Query Corner

Q13.08. Fort William-Mallaig Mixed Train.

A member photographed the 16.05 Fort William to Mallaig mixed train in 1985 and believes that it continued to run until the Class 156s took over passenger operations in early 1989. Was this the last mixed train service in the country, and what traffic did it convey?


The 16.05 Fort William to Mallaig and the return at 18.45 from Mallaig to Fort William were the last “Mixed” trains on B. R. They ran fully braked without a goods brake van and were still booked in September 1988 although only conveyed freight about once a week each way. The traffic conveyed was oil products in four wheeled tanks from the now closed Esso terminal at Bowling near Dumbarton to the oil distribution company based in Mallaig who at that time were based in Mallaig railway yard. The wagons were conveyed on normal wagon load services between Bowling and Fort William, up tofour wagons at a time – the return wagons were discharged. (RM:10972)

In raising ths question our member is obviously thinking about commercial traffic on the national netwrk. My local railway, the Hythe Pier Railway, operates mixed trains up to six days a week. Fuel for the ferries is stored in a tank at the landward end of the pier. There is a fuel wagon which is used to take fuel to the vessels. Refuelling takes place on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The tank is attached to the front of the train and pushed to the end of the pier where it is shackled and from which the vessels take their fuel. In due course the tank is reattached to the train and hauled back to the landward end of the pier. All this is done when the tain is carrying passengers. Quite often the tank is taken down the pier the day before refuelling hence the mixed train can run six days in the week. Incidentally when the Solent Ranch had a visit to the railway a few years ago I tried to arrange for the tank to be attached to the train but the request was refused. (EV:18410 and Chairman of the Hythe Ferry Users Group)

I can only respond to some aspects of the query. Certainly a mixed train was running in July 1985 as I photographed the Mallaig-Fort William train due in at 2024 leaving Banavie on the 30th. 37192 had five passenger coaches with three 4-wheel tanks on the rear. On 31st 37188 Jimmy Shand tripped three tanks which had come from Mallaig, presumably from Fort William Station to Mallaig Junction Yard (Fort William). Again, I have photographs. I was given to understand that the tanks conveyed fuel oil for boats fishing out of Mallaig. On 5th August 1985 a northbound freight crossed the 1415 Fort William-Glasgow Queen Street passenger at Tyndrum Upper. Three 4-wheel tanks were included in the consist. (BJF:20052)

last updated: 09/05/13