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On Wednesday 1st March 86259 was booked to haul a Cathedrals Express trip leaving London Euston at 09:15 and involving an initial high speed journey down the West Coast Main Line, stopping to pick up more passengers at Milton Keynes, Rugby, and Lichfield Trent Valley before terminating at Crewe. There, a steam engine was to have hauled the stock across North Wales (stopping at Chester for even more passengers) to Holyhead on the Isle of Anglesey where the steam engine would be turned for its eventual return to Crewe. 259 would then have taken over the train to whisk it back to London stopping at the same stations as on the outward journey to set down passengers.

The trip was organized by the West Coast Railway Company and their driver, Pete Collins, turned up at the appropriate time at Willesden depot to collect the loco for its short trip to Euston to couple up to the coaching stock being brought by diesel from Southall. However he was unable to leave the depot as the DSD (Drivers Safety Device) was not working. He had no choice but to 'fail' the locomotive on the spot and he promptly left to go to Southall to see if alternative traction could be arranged for the excursion (not possible).

The driver safety device is a key component of the DSD Vigilance System, which is employed to ensure that the train driver remains alert whilst in control of his vehicle. The unit meets all relevant performance and environmental specifications required by the rail industry, and is service proven. It is suitable for use with diesel or electric locomotives and multiple units (DMU, EMU), has high immunity to electrical disturbances and high reliability.

Meanwhile the owner, Les, and the trip engineer, Paul Steane, together with some early passengers were awaiting 259's arrival on the platform at Euston and becoming increasingly concerned with its 'no show'. Eventually Paul Steane rang the depot and learned of the DSD failure which is so rare as to be outwith most people's experience. He guessed (correctly, in the event) that the fault could be due to a non-functioning relay and he left for Willesden as soon as possible. Once there he found he was on his own as the driver had already left for Southall so he asked Les to join him at Willesden and with Paul situated with the electronics in the loco's corridor and Les following his instructions in the cab, the faulty relay was identified and replaced in just 10 minutes but, with the travelling times to Willesden, by then the trip had been cancelled. Had two drivers been assigned to the trip they could have fixed the fault themselves with no noticeable delay by following instructions over the telephone from the engineer.

In order to board the 07:09 (or in this case the 09:15) trip I usually have a hotel room the night before and on this pre-trip stay had been allocated to hotel room number 259! Perhaps I'll turn down this room in future as it was a harbinger of bad things to come!