Saturday 23 December 2017

Vintage Christmas Part One

This Christmas is going to be set pretty much in the past, not a bad thing in my opinion, but those who think Summer is the best time to see and ride vintage vehicles are much mistaken. Hot on the heels of the spectacular Ensign Running Day at the beginning of the month comes two more. Tomorrow, Christmas Eve, is a Running Day on the Greenline 702 between London and Windsor/Bracknell/Reading. The route is changing hands from First to Reading Buses and Christmas Eve was an odd day with no official operator, so Reading decided to have a Running Day. I will be attending thanks to my friends at Ensign, who are sending 2 vehicles.

Then on 30th December there is a Running Day organised by a company who don't like me naming them, but it's in Rochester, and I will be re-acquainted with my favourite Volvo Ailsa along with other buses.

However, the vintage Christmas started this week. In the wee small hours of Thursday morning a test train rumbled down the East Suffolk Line. It was booked to go down the seldom used Sizewell Branch, so Tim and I were at Saxmundham at 0130 waiting for it. It was soon pretty obvious it wasn't going down the branch due to the lack of Network Rail staff but that's life. It was still worth waiting for as we knew Europhoenix liveried 37611 was providing the power. I had been to Norwich earlier in the day to see it just in case the entire service didn't run, which had been known before.

37611 at Norwich sidings
Also in situ was DRS 37606, being used for stock movements currently, and in desperate need of a wash!

A very grubby 37606
But anyhow the test train did go through Saxmundham, with the dbso leading. There is something magical about a rumbling Class 37 in the dead of night in the mist! We both agreed that a lot of enthusiasts really don't see things at their best. You have to be prepared to go out at all hours, in all weathers. Then you end up with sights like this.

The dbso leads the test train into Saxmundham
37611 disappears into the Saxmundham mist
As usual those pics are stills from a video, so here it is, a lovely soundtrack breaking the still of the night.

Yesterday I switched modes onto the first vintage bus of the season. City Sightseeing Norwich were running a free tour round the city using their Routemaster, which interestingly is two years YOUNGER than 37611 above. I was invited to meet up with former (?) blogger Sam Larke, who is part of the Conductor team at City Sightseeing for a ride before the heaving masses descended on the bus. Very nice it is too, but then it's a Routemaster so that really goes without saying.

RM2151 looking festive at Castle Meadow
That's it for this post. All that's left is to wish each and everyone who reads the blog a Happy Christmas and a healthy New Year. Look out for the next post around Boxing Day which will be a report of the Greenline Running Day, with hopefully a bit more depending what turns up!

Rm2151 at Norwich Station


  1. I'm sure we passed you as you were waiting in St Stephens. Mrs A did shout hello but there were quite a few people about. Wishing you a merry Christmas and a successful new year for the blog.

    1. Passed me in what!!! I caught the 1245 X41 back. I'm sure I'd have recognised Mrs A's fog horn shouting hello! Have a great Christmas and we'll meet up somewhere cheap (not The Bell) for a natter in the New Year!

    2. Yon mean you might have a doppelganger?????? Lol. We walked past (bags of shopping and a pink suitcase the size of Manchester!) somewhere up st Stephens nr Argos. We were walking to the 14/15 stand and would have been just before that time. Hopefully, you have a mole in Galloway who can tell me what on earth is going on next time we meet because what I keep hearing is not good at all.

    3. I remember the suitcase! I thought the young lady pulling it looked a little lost but it must have been Mrs A wondering if it was me or not! I was probably miles away as usual not expecting to see you guys in Norwich in the slightest!.

    4. Not often up there to be honest but all her family are there so made good use of the railcard. Bit out of my comfort zone really!!

  2. Hi Steve, pleasure to read your blog as usual. I have been reading and enjoying all the blogs, just haven't had time to respond lately. I too have been on that Routemaster with my mother this week. Hopefully we can arrange a meet up instead of running into each other unexpectedly as is often the case. Look forward to the other running day reports, have a great Christmas and a super 2018.

    John D.

    1. Many thanks John, have a good Christmas too, and yes we will plan that meet up!

  3. Many thanks for all your posts over the last year - i look forward to your future posts.
    Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy & Healthy New Year.

  4. Not local news but of interest. First Berkshire are axing most of their routes in Slough, Reading buses are taking over the 5 and the evening service on the 4 and the Sunday service on the 6

    Attempts are being made to try to find operators to take over the axed services

    Summary of recent and future changes below. Revised timetables are on their web site

    Reduced Service from 25th November

    3, 6, 8, 12 and 13 on 25th November

    Withdrawn from 22nd December


    Withdrawn from 20th January

    2, 5, 10, 11, 15 and 200 & N7

    Services Reduced from 20th January

    4, 6 & 7

  5. Have a good one Steve. Hope to read many more blogs of yours in 2018.

  6. It looks like we might meet up in Rochester then, Steve, but not for a pint! I'll be driving ST812 on some of the special trips . . . . see you then!

    1. I'll look forward to that, if you can drag me off the Ailsa that is!

    2. And here's me thinking you meant one of these:

  7. Thanks for sharing such useful information in your blog.

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