HDL Old Curiosity Mystery railtour

Saturday 3 December 2011

This article was last modified on Monday 12 December 2011

[PHOTO: Train in sunshine: 70kB]

Above: The Old Curiosity Mystery railtour proceeds through Paddock Wood on its meandering journey from Rochester to Ashford, via Tonbridge. Photo by Irvine Cresswell.

Hastings Diesels Limited’s 51st public railtour was our pre-Christmas outing from Hastings to Rochester, featuring an afternoon “mystery tour” beyond.

This excursion ran via Bromley South to London Cannon Street, before heading to Rochester. Thereafter, the mystery element was scheduled to take us, via reversals at Strood and Paddock Wood, to Ashford and then across the Romney Marsh to Hastings (!), returning via Maidstone East and a reversal at Swanley to regain Rochester. The remainder of the trip would retrace its steps back to Hastings via Cannon Street.

In the event, we were diverted after Bromley South to avoid a signal failure in the Lewisham area; Cannon Street and Rochester were duly reached. However, motor coach 60116 Mountfield experienced a fault with its Automatic Warning System (AWS), a fail-safe piece of safety equipment used by most trains on the national rail network; thanks to prompt action by our operator, GB Railfreight, our reversal at Paddock Wood was re-located to Tonbridge Yard (with passengers temporarily detrained at Tonbridge station) where assistance was provided in the form of Electro-Diesel locomotive 73 213.

With the delay incurred by this point, it was not possible to follow our booked path over the route from Ashford to Hastings, which includes two single-line sections; instead, passengers were entrained at Tonbridge and the train was worked to Ashford to pick up its booked working on the return leg of the mystery portion of the outing, back to Rochester.

The rest of the outing proceeded uneventfully; Hastings was reached 20 minutes early and the Electro-Diesel was detatched and sent back “light engine” to Tonbridge.

Given the sense of mystery already being offered, many of those present noted that the short-notice changes of plan actually enhanced their enjoyment of the afternoon’s travels!

Historical data

The train was formed thus: 60118-60501-69337-70262-60529-60116, with motor coach 60116 Mountfield leading on departure from Hastings. In the course of reversals at Strood, Tonbridge and at Swanley on a triangular route, the train was returned to St. Leonards depot facing the other way round.

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


[PHOTO: Train in undercover station: 57kB]

Above: The railtour awaits departure from platform 7 at London Cannon Street station. Sister DEMU 1003 was photographed in the same location nearly 55 years previously; the station has changed considerably more than the train!

[PHOTO: Train in platform: 66kB]

Above: The railtour reversing at Rochester. Photograph by Jake Taylor.

[PHOTO: Train in sunny station: 49kB]

Above: Our DEMU motoring away from the junction at Paddock Wood, heading for Tonbridge. Photo by Irvine Cresswell.

[PHOTO: Train enters railway yard: 57kB]

Above: 1001 was temporarily detrained of its passengers at Tonbridge station, and worked into Tonbridge West Yard where it was captured by the camera of Colin Price.

[PHOTO: Trains in railway yard: 49kB]

Above: 1001 shares Tonbridge West Yard with a former Gatwick Luggage Van, as it awaits the assisting locomotive.

[PHOTO: Trains coupling in yard: 53kB]

Above: Assistance appeared in the form of Electro-Diesel 73 213 which is seen in the process of being coupled up to our train’s motor coach Mountfield.

[PHOTO: Train in station: 57kB]

Above: Following the diversion to Tonbridge, there was insufficient time to run to Hastings via Rye, so the outing was curtailed at Ashford International; it is seen here reversing in platform 1.

[PHOTO: Train in station: 57kB]

Above: On the return to Rochester we were back on time, and a photo-stop took place as scheduled at Maidstone East in the fading winter light. Photo by Colin Price.

[PHOTO: Train in platform by night: 41kB]

Above: 73 213 brings up the rear of our train at Rochester. Photo by Colin Price.

[PHOTO: Ticket-gateline and trains: 45kB]

Above: A second visit to London Cannon Street saw our train call at platform 6, as is seen here from beyond the ticket gateline—at one time this station would have been thronged with DEMU-bound commuters! Photo by Colin Price.

[PHOTO: Train in station by night: 53kB]

Above: The railtour concluded at Hastings some 20 minutes early, and would shortly head back to St. Leonards Depot. Photo by Jake Taylor.