Thursday 30 August 2018

Oh My Sweet Caroline...

Finally something has happened worthy of a post! I was scanning Real Time Trains for any test train movements this week when I noticed an unusual journey pathed for this morning. A journey from Ipswich to Peterborough. Not unusual, you might say as there's a train that does that every 2 hours. Not via he East Suffolk Line to Lowestoft, then reversing at Brundall to Yarmouth and back there isn't. So I traced the train back to Norwich, then back to Crewe where it originated from yesterday.

Won't be a test train starting at Crewe, I deduced, plus it's operated by DRS not Colas. There was only one thing it could be - Network Rails Observation coach 975025 "Caroline", who no one can remember coming to these parts before. Now here's where I'm honest - I'm not totally sure what Caroline's role is, apart from to treat various industry people to a novel ride being pushed by a Class 37. But if she was coming I wanted to see her, however, due to a prior commitment this morning I couldn't chase her all over the place like I normally would have, so yesterday I drove to Harling Road to see her on her journey from Crewe, and this morning I was at Saxmundham. Tim covered for me at Beccles, and Acle, and my word he has got some belters!

I've never seen Caroline before in the flesh - at least I don't think so. You'd think in 5 years working for Southeastern I'd have seen her but I truly don't recall it. So I got to my favourite haunt of Harling Road, knowing I'd have the station to myself, and got ready. She was near enough on time, and soon came into view, pushed by the gleaming 37409.

37409 pushes Caroline across Harling Rd crossing

Caroline passing through Harling Rd Station
Overnight 37409 was relieved of its duties, and the equally gleaming 37407 replaced it, obviously needed at Crewe for an exam. That meant at Norwich last night 37407, 409 and the recently returned 37424(558) were in residence. 3 large logo 37's at Norwich. That may never happen again.

So at 0900 I was at Saxmundham, expecting Caroline to stop as booked, but no, she sailed gracefuly through, pushed by her new shiny friend.

Caroline glides through Saxmundham

This time propelled by 37407

20 miles or so down the line and Tim was waiting for her at Beccles, although he was hampered by difficult light, and isn't very happy with these.

Tim needn't have worried. I had worked out that Caroline would pass the Short Set at Acle, which, again, was an opportunity that may never happen again. I'm happy to say that Tim has got some of the best pics I've ever seen, and that shot of the 2 large logos together of 37407 and 424 is an absolute masterpiece. Thanks, Tim - gutted I missed it myself but wow!
Side by side 37407 & 424 at Acle
Iconic, just iconic

The forgotten loco  37405 also on the Short Set

That was a nice surprise, and a good way to break my drought of posts. However, you won't have long to wait for the next one. I'm in the big smoke tomorrow, finding out just how far you can travel for £1.50! Here it's a couple of stops but in this space!


  1. Apparently the purpose of the trip was a jolly for the assembled managers etc. I'm sure it was a top fact finding mission 😉😉

    1. I think that is Caroline's main role in life!

  2. Crossrail(Elizabeth line has had at the last minute it's opening date put back 9 months. It sounds like someone at TfL has not been telling the truth. It was due to open on December the 19th so it should have been at the final stages with test trains etc being run. Only the section from Abbeywood to Paddington was due to open. It clearly was nowhere near as ready as TfL had been claiming

    It will have a big cost impact for TfL who were already heavily overspending. They had already put the potential revenues in this years accounts. Now they will not get those revenues and they will get a 9 month cost overrun unless they can charge it back to the contractors It will also impact TfL's 2019/2020 accounts