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The West Coast Railway Company have used 86259 on the Cumbrian Mountain Express seven times between February and June in 2012.

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The first four trips ran on each Saturday in February 2012 and here is 86259, now sporting its E3137 number as well, at 6:30 a.m. on February 4th, waiting to take the first one of the series out of Euston.


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5 hours later and 86259 is stabled in Carnforth goods loop, having come 'light engine' from Preston. An L.M.S. 'Black 5' Steam Engine had taken over the train at Preston and then gone via the Settle-Carlisle line to return southbound from Carlisle later on. The 86 will then take over at Carnforth for the return journey to London.


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The February trips were actually called the Winter Cumbrian Mountain Expresses and nature confirmed the point on the return run on February 4th when some scheduled journeys were cancelled due to the somewhat extreme weather conditions, but 86259 made it through!. Unusually most of the snow fell in the South and by the time of the set-down stop at Rugby it was blizzard conditions.


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What a photo! The black and white version is particularly impressive (as featured on the back cover of the book "Together in Electric Dreams" - out now!). It was taken on the outward journey on February 11th while passing Rugeley, Trent Valley. The photo is the work of Andrew Wills.


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Also on February 11th, taken at Leyland - not many minutes to the loco change at Preston. (Photo: Clive Hanley)


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Entering Preston station.


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And later the loco had been changed to Britannia Class 70013 "Oliver Cromwell", seen on the Settle-Carlisle line. It is a privilege to have 86259 working with these classic steam engines. (Photo: Clive Hanley)


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Some of the Cumbrian Mountain Expresses reversed the route for the steam-hauled section. This meant that 86259 handled the train as far as Carnforth, where the engine change took place. then the 86 went 'light engine' back up to Preston where it was stabled in one or other of the station bays.

Later it travelled, again 'light engine', just a few miles up to Farrington junction, to wait in the sidings there, for the train to return from Carlisle via Settle, Hellifield and Blackburn. On February 18th 86259 was waiting in Farrington Siding No. 1 for "Oliver Cromwell" to arrive. Then it's back on with the electric and back through Crewe, Nuneaton, Rugby, Milton Keynes, Watford and Euston.


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25th February and it's fast through Tamworth. (Photo: Andrew Edkins)


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Having handed over to steam traction at Carnforth 86259 is back at Preston and driver, John Daniel, is carefully stabling the loco in Bay Platform 1c on the old RES ("Rail Express Systems") side of the station.


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3 or 4 hours later and the evening crew have arrived to prepare the loco for the move to Farrington and then the take over from the steam engine.


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Yes, it's another driver feature! Bill Warriner in the seat on February 25th as we make an evening drop-off stop at, err, now where exactly are we?


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After the intensive February programme we had a few weeks break till the next Cumbrian Mountain Express. On March 31st, while 86259 sits in the Farrington No.2 siding, Virgin Thunderbird 57311 "Parker" passes on the down slow line, presumably returning to Preston station where it had been stabled earlier.


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Well, it makes a change! Approaching Warrington, southbound, a 'through the porthole' shot. Photographed from the corridor side of the door into the leading cab. I'm sure the drivers are in there somewhere - certainly their supper is!


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On April 12th it was a Carnforth loco change and West Country Class steam engine "Tangmere" has been attached to the front of the train. Here it is viewed from the back cab of 86259, which is now going back to sit at Preston for a few hours.


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April 12th and the Cumbrian Mountain Express has just got home to Euston. (Photo: Neil Prior)


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After the intensive February programme there was a few weeks break until the next Cumbrian Mountain Express on March 31st. Here, the outward train nears Tamworth. (Photo: Ian Stafford)


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June 14th 2012 and 86259 hauls its seventh Cumbrian Mountain Express of the year for the Railway Touring Company. 9:15am somewhere on the Trent Valley line. (Photo: Ian Stafford)


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A moment of show biz at Preston! Jon Culshaw was on the station and came up to have a look at the loco!


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After LMS Pacific loco 46233 "Duchess of Sutherland" has taken the train onward 86259 is stabled, unusually, south of Preston station on the platform 1 goods line.


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6:00pm. The loco change at Farrington. The Duchess comes into number 2 siding. 86259 has been waiting in number 1 and will now back onto the train, which is just around the curve on the Blackburn line behind the camera. (Photo: Richard Thompson)


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Dropping off at Crewe on the return journey. West Coast drivers Phil and John in the cab.