The Branch Line Society


Clyde Race Tracker
Saturday 26th April 2014

Our fully booked class 350410 brand new four-car EMU departed on time from Manchester Oxford Road P1 at 07.54 via the recently electrified Chat Moss line to Wigan, Preston (rare RES parcels platform) to Carlisle (through 'C Road' between the platform lines, where we took on crew and more raffle tickets which had unusually sold out by Wigan). Then various loops between there and Carstairs (by which time the raffle tickets had sold out again!) to reverse on the Wishaw Connecting Line before heading back through Carstairs to East Coast’s Edinburgh Craigentinny Depot. Here the train ran through the carriage wash line into the cleaning shed.

Departing from Craigentinny and passing through Waverley and Haymarket the charter travelled, again, via Carstairs to the Mossend area where both Braidhurst loops were included and a reversal at the north end of Mossend Yard. A further reversal on the Wishaw Connecting Line from the other direction saw the tour proceed via Polmadie, Larkfield Jct. and the Shields Chord Line to Glasgow Corkerhill Depot. Here the unit received another carriage wash before reaching the end of the head shunt in the former down platform (from whence the line used to be double track) and returning through Maintenance Shed Road No.3. Running via (Smithy) Lye Through Siding and Engine Siding to Glasgow Central P5, we were greeted by a piper in full Highland dress as well as a number of bemused policemen. The latter were not for the ruffians on a BLS tour but to protect the local populace from marauding football supporters.

After a short break at Glasgow it was the pièce de résistance for many; a high speed run from Glasgow to Manchester Piccadilly. To the strains of 'Scotland the Brave' from the lone piper and one minute late at 17.31, the tour departed south for the record books. Timed mostly at 100mph, on a number of occasions members were heard to ask if this was our first tour at this speed. The booked time was 2hr 52min to a stop at Manchester Piccadilly but we achieved 2hr 46min averaging 83.78mph as recorded by the Railway Performance Society, documenting the run for posterity. The constant 100mph speed, even on the gradients of Beattock and Shap, was most impressive. At Piccadilly one set of doors was released briefly for timing purposes, then the tour ran via Mayfield Goods Loop and the rarest bit of track of the day (with no previous known passenger use), Piccadilly Engine Siding, to terminate at P9 some 19 minutes early after 566 miles.

The total raised for Railway Children exceeded £41K. In addition to ticket sales, an on-board raffle, train catering and an auction; a private benefactor donated £25K directly as a result of the tour running. We broke the previous UK charity railtour record of £37K. All charges were waived by TPE, Network Rail and other industry providers. The Class 350/4 units are capable of 110mph and TPE will be looking to implement this in the near future. The seven mile shorter Bolton line will be electrified by May 2016 - plans for a future tour maybe?