The closure of Ipswich Tunnel for eight weeks in the summer of 2004 provided the opportunity of travelling between London and Norwich with Class 47 haulage once again. This time though, the diversionary route away from the East Anglian main line presented a far more interesting journey.
Thanks to the co-operation of Anglia passenger operator 'one' and locomotive owners Cotswold Rail, our cameras and microphones were on board 47 818 to record one of these fascinating short-lived journeys from the locomotive footplate.
Immediately after leaving Liverpool Street with the 11.47 departure for Norwich, 47 818 is tackling the short, sharp 1 in 70 climb up Bethnal Green bank. The journey through the north London suburbs continues along the Southbury Loop via Hackney Downs, and Seven Sisters to Cheshunt. From there, it joins the Lea Valley route where the 47 is on full power for virtually all of the 22-mile climb through Broxbourne, Harlow Mill and Bishops Stortford to Elsenham summit.
After slowing for Cambridge, there's a spirited 15-mile run across the Fens to Ely, during which it passes the southbound 47-hauled passenger service. At Ely the train bears right to take the antiquated route through Brandon, Thetford and Wymondham to Norwich. Gated crossings, jointed track and telegraph wires accompany the manual signal boxes and semaphore signals along this delightful stretch of track. And it's all filmed on a glorious summers afternoon!
The fascinating 125-mile journey concludes with arrival at Norwich station, and brings back memories of the days when Class 47s ruled the roost on East Anglia passenger services.