Published 9th November 2012
The much awaited main line debut of the GWS Railmotor No. 93, was delayed by a week following two unlucky failures by the west coast diesel fleet. A class 37, fitted with new batteries at Carnforth, was sent to Southall before progressing to Bodmin the following day.
The next morning at Southall, the diesel wouldn’t start as the battery had failed. Underlining West Coast’s efforts to keep the job running, they immediately dispatched a vacuum braked class 47, No. 47245 from Carnforth direct to Bodmin. It reached Westbury when it was declared a failure with a triple pump problem. First Great Western also looked at ways to move the Railmotor but could not come up with a suitable operation using a vacuum braked train.
The Safety Management Systems in place to allow No. 93’s operation on Network Rail’s infrastructure meant that there was no alternative method of running the Railmotor from Bodmin to Liskeard.
The decision to cancel operations on Sunday 4 November was taken by West Coast Railways who have admitted responsibility. At all times the Society were kept informed, and took immediate action to inform ticket holders of the cancellation.
The only other available vacuum braked locomotive available was a class 33 at Southall which was considered as a 3rd engine to move the Railmotor on the main line, but would not have been able to reach Bodmin in time so it was regretfully decided to postpone the November 4th running. This was then promptly re-arranged by Network Rail, West Coast and First Great Western for November 18 and all tickets booked for November 4 being transferred to November 18th trains.
The Great Western Society, promoters of the special trains, immediately offered ticket holders a full refund if they could not travel on the re-arranged date.
It was original envisaged that Dennis Howells’ Pannier Tank No. 9466 would be used to haul the Railmotor between Bodmin and Liskeard, covering the same route it pulled trains over a few years ago.
The use of 9466 would have been at cost, possibly being cheaper than using a diesel based several hundred miles away but it is understood that the offer was not accepted by the GWS following the robust debate concerning boilerwork on GWR ‘King’ No. 6023 King Edward 11. This culminated in graffiti being painted on the boiler leading to the engine’s removal from the GWS at Didcot to the Great Central Railway at Loughborough - where No. 9466 is currently operating.
This would have been 9466’s final main line operation as the main line boiler ticket expires in January 2013.
The GWS advises that any passengers unable to travel on 18 November should contact them for a full refund by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Requests for refunds for the cancelled 4 November trips should be made by Saturday 10 November.
There will undoubtedly be some returned tickets and these will be put on sale from Wednesday 7 November and cost £25 each and can be booked by phoning 08444 771000 (Booking fees apply). There should be some tickets for those middle of the day trains which had sold out for 4 and 11 November dates if you're quick!
A vintage coach had also been arranged to run between Looe and Liskeard recreating a vintage ‘Titfield Thunderbolt’ type event in Cornwall.
The Railmotor has had a special shed built to accommodate it at Didcot. This has been in GWR style and is intended to weather over the next few years to assume a more heritage look!
Two childrens’ favourites will join forces this Christmas period at Didcot Railway centre. On Saturdays and Sundays in December, Thomas The Tank Engine and Father Christmas combine to make a great day out with rides behind ‘Thomas The Tank Engine’. There will also be the chance to meet The Fat Controller, visit Father Christmas in his Grotto who has presents for the children. Children’s entertainment will also be on offer.