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5th December 2015 saw the second charter excursion since 86259 completed its wheelset change and also the second time since 259 had hauled a Steam Dreams' Cathedrals Express, the previous trip being in 2011.

However the weather caused a radical change to the intended schedule as Storm Desmond had struck Northern England. The 07:10 from Euston was supposed to travel behind 86259 to Carnforth where steam traction would take over to pull it over Shap and then down the Settle-Carlisle line to Farington Junction to meet up again with 259. Storm Desmond had caused landslides and flooding in Cumbria and, after 259 had been held for an hour and a half at Lancaster, the decision was taken by Network Rail to terminate the charter at Carnforth and run it around for a return to London. Even at Carnforth flooding was becoming evident, the loco speed had been restricted to 30 mph and the wind strength was causing the 81 ton locomotive to shudder on its rails (a most unusual feeling)! At Appleby flooding was apparently "severe"!

The train was turned and proceeded initially to Preston where it was stabled in a goods loop, along with Virgin Pendolinos, all awaiting 'slots' to return to London. I had a short personal meeting to attend in Birmingham so I left the trip in Rugby and, after that meeting, caught a Preston-bound train from New Street. Due to the uncertainty surrounding the cancelled trip, I got off at Crewe to join 259 on its return but in the event I had to wait there for three hours until it arrived.

The Steam Dreams Cathedrals Express therefore ended up having no steam, no dreams and wholly electric traction!

Cath Expr Preston Nth)











86259 (as 1Z86) arriving at Preston, northbound (Photo: © DM47744 on flickr)


Cath Expr Preston Sth










"Down to nowhere"! - Rubbing shoulders with today's WCML traction, 86259 "Peter Pan" stands at Preston on its way south. A close-up of this photo (below) gives an excellent view of the catenary equipment. (Photo: © RH on flickr)



Cath Expr Crewe










86259 (1Z87) at Crewe on its return to London. (Photo: © Neil Davies on flickr)


Cath Expr Stafford










The aborted Cathedrals Express passes through Stafford on its way home. (Photo: © Clarkie Photography Staff.(Natasha) on flickr)


Cath Expr Euston











Return to Euston, Bill Warriner in the cab. (Photo: © Brad Joyce on flickr)