HDL Midland Forester railtour

Saturday 4 July 2009

This article was closed on Sunday 9 August 2009

[PHOTO: Train approaching station: 70kB]

Above: A fine view of the railtour approaching Etchingham station at just after 7 o’clock. Motor coach Tunbridge Wells carries the specially-made headboard for this trip. Photo by Don Benn.

Hastings Diesels Limited’s 39th railtour was to Nottingham via Loughborough. The outing arrived 4 minutes early and returned to Hastings 31 minutes ahead of schedule, in spite of some lateness incurred during each leg.

Unusual route

Owing to an engineering blockade on the Dudding Hill Junction section of line in north-west London, the outward leg of the trip had to negotiate a highly circuitous route in order to get from Bromley South to the Midland Main Line. From Kensington Olympia it followed the North London Line to Temple Mills, then the Barking – Gospel Oak line, taking the Tottenham North Curve onto the Midland Main Line near Kentish Town. Thus it ran through West Hampstead (North London Line) some 90 minutes before passing West Hampstead (Midland)!

The outing ran to time initially, but after some delays in north-east London it was routed via the Fast lines on the Midland and regained time. It crossed back to the Slow lines in time to traverse the Wymington Deviation and passed through Sharnbrook Tunnel, to the satisfaction of those on board who seek to travel over tracks not normally used by passenger trains.

Further to that theme, regular travellers may recall that in September 1997 our Rutland DEMU railtour traversed the then-freight-only section of railway between Corby and Manton Junction, crossing the ¾-mile-long Harringworth or Welland Viaduct. This outing saw our train passing over it once more.

The railtour reached Loughborough where over half of our passengers alighted, many to visit the nearby Great Central Railway. This also gave rise to an opportunity for the Selective Door Release facility to be used on our train’s Central Door Locking, as the platform we stopped alongside was only 58 metres in length.

The return leg of the day’s outing was via the East Coast Main Line between Peterborough and Copenhagen Tunnel, where it rejoined the North London Line at Camden Road Junction and retraced the outward route via the North London Line and Kensington Olympia.

Further data

The train was formed thus: 60118-60501-69337-60529-60116, with motor coach 60118 Tunbridge Wells leading from Hastings to Nottingham.

The publicity leaflet and final timings remain available.


We have encountered some video footage of our railtour posted on YouTube, at:

No doubt more videos will have been uploaded since this list was last modified, but the above is a starting-point.


[PHOTO: Train at station: 45kB]

Above: The railtour calling at Etchingham station. Photo by Don Benn.

[PHOTO: Train in the landscape: 56kB]

Above: Our train wends its way northwards from Sevenoaks through the beautiful morning, and is about to plunge through the 2611-yard Polhill Tunnel beneath the North Downs. It is just passing Polhill Substation, which dates from the 1935 Chislehurst – Sevenoaks electrification scheme. Photo by David Staines.

[PHOTO: Train at station: 43kB]

Above: The Midland Forester railtour pauses at Kensington Olympia on this beautiful morning. Photo by Will Paine.

[PHOTO: Train approaching : 41kB]

Above & below: 1001 approaching West Hampstead Thameslink station; it caught us photographers by surprise, because it had been switched to the Down Fast which wasn’t what we were expecting! In the first view, the train is just passing beneath a bridge carrying the North London Line, over which the railtour also passed some 90 minutes earlier!

[PHOTO: Train approaching station: 48kB]

[PHOTO: Train and bridge: 38kB]

Above: Colin Price took this photo of our train departing Loughborough on the outward journey.

[PHOTO: Train in depot: 29kB]

Above: 1001 taking on water (for the toilet tanks) at Nottingham Depot, and below preparing for departure on the return leg of the trip. Photos by Andy Armitage.

[PHOTO: Train in station: 27kB]

[PHOTO: Train crossing canal and towpath: 41kB]

Upon leaving Nottingham, the railtour headed south-west to Ratcliffe Junction at Long Eaton, where Jim Mosley took these photos showing our train crossing the Trent Navigation canal (Cranfleet Cut) (above), and traversing the bridge over the River Trent itself (below). 1001 then ran through Red Hill Tunnel and past the 2GW Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station. Just out of shot to the right is the location where the three counties of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire all meet.

[PHOTO: Train on bridge: 42kB]

[PHOTO: Train in station at dusk: 27kB]

Above: Back onto its home ground, our DEMU pauses at Tonbridge at 21:18. As the sun sets, our train is already 20 minutes early; it went on to make up more time on the hilly run down to Hastings. Photo by Colin Price.

There are also two fine photos of our train on Lorenzo D’aniello’s fotopic site.