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Steam ban by Network Rail

Posted: Sun Jul 28, 2019 11:37 pm
by northroad
On Saturday (27/07/2019) I travelled on the Railway Touring Companies charter from Paddington to the West Somerset Railway. 46233 Duchess of Sutherland provided the power from Paddington to the West Somerset but unfortunately it disgraced itself by starting a line side fire near Castle Cary which had repercussions later in the day. The Duchess was detached on arrival at Bishops Lydeard and replaced by the 7F 53805 for the run through to Minehead.and also the return back to Bishops Lydeard. It was during this return that we learned about the line side fire and Network Rails decision to impose a steam ban (network blanket ban?) which effectively locked the Duchess in and our charter operator making frantic phone calls to rescue the situation. West Coast Railway in the end resorted to sending Class 47 47802 light engine from it’s Southall base and we eventually left some 90 minutes later than scheduled. The higher allowed speed, being routed via the Westbury avoiding line and no necessary water stop enabled us to arrive back at Paddington only 15 minutes down.I believe the Duchess is still at the West Somerset tucked away in the shed awaiting rescue. An excellent trip even taking into account of not having the Duchess on the return leg and everyone involved is to be thanked. As a result of the ban I see that Sunday’s excursion from Bristol to Kingswear was operated with 60009 tucked in behind a Class 47 in both directions with the 47 doing all the work.
Delays, some of over an hour to service trains because of the fire were incurred but I do wonder if yet another incident like this may impact future trips.
I also noted that on Saturday GWR ran a service train from Taunton all the way Bishops Lydeard. The days of travelling by train to Butlins for the summer holidays is alive and kicking.....

Geoff Foster 21489