Diesel Weekend From The Guard’s Compartment

On Sunday 12th May 2008, I was rostered to be the guard on the passenger train for Peak Rail’s Diesel Weekend.  The timetable planners had added an early trip departing from Darley Dale at 9:58 am, so I arrived at about 08:30 to ensure that everything under my control was ready in time. I went round the train to check that all was OK and realised that the coaches in the platform were not the ones that were going to be used because the Palatine Dining set (2 coaches) had been in use on the Saturday evening with four of the five other coaches in the train. This meant that there would have to be a shunt to take the Palatine set to Darley Dale South Yard and to bring another coach out to be put onto the train.
The crew of diesel loco 31270 arrived and the Palatine was soon uncoupled and moved away from the rest of the train. After a few minutes, they returned with a corridor coach that had been out of use for a long time, but had been fitted with new windows specially for use on the event. I am not quite enough of an enthusiast to have noted the number of this (or of any other coach), but I am sure that someone, somewhere will have done so.
The current issue of Peak Express, the magazine of the Association, has an excellent and thought provoking article by Mick Bond about carriage restoration and the impact on the railway of our present rate of progress on the carriage fleet. It does not make very comfortable reading.
Anyway, departure time approached and we were formed up with 31270 and D8 double-heading the train as we set off, on time, for Matlock.
31270 pictured at Matlock D8 at Church Lane Crossing
After a run-round by 31270, we departed on the (supposedly) non-stop run to Rowsley South. I say supposedly because we were stopped at the signal just south of Darley Dale Level Crossing to wait for the freight train coming south behind 37152.
37152 At Rowsley South
We should have realised that everything was not 100% OK when we were delayed by almost 10 minutes waiting for this train to arrive. Time is, of course, very important to railwaymen everywhere, even volunteers on heritage lines and the guard has a big responsibility on making sure that the train is ready to depart on time.
The other loco in use was Deltic D9016 Gordon Highlander. For much of the day these four locos were alternated between the passenger and freight train, but eventually the 37 was declared a failure and was moved, under its own power into Rowsley South Yard.
However, the other cause of delay was the time lost as the two trains passed at Darley Dale. It seems that it takes at least 5 minutes more than the allowance in the timetable to get the trains past each other, so with the longer run-round times as well, the timetable fell 21 minutes behind.
However, the whole team on the railway pulled together during the afternoon to the extent that we ended the day running bang on time again.
Diesel Gala visitors are a different breed of people to the usual families that come to Peak rail. They are very knowledgeable, incredibly enthusiastic and passionate about their interest in this area of railway preservation. I really enjoy being on the train and being part of a busy diesel weekend and for this one, the sunshine was a real bonus.
Ride safe


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