the footplate of 56096 for a nostalgic 104-mile coast-to-coast trip
across the lowlands of Scotland from the Firth of Clyde to the Firth of
Forth. The Grid is hauling the 7G80 Merry-Go-Round, conveying 1,150
tonnes of imported coal in HAA hoppers from the port of Hunterston on
the Ayrshire coast to Longannet power station in Fife. To capture the
full audio characteristics of the Type 5, the loco was specially Wired
The journey begins with the stiff climb out of the
Hunterston loading terminal up to West Kilbride. After skirting the
coast at Saltcoats, the train heads through Dalry and Johnstone to reach
the outskirts of Glasgow at Paisley. There then follows a complex
20-mile trek across the city via Shields Junction, Polmadie, Rutherglen,
Coatbridge and Garqueen North junction. At Cumbernauld, the 7G80
continues onto the (then) freight-only line to Greenhill Lower Junction
before encountering the semaphore-signalled junctions of Carmuirs West
and East. It continues via Falkirk Grahamston, Polmont and Dalmeny
before crossing one of Britain’s great railway structures - the
magnificent Forth Bridge. Full power is resumed at North Queensferry for
the run through Inverkeithing and Rosyth. The 56 is at full bore as it
tackles the notorious 1 in 74 climb through Dunfermline up to Townhill.
The 7G80 enters the sidings at Townhill where the loco runs round its
train of HAA hoppers. After heading back through Dunfermline, the train
diverges onto the (then) remains of the truncated line to Alloa. This
10-mile freight only branch provides some delightful scenery as it
skirts the shores of the Forth before reaching Longannet power station.
56096 takes the East Arrival road to access the tightly curved track of
the power station loop before the loco is put into ‘slow speed’ for
the unloading operation. As the train enters the discharge terminal, the
wagon doors are automatically opened so that the coal can drop onto the
conveyor belt beneath the track. As the train exits the discharge
terminal the wagon doors are then automatically closed.
So much has changed since this programme was filmed
in 1999. Both EWS and their Class 56s are long gone. So have the vast
fleet of HAA coal hoppers and the Carmuirs semaphores. Coal trains no
longer cross the Forth Bridge…and Longannet power station has now
closed, with the result that trains over the Alloa to Dunfermline route
are now few and far between!
"A thoroughly enjoyable programme which will be
appreciated by anyone who has a taste for some top notch thrash"