HDL Midland Pioneer railtour

Saturday 10 September 2011

This article was last modified on Monday 19 September 2011

[PHOTO: Train-front in sunrise-light: 49kB]

Above: As the sun rises at St. Leonards Depot, motor coach Tunbridge Wells is waiting to begin its work. Photo by Andy Armitage.

Hastings Diesels Limited’s 50th public railtour was from Hastings to Butterley (for the Midland Railway Centre). This was one of the first through passenger-workings from the national railway network. Our excursion ran via Clapham Junction and up the Midland Main Line to call at Leicester, and at Loughborough (for the Great Central Railway).

This tour enjoyed a healthy turnout of passengers: some perhaps wishing to sample the High Level Goods Line round the Trent area and to pass Toton; others wishing to enjoy Hastings Diesels’ on-board hospitality whilst rumbling through to Derbyshire, itself an unusual destination for our train.

We set off on time and arrived back at Hastings on time, and arrived arrived at Swanwick Junction (for the Midland Railway Centre) a few minutes ahead of time. In the course of the day’s journey our train and some of our passengers suffered a few minutes’ delay but these were soon recovered—in spite of the faster timings we had been allocated on this outing.

Historical data

The train was formed thus: 60118-60501-69337-70262-60529-60116, with motor coach 60116 Mountfield leading on departure from Hastings.

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 approaching over points: 63kB]

Above: The railtour approaches Clapham Junction. The Shard can be seen under construction in the background. Photo by Phil Barnes.

[PHOTO: Trains in station, seen from bridge: 59kB]

Above: An HST waits alongside the HDL Midland Pioneer Railtour at Leicester station. This view was captured from Swain Street bridge.

[PHOTO: Train approaching on 4-track formation: 59kB]

Above & below: 1001 passes Oakley, just north of Bedford, as captured through the lens of Ian McDonald.

[PHOTO: Train receding in 4-track cutting: 70kB]

[PHOTO: Train in preserved station: 56kB]

Above: The Midland Pioneer railtour shortly after arrival at Swanwick Junction station. Photo by Phil Barnes.

[PHOTO: Trackside view of trains at station: 47kB]

Above: Three diesel trains at Swanwick Junction … and not a locomotive in sight! Beside our train is a first-generation DMU, Class 127, and behind that the only railworthy preserved Pacer-type Class 141 bus-derived railcar. Photo by Phil Barnes.

[PHOTO: Train pulls out of station: 61kB]

Above: Our train departs for Butterley. Photo by Phil Barnes.

[PHOTO: Preserved trains at Butterley: 56kB]

Above: Preserved diesel trains meet at Butterley. As our train has its water-tanks refilled, a Diesel Mechanical Unit (DMU) departs from the adjacent platform. Photo by Andy Armitage.

[PHOTO: Train in siding at sunny station: 65kB]

Above: Because of the intensive service being operated that weekend by the Midland Railway Centre, the only timetable-path through to Butterley for our train would see it routed as depicted, into a platform currently without pedestrian access—effectively a siding, for operational purposes. Our passengers were granted use of our host’s trains to travel to Butterley or even Hammersmith. Photo by Andy Armitage.

[PHOTO: Train at station: 41kB]

Above: The return leg of the Midland Pioneer railtour entrains its passengers at Swanwick Junction for the run back to Hastings. Photo by Phil Barnes.

[PHOTO: Train approaching in evening countryside: 60kB]

Above: Robert Stewart captured this ‘long’ view of 1001 approaching on the viaduct which carries the Midland Main Line over the River Great Ouse, between Sharnbrook and Radwell, just north of Bedford. See also the next pair of photos.

[PHOTO: Train approaching in evening countryside: 76kB]

Above & below: Ian McDonald positioned himself at Radwell, just south of Sharnbrook Junction, to capture the return working of our railtour up the Midland Main Line. We were unexpectedly routed via the Fast Line instead of the booked Slow Line, hence the train is ducking beneath the rays of afternoon sunshine in which it would otherwise have bathed. The resulting images are still picturesque.

[PHOTO: Train receding in evening countryside: 69kB]