The Wycombe Wanderer
Saturday 13th August 2016
When two proactive organisations come together, anything seems possible. This was again proved by Chiltern Railways and the BLS when 138 odd (?) members travelled on the Wycombe Wanderer. For many it was a Class 68 powered arrival at Marylebone on the 07.10 from Kidderminster (or intermediately). For some, the day began earlier than most on the selected unit for the bash, 165029, when it headed up to London on the 09.13 from Aylesbury Vale Parkway to Marylebone. The author was amazed when boarding at Rickmansworth to discover a BLS steward going through with a rubbish bag already! Attention to detail really can make all the difference. As an aside, he (but not any disabled members!) was pleased to see Chiltern allocate an un-refurbished 165; they have been receiving a C6 refresh to fit a disabled toilet, inter alia.
Back to South Ruislip to reverse, then West Ruislip again (via the normal Down Main line) for a trip to the 'LUL head shunt'. Here participants saw the further evidence of the hard work by Chiltern Railways and the BLS as the more eagle eyed passengers noted that, while we were in the Engineers Sidings, a man in a high-viz vest was lurking in the undergrowth! On reversal instead of pulling straight out of the head shunt, the unit swung right and navigated its way down the LUL transfer line around the back of West Ruislip Underground Station and past the first set of points controlling access to the depot. Being West Ruislip born and bred, this was certainly a massive requirement and certainly something I never thought I would do. I don't think I was the only one on board grateful for this additional surprise element! It was quite a surprise for the 'normal' passengers on passing LUL trains (and their drivers) too. The front of our DMU reached the headshunt buffers, which would never normally have a train on it (i.e. beyond the points into the LUL depot to our right). This was just short of the underbridge above the Piccadilly/Metropolitan Uxbridge Line, at right angles to us beneath. TRACKmaps Vol 3 p19A (Aug 2010) and Vol 5 p37A (Nov 2008) both wrongly show this as the other side of this bridge. Our 31 May 1993 'Thames & Chiltern Rambler II' had only just poked its nose into the start of the transfer line!
At 12.20 well beyond the West Ruislip NR/LU boundary at the southern end of the Link Line.
LU Central Line P1-3 are in the distant background right, bottom left is the crossover into the depot.
An enlarged section of the picture above, looking north at the LU West Ruislip platforms.
The tour had passed through the smaller overbridge left of the station on the 'NR Link line'.
At 13.08, not Ruislip Gardens but the end of High Wycombe Engineers' Siding on the
Wycombe Railway line to Bourne End and Maidenhead. '84C' was Banbury shed from 1950-63.
Back to West Ruislip, we headed for a routine trip down to High Wycombe, diving left into the bay P1 (unusually to the buffer stops), before the next piece of unusual track, the Engineers' Siding. This, of course, is the stub of the former branch line to Maidenhead. Then the unit returned to the bay for the participants to have a break of just over an hour. Well…most of the participants….some of the more 'desperate' travellers (a.k.a. me) decided on a quick leap to Finmere to score 73130+1753 and to visit the work of the NSE Society. Very good it was too. So, anything that happened between then and my re-joining the tour I know nothing about, it wasn't my fault and I wasn't there! Anyway, I digress…
Tour moves and mileages with thanks to Jim Sellens.
[From one who stayed on the whole tour, in case anyone was wondering (or wandering even) from the table; two visits were made to P1 buffer stops (not reached by service trains due to sighting issues) at High Wycombe, when the very helpful Chiltern crew learnt that some were at the wrong end of the train the first time! It was then off to Oxford Parkway P1 for all the rare moves in the table, in most cases we were the first passenger train; the new Bicester MoD loop and its run round line included.]
How it once was at Bicester Central Ordnance Depot; the former exchange sidings, with a coach and loco from the defunct Bicester Military Railway
(last operated 12 Mar 2014) - perfect for an internal railtour - it was! Note the typical military railway track.
Our leaping reporter arrived at Oxford Parkway just in time to watch the tour traversing Banbury Road Sidings and head-shunt at (where, for now, Chiltern stable DMUs at night and there was a rake of stone wagons) providing a further demonstration of the work that went into organising the day. 165029 virtually kissed every conceivable buffer stop! After re-boarding, it was back to the main line via bidirectional moves in the Bicester Village area to Bicester North Engineers' Siding that stable Colas Rail Tampers; less use is expected once the route to Oxford is up and running from Dec 12.
After again reversing in Bicester North Down P1, it was back to Marylebone taking in the reversible down road at High Wycombe to set down in P2 (connecting with a Class 68 hauled Birmingham train) and a brief pathing/set-down stop at West Ruislip. Unfortunately, the traffic constraints prevented a request to travel over the bidirectional Gerrards Cross facility being achieved (this time!). This facility has only been available since the Evergreen 3 upgrade of the route was completed in August 2011.
I would like to thank the Branch Line Society and all of the staff at Chiltern Railways (in particular Josh Watkins, Paul Clewlow, Michael Yorke, Amy Owen, Clive Lowther and the ever smiling trolley girls-having a rare day out on a 165), and the NR signalling staff at Marylebone IECC for facilitating our weird and wacky requests and ensuring we all had a super day out. Here's to the next one!
Right: The end of Banbury Road stone terminal cripple siding was an 'on the day bonus' due to running early and the great helpfulness of the Network Rail and Chiltern staff. [Geoff Plumb]
Geoff Plumb, the Society's official photographer, was supervised on all occasions where necessary. See https://goo.gl/S7vyPW for Geoff's splendid full set of pictures taken on the Wycombe Wanderer.
15.50 the new Banbury Road Stone Terminal east end head shunt (Oxford Parkway end); the station is on the site of the previous stone terminal.
16.06 and naturally the west (Bicester) end head shunt.
Taken during our 'Wycombe Wanderer' Railtour. The Grade II listed High Wycombe goods shed at
Amersham Hill near the station, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
And finally, the great man himself ...
... with Isambard Kingdom Brunel.