GB Railfreight’s ‘Absent Shunter’ charity train on August 13th 2017 produced the nostalgic sight of a Class 86-hauled passenger train along the West Coast Main Line from Crewe to Euston. 86101 (which is owned by the AC Loco Group and is on hire to GB Railfreight) is usually confined to empty stock workings of the Caledonian night sleepers, so this was also a rare opportunigy for the veteran loco to stretch its legs over its former stamping ground. The WCML has undergone significant changes since it was electrified in the 1960s and is an even more fascinating route when viewed from the driving cab.
The Class 86 sets off from Crewe on the Fast Line, passing Basford Hall Junction signal box. After heading through Norton Bridge there’s a non-stop run through Stafford. From there our journey continues along the Trent Valley line where there’s some fine running through Rugeley, Tamworth and Nuneaton. Progress is checked at Rugby, where the train takes full advantage of the complex but versatile track layout by undertaking an unusual manoeuvre through the station. At Hillmorton Junction we take the Northampton Loop, past Daventry freight terminal and then through Long Buckby. After Northampton station the journey south continues through Hunsbury tunnel and the famous ‘birdcage’ at Roade before re-joining the WCML at Hanslope Junction. Running along the Slow Lines, we then head through Wolverton and Bletchley before passing the site of the Great Train Robbery between Leighton Buzzard and Cheddington. The London suburbs are reached at Watford Junction, from where the Watford DC Lines run parallel to the WCML. South of Wembley Central the junctions come thick and fast while at Willesden Junction the trackwork becomes more complex. After passing through Primrose Hill tunnel, the Regents Canal is crossed before descending Camden Bank. Arrival into Euston’s platform 15 wraps up a journey that 86101 first made more than fifty years ago.
Produced by - Locomaster Profiles
Running time - 140 Minutes
Format - DVD only
Released - November 2017