Locomotive Performance

Steam through the East Midlands

  It was not until 1957 that I got to know the St Pancras line. The nearest I had got was trainspotting trips to Derby and Sheffield as an 11 or 12 year old. But in 1957 and 1958, I managed a few runs into and out of St Pancras, together with an enjoyable both ways trip on the  "Palatine" between Leicester and Manchester Central. A 1959 holiday at Butlins Camp at Filey started with a Black 5 from Kings Norton to Milford Junction. Returning home a week later I had some "Derby 4" running. And finally the excellent LCGB "North Briton" railtour in 1964 started with a good run from St Pancras to Leeds with a Jubilee.  

27th March 1957: Returning home from London, I chose an unusual route. Kings Cross to Peterborough, then a service from Ely took me to Leicester. [view log of 40356]. Then back to Birmingham on Class 5MT 4-6-0 no 44814. With only 4 coaches, the running was of little consequence, but the log is a reminder of an unusual way of returning from London. We reached  63 mph at Narborough, and we were 1 min late into Birmingham. [view log of 44814]
  25th September 1957: I caught the 2.25pm St Pancras to Manchester service to Derby. Jubilee class 4-6-0 no 45605 Cyprus was the loco. Non stop to Leicester on a 99 minute schedule, and a load of 9, 304 tons, marginally over the limit. A signal check as early as West Hampstead, a poor climb to Elstree summit, a pw slack at St Albans, and another signal check at Harpenden and we were already 10 mins down. We ran fast, 85 mph at Elstow, down to Bedford, but then made a poor climb to Sharnbrook summit, 42 mph. More lacklustre running followed, but then we had more signal checks into Leicester, where we arrived 18 late. More moderate running on to Derby, with two more signal checks, and we were 27minutes late in. A poor run by the loco, and shocking operating, made this journey one to forget. [view log of 45605]
  25th September 1957: On the 5.20pm from Derby, a semi fast service to Worcester, Class 5MT 4-6-0 no 44775 had a load of 6. There were 5 intermediate stops, and we were 2 mins late into Birmingham, following a signal check at Water Orton. But we never exceeded 57 mph. Another one best forgotten. [view log of 44775]
  27th January 1958: Four months after my poor trip on the 2.25pm from St Pancras, I tried  again. The loco was Jubilee class 4-6-0 no 45683 Hogue, and load 8. This time we got as far as Luton before we were checked. The 54mph and 60mph speeds over Elstree and Sandridge summits were good. But we had caught up the 2.15pm St Pancras to Bradford. Down to Bedford we eased several times, probably distant signals against us, then were checked at Kempston Road. But from that point we got a clear run and our crew responded with some splendid running on to Leicester, including an invigorating 65 mph round the 50 mph Market Harborough curve. Then on to Derby and with an 84 mph at Loughborough, we were set for an even time run, until signals intervened. So we were 7 late. But our net times of 95.6 and 27.8 minutes were nicely inside schedule. [view log of 45683]
  8th March 1958: On the 8.26am from Birmingham New Street to Leicester, a semi fast service, I had 2-6-4T no 42186 with load 5. We were 2 minutes late into Leicester. Our top speed was 64 mph at Elmesthorpe. [view log of 42186]
   8th March 1958: At Leicester, I was hoping to catch the 7.25am Manchester Central to St Pancras, due out at 9.36am. It was a few minutes late, but with the need to rebook, I missed it by about 30 seconds. Which was a pity, since it was Royal Scot no 46127 Old Contemptibles. So I waited for the 8.34am from Sheffield, due out of Leicester at 9.59am. Jubilee no 45598 Basutoland was the loco, with an 8 coach load. We were 3 late away, and 7 late into St Pancras with one p.w. slowing at Chiltern Green. Not good enough for timekeeping though the crew had to contend with heavy snowfall.  Our top speed was 80 mph below Sharnbrook. [view log of 45598]
  8th March 1958: Later in the day, having returned north from Kings Cross to Grantham, then across via Nottingham to Derby Friargate, I caught the usual 5.20pm from Derby. Class 5MT 4-6-0 no 44805 was the loco. We were 2 mins late into Birmingham after a signals at Saltley. The maximum speed was 62 mph at Kingsbury. [view log of 44805]
  21st November 1958: During "Examination Study leave", I decided I needed a rest from Accounting, Taxation, Law, and Commerce, and had a day off. So over to Leicester (DMU) for a trip on the "Palatine" over the Peak to Manchester. Jubilee class 4-6-0 no 45675 Hardy was the loco, with load 8. The running was reasonable, though the severity of the schedule became evident with slight losses of time on the Matlock and Millers Dale sections. And with station overtime and one p.w. slowing, our 9 late from Leicester, became 15 late into Manchester Central. But what a superbly scenic line. I managed a final run in 1968, just before closure. [view log of 45675]
  21st November 1958: Having been to Liverpool and back on the C.L.C, I retraced my steps to Leicester on the return "Palatine", the 2.25pm from Manchester Central. This time the loco was class 5MT 4-6-0 no 44816, with the same 8 coach load. The loco ran superbly, but with a slack at Bramhall Moor, dropped 3 minutes out to Chinley, then kept the timings to Derby. Here 3 coaches were added (it was a Friday), making load 11. This meant a pilot engine, another "Black 5", no 44822. We ran well and raced along past Loughborough, reaching 75 mph at Syston. But the overtime at Derby attaching coaches and a pilot, meant we were 4 late in. The booked schedules between Derby and Manchester, in both directions, were just too tight. [view log of 44816]
  11th July 1959: Off to Butlins at Filey  for a Lads holiday, using the 8.20am Kings Norton to Scarborough. The load was 10, and the loco class 5MT 4-6-0 no 44688, which worked as far as as Milford Junction, where a V2 took over. Being a summer saturday, there were inevitably many checks, and from Chesterfield onwards, several pitfall slacks. But in the early part of the journey, the loco ran well, with 71 mph before the Tamworth stop, and 66 mph before Burton.  [view log of 44688]
  18th July 1959: On the return journey, a week later, on the 10 coach 9.20am Filey Camp to Kings Norton, the V2 that had brought us via Driffield and Selby, gave way at Gascoigne Wood to 4F class 0-6-0 no 44206. This locomotive was not in the best of health, struggling up the grade beyond Brackenhill Jc at 22 mph. We stopped at Wath Road Jc Box, I suspect to arrange for a replacement loco. And that was what we got at Rotherham, where 44206 came off in disgrace. [view log of 44206]

18th July 1959: 44082 was the new loco from Masborough Sidings, and was in much better health, though not able to keep the timings. The loco sounded excellent up the grade to Clay Cross, and later in the journey, there was the "Derby 4 roar" as we headed up the modest grades beyond Burton. Our top speed was 58 mph at Little Eaton Junction. A thoroughly enjoyable run, even though we were 25 late into Birmingham. [view log of 44082]
  6th June 1964: The LCGB "North Briton" railtour started with Jubilee class 4-6-0 no 45721 Impregnable running from St Pancras to Leeds Whitehall Jc, via Leicester, the Erewash Valley, Sheffield, and the Chapeltown loop. The main performance interest was the St Pancras to Leicester section. 45721 did us proud. After a leisurely exit from St Pancras, we reached 90 mph down  towards Bedford. An interesting aside was the quick reverse we had to make at Trent Junction when we were incorrectly signalled on to the Nottingham line. Net time to Leicester was 99 minutes.  [view log of 45721]
  So what was my verdict on XL Schedules on the St Pancras services operated mainly by Jubilees on 300 ton (9 bogies) loads. My conclusion was that the schedules were the hardest, in relation to the motive power, of any schedules in force on any region at that time. They required class 7 (Royal Scot) motive power at least. The Jubilee's had little margin for delays on load 9, and class 2P pilots that were sometimes used only seemed to make things worse. The driver of 45683 was prepared to "have a go" at pulling back lost time, whilst the drivers of 45605 (down) and 45598 (up) made no effort whatsoever. But without knowing what conditions were like on the footplate, it is dangerous to generalize. And I only had a relatively small number of runs to judge by. But the scheduling of 2 express services north from St Pancras at 15 and 25 minutes past the hour, with 10 minutes between them, was ridiculous, particularly since there was for most of the day a 2 hour gap in the frequencies. It was the 25 min past the Manchester services that came off worst. But Royal Scot and Britannia  power did subsequently take over some services.