Locomotive Performance

Main Line Steam in Scotland

It was not until November 1980 that I set foot in Scotland.  In December 1965, I had travelled on the Warwickshire Railway Society "Waverley" Railtour, which stopped at Edinburgh for a locomotive change. But I didn't move from my nice warm carriage. 

Then in 1980, the Severn Valley Railway Association ran a railtour  that included Steam running with A4 no 60009 Union of South Africa, from Edinburgh to Dundee, via the Forth and Tay Bridges, then back to Edinburgh via Perth and  Stirling. But our Electric locomotive failed on the West Coast Main line, and we needed a replacement at Warrington. So we were rather late into Waverley, where my feet touched Scottish soil, or rather concrete, for the first time.

Picture left: Climbing to Druimuachdar..July 1981.

29th November 1980: The Forth and Tay Express ( SVRA Railtours): 60009 Union of South Africa: Edinburgh-Dundee-Stirling-Edinburgh. With a late departure from Waverley, there was some excellent running to Dundee. But later in the day, returning via the Stirling route, the loco struggled to get a grip on the upgrade from Falkirk.  [view log of 60009]
18th April 1981: The Strathdon Express (Scottish Steam Railtours Group): 60009 Union of South Africa:  Edinburgh-Newtonhill. This was the first of two Easter weekend steam tours courtesy of a "Golden Rail" family break in Edinburgh. Number 9 was running well, until Stonehaven, but then came some very strange sounds from the locomotive. A "big end" failure, and we only just managed to get to Newtonhill, where we were put into the loop to await rescue. [view log of 60009]

19th April 1981: The Fair Maid (SRPS Railtour): D49 4-4-0 no 246 Morayshire:  This tour was a gentle meander around the Scottish Lowlands, and enjoyed clear blue skies throughout. Starting from Falkirk, the route was Forth Bridge, Kirkcaldy, Ladybank, Newburgh, Perth, Dundee, Leuchars, Springfield, Ladybank, Thornton Junction, Cowdenbeath, Dalmeny, then back to Falkirk. The load was 6 coaches, and the top speed of the day was 52 mph at Linlthgow on the return. I am trying very hard to think of a railtour that I have ever enjoyed more than this one. And I can't.  [view log of 246]
10th May 1981: SLOA North Briton Railtour: 673 Maude & 246 Morayshire double heading Larbert-Edinburgh Circle- Shotts-Motherwell  This two day tour, with an overnight stay in Glasgow, included an Saturday evening jaunt with a pair of class 37 diesels, a steam run on 60009, and a J36 plus D49 combination back to Motherwell, where electric power was waiting to take us south. An interesting trip, though the weather was not kind [view log of 673 & 246]

20th July 1981: Perth-Aviemore-Perth: 5MT 4-6-0 no 5025:  A few days before we were about to embark upon our first ever holiday in Scotland, near to Pitlochry, I learned that during our stay, BR were running a Black 5 hauled railtour from Perth to Aviemore and return. A call to Perth booking office, and we were booked on it. The loco was not pressed, but northbound we kept time with our 6 coach load. On the return, running was very leasurely, and we were 7 minutes late back into Perth. But the scenery was superb, and the weather fine. My only run over the Highland line. [view log of 5025]
12th November 1983: SLOA Sou' Wester Railtour: 4472 Flying Scotsman, Ayr-Dumfries: The BR approval of steam running over the Glasgow and South Western route north of Carlisle enabled SLOA to extend ir's range of activities. But the route never became as popular as the Settle & Carlisle and Welsh Marches routes. This was one of the early trips, and as was usual, 4472 struggled and dropped time. 25 mph up the bank from Hurlford was poor. Later, we reached 65 mph at Closeburn. [view log of 4472]
10th March 1984: SLOA Sou' Wester Railtour: 60009 Union of South Africa Ayr-Carlisle: A few months later, number 9 was given ago. And despite a better climb from Hurlford, 37 mph, time was also lost. A series of clearance slacks in the Auchinleck area, did not help. The route never became popular with steam fans, and is now rarely used. [view log of 60009]
16th August 1984: The West Highlander: 5407 Fort William-Mallaig-Fort William: 1984 was the year that the West Highland line was re-opened to steam. During the year, I visited Fort William several times on Land Cruises, and had a weeks family holiday there in August. So I got a fair amount of steam running in. This was the run with the shortest timings, though the load was only 5 coaches. We reached 46 mph on the return journey [view log of 5407]
30th March 1985: SLOA Fair Maid Railtour: 5690 Leander Edinburgh-Stirling-Perth: This rather long day out started with a class 47 early morning trip up the East Coast main line to Edinburgh. Jubilee 5690 was on holiday in Scotland and hauled the tour from Edinburgh to Perth, via Stirling. Not very successfully, for the running was poor throughout. Nothing higher than 47 mph out to Falkirk, and 19 mph at the top of the grade beyond Dunblane. [view log of 5690] At Perth, Black 5 no 44767 took over for the run to Inverkeithing, via Newburgh, Ladybank, and Kirkcaldy, including a stop at Markinch. With the 9 coach load, the running was more vigorous, with a top speed of 60 mph at Collesie.  [view log of 44767]
And that is all I have on Scotland, and apart from a "Virgin Value" class 86 hauled day trip from Birmingham to Edinburgh in 2001, I haven't set foot in Scotland since 1985.