09009 in operation instead of parked at the buffer stop. Some participants wondered if that had been arranged!

Members of 'Friends of Reddish South Station' boarded handing out leaflets about reinstatement of a regular service over that line. They have had a 100% increase in timetabled trains since 20 May as the DMU makes a return trip from Stalybridge to Stockport, but now Saturdays only - an off peak fare instead of the peak fare that applied on the previous Friday train in the other direction. [Sadly they have not run since 18 Aug due to strike action!] After some more esoteric moves in the Stockport area, approaching Buxton we were informed that we could not reach the reversing sidings* via the station as a shunt move had not taken place so P2 was occupied. (*'Up Relief' or 'XYZ Sidings' in TRACKmaps - even though there are only two now; they are currently being extended to take longer trains.) Instead we were routed onto the Hindlow branch to reverse and gain access to said sidings. Some on the train were pleased by this change but lineside photographers waiting in the wrong place were not! We then took the attractive Peak Forest line, noting very busy freight activities there as we passed. Following traversal of the Down Cheadle Loop there was a leg stretch and photo stop at Altrincham. Our route back was via Northwich and Middlewich Up Loop to Sandbach, terminating Crewe P1 at 16.23.

A very enjoyable tour with plenty of unusual moves for track people and noise for the Growler fans to savour and all the raffle prize winners really were in First Class this time! Later I learnt that the tour (along with the well attended Class 37 photographic event at Crewe Heritage Centre the night before) raised £16,293.87 for Railway Children, the highest amount in the tour's history. Well done to Kev and team, DRS train planners, NR and many others for their efforts, but most of all to the tour participants for supporting our Stafford to Crewe railtour. [Route by Paul Stewart & Martyn Brailsford.]


The tour in Crewe PAD (Pre-Assembly Depot) Road 2
[© Accredited rail staff 2018]

Passing DRS Gresty Road Depot and illustrating why some coaches were not used with three days of supplies stored for participants in 'The Three Peaks Challenge by Rail'.
[© Geoff Plumb 2018]

An on train route conference.
[© Geoff Plumb 2018]

The winner of the cab ride is about to have his bank balance reduced - no wonder Mr A is looking so pleased with himself!
[© Geoff Plumb 2018]

Reversing in Buxton Up Relief Sidings ('XYZ Sidings' - only 'Z' is now in use the remains of 'Y is on the right, the train is mostly in the Run Round Line with this loco on the extremity of 'Z'
[© Accredited rail staff 2018]

Leaving these sidings, which are to be lengthened, taken from the rear cab. The three buffer stops, left to right are 'X', 'Y' and 'Z' Sidings. The DMU is on a Buxton service.
[© Geoff Plumb 2018]

Great Rocks Jn where the single line from Buxton doubles. Your Editor always thinks that 'Great Rocks' should have an exclamation mark after it like 'Westwood Ho!'
[© Geoff Plumb 2018]

Tunstead Works.
[© Geoff Plumb 2018]

Another rear view, actually earlier in the tour, south of Denton station the Guide Bridge to Stockport line reduces to single track allowing a cheaper single-track bridge (but still substantial) to be built over the M60.
[© Geoff Plumb 2018]

Heaton Norris Jn leaving the line from Guide Bridge (towards Stockport).
[© Geoff Plumb 2018]

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