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Pieman Two

Friday 29 December 2017


After a year or more of preparation and negotiation, the moment has finally come when we can declare bookings officially open for our two identical tours to RIDC Melton, formerly known as the Old Dalby Test Track.

Deep in the peaceful Leicestershire countryside, not far from the ‘pork pie capital’ of Melton Mowbray, is Network Rail’s secret railway. Once part of a through line from London to Nottingham it is now given over exclusively to research and development, generally of brand new rolling stock. The APT and the Virgin Pendolini were trialled here. If you travel on  London Underground’s Metropolitan, Circle, District or Hammersmith & City Lines, it may be hard to believe that the actual train you are riding on was first put through its paces in this sleepy rural backwater, but it definitely was!. And now it’s the turn of Class 345 Crossrail trains to start testing here at RIDC Melton.

Arranging for a railtour (or, rather, TWO Railtours) to visit RIDC Melton has been far from easy as the centre is a busy place and the testing schedules are seriously intensive. After much discussion a unique window of opportunity has emerged between Christmas and New Year.

The two tours will run on successive days and the itinerary will be the same on both dates.

Departure will be from London Euston, running via Bletchley, Woburn Sands, Bedford and Kettering. At Leicester we veer east, taking the cross-country route to Melton Junction where we reverse.  Passing on to RIDC track at Asfordby Junction, we firstly head through Asfordby Tunnel to Holwell Junction and head north along the ‘main line’ section of the line, passing the Old Dalby Test Centre and the old station at Widmerpool. We then pass through the line’s longest tunnel at Stanton (1,305 yards) and continue past the limit of electrification at Plumtree.

The end of the line is now at Edwalton, some fifteen miles from Melton Junction. Here we reverse and make our way back past Old Dalby, this time taking a left turn to reach Asfordby Business Park where the main testing and stabling shed is located. We pause here for a further reversal, then taking the third side of the triangle and arrive back at Asfordby Junction Ground Frame.

We then rejoin the line from Leicester and make our way homeward via Oakham, Manton Junction and Corby to Kettering whence we retrace our outward route to Bedford, Bletchley and London. We expect motive power to be Class 67 locos, top and tail.

We have done our best to keep the fares within bounds, despite the considerable cost of access to the RIDC. Nevertheless we are expecting demand for these trains to be very great. When you book, please make it clear which date you require, also whether the other date would be acceptable if your first choice is full.


London Euston08.43 CONFIRMED18.56 CONFIRMED
Watford Junction09.06 CONFIRMED18.31 CONFIRMED
Bletchley09.39 CONFIRMED17.53 CONFIRMED
Kettering10.46 CONFIRMED16.27 CONFIRMED