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Preston Station Stabling

On days when the Cumbrian Mountain Express is running, the locomotive usually delivers the coaching stock from London Euston to Carnforth. There the stock is uncoupled ready for the steam engine to back onto, couple up and take it forward through Oxenholme, Tebay, over Shap, through Penrith and on to Carlisle where it leaves the West Coast Main Line. Meanwhile, 86259 returns south to Preston to spend the day usually in one of the parcel sidings behind the former mail platform. The photo above shows the loco in just such a position, against the platform which dispenses with the need for high-viz jackets. Occasionally 259 will be "parked" at the north end of the station between the 'up' and 'down' fast and slow lines. The driver and/or engineer then come with me to Blackpool for a meal and a noggin.

Shortly before the steam engine is expected back, via Settle, the loco is moved south to Farington siding, a mile or so south of Preston and close to the M5, to wait for it there where the coaching stock will swap locomotives for a fast return up the West Coast Main Line to London.

Preston Station schematic

Farington Siding Stabling

On days when the Cumbrian Mountain Express is running, a photo opportunity presents itself at Farington siding, a mile or so south of Preston and close to the M5, where Farington Road (A5083) and Fowler Lane cross the West Coast Main Line ("WCML") on road bridges (one to the north and the other to the south) within sight of the siding. 86259 waits here in the siding from shortly before the time the steam engine is due back from Carlisle with the coaching stock for the latter's fast trip back to London.

The steam engine draws to a stop shortly before joining the WCML but under the 25kV overhead line which extends a short distance up this branch. The coaching stock is then uncoupled and the engine moves forward into Farington Siding alongside 259 which promptly retraces this short distance to couple up the stock and whisk it away London-bound. Thereafter the steam engine reverses back up the branch to Lostock Hall Junction from which it can then move forward over the top of the WCML, joining it shortly before Preston for the trip back to Carnforth.

86259 at Farington
Farington Junction

Carnforth Stabling

On days when the Cumbrian Coast Express is running and as part of the preparation for the Prudential RideLondon charter, 86259 hauls West Coast Railways' coaching stock from London to Carnforth (West Coast Railways' primary location and site of the former Steamtown Railway Museum). Much of the track at Carnforth immediately to the west of the West Coast Mainline is under the 25kV 50Hz overhead wiring and it is here that stock can be transferred to a steam engine (as in the photo below), if this is called for, or a rest break can be taken on the long trip to Edinburgh to collect the Prudential passengers.