8X09 Underground Overground
have waited a long time to add the Class 20s to our ‘Wired for Sound’
series, but it has been well worth the wait. This programme features no
fewer than four of them! The train is one of the railway’s more unusual
workings - GB Railfreight’s 8X09 Asfordby to Neasden, which is conveying
brand new S Stock for London Underground’s Metropolitan Line. The unit
is ‘top & tailed’ by DRS locos 20301 & 20302 at one end and
20304 & 20305 at the other. Due to numerous operating restrictions,
the 8X09 has to travel from Leicestershire to London the long way
round...which is a far more interesting route!
first stage of the journey is along the short branch from the Asfordby
test centre to the loop at Melton Mowbray. There, the train reverses and
heads for Syston Junction where it joins the Midland Main Line for a
spirited run to Leicester. South of there, the 8X09 enters Knighton loop
where it reverses again – this time onto the 30-mile ‘freight only’
Leicester & Burton Line via Coalville. This is a fascinating route
famous for its mining subsidence and the climb up Desford bank has Class
20s at full bore. Although the eastern end of this route is still busy
with aggregate traffic from the quarries at Stud Farm and Bardon Hill, the
only trains to use the route beyond Coalville via Moira West are the S
Stock moves. So this particular section is rare track!
Birmingham Curve Junction the 8X09 takes the little-used curve to Branston
Junction where it joins the Derby to Birmingham main line. At Kingsbury
Junction the train takes the route to Whitacre Junction. The journey
across the West Midlands is via Water Orton, Washwood Heath, Tyseley and a
pathing stop in Dorridge Loop. After that it passes through Solihull and
Warwick to Leamington Spa. From there the Class 20s power their way uphill
for the following 14 miles through Harbury cutting to Fenny Compton.
Because the programme was filmed in June, it was still light as the train
arrived at Banbury at 21.20. Not so when the train left there an hour and
20 minutes later, and so the programme concludes with a series of
atmospheric lineside shots as the train passes through various stations on
the last leg of its journey to London.
TIME: 3 hours 15 minutes
FEATURED: Asfordby-Banbury via Melton Mowbray, Leicester, Coalville, Water
Orton, Dorridge and Leamington Spa.