Sunday, 13 July 2014

No Smoke without Fire

Saturday was a day of decision making about where to try and photograph some steam locomotives. There were basically two choices head for the Yorkshire Dales and Cumbria or stay much more local within West Yorkshire. Each location or locations would offer the chance to film a couple of steam charter trains.

In the end because of time commitments we opted for staying local which with hindsight was a bit of a mistake. 
46233 Duchess of Sutherland with The Scarborough Flyer
We opted for some pictures and video shots at Burton Salmon as two charter trains one hauled by 46233 Duchess of Sutherland with The Scarborough Flyer and the other by 5972 Olton Hall (known to many as Hogwarts Express from the Harry Potter films) with The Wizards Express. The two trains were scheduled to pass our location around 30 minutes apart.

Checking the Realtime Trains web site as we headed to Burton Salmon both trains appeared to be on schedule. Once we arrived at our chosen location things started to go a little pear shaped. The first train to pass by should have been 5972 Olton Hall but North of Leeds updates on the progress of the train stopped. We were left to ponder whether the steam locomotive had broken down or perhaps been rerouted through Garforth to York avoiding our chosen spot.

Either way as it happened the Duchess arrived first a few minutes early and passed by with barely a hint of any exhaust smoke.

Perhaps this should have been our clue but we didn't latch on. There wasn't any up dates for The Wizards Express for ages then the Realtime trains web site started updating with the train’s progress. It was running about an hour late at this point.
5972 Olton Hall at the rear of The Wizards Express
Eventually The Wizards Express arrived but with diesel haulage in front and 5972 Olton Hall ignominiously been towed along at the back of the train. A rather disappointing day’s steam photography.

Once back home it was apparent that Network Rail had banned steam locomotives from operating due to the risk of them setting off lineside fires. The Duchess had only made it as far as York before Network Rail insisted she be replaced by diesel power. 

This doesn't really bode very well for the rest of the summer if a couple of warm sunny days have this effect. Locally July is turning out to be a wet month. Obviously the problem is the build up year after year of dead vegetation along the trackside  just waiting for a hot spark to set it alight.

With the summer steam season in Yorkshire about to get into full swing with the annual weekly runs of The Scarborough Spa Express, Scarborough Flyer and The Waverley it looks like we could have a repeat performance of last year with the trains being diesel hauled and a token steam engine at the front in light steam only.

On Monday West Coast Railways are planning to move empty coaching stock hauled by a steam locomotive from Carnforth to York presumably to operate the first Scarborough Spa Express of the summer on Tuesday. I wonder how that's going to pan out.

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