GBAC


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GBAC

Having covered the northern half of the West Coast Main Line from Glasgow to Crewe with a pair of Class 50s in our ‘Vac Attack’ programme in 2000, GB Railfreight’s ‘Absent Shunter’ charity train in August 2017 provided the opportunity of filming the rest of this fascinating route. Appropriately, from a traction point of view, the journey from Crewe to Euston was filmed on board 86101. Now 52 years old and owned by the AC Loco Group, the loco was on hire to GB Railfreight for use on the empty stock workings of the Caledonian night sleepers. This outing was therefore a rare opportunity for the veteran loco to stretch its legs over its former stamping ground. The WCML has undergone significant changes since it was electrified in the 1960s and is a particularly fascinating route when viewed from the driving cab.

The Class 86 sets off from Crewe on the Fast Line, passing Basford Hall Junction signal box. After heading through Norton Bridge there’s a non-stop run through Stafford. From there our journey continues along the Trent Valley line where there’s some fine running through Rugeley, Tamworth and Nuneaton. Progress is checked at Rugby, where the train takes full advantage of the complex but versatile track layout by undertaking an unusual manoeuvre through the station. At Hillmorton Junction we take the Northampton Loop, past Daventry freight terminal and then through Long Buckby. After Northampton station the journey south continues through Hunsbury tunnel and the famous ‘birdcage’ at Roade before re-joining the WCML at Hanslope Junction. Running along the Slow Lines, we then head through Wolverton and Bletchley before passing the site of the Great Train Robbery between Leighton Buzzard and Cheddington. The London suburbs are reached at Watford Junction, from where the Watford DC Lines run parallel to the WCML. South of Wembley Central the junctions come thick and fast while at Willesden Junction the trackwork becomes more complex. After passing through Primrose Hill tunnel, the Regents Canal is crossed before descending Camden Bank. Arrival into Euston’s platform 15 wraps up a journey that 86101 first made more than fifty years ago.


Programme Fact File

Introduction: David Maxey 
First Published: 2017
Route Featured: Banbury
Class Featured: 86.
Availability: Now.

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