The popular preserved Hastings Diesel Unit could be leading people “Up the Garden of England Path” on a charter with a difference.
The “Old Curiosity Mystery Tour” will start, as you would expect of HDL, from their base at Hastings. It will run via the conventional route to Tonbridge via Tunbridge Wells, then via Sevenoaks to Bromley. After Bromley, it will run to London Bridge via New Beckenham, and then down to Rochester via Greenwich and Dartford.
At this point, passengers are given the choice of whether or not to conduct Christmas shopping in the fantastic Rochester High Street, or to continue on the “unknown” aspect of the charter (at a price of around £10 more).
It had been stated that Engineering Works are preventing something of a definitive route being produced for the tour, so it was up to GB Railfreight and Network Rail to conjure something up in the Working Timetable Cauldron.
Andy Armitage, of Hastings Diesels has stated that: “We will be putting a full set of timings on the HDL website when we get them”, but that “It is also intended that when the timings go out in the post to enclose a sealed copy of the full timings for those that wish the trip to remain a mystery.”
Mr. Armitage also said that “The trip will be utilising usual everyday routes, although some relatively rare bits for the Hastings unit” and that “I can confirm however that the Lydd and Dungeness Line (or Folkestone Harbour) is not included”.
Arguably, however, the mystery element, combined with the ability to take the nostalgic Class 201 unit around Kent, will conspire to create something of a fun filled tour, possibly a more exciting prospect to many than their Christmas trip to Kensington Olympia!
The tours confirmed route was Hastings to Orpington on the conventional route via Tunbridge Wells, then to Bromley South, Beckenham Junction, along the chord to New Beckenham, Lewisham and London Bridge to Cannon Street. From there, back through London Bridge to Rochester via Greenwich, Woolwich, Dartford and Gravesend. From Rochester, it will go back to Hastings via Strood, Maidstone West, Paddock Wood and Ashford International before traversing the Marshlink via Rye. It will then go back to Rochester for its shopper passengers via Rye and Ashford, before going through Maidstone “the other way” to Swanley, where it reverses and goes down to Rochester. To end, it will go via Strood, Dartford, Barnehurst and Blackheath to London Cannon Street, and via the morning route to Hastings (Lewisham, New Beckenham, Bromley South, Orpington, Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells).
This train will run on Saturday, December 3rd. All timings and associated information will be available on the Hastings Diesels website .