Sunday, 4 May 2008

Self Indulgence.

Still moored at Peterborough Embankment on the River Nene

As this is a long weekend (bank holiday) the Nene Valley Railway are up and running with diesels, live steam and of course Thomas the Tank engine for the kids. So this morning I took myself off to the NVR Peterborough station to await the arrival of the first train which luck would have it was an ex LMS 7 F loco no 53809 with a rake of Mk1 carriages. Well I couldn't resist the temptation so I bought a Rover ticket for £8 (pensioner rates) and was set for the day. Had it been 1 of their continental trains I may not have been so keen.

I took the train to Wansford where the 7F was taken off the front of the train and run around to the rear and Thomas was placed in poll position at the head of the train. Thomas then pulled the train through Stibbington tunnel to the new station at Yarwell junction (halt actually) with some assistance from the 7F. At Yarwell there is a run around loop track but as the 7F was already on the other end of the train the latter pulled us back to Wansford where Thomas was uncoupled to await his next tour of duty and we carried on to Peterborough.

Next door to the NVR is Railworld which is a museum and supporters of Sustainable Transport for the 21st century. There were displays from around the world showing how with modern technology railways are coming to the fore again in the face of global warming and oil shortages. Fifty years ago who would have imagined London to Glasgow by train in under 4 hours, or London to Paris by train in under 3 hours, poor Dr Beeching certainly couldn't.

There was also a very good film about the Darjeeling Railway in India. This narrow gauge railway running up the side of the Himalayan mountains virtually unchanged in its 100 or so years existence. It crosses the road that it follows more than 108 times and there are no signals, barrier arms or level crossings so whoa betide any errant motorist because he will come off 2nd best as was shown in the film when a light truck failed to yield right of way. The steam engine that is in use has a 5 man crew, driver, fireman, firemans assistant who rides in the coal bunker breaking up the coal into small lumps and 2 men hanging off the front of the loco pouring sand on the track for better adhesion. Rail tour organisers now run 20 trips a year for people to ride on this extraordinary railway.

1126 locks, 1461½ miles, 41 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

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