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This was a rare opportunity to travel by steam train along the spectacular Cumbrian Coast Line, with its rugged cliffs and fine views over the Irish Sea. The train was hauled from London Euston to Carnforth and back by 86259. A powerful steam locomotive hauled the train from Carnforth to Carlisle via the Cumbrian Coast Line and returned it to Carnforth via the West Coast Main Line. In Carlisle there was time to explore the city.

This train left London Euston at around 07:10 hauled by class 86 electric locomotive No. 86259 “Les Ross” in its original ‘electric blue’ livery. It sped north along the West Coast Main Line (WCML) stopping to pick up more passengers at Watford Junction, Milton Keynes, Rugby (where passengers from Northampton joined by service train), Nuneaton, Crewe and Preston. At Carnforth, it changed locomotives and a steam locomotive, Royal Scot class No. 46115 “Scots Guardsman”, took over the train for the onward journey. Meanwhile 259 remained at Carnforth to await the train's return.

The steam-hauled train passed through Silverdale and over the Kent Viaduct where there are excellent views across Morecambe Bay. It then continued through Grange-over-Sands, then across the Leven Viaduct en route to Ulverston, and entered the Furness District which is dominated by the town of Barrow-in-Furness. Between Askam, Foxfield and Millom the line turns through 180° around the picturesque River Duddon estuary, an area well known for its wildlife. From there it headed north along the Cumbrian Coast, through Ravenglass and Sellafield. Thereafter it hugged the coastline as far as St. Bees, travelling beside the seashore with fine views over the Irish Sea and to the Isle of Man. Passing through Whitehaven, then beside the cliffs at Parton, it arrived at Workington where the steam locomotive took on water.

The line between Maryport and Carlisle has limited clearance and in the past carriages had bars across window openings to prevent passengers leaning out and being injured when passing bridges. These restrictions still exist and on no account should any passenger attempt to open windows and lean out during this part of the journey. Having passed through this hazard the train arrived in the ‘Border City’ of Carlisle where there was a short break and time for passengers to investigate part of the city.

Later in the afternoon the train left Carlisle and headed south on the WCML. It climbed almost continuously through the Eastern Lake District to Penrith, before tackling the final ascent to Shap Summit. Thereafter it descended from the summit to Tebay then passed through the beautiful Lune Gorge before continuing to descend through Oxenholme Lake District to Carnforth. Here it was ‘goodbye’ to the steam locomotive and 86259 took over for the high speed journey to London Euston, stopping at the same stations as on the outward journey to set down passengers.

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7:08 a.m. 12th April 2014
John Baker taking the train out of Euston.

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Les Ross' handiwork! On the outward train "A Brief History of Your Electric Loco" leaflets are distributed throughout the train. (see below)

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Waiting outside Crewe for our platform alongside the LNWR maintenance depot.

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In the Carnforth goods loop, LMS 4-6-0 46115 "Scots Guardsman" has taken over the train and is about to leave, northbound, along the Cumbrian Coast.

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Today 86259 is stabled on the Carnforth goods loop waiting for the steam-hauled train to return. This is a view of the loco from the station with the famous 'Brief Encounter' clock in the foreground.

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Taking over for the return journey south. 86259 backs onto the train.

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My leaflet "A Brief History of your Electric Loco".