HDL Winter Enigma railtour

Saturday 19 February 2011

This article was closed on Tuesday 1 March 2011

[PHOTO: Train in cutting with overbridge: 63kB]

Above: Our train, with motor coach Mountfield leading, approaches Hastings at the start of the day. Photo by Don Benn.

Hastings Diesels Limited’s 46th public railtour was from Hastings to Bedford and Bletchley.

This was the second attempt at running this railtour, which was originally set to run on 4 December 2010 but was postponed because of severe weather. It was almost certainly the first occasion that a DEMU traversed the Bedford to Bletchley line.

The railtour collected its passengers from the usual stops between Hastings and Tonbridge, then Bromley South and Clapham Junction, and conveyed them to St. Albans City and Bedford, with a return trip up the Varsity Line to Bletchley; return was via the same route. For those not wishing to remain on the train to Bedford and Bletchley, a visit to the preserved St. Albans South signal box was also offered free of charge, in addition to the sightseeing and shopping opportunities available in that City.

The weather was not severe but neither was it kind to the trip, with rainfall for much of the day. In spite of this the train ran very close to time throughout the day; on the run up the Midland Main Line from Brent it was routed onto the Down Fast line to follow a High Speed Train as far as Radlett.

Historical data

The train was formed thus: 60118-60501-69337-70262-60529-60116, with motor coach 60118 Tunbridge Wells leading on departure from Hastings. It returned in the same orientation.

The publicity leaflet, final timings, and map of the railtour route remain available.


Various photographers have taken video-footage depicting this railtour and have uploaded it to YouTube; the following are links to some starting-points but do not represent a definitive collection:


[PHOTO: Train, platform and tunnel-mouth: 64kB]

Above & below: At a rainy Tunbridge Wells, motor coach 60116 Mountfield brings up the rear of the train; the mouth of Grove Hill Tunnel is seen beyond it. The Down platform was used for this Up journey. Photos by Don Benn.

[PHOTO: Train in rainy station: 60kB]

[PHOTO: Train in station: 66kB]

Above: Passing Flitwick on the Midland Main Line, on the approach to Bedford. Photo by Ian McDonald.

[PHOTO: Train on bridge: 49kB]

This pair of photos, taken from the same spot by Roger Gurney, shows our train (Above) passing over the Bletchley Line on its way into Bedford; and (Below) passing under the Midland Main Line some 20 minutes later on its way to Bletchley.

[PHOTO: Train under bridge: 66kB]

[PHOTO: Train approaching in countryside: 61kB]

Above: Despite the grey and damp conditions, our train is a welcome sight on the rural Bletchley – Bedford line for photographer Kev Gregory as it approaches Lidlington on its return from Bletchley.

[PHOTO: Train passing platform: 52kB]

Above & below: Passing Kempston Hardwick on the way back from Bletchley. Photos by Ian McDonald.

[PHOTO: Train on level crossing: 55kB]

[PHOTO: Train in sidings: 68kB]

Above: Our train was laid-over in the Bedford Carriage Sidings where it was cleaned internally and its toilet-flush water-tanks refilled. Photo taken from a passing train by Ian McDonald.

[PHOTO: Train in sidings: 58kB]

Above: Water-tank refilling in progress in the sidings. Photo by Andy Armitage.

[PHOTO: Train entering station: 73kB]

Above: Motor coach 60118 Tunbridge Wells emerges from the sidings and beneath Ford End Road bridge to enter Bedford station for the return leg of the outing. Photo by Ian McDonald.