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3rd February 2018. Prior to the first trip of the year I got 86259 all polished up 'spic & span' only to find that the weather on that day was atrocious but, nevertheless, there was still snow on the ground up in Cumbria to delight the steam enthusiasts. My friends David Grieff and Paul Steane were to act as engineers on this first trip which was driven by Micky Valla and Phil Spice on the outbound leg with 10 coaches to Carnforth.

LMS Jubilee 45699 Galatea took the stock forward from Carnforth over Shap to Carlisle and then later along the Settle & Carlisle line. 259 was returned to Preston for the day's stabling from where it was collected by Steve Beames to await the stock at Farington junction and then whisk it back to London Euston.

17th February 2018. I always try to ensure that there is a highly competent engineer onboard 86259 when it goes on its charter trips and Paul Steane was available to cover for David Grieff for this one. LMS Jubilee 45699 Galatea once again took over the stock at Carnforth bound for Carlisle, Armathwaite, Kirkby Stephen, Settle, Hellifield, Clitheroe, Blackburn and Farington junction where Pete Collins was waiting with 259 to speed the stock back to London.

24th February 2018. Steve Beames collected 86259 from Rugby to take it to London. He was joined at Euston by Phil Spice for the outward leg of the charter as far as Crewe. There, Phil Heelis (a northern-based driver) took 259 forward to Carnforth and then back to Preston to await the charter's return. Ray Poole and Pete Collins took 259 for the short ride to Farington sidings and then back to London Euston.

10th March 2018. LMS Jubilee 45699 Galatea again hauled the trip on the steam section of the journey. 86259 ferried the stock to Carnforth and from Farington junction back to London with no significant issues.

14th April 2018. This trip was to have started at Milton Keynes and pass through Birmingham en route to Cumbria. In the event it was cancelled although a similar excursion in June (below) did take place.

12th May 2018. 86259 justified its use on the Cumbrian Mountain Express (and all its other trips out of Euston) by whisking the stock up the 1 in 77 gradient at Camden Bank at 90 mph bound for its first passenger-collection stop at Milton Keynes. At that station any impatient Pendolinos are allowed past before 259 continues on to Rugby. No significant issues arose on the trip requiring the expertise of the onboard engineer.

23rd June 2018. This particular trip originated from Milton Keynes rather than London Euston, presumably because of weekend engineering work between those two stations. Steve Beames collected 259 from Rugby in the early hours of the morning to take it down to Milton Keynes and collect the rolling stock and continued to drive the train on its outward journey to Carnforth.

After its usual stop at Rugby 86259 was routed to the left (rather than towards Nuneaton) and stoppped at Coventry and Birmingham International stations to collect passengers from the Midlands area. Thereafter its path diverted to the right to avoid Birmingham New Street and Wolverhampton stations on the outward journey, rejoining the normal West Coast Main Line route shortly before Stafford (see map on the left). Once at Carnforth the train was uncoupled from the stock which would be hauled by LMS Jubilee 45699 Galatea over Shap to Carlisle and in due course down the Settle & Carlisle line. 259 was as usual returned to Preston for stabling in its parcel sidings.

After having lunch and spending time in Preston along with David Grieff, the engineer, we returned to the station buffet to await the arrival of Pete Collins and Phil Spice as drivers for the return trip south. Preston station was pretty quiet as North West Rail were on strike that day so we could see 259 in the parcel sidings from the buffet except when other operators' trains were making their scheduled stops. After one such stop I glanced out of the window and 86259 had vanished! Unknown to us, Pete and Phil had arrived during that brief interval, used the GSMR, and got an immediate path to Farington sidings and left! Calamity.

How do we catch up with the loco? After some calls on our mobiles we rejected the idea of boarding a train to Crewe and instead called a taxicab as one of the drivers had the requisite key to unlock the gate by the overbridge. But the driver was foreign (of course!) and we couldn't give him an address to which to go as no one lives there - it's just a spot in the fence adjacent to an un-named bridge on a road which can be accessed from one direction only. Suffice to say that, after driving in circles for a while trying to stay in sight of the catenary equipment above the tracks, we eventually got there!

Apart from almost losing our ride, the return trip was pretty uneventful save that we were pathed through (and stopped at) Wolverhampton, Birmingham New Street, Birmingham International and Coventry before reaching Rugby and our normal route back, in this instance, to Milton Keynes.

14th July 2018.

In the early morning Phil Spice drove 259 from Rugby to Euston to collect the stock, the passengers and Jim Clarke as co-driver.

With the continuation of the hottest summer since 1976 and grave concerns about the fire risk of steam locomotives, 86259 was pathed on this occassion to take the rolling stock all the way from London Euston to Carlisle with passengers being whisked up Shap at 80 m.p.h. and arriving at Carlisle 47 minutes earlier than usual! Steve Chipperfield was relief driver from Crewe to Carlisle and thereafter back to Preston for stabling after the loco swap.

The steam engine, 48151, an LMS 8F class 2-8-0 heavy freight locomotive had been taken up Shap earlier in the morning, 'banked' by a Class 37 diesel but the diesel failed and another diesel engine was sent from Carnforth to replace it. The steam and diesel consist took over the stock for the run down the Settle - Carlisle line but the steam engine separated at Hellifield to make its way home leaving the diesel to bring the stock through to Farington junction where it arrived 10 minutes behind schedule. The stock was swapped back to 259 and, driven by Phil Heelis, sped off down the WCML to Euston where it arrived 10 minutes early. Phil Heelis also took Les Ross/Peter Pan back to Rugby on the following day.

11th August 2018.

This time 86259 as usual took the stock from Euston in the capable hands of Phil Spice and, from Crewe to Carnforth and back to Preston, Willie Rennie. At Carnforth a diesel loco was put 'inside' (between the steam loco and its support coach) LMS Stanier Jubilee 45699 Galatea before the train went up Shap to Carlisle and then back south on the Settle/Carlisle line.

259 was not sent to Farington junction this time because although Farington sidings can accommodate 45699 Galatea and its support coach they are not long enough for a three vehicle consist. Instead, the train did not branch off to Farington but continued on over the WCML bridge and then down to merge with the WCML northbound into Preston Station where the loco swap took place. Galatea and the diesel were already facing north to return to Carnforth while 259 could come out of the parcel sidings and back onto the stock to take it south. Phil Cotton and Ray Poole whisked the express back to Euston.

13th October 2018.

(yet to run)


Class 86 86259 (E3137) 'Les Ross / Peter Pan' is seen passing Red Bank on the WCML with the 0710 London Euston to Carlisle 'The Winter Cumbrian Mountain Express' Charter. 1Z86. © Stuart Scrivener on flickr.


86259 Les Ross with The Winter Cumbrian Mountain Express, passing a London-bound 350 Unit, Rugeley Trent Valley, 24th Feb 2018 © Brian Hall on Flickr.


86 259 leaves Rugby behind as it heads for Carnforth with a Cumbrian Mountain Express. © David Pond on Flickr.


LMS Jubilee 45699 Galatea © John Berry on flickr.


Bluer Than The Sky. Sitting in its striking British Railways electric blue livery, 86259 (E3137) ‘Les Ross/Peter Pan’ waits to depart on time at Coventry whilst working 1Z86 Milton Keynes Central - Carlisle ‘The Cumbrian Mountain Express’. © Lewis Hurley on Flickr.


Retro Electric. Recreating a typical late 1960s scene on the WCML, here's 86259 'Les Ross/Peter Pan' at Coventry, working 1Z86 Milton Keynes Central - Carlisle 'The Cumbrian Mountain Express'. This is a shot I've always wanted to get at Coventry. Last time I saw an AL6 at Coventry I was a about 4 years old! © Lewis Hurley on flickr.


86259 Les Ross / Peter Pan detached from it's train at Carnforth. LMS Jubilee class 45699 Galatea will take the train on to Carlisle. Les Ross himself having a photo opportunity. (Look closely at the rear of the loco)© Raymond Platt on Flickr.


Damp Les. Sprinting through the damp and gloom at Tamworth on 3rd February 2018 is Class 86/2 No. 86259 'Les Ross/Peter Pan', heading The railway Touring Company's 'Cumbrian Mountain Express', 1Z86 0710 London Euston - Carlisle. The AC Electric will hand over to steam in the shape of 'Jubilee' No. 45699 'Galatea' at Carnforth for the final miles over Shap to Carlisle. © John Whitehouse on Flickr.


11th August 2018 Galatea, the diesel loco (just visible behind the signal lights), the steam engine support coach and the passenger coaches approaching Preston from the south in the early evening for the loco exchange in the station.


11th August 2018 86259 approaching the rolling stock from the parcel sidings in Preston station.


Les on the Bend. The Railway Touring Company's 'Cumbrian Mountain Express', 1Z86 0710 London Euston - Carlisle, speeds around the long curve on the approach to Lichfield Trent Valley on 14th July 2018, behind the immaculately preserved Class 86/2 No. 86259 'Les Ross/Peter Pan'. Mr. Ross, himself, can be seen enjoying the ride from the vantage point of the second mans seat. Copyright Photograph John Whitehouse - all rights reserved.