HDL Essex Coast Express railtour

Saturday 13 September 2014

This article was last modified on Sunday 12 October 2014

[PHOTO: Train entering station: 53kB]

Above: Our 1957-vintage train pulls into St. Leonards Warrior Square station just after half-past seven, near the start of the day’s outing to London and Clacton-on-Sea. Photo by Simon Stoddart.

Hastings Diesels Limited’s 59th public railtour was from Hastings to Clacton, via London Liverpool Street.

Andy Armitage describes our visit to the Graham Road Curve, a spur between the North London Line and the West Anglia Main Line:

It’s very sharp, very steep, and only 10mph, and the driver had to have 1001 in notch 5 to keep us moving. We nearly stalled when a 315 slowed up crossing in front of us on the Liverpool Street line as the driver opened his window and was mesmerised by the green apparition slowly blasting its way up the curve. We just kept going as the signal cleared and we dragged our way back onto the main line with the ammeter almost ‘off the clock’!! This didn’t seem to have adversely affected the old girl as we picked up speed through London Fields and Cambridge Heath.

Andy has also examined the OTMR downloads, which show that both Power cars were drawing 1,940 amps at a recorded 2.47 mph on the Graham Road curve!

The train was reversed an even number of times, because the outward portion of the trip included extra reversals at both London Liverpool Street and at Colchester Town. Thus the train returned to the depot that evening in the same orientation as it had left.

Although the timings we had been given were less demanding of our train and its drivers than those for our previous Crewe railtour, timekeeping was difficult to maintain. There were lots of small delays from which we were always striving to recover, like being allocated an occupied platform at Liverpool Street and so doubling up there; various other trains we were delayed by; numerous harsh speed-restrictions at crossings on the way to Clacton; and an extra train being routed in front of us at Marks Tey loop.

None of this mattered to our passengers, however; we returned them to Kensington Olympia early and to Bromley South only one minute late, and a good day out was reported!

Historical data

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

The publicity leaflet, 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 in platform: 67kB]

Above: Mick Tester carries out some last-minute polishing to the engine-room door of motor coach Mountfield whilst awaiting departure from Hastings station. Photo by Andy Armitage; note his cab-camera in the offside cab window.

[PHOTO: Train in small terminus station: 51kB]

Above: We visited the short spur to the terminus at Colchester Town on the outward portion of the trip. Photo by Andy Armitage.

[PHOTO: Trains in sunny station: 46kB]

Above & below: In the sunny lunchtime Andy Armitage photographed our DEMU in the ample platforms of Clacton-on-Sea station, alongside some Class 321 EMUs.

[PHOTO: Trains at station: 44kB]

Further photos