Unit bashing in the snowy West, Feb/Mar 2018
Many thanks to “MIB” for the write up and phots of a memorable trip out West!
Tuesday Feb 27th
I headed down to the West Country on the Tuesday on the 0730 Padd to
Penzance with 43071 and winner 43182 as far as Exeter to do double
score 43384/43304 forward to Plymouth on the 0600 from Leeds passing
power cars 43131/43192 on Rattery with no train consist. Old Bletchley
branch junk 150127 was on the Gunnislake branch so this was flagged
for winner 150243 on the 0900 Cardiff to Penzance as far as Truro to
cover the two Falmouth Docks workings.
153333/153382 were done out to the Docks and back for the second pair
153372/153305 also out and back.
153369/150925 produced on the 1557 Plymouth to Penzance where these were done through to the destination.
I had intended to have a meal at the Spoons but was withered as they
had a power cut so no hot food which meant having to eat a rancid
takeaway outside in the cold.
I did 150925 back to Plymouth on the 1916 to Newton Abbot which was
lukewarm to say the least. I was going to check in at the Plymouth
travelodge but abandoned that as 153380 was on the 2131 Plymouth to
Gunnislake and 2221 return which is the only booked 153 diagram on the
line. In the process I flagged 150127/153333 on the 2125 to Exeter.
Wednesday Feb 28th 2018
It was a fine cold but sunny morning on the Wednesday denoting the calm
before the storm as I did 150246 Plymouth to Liskeard on the 0524
Bristol to Penzance to cover the Looe branch. As booked 153382 was on
diagram as it is usually one of the Falmouth carts from the previous
day. The 0850 to Looe and 0929 return are booked to stop at Coombe
Junction. Back in Liskeard winner 43040 with 43042 arrived on the 0633
Padd to Penzance. We left in sunshine but by Truro the snow was coming
down rather heavily as the wild weather arrived from the south
allegedly storm Emma, one day early, not to be confused with the east
I bailed at St Erth in blankets of snow to do 153325 on the 1148 to St
Ives and back on the fast 1203 return. Reinforcements in the shape of
153369 paired up with 325 at St Erth or at least tried too. Like two
rutting stags they took it in turns to crash into each other trying to
couple up but to no avail. Someone had forgot to put the yellow bag
over the couplings which had now frozen. In a touch of ingenuity one
of the station staff went back to the office to boil the kettle and
returned pouring the hot water over the couplings doing the trick as
the units managed to pair up. The pair departed on the 1218 14 minutes
late and a return run past the alleged sea was made not that you could
see it with all the white stuff falling.
We got back to St Erth in time for the 1257 Penzance to Newton Abbot
with 150234. I had intended to go to Par to do 153380 on the Newquay
branch but this was abandoned at Truro when my last Exeter 153,
153368, was seen departing for Falmouth. Unfortunately this turned out
to be a cold move as I endured a 75 minute fester for its return. The
1420 and subsequent xx20 departures from Falmouth were caped as
153305/372 were deemed failures. Apparently the snow had got into
their horns which meant they were reduced to 20mph for safety reasons
and they had taken 2 hours to do a return trip. Many 143's were out of
service at Exeter the next day with the same fault.
This meant festering until 1451 to have winner 153368/153361 to the
Docks and back. Back in Truro I made the minus 20 onto 150248 with the
1449 Penzance to Plymouth so did that all the way as I was heading to
Paignton to stay in the Travelodge there. Winner 43092 with 43094 was
on the 1600 Penzance to Padd and these were done to Newton Abbot where
the snow had gone but it was freezing with the strong wind.
I did 150238 on the 1834 Paignton to Exeter to Dawlish for the chippy
and stuffed my face on 150232 which was 12 minutes behind 238 working
the 1852 Paignton to Bristol. I bailed at Exeter to do 43098/ 43189 to
Paignton on the 1733 from Padd. These then formed the 2135 Paignton to
Newton Abbot where the guard moved the few passengers up front into
the first class to lock the rest of the train out of use ready for its
ecs move to Laira on arrival at the Abbot. The final move was to do
143612 back to Paignton on the 2121 from Exeter Central before walking
against the hurricane down the sea front to the Travelodge.
Thursday 1st March 2018
The next morning of 1 March the sea looked vile as it battered the
pier and the snow was coming down lightly. I raked in a new Spoons the
Talk of the Town for breakfast before escaping on the 0912 to Exmouth
formed of 150202/153370. I bailed at Newton Abbot which was a good
move as my last Exeter 143, 143611, produced on the 1007 to Paignton
but I leapt at Torquay to take pics of the giraffe oly J343 BSH being
buffeted by the wind outside the station. 150121/153372 arrived with
the 1021 Paignton to Exmouth but I got off at Teignmouth as I think I
want the shack. I then picked up 143611 again to take me to Exeter on
the 1033 from Paignton.
Much to my annoyance both the buffets at St Davids closed at noon so
the staff could go home early to avoid the storm. There they are
telling us to keep warm and get plenty of hot drinks whilst telling
people to close the warm buffets and therefore no hot drinks leaving
us standing outside on the freezing platforms.
153373 came off the depot to form the 1249 to Paignton but then I got
withered as my last 159, 159004 appeared for the 1225 to Waterloo. So
I scratched the 159 up the hill bailing at Central and slalomed my way
back downhill as the snow got heavier to make the 1249. Winner 43285
had gone through to Plymouth after I had been lied too that all Cross
Country services would terminate at Exeter but as it was 45 minutes
late getting to Plymouth I thought there was no way it would leave
Plymouth at 1225 as it wouldn't arrive until 1229. So I did 153373
thinking I would easily make the minus 4 but wishful thinking as it
was just leaving Newton Abbot as we approached only 2 minutes late
which is something of a miracle in the snow.
As a result I stayed on the 153 to Paignton where by now they had
closed the footbridge as the snow got deeper so only one platforn mow
in use. I returned to Newton Abbot on the 1340 with 153373 to cover
the Torbay Express easily making the minus 38 as winner 43086 with
43153 limped in 49 minutes late on what should have been the 1035 from
Padd to Paignton. Instead it started at Newbury as Padd was closed in
the morning as unfit for human consumption so most services started
and finished at Reading.
I had enough time to go to a cafe for a bacon sandwich and slops to
bring back for the return 1454 to Padd which I did to Newton Abbot.
150238 followed on the 1513 Paignton to Exmouth but I bailed at
Dawlish Warren to cover the 1550 Exeter to Plymouth. After trudging
through the ever deepening snow to the opposite platform my train kept
losing one minute every two minutes.
Eventually 153372 appeared 16 minutes late despite leaving Exeter on time and this
was the first real sign things were starting to unravel.
Unfortunately 153372's horn had succumbed for the second day running
as snow had invaded it's private parts so we were reduced to 20mph on
the mainline limping into Newton Abbot just the 34 minutes late. I got
withered as double score 43147/063 went past on the 1400 Penzance to
Padd. I was booked on the 1600 Penzance to Padd which was allocated
43144 and winner 43145 but things were starting to get dodgy. The
driver fixed the horn on the 153 and off it went to Plymouth but I
opted to do 150244/ 150202 back to Exter or so I thought.
By now the points had frozen outside Abbot station so only trains on
platform 3 could get through to Exeter. This meant the pair of 150's
had to reverse out to Aller Junction to head east but they changed
their minds and we returned into platform 1. Next thing I know old
Bedford rubbish 150121 working to Paignton was terminated and we had
to swap trains as now the pair were going to Paignton and 150121 was
going to Exeter. So at 1730 we reversed out to Aller Junction and
passed through platform 3 non stop but that was as good as it got. We
got held outside St Davids for 20 minutes due to more frozen points so
the journey time from Newton Abbot took a staggering 67 minutes to
I had planned to go to Exmouth and Barnstaple but on seeing the
blizzard like conditions flagged those moves and stuck to the mainline
so I could get home. A wise decision as GWR gave up after 4pm and
suspended all services on the Exmouth and Barnstaple branches, not
much later Paignton closed for business, and finally Exeter was as far
as you could go when the Dawlish section was closed so I got out just
I was going to do my winner from Exeter at 1905 but by now the 1600
from Penzance was 60 late and so I boarded double dud 43192/ 43131,
this time with stock, on the 50 late 1657 Plymouth to Padd. I was
still optimistic I would make my pre booked 2225 HST from St Pancras
as I had work the next day. Foolish thoughts...
All the blurb had been the severe weather was between Penzance and
Taunton so when we got to Taunton with no issues I thought I would be
ok. However, I was soon put in my place as we got diverted to Bristol
because of frozen points at Castle Cary so that was the end of the
2225 home. To make matters worse there was no food or drink on the
train as the catering staff were stranded in Torquay so didn't reach
Exter to be on duty and I hadn't eaten since Paignton. Even getting to
Bristol was of no benefit as we were meant to be non stop to Reading
but we were now right behind the 2030 Bristol to Padd stopper so more
time would be lost.
We arrived at Reading at 2200 and caught up 43147/063 on the 1400 from
Penzance running 185 minutes late but any hope of having my double
scores into London ended as they caped the train. So I had to stay on
my dud power cars to Padd arriving at 2237 exactly 2 hours late. I
dashed off to St Pancras picking up a takeaway to make the 2315 snail
Meridian home but that proved futile as the inbound working from
Sheffield was 45 late so it meant we would not depart until 2345 so I
froze to the concourse as the train gradually got later.
Eventually a frozen 222006 with blocks of ice festooned to it crawled
in and we all piled on the warmish train. However, we were in for a
further withering as the driver should have had a lengthy break but
because he was so late arriving, the law states he must have a 45
minute break so we had to sit there until 0050 before we eventually
left 95 late. That will teach me to avoid all shacks to hell 700's! I
finally got home at 0150 in a taxi just the 3 hours late so ending an
Thanks again to “MIB” for the write up, epic stuff!