Olympia Express special charter

Saturday 18 December 2010

This article was closed on 16 January 2011

[PHOTO: Train approaching in snowstorm: 67kB]

Above: Significant snowfall both beforehand and on the day did not prevent the tour from taking place. Tom Waghorn braved the elements at Frant to take this superb photograph.

In a repeat of last year’s outing, our train operated a special charter service from Hastings to Kensington Olympia and Shepherd’s Bush, for the London International Horse Show and for Westfield London.

The train was formed thus: 60116-60529-70262-69337-60501-60118, with motor coach 60118 Tunbridge Wells leading on departure from Hastings. The publicity leaflet, fares & provisional timings, printable booking-form and final timings remain available for interest.

Because of significant snowfall both in fact and in forecasts during the days and hours preceding the outing, there was some apprehension on all sides as to whether it would in fact take place; we posted a note on this website the evening before the trip to confirm that, as far as we could determine, it was expected to run as scheduled.

And run it did! London was reached only a handful of minutes late, after being delayed outside Tonbridge, but then getting to motor through Sevenoaks and Orpington at maximum speed.

The train had been scheduled to have its layover during the middle of the day at Willesden, but in view of the rapidly-worsening weather there it was instead sent back south to Beckenham Junction station where it was stabled in a bay-platform road; afterwards it returned by way of the Mid-Kent line, Lewisham and Nunhead.

The return leg departed Shepherd’s Bush close to time and was spot-on by the time it reached Orpington at 19:20hrs. However, at this point it became delayed behind other trains that were suffering with technical problems in the snow. Ten minutes later a “plan B” had been arranged: our train took on an additional trainload of “rescued” members of the general travelling public from the other train stuck at Orpington. We were sent back to Bromley South to reverse and try again, being re-routed via Bat & Ball whence we called additionally at Sevenoaks, Hildenborough and High Brooms; the catering-trolley still managed to get through the crowds, and the Buffet Car did a roaring trade! Thus we departed Robertsbridge at around 21:35hrs, and arrived into Hastings 84 minutes late. But no matter: not only had we got our own passengers to their destinations in spite of the line being blocked, we had assisted many others to reach theirs as well!

Photos and Videos

[PHOTO: Train approaching in snowstorm: 69kB]

Above: Our train motors through Frant in the snowstorm, pulling along a cloud of powdered snow. Tom Waghorn who took this photograph says he could hear the throb of our engines all the way from their passage through Wadhurst!

[PHOTO: Train entering platform with snow: 62kB]

Above: Less severe snowfall is evident when the unit got to Tonbridge. Photo by Colin Watts.

[PHOTO: Train in snowy station: 50kB]

Above: By the time our destination was reached, our train’s leading surfaces including headboard were opaque with adhering snow. Photo by Colin Watts.

Video footage of our train departing Shepherd’s Bush at the end of the outward leg.

Andy Armitage’s unattended video-camera in the cab captured this sequence between Willesden and Olympia, shortly after initial arrival in London, which illustrates the worsening weather conditions to advantage!

[PHOTO: Train at buffers in snow: 52kB]

Above: Laying over at Beckenham Junction station. Photo by Colin Watts.

[PHOTO: Train at buffers in snow by night: 48kB]

Above: The view at Beckenham Junction station looks even more picturesque as night falls. Photo courtesy of Richard Jones.

[PHOTO: Train and passengers under platform canopy: 70kB]

Above: The last few South Eastern passengers are ushered onto our train at Orpington prior to our return to Bromley South and subsequent re-routing to reach Sevenoaks and the Hastings Line.

[PHOTO: Train in station by night: 62kB]

Above: Motor coach 60116 Mountfield seems clear of snow by the time it is ready to depart Tonbridge to call additionally at High Brooms on the way back to Hastings.