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Developed by the Mayor of London and his agencies, Prudential RideLondon was a world-class festival of cycling taking place over the weekend of Saturday 3rd August and Sunday 4th August 2013.


Following on from the Olympic Games in 2012, The Prudential undertook to sponsor the Festival in 2013 and subsequent years.


The four events making up the two-day cycling festival were:


The Prudential RideLondon Grand Prix held on Saturday 3rd August, which featured the world’s best women, junior and hand cyclists in action on a circuit in and around St James’s Park.


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The Prudential RideLondon Freecycle held on Saturday 3rd August. This eight-mile mass-participation ride was free to enter and open to cyclists of all ages and abilities. Its aim was to encourage anyone inspired by the London 2012 Games to take up cycling as part of an active and healthy lifestyle.


The Prudential RideLondon–Surrey 100 held on Sunday 4th August. Open to amateur and club riders, this 100-mile event attracted over 55,000 registrants. Those that were not awarded places may still have been able to take part through one of the many charities with guaranteed entries, or teams of four (men, women or mixed) from the same organisation could enter the Business Relay, where each team member rode around 25 miles.


The Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic for elite men’s professional riders brought the drama of a classic one-day style of racing back to Britain for the first time in 16 years. Held on Sunday 4th August, the 140 mile route included all the highlights of the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 route plus the testing challenge of three ascents of Leith Hill, the highest point in Surrey and even steeper than Box Hill.


86259, on behalf of the West Coast Railway Company, undertook a private charter from August 2nd-5th to haul Prudential executives and enthusiasts (cycling, not railway!) from Edinburgh to London and return. This was momentous as it was the first time in its life the loco had operated a service along the East Coast Main Line. As far as the passengers were concerned the trip went smoothly with the arrival in London King's Cross dead on time and the return to Edinburgh Waverley just 5 minutes earlier than scheduled. As far as 259 was concerned, however, the trip was far from smooth!


The planned logistics required that nine carriages (including three dining cars) be brought from Southall to join 86259 at Willesden. The loco would then take the empty stock down the West Coast Main Line to Carnforth where those still on board would get three hour's rest before proceeding on towards Waverley to collect the passengers at 6 a.m. 86259 would then take the loaded train up to London King's Cross, spend the weekend in a holding siding there, returning on the Monday to Edinburgh and then retracing its steps via Carnforth and the West Coast Main Line to Willesden for maintenance work replacing the loco windows with spares that I had already taken to the depot. The rubber profile which seals the windows into their apertures was being bespoke manufactured and had not yet been received so the work could not previously have been performed. That was the plan, at least. The execution left a lot to be desired!


Euston to Edinburgh


The stock was duly delivered and the empty train set-off down the West Coast Main Line, with Bill Warriner in charge, heading for its overnight rest 'pause' at Carnforth. A crew change was scheduled to take place at Crewe but at 9:25pm at Basford Hall, just before Crewe, a passing train projected a piece of ballast into the air, there was a sharp 'Wham' and a split appeared in the driver's window! Unruffled, Bill continued into Crewe station where the infrastructure damage could be evaluated and discussed. Normally this sort of incident would result in a "failed engine" but there was a perfectly good/intact driver's windscreen at the other end of the loco so an engine failure could be avoided if the loco was about-faced for the rest of the trip. The new driver had no track experience for this manoeuvre but Bill Warriner did and volunteered to stay on board to perform it. Network Rail arranged the change in route and thereafter the engine was re-coupled to the stock and carried on to Carnforth goods loop where Bill Warriner then left.


After a foreshortened rest period the train carried on north to turn right at Carstairs for Waverley but was brought to a halt at a red signal (behind the local prison) as it was by then 45 minutes too early to be dealt with at Edinburgh. When duly allowed to proceed, the train went on to Waverley.


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Friday August 2nd 6:15pm. Moving off Willesden, light engine, to access Acton Lane siding to pick up the empty coaching stock.

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Coupling up to the coaches at Acton Lane.

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Arrival at Crewe after a piece of flying ballast has cracked the driver's window.

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The state of the driver's window
(taken the following morning at Waverley)

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Saturday August 3rd 6:50am. A 45 minute wait just out of Carstairs as we were running early.

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Entering Edinburgh Waverley where hundreds of cyclists then boarded (though their cycles were already in London).

Edinburgh to King's Cross


At Waverley it loaded its passengers and set off for King's Cross at 07:08 with a planned stop at York for a crew change. At Tollerton, 8 miles before York, we were passing an oncoming train when 'Wham' a piece of ballast struck the centre screen of the loco right in the middle causing it severe damage! A chance in a million to have two stone strikes on the locomotive windshields in the same trip! Luckily West Coast Railway Company carry temporary glazing on all their trips so at York five layers were fastened over the outside of the screen and a further five layers over the screen inside the cab, using up all the available material. The resulting 1 hour delay put 86259 "out of path" but the fresh driver, Jim Clarke, and Network Rail worked together to make up some time with the result that 86259 arrived in King's Cross bang on time at 13:37.


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Preparing to leave Edinburgh for 86259's first-ever run up the East Coast Main Line.

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Passing Craigentinny Depot.

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Taken from the locomotive's rear-facing cab, 86259's first view of the North Sea, which looks nearly blue!

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Passing Berwick-on-Tweed

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Passing through Newcastle station.

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Crossing the River Tyne on the King Edward bridge. The driver is Alan Grenfell.

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And just a few miles from York, at Tollerton, "Wham" - the centre window gets the flying ballast treatment.

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Arriving in York.

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Repairs! Thanks to the West Coast Railway Company's temporary glazing and the helping hands of Richard, Paul and Jim.

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Running through Doncaster at about 80mph with the centre window temporarily glazed. Photo: Andrew Jeffery.

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Into King's Cross at 13:20 - Bang on Time!

King's Cross

Pan down, battery red tail-light in place, ready to be dragged with the empty stock to Ferme Park.

King's Cross to Edinburgh


Instead of going to the holding siding for the rest of the weekend, 86259 stayed coupled to the rolling stock when 33207 arrived to take the empty stock back to Southall. 33207 pulled the empty train to Ferme Park and 259 then hauled it to Willesden where it was uncoupled to run into the depot while 33207 'ran around' to take the stock on to Southall in a modified move specially organized by Network Rail. The Willesden staff replaced the temporary glazing with a spare centre screen (at weekend rates of pay!). 86259 returned to King's Cross on the Sunday - again with a special path organized by Network Rail which allowed 259 to be turned around en route in order that the replacement glass would be at the leading end for the return trip to Waverley. On the Monday morning it left King's Cross 18 minutes late for what thankfully proved an uneventful run north, arriving at Edinburgh with its passengers five minutes early.


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Ferme Park. Pan back up, ready to take the empty stock and 33207 as far as Willesden for window repairs to 259.

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Monday August 5th. Hiding in the King's Cross holding siding.

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Still there.

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Drivers Alan and Phil waiting for the empty coaching stock to arrive from WCRC's Southall depot.

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King's Cross holding siding.

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King's Cross holding siding.

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33029 arrives with the coaches.

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86259 backs onto the stock.

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The returning Scots are on board and we have the signal to go.

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Approaching Peterborough under the crescent bridge.

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Newark flat crossing at 75mph. The last flat crossing in the country, and soon to disappear.

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Passing Doncaster works, birthplace of E3137

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A wet day in Durham.

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Dropping into Newcastle for a driver change.

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Brian Reid has taken us well into Scotland.

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We've arrived at Edinburgh Waverley, 5 minutes early, and our passengers have departed.

Edinburgh to Euston


After offloading its passengers. 86259 travelled 'light' across to and up the West Coast Main Line arriving at midnight in Euston to spend the remainder of the night there before being returned to Willesden for a well-earned rest.


The Prudential and their passengers were thrilled with the outing, only noticing a slightly-longer-than-expected stop at York on the way to London, and they want to do the same thing with 86259 next year (hopefully without infrastructure damage!).


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While 86259 waits to take the empty stock back south, via the West Coast Main Line, the Network Rail 'Measurement Train' arrives.

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Held at Kingsknowe for a while - How high is that pantograph?

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Passing Slateford; over the shoulder of driver John Baker.

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A pathing stop at Kingmoor, opposite the DRS depot.

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Passing LNWR Crewe - a nod to 86613 and 86621.

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Back home at midnight, but we couldn't access Willesden depot so 86259 stables overnight on Platform 15 at Euston.


As a footnote to the whole episode, the bespoke rubber for the replacement of all the locomotive windows arrived a day or two later at Willesden so the replaced centre screen will need to come out and be reinstalled yet again! The loco travelled a total of 1625 miles in discharging this private charter and, since I was in the cab for the whole time that 259 was travelling, I found it a long and tiring weekend. No rest for the wicked and no crew changes for owners!



Thankfully in this country we have a society tolerant of those with unusual views whether it be peacefully demonstrating against fracking in Kent or, perhaps, riding in a cycling event in the nation's capital dressed in only a coat of greasepaint and a conical hat or crash helmet.


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