The Branch Line Society


The Greendale Rocket
Saturday 9th September 2017

This 'track & traction' tour, our first with Rail Operations Group, raised funds for Railway Children (£450) and Rowland Hill Fund (£500). Although departure from Burton-on-Trent was 88 mins late at 08.08 due to a failed oil train at Kingsbury Branch Jn, this was regained by Harlesden Jn. The booked use of Elford Loop was missed due to an infrastructure problem but highlights included Kingsbury to Whitacre in both directions, Hams Hall Euroterminal Departure/Run-Round Line (thought to be first passenger use of the one further from the main line) with the associated crossovers before and after. Also included was Heartlands Park Civil Engineers Siding No6, Saltley Down Goods Loop, Bletchley Relief No1, Kings Langley Loop and a comprehensive tour in, out, in and out of Willesden Princess Royal (not a royal male, of course, but a Royal Mail) Distribution Centre which complemented previous tours here. The spectacular success which very few, if any, participants on the train had done before (even those railtouring since the 1950s!) was the two mile route taken back from Harlesden Jn. After passing it for the sixth and final time on the day the (Willesden) Down High Level Goods Line was taken to the Down Carriage Line which was done in its entirety - and very gingerly too - with the obscure Willesden Carriage Shed South Signal Box on the left then Stonebridge Park station on the DC Lines to the right. Passing over the 'flushing apron' and flushed with success, on Virgin territory the tour ran by the Alstom Carriage Cleaning Shed to the left.

There was a long pause (some of the 242 passengers wondered if North box was staffed; it sometimes isn't). On the move again, it was through the Carriage Wash (it didn't) to pass the even more obscure but staffed, Willesden Carriage Shed North Signal Box to the right. Eventually the Shunting Line was reached, then North Arrival to take the crossover to North Departure then Down Slow to civilisation, or at least Wembley Central P5. This route has permissive working and required special arrangements with a considerable amount of point clipping too; it has operational semaphore signals, some of the closest to central London. Special thanks from the tour participants and well done to all involved.

Although 36 minutes late at Wembley Central as a result, the Greendale Rocket was still able to do Bletchley Relief No2 and be back on time to run through Rugby P5 northbound (unusual) then the bidirectional Flyover in the rare direction to the Birmingham line (with the subsequent Long Lawford Jn trailing crossover). Final arrival at Burton-on-Trent was 3 mins early after the 295 mile railtour.

The unusual (even by Jim's high standards) souvenir tickets

Perhaps there could have been a case for restoring 'Second Class' for this tour?

The (edited) detailed route below is thanks to Martyn Brailsford, who didn't have it off 'Pat'; the 'normal' route was taken unless specified (names follow the latest TRACKmaps Book 4 - Dec 2018).

Mileage table

Our beloved Fixtures Secretary, Kev Adlam (far right) with Rail Operations Group staff at Princess Royal Distribution Centre P1

The other end of the train in P1.

The 'Greendale Rocket' in P3.

Birmingham International P5 on the return, staff and stewards.

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