Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Peak Rail 'Anything Goes' Weekend

In July 2010, Peak Rail held an 'Anything Goes' weekend. This featured two-train running with the passenger and demonstration freight trains passing at Darley Dale using steam and diesel traction. On Saturday 10th July, I was the driver of 68013 all day, with Dave firing in the morning and Dougie in the afternoon.

68013 on the freight waits in Darley Dale Up platform as the Down Passenger surrenders the Train Staff for the Darley Dale - Matlock section.

We prepared 68013 on the outside pit at Rowsley and came 'off shed' around ten o'clock to attach to the south end of the 6-coach train standing in the platform. We'd shunted via the 'Third Line' or 'Slip Road' because the loop was occupied by the demonstration freight train, headed by a Class 14, with the '37' and 'D8' behind. A second Class 14 followed us off shed and coupled onto the front of the '14' already on the freight. The two '14s' would haul the first Up Freight of the day, due to leave Rowsley about half an hour after we'd departed with the 10.45 a.m. Up Passenger.

We were fairly busy on our first trip. On the return leg, I made sure that we were back at Darley Dale on time so as not to delay passing the Up freight on the two-track section. The freight was a little late, so we stood for a few minutes at the down home waiting to be 'loosed in' to the platform. When we arrived back at Rowsley, we surrendered the Church Lane - Rowsley single line staff to the Class 37 which was hauling the second passenger train. After watering, we made our way to the new turntable to be turned before our second passenger trip. The vacuum hose on the locomotive was connected up to the long hose on the turntable. Last time I'd used the turntable, it worked well (see report) but this time we had to resort to the handcrank. The mechanism is nicely arranged and properly oiled so, to my surprise, one person can easily turn 68013 manually. By this time, the '14s' had returned with the freight and D8 had moved onto the freight. We stood on the loop until the Class 37 returned with the passenger train.

It was then our turn to make another passenger run to Matlock Riverside (this time with the engine facing south). At Darley Dale, we stood whilst D8 cleared the single line with the freight. Once again, I made sure we arrived back at Darley Dale on time, so as to pass the Up freight. In the distance, we could see the freight, headed by the two Class 14s, but he wasn't moving. Figures in High Visibility Vests could be seen milling round the locomotives. Eventually, we were called into the platform with a yellow handsignal, as the freight still hadn't moved. At last, the freight re-started and crawled into the Up platform, allowing us to proceed. Apparently, there had been some problem with the locomotive brakes. At Rowsley, we came off the train and stood in the loop, until our last trip of the day.

Brake Van rides

D.2000, nicely turned out, giving Brakevan Rides using a long-wheelbase LMS brake.

Brakevan rides were a popular attraction, with D.2000 looking very smart in green livery coupled to a Bauxite Brown brake van. These trips ran from the Loading Dock down into the Engineer's Sidings.

Steam Crane Demonstrations

In the afternoon, Rob gave demonstrations of the steam crane. Once, all major Motive Power Depots had a steam crane, for use following accidents or during civil engineering or track relaying. Now, you can only see them in preservation.

The Peak Rail crane has a 36 ton lifting capacity. A vertical boiler provides steam for a tiny two-cylinder steam engine then a series of clutches allow the various crane motions to be engaged - lift and lower the load, alter the radius of operations of the jib, rotate and travel along the track. Rob showed the delicacy with which vehicles could be lifted and set down on the track, using a ballast hopper wagon. More pictures of the Steam Crane: here.

The Steam-hauled freight

The last freight run from Rowsley to Matlock and return was to be steam-hauled. Working loose-coupled freight trains requires skill and co-operation between the driver and guard, but our guard knew what he was doing, so we had no problems. We had only a short train: from the South end, the 'SHARK' plough brake, Engineer's low-sided wagon, two 'DOGFISH' ballast hoppers, long wheelbase wooden-sided wagon, 'LONGFIT', 'LONGLOW', 5-plank open wagon and an LMS brakevan.

The problems of managing a loose-coupled freight increase with increasing train length. In the '60s, the working of 50 or 60 wagon unfitted trains (or longer) over undulating routes with only the engine brake and the guard's handbrake was commonplace and that certainly 'sorted the men from the boys'.

With our lightweight freight, we had to wait at Darley Dale for a few minutes whilst the two Class 14s brought the Down passenger clear of the single line to Matlock. Then, we completed our run to Matlock Riverside, ran round and were back at Darley Dale in good time to cross the last Up passenger of the day, this time with the Class 47 at the head. We stopped at the South ground frame at Rowsley, so that we could turn ourselves 'inside' onto the loop, leaving the platform line clear for when the Class 47 returned with the passenger train. Once our train was 'tied down', we uncoupled and took the engine onto the outside pit for disposal.

A most enjoyable day!

More pictures of the event: here.