Header Image

This was an out-of-the-ordinary trip for 86259 because the planned PMR Tours excursion to Stirling needed the loco to firstly collect the required coaching stock from the West Coast Railway Company's ("WCRC") main base of operations at Carnforth. 259 went 'light engine' from Willesden north to Carnforth during Friday October 5th 2012 and then, at midnight, brought the coaching stock south overnight. Just north of Wolverhampton the E.C.S. train turned left at Bushbury junction and proceeded through Bescot, Perry Barr North and West junctions and then Soho East and North junctions, arriving at 5:10 a.m. in Wolverhampton, the starting point of the tour. The train was now facing in a northerly direction ready to depart at 5:25 for Carlisle where steam traction took over for the leg to Stirling. Travellers had a couple of hours to enjoy the city.

Unfortunately the steam section of the journey met with some delays which made its return to Carlisle about an hour and a half behind schedule. There was some apprehension that the tour might have to be terminated early at either Crewe or Stafford because of weekend engineering possessions. However 86259 avoided this potential logistical nightmare with a really fast run back from Carlisle, making up about an hour of the delay, which resulted in the train being allowed through all the way to terminate, to plan, at Wolverhampton.

An interesting video, by Ruairidh MacVeigh, of 86259 on this trip can be viewed at this url: YouTube Video. I reproduce below the comments made by Ruairidh.

Another day of fantastic mixed traffic on the West Coast Mainline today, with scenes recreating the Golden Age of Steam in the 1930's as well as the turbulent times of the early electrics in the 1960's.

The day began at 7am, and in a scene reminiscent of scenes that 10 years ago would have been routine, Celebrity Class 86, number 86259 'Les Ross' emerges from the multicoloured morning mist with the Caledonian Tour on its way to Carlisle to meet with its steam assistant. Resplendent in it's BR Electric Blue, 86259 was originally numbered E3137 and after TOPS, 86045. The locomotive was a resilient and resourceful member of the West Coast Mainline Electric Fleet, running both West Coast Expresses from London to Scotland, as well as the slower Cross-Country Services until its withdrawal in 2003.

After leaving Preston, the 86 climbed over the famous 'Shap Summit' before descending from the Cumbrian Mountains into Carlisle. From there, former London, Midland & Scottish Railway Duchess, number 46233 'Duchess of Sutherland' would continue the journey across the border into Scotland and eventually to the historic Scottish city of Stirling.

Later that evening, I found myself in the picturesque junction station of Oxenholme The Lake District, where the branch line to the nearby town of Kendal and eventually the popular Lake District resort town of Windermere diverges. Opened in 1847 as Kendal Junction, the current name was only coined in 1988 when the station was essentially reclassified a parkway station to allow easier access for visitors to the nearby Lake District region.

With a magnificent sky looming overhead, the first appearance was once again made by 86259, running light engine from Carlisle to Carnforth in preparation to take over from the Duchess for the return journey to Wolverhampton, the driver giving a friendly set of tones as he rumbled sedately through.

Day slowly turned to night, and as the temperatures began to drop, an announcement on the Speaker System heralded the arrival of the much anticipated working. In a scene that was once common to these locomotives back in the 1930s and 1940s, the Duchess burst from the darkness with a long blast of its distinctive whistle breaking the eerie silence of the night, absolutely flying as it sped through on its way to Carnforth, bringing a close to a fantastic day on the railway!


October 4th 2012, and 86 259 is "at home" at Willesden depot, prepared to haul the "south of the border" portion of PMR Tours "Caledonian" in two days time.

The tour starts at Wolverhampton,and 259 will take the train to Carlisle. From there steam engine L.M.S. Coronation Pacific 46233 "Duchess of Sutherland" takes over to Stirling.


October 5th and 86 259 passes Rugby, northbound, on its way to Carnforth to pick up the stock which it will bring back south overnight to Wolverhampton.


Passing Carnforth, headquarters of the West Coast Railway Company, who are operating the train. 86 259 hasn't been any further north than this for nearly 5 years - until today


Pulling into Carlisle, 86 259 having delivered its train to the Duchess.


(Photo: Andrew Jefferys)

While 46233 takes the train into Scotland, 86 259 is stabled on the through line in the middle of Carlisle Citadel, one of Les's favourite stations. Hence the number of photos (below) inside The Citadel from all angles!

For several hours, 86 259 is passed by a parade of Pendolinos, freights....


......and Voyagers


Half of the Carlisle station 150th anniversary mural - and half of 86 259!


On-board "troubleshooter" Richard Thompson climbs into number one cab for the return journey.


View from a bridge - the footbridge.


Patiently, oh so patiently, awaiting the return of the Duchess to Carnforth. (Photo: Richard Thompson)


11.20 p.m. and 86 259 has brought the "Caledonian" back home to Wolverhampton. In a few minutes, the loco will set off with the empty stock, back to WCRC HQ at Carnforth. (Photo: Richard Thompson)