Hastings Station at 06:30 a few minutes before departure
At 06:37 on Saturday 04 July 2015 unit 1001 departed Hastings Station bound for Stratford Upon Avon. Club class was laid for breakfast in the form of croissants, butter with a selection of preserves. Teas and coffee served as the train proceeded up the line picking up more travelers on route (Warrior Sq, Battle, Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Bromley South).
After the final pick up at Clapham Junction the unit made its way over London Overground metals to Acton where we then traversed the normally freight only line as far as Neasden where we waited to join the line near Wembley Stadium that is normally operated by Chiltern Trains from (London) Marylebone and Banbury until our booked time.
Making good time, running fast until being held at Aynho Junction south of Banbury for a late running Cross Country service from Reading to Newcastle, meaning the unit arrived 6 minutes late at Lemington Spa. During the run up from Wembley more teas and coffees served along with sandwiches, cakes and cookies. Lemington Spa was the first of three book set down points for the outward journey where upon arrival some passenger alighted taking the opportunity to capture the units visit by taking photos and video. with a fresh driver at the controls the unit departed bound for Warwick then Stratford Upon. However, running fast through the picturesque town of Warwick. Upon arrival at the tranquil station at Stratford Upon Avon those passengers for Warwick were taken by free taxi back to Warwick. Time lost prior to Banbury was recovered with the unit arriving one minute early.
After four hours 20 minutes taking in the sites and sounds of William Shakespeare birthplace. The unit arrived back having gone to be serviced (fueled) ready for the return leg of the journey.
With the further two pick up points made the unit made its way towards London with the routing after Banbury the unit took the line towards Oxford and Didcot. Dinner being served from passing though Oxford with wine (non alcoholic alternative was available).
As the unit joined the Great Western Mainline on the Up Slow a Class 43 (HST) bound for London departed Didcot Parkway Station on the Up Fast line, however, with the Southern Region unit being an interloper on the Western Region metals, Unit 1001 seemed to take the opportunity to stretch its legs taking the Class 43 service several miles to pass the strange looking unit. Yes the Class 43 was checked by signals which was how the Hastings unit was able to draw ahead of the HST but an image not seen with a 1950s SR DEMU powering away ahead of a 1970s thoroughbred.
As the unit neared Reading the overhead gantries were visible for the overhead electrification work that is taking place on the Great Western Mainline still awaiting their wires.
Upon arrival at Reading the unit waited in Platform 15 to rejoin the former Southern Region Metals by traversing under the underpass that had been closed as part of the Beeching closures but track relaid and reopened under the modernisation scheme at Reading Station.
Passing Staines and over Kew bridge on route to Clapham Junction where the unit called to drop off those that joined the tour here off. Now following the same route as the outward journey around South London the unit arrived back, Right Time (9:39pm) at Hastings.
All in all a good day both weatherwise and experience of the tour. A huge thanks goes to not only the on board volunteers who help make the whole experience possible but to those behind the scenes. For standard class passengers there was a buffet which was reasonably priced including the sale of Hot Bacon rolls on the outward leg and other hot fair for the return leg of the journey. Also on board is a sales stand to purchase your keep sake of the Hastings Diesels.
At time of going to print the Hastings Diesels Limited have two further railtours planned for 2015 which are Saturday 19 September 2015 (Hastings - Great Central Railway) and Saturday 05 December 2015 (Hastings - Salisbury)
by Wayne Addy
4th July 2015
A few hours was had to explore the old town which was the birthplace of Shakespeare
Having arrived at Stratford with the Great Western architecture this fine Southern unit doesn't look out of place
In the evening one of the drop off points was Tunbridge Wells the unit was seen by Amy Adams on its way back to St Leonards
We would like to thank Wayne for his first article and we look forward to many more
All images are by Wayne Addy unless otherwise stated
1001 arrives back in the station after being prepped for the return journey