Wednesday 24 August 2016

Going Loco Down In erm East Anglia

I have been wanting to do what I did yesterday for a few weeks now - ever since Greater Anglia hired in another Short Set, this time with Class 68's. It has made our little area rather uunique. There are places in the country where you can get on a train hauled by a 68 - both Chiltern Rail and Scotrail use them. Northern Rail have a couple of 37 hauled trains running between Carlisle, barrow and Lancaster. However none of them are top and tailed, and there is nowhere in the country you can hop from one onto the other. It's like having a daily Diesel Gala on proper tracks doing proper speeds, not a hair pulling frustrating 25, and a lot cheaper than heritage lines too. My £9 Wherry Lines Ranger ticket enabled me unlimited travel on the lines between Norwich and Great Yarmouth/Lowestoft and with a bit of forward planning I took full advantage of it.

I started off by driving to Acle station, where at 0859 precisely the two sets meet. The meeting is guaranteed as Acle is a passing place, and so I set up shop and waited. First to arrive were the new kids on the block. 68016 pulling 68019 en route from Yarmouth. Shortly the daddies arrived from Norwich, 37019 with 37405. Nowhere else in the country is this view possible on a daily basis on National Rail lines.

37419 and 68019 say hello at Acle
And here is the video that pic is taken from. Volume to 11 again!

I waited half hour for the 37's to return and caught them to Norwich. Sitting near the front the sound is just incredible. 37405 was thrashing away and I felt a real sense of exhilaration. On arrival at Norwich I had a few minutes to get some pretty unique pics.

37419 and 68019 ready for their next journeys with some plastic thingy in the middle
I jumped on the 1005 to Lowestoft and sampled my first experience of 68 power. My word the aeceleration is impressive - these 68's possess raw power and although the soundtrack isn't as in your ears dramatic as the 37's there is still a very satisfying growl and rumble from them, as you'll hear later. A cracking, if somewhat hot journey to Lowestoft and back with very limited time for photo opportunities as volume of passengers affected timekeeping. I did manage to get one though, a 68 next to a 170.

68019 and 170206 at Lowestoft
Normally after arriving back at Norwich on the 1057 from Lowestoft the 68's take a break, but recently they have also operated the 1205 and 1405 to Lowestoft which gave me an idea. It was becoming obvious it was going to be far too hot to ride on these trains all day, especially as the limited ventilation was further obstructed by idiotic so called enthusiasts hanging out the windows, thus blocking the air coming in. Such selfish behaviour does the reputation of enthusiasts no good whatsoever and is an embarrassment.

Anyway I had to get back to Acle so caught the 1236 to Yarmouth, with 37419 sounding even better than 37405 did earlier. This time there was time at Yarmouth for some pics.

37405 in the heat at Great Yarmouth
It suddenly struck me that if a certain brewer of beer did railway theme parks it really couldn't get much better than this. The best rides, soundtracks, sights, and all for under a tenner.

Since the heat had put pay to anymore riding the fact that the 68's were doing the 1405 to Lowestoft meant that consecutive trains would be the 2 short sets. I thought it might be quite good to get them on video at Oulton Broad North, going across the level crossing, so a pleasant drive from Acle later and I was in position to catch the sets going both ways. First up were the 68's. I love the next pic with the brand new locos passing the semaphore signal - a mix of 2 eras.

68016 trailing heading to Lowestoft
20 mins later and 68016 was back, and this time I was by the crossing to hear her pass at full power.

68016 powers over Oulton Broad North crossing
And here are the videos from which the above pics were taken.

30 mins later and history repeated itself. This time with the 37's, and as you will see from the next pic it's only the liveries that mean you can tell the pic was taken yesterday, not 45 years ago. It's truly amazing these old girls are still going so strong.

1971 or 2016?  Lovely!
Two more vids for you delectation, this time the 37's both thrashing away.

And that was that - one of the most enjoyable days I can remember for ages. The 37's will be hanging around for sometime, but I don't know about the 68's as they were only meant to be here till September. However with Greater Anglia winning the new franchise I hope their stay is extended too.

One thing I;d love to know is how much extra revenue these loco hauled services are bringing in from enthusiasts, the huge majority of whom sit down btw. Every time I've seen or been on one of the Short Sets there has been a load of passengers who are only travelling because of the locos involved. It would be nice if they were paying for themselves which could persuade GA to keep their live museum rolling. Don't miss the opportunity to ride and see these trans for yourselves - it really is a unique experience not available anywhere else..


  1. Terrific post, a real late night treat yesterday. Aren't we always at our best with a bit of make-do-and-mend? Just keep the politicians out of it.

    Now to combine the MX5 with the twin Short Sets. That would be a real petrodieselhead treat!

    1. Cheers mate though not sure anything Japanese would blend in that well on Wherry Lines at the moment!

    2. True; I really need an MG to get me there in style. The vids are the next best thing! But I rather fear, the closest I'd get would be at the side of the road, watching that little spinning wheel (and on the phone screen, too). It'd still be more exciting than Abellio's London commuter services though.

  2. Thomas Browne) Those class 68's have got caterpillar engines probably the 36** series.