The Branch Line Society


Glaschu* Service Train Tracker
Friday 10th June 2016

Report by Kev Adlam (organiser)


At 04.45 on a damp and dull day in the Pond Hotel Anniesland, my alarm went off, for a leisurely walk to the station, arriving just after 05.35 in plenty of time for the 05.58 to Falkirk Grahamston. Our party started to assemble; 12 keen members doing the full day. 156501 arrived gingerly into bay P3 (ECS from Eastfield), with dust coming from the wheelsets. The driver was on the phone, and the doors stayed shut. The headlights /marker lights remained on. Something was amiss! The engines died, lights went out including the front ones, and the AWS warning went off, before the engines restarted, suggesting a MCB (circuit breaker) re-set. Red taillights lit we were allowed to board and the train finally left only 1 minute late.

The first highlight was the rare Down to Up Springburn facing crossover (0m 04ch), just after Cowlairs West Jn , arriving at Springburn P1; this train being its only booked passenger working. This happened during the Glasgow Queen Street diversions (only) as Springburn P2 was then occupied by a reversing EMU from Cumbernauld to Dumbarton. On departure, it was a right turn to Stepps arriving a few minutes early. The group set off walking [what else from Stepps? - Ed] to try to find some coffee, and discovered a Bannatyne gym that was open. Retracing our 'Stepps' back to the station, it was on to the 06.58 Cumbernauld to Dumbarton Central, departing 07.10 to arrive back at Springburn P2 a minute late at 07.16. Some of the group found a nice little shop doing bacon cobs (let us not get into that debate here!) and a coffee, for the substantial amount of £2.20!

At this point, I would personally like to thank Ian Delgado, for doing all the hard work sorting out the day's itinerary. I am sure that goes for all the people on the day's little venture. While in 'thanking mode', I would like to mention Martyn Brailsford for producing the excellent maps and Jim Sellens for his superb souvenir tickets.

Back at Springburn P1, it was 334014 on the 08.17 to Glasgow Queen St LL (07.59 Cumbernauld to Dumbarton Central). This ran 'bang road' to just before Barnhill and then used the new crossover just before the station to the Down Springburn. At Queen Street LL, there was just under 30 minutes to transfer to P9. By departure time, all the participants had arrived. 170419 and 170477 rolled in with the 09.01 Queen St LL to Edinburgh, which returned to Springburn, and at Cowlairs West Jn regained its normal route. Croy was reached a minute early giving 8 minutes to cross to the other platform. DMUs 170402 and 170429 arrived with the 09.28 back to Queen Street LL, (08.46 from Edinburgh), following its booked route to Cowlairs East Jn and the single line Up & Down East Curve to Cowlairs North Jn. At Maryhill Park Jn the train took the line towards Anniesland P3, but at Dawsholm Jn, veered right on to the new link line (longer than anyone had expected and able to hold a 6-car DMU) joining the Up Singer at Knightswood South Jn.

Back at Queen St there was 24 minutes before the train to Helensburgh Upper, hopefully through the West Highland loop. 156496 arrived on the 10.22 to Oban. This made a long rather slow anticlockwise circuit three-quarters the way round the Glasgow suburbs through Springburn (again!) to Cowlairs West Jn then straight across the Up West Curve to Cowlairs North Jn. This time at Maryhill Park Jn it was straight on to Knightswood North Jn joining the Down Singer. Unfortunately 6 minutes was lost at Dalmuir and, you guessed it, the train was held at Craigendoran Jn for the southbound service, so did not need to use the loop! This turned out to be the only failure of the day. Helensburgh Upper arrival at 11.27 gave 26 minutes to walk the 1,200yd down the road to Helensburgh Central where P2 and P3 were in use but P1 showed very little evidence of recent use despite what on line systems show. The group arrived at the terminus in time to catch the 11.53 EMU for Edinburgh to Dumbarton Central.

Here P3 came into regular use for EMUs turning back from Cumbernauld/Springburn at the start of the diversions, this continues long term after they finish although the track west out of P3 was very rusty. The 12.26 was caught from P3 to Springburn, (over the once rare trailing crossover east of the station) as far as Partick. It was decided to go off plan and include the Glasgow Subway, ('Clockwork Orange'). A few even tried for all available haulages on the outer loop by alighting at each station and had achieved this by St Georges Cross. At Buchanan Street the ScotRail operated bus was taken to Central (free for rail ticket holders). It was late and participants were becoming a bit agitated as there was only 10 minutes to reach Central P5. There a party went ahead to warn the guard that a little time was needed and top marks to the guard who tried to find seats on the packed service even though they were at the front of the train. This was 170413, the 14.16 Glasgow Central to Inverness via Rutherglen, Langloan Jn, Coatbridge Jn, and Cumbernauld. Arrival at Stirling was 4 minutes early, (recovery time wisely built in to the temporary timetables!). The group crossed to P3 to return. It was here that I learned that my last required 170, 170453 would be on the 19.10 to Aberdeen, but more of this later. Then, 45 minutes later and 3 minutes late, participants were aboard 170405 on the 13.38 Aberdeen to Glasgow Central reached at 16.40 (6 down) via the reverse of the outward route.

There was a leisurely 42 minutes to re-cross the city to Queen Street LL, on the free bus but this time the other one working the service (what else would we expect?). The Queen Street HL remodelling and platform lengthening work was seen through a special viewing window. Next from P8 was the 17.22 to Dunblane with 170459. This ran to Anniesland, then took the new facing crossover for the new link to Maryhill Park Jn, followed by Cowlairs North to East Jn; participants alighted at Bishopbriggs station. Thankfully, arrival was 5 minutes early, giving 11 minutes to change platforms. An ex-Porterbrook Leasing 'spot hire' set, 170393 was on the 17.23 ex-Stirling via Cowlairs East to West Jns, Springburn and Bellgrove Jn, to Queen Street P8. This completed both inner and outer 'Balloon loops' used during the engineering work and concluded the day's 'little outing'. I said my farewells, and met up with the 'better half' in a nearby Wetherspoons. She had agreed to join me for a trip on the 19.10 Central to Aberdeen to Stirling for 170453. Return was on 170473 (17.30 Inverness to Glasgow Central), arriving at 21.08. After treating my good Lady to a meal at 'Spoons' (I know how to give a Lady a good time), it only left 320314 to return us to Anniesland and our digs, on the 22.22 Motherwell to Dalmuir. Some of the participants were off early to Leadhills next morning for our Society visit.

*For budding linguists, 'Glaschu', Gaelic for Glasgow, means 'place of the green hollow' or 'dear green place' derived from the Brythonic words 'glas' meaning 'green' and 'cau' meaning 'hollow'.