Yesterday (Sunday 10th July), I had the pleasure of being on what I was told was the only train that was running north of
and my journey wasn’t a short one! Aberdeen, Scotland
There was a huge disruption to rail services across the
UK. As far as I
can tell, the reasons for strikes in north-east Scotland were over the issue of
trains running with only a driver and no guard. I don’t use the rail service,
since we have no trains stopping in my Aberdeenshire village (proposed for
2019), but if I were a regular commuter, I’d prefer that the train had a guard.
Anyway…I consider myself extremely fortunate that my Special Tour yesterday actually took place and wasn’t cancelled. The Scottish Railway Preservation Society Tour yesterday went from
the way north to Inverness and then further north
and then west to Kyle of Lochalsh. (see my previous post about my journey )
All of these SRPS tours are run by volunteer staff, unpaid people who generously give of their time and expertise to ensure that the railway heritage of
(and the UK)
is preserved. Being a volunteer means no Union affiliation and therefore no
pressure to strike.
But…since the rail stock used yesterday (British Rail Mk1 coaches of the early 1960s and a class 47 diesel locomotive back and front) travelled on the current main railway lines, almost the whole journey, I’m very glad we were given the necessary ‘tokens’ to ride the tracks. The exception to the main line being used was that we had clearance to use a 'bypass' stretch using the 'Rose Street Line' to avoid going through the main railway station at Inverness.
Because the lines used from
to Inverness and Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh
are single track the driver must have a ‘token’ permission from the signalmen
to use the track safely. That meant that there were normal railway staff (non SRPS volunteers) available yesterday to ensure our driver could haul our vintage carriages along
the route - though I’ve no idea if those men that I saw along the way were volunteering
their time or were putting in a normal shift.
The return journey took around 10 hours and gave me plenty of time to appreciate the varying countryside as we passed by and also time to read. During the outward journey I did a lot of watching, took notes and imagined the stretch between Inverurie and Inverness as planned. On the return journey, while the vegetation at the edge of the track pinged and whipped furiously at the roof and windows of my comfy carriage, quite a scary noise till I got used to it, I opened a new book Pride and Regicide by Cathy Bryant. At only 90 pages long it was a quick read and just perfect for when the rain started to spit then run in rivulets down the by then very smeary windows of the carriage. By then all hopes of taking photographs was gone. Every now and again I popped up my head to see what I could but since it was the return journey it wasn’t so bad to miss the scenery as I’d been more watchful on the outward journey.
Here’s what I thought of Pride and Regicide by Cathy Bryant.
Happy Reading to you, whatever your choice is.