UK Railtours are running two charter trains over the same route in January over very rare track including the original 1838 section of the West Coast Main Line at Wolverton.
These trains are part of the UK Railtours Forgotten Tracks’ series of trains which traverse sections of line that passenger trains rarely ever travel over.
The trains run on January 21 and 28 start at Paddington and visit two freight-only branch lines in west London, before travelling to the Milton Keynes area and going past the concrete cows the trains are named after. On departure, the trains travel via Southall Yard where they reverse down the branch to the former Brentford (Goods) where a domestic refuse terminal has kept the line open. The train is scheduled to be at Brentford at 0830hrs.
After Brentford, the train is routed via West Drayton to visit the Colnbrook Branch which survived for aviation fuel and stone traffic at 1030hrs. From there the train goes to Willesden and the West Coast Main Line to Wolverton where the very rare track starts.
The train will use the Centre Sidings just south of the station arriving there at 1330hrs and pass beneath the present day fast lines shortly after. It then joins the original alignment of the WCML on the way to Haversham Bank adjacent to Wolverton Works and past their ‘factory gate’. Operating staff from Railcare Wolverton Works will be involved in the train piloting the drivers and overseeing all train movements on the line.
This section of the main line fell out of passenger use in 1880 when it was deemed too busy to carry on running directly through Wolverton Works alongside the Royal Train shed, now converted to flats.
After diving under the WCML again the train heads to Northampton where it reverses and goes through Milton Keynes to Denbigh Hall North Junction. From here it and climbs the (infamous?) Bletchley Flyover (built of concrete as are the MK cows) and reaches the summit at 1520 and Swanbourne siding 10 minutes later.
The flyover was closed for many years, reopening in 2006 along with the line to Newton Longville where the train heads for. Only one other passenger train has reached the end of the line there since reopening.
After reaching the western end of the line, the train reverses back at 1550hrs over the flyover to Fenny Stratford covering the eastern section of the flyover before returning to Euston.
The flyover lines around Bletchley lost their passenger services in 1967 but look likely to start again in 2017 – half a century on!