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THE NORTH WEST FREIGHTER


Sunday 14th July 2024

This ‘Off the Beaten Track’ excursion takes us to North West England where we will combine high speed running with interesting secondary lines as well as the traversal of rarely visited freight track. Add to this a short visit to the popular Ribble Steam Railway and traction in the form of a GBRf class 60 locomotive, and this tour is sure to delight enthusiasts of every persuasion.

Our day starts at the unusual starting point of Watford Junction where our train, hauled by one of GBRf’s class 57/3 locomotives, begins its journey north.  We follow the West Coast Main Line via the Trent Valley allowing our locomotive the opportunity to make good time before our arrival into Crewe.

A leg stretch opportunity at Crewe affords an opportunity to photograph the addition of our freight locomotive  – a GBRf class 60. We are aware there are certain GBRf Class 60s that are sought after and will work with our partner on this basis.

Locomotive duly attached, we continue our journey north at a more sedate pace. Fortunately we only have a relatively short distance to cover before we reach our first freight line of the day, the one mile long Folly Lane branch which takes us behind Runcorn station towards Runcorn docks. This branch, opened in 1868, remains active to this day with trains of household refuse to the power station as well as a regular flow of caustic soda. Discussions with third parties are continuing for the necessary permissions to pass beyond the Network Rail limit, but for the time being this point should be considered to be the extent of our explorations.

Our class 60 locomotive leads us out of the branch where we proceed via the Frodsham single line to Helsby. Reversing, we head towards Warrington and thence onward to Preston. Here we divert to trundle down the very heavily graded Preston Docks line towards the Ribble Steam Railway.

We will enjoy a short break at the Ribble Steam Railway where our hosts will very kindly open their museum and provide behind the scenes access to the engine sheds not normally offered to the general public. Short train rides will be available covering unusual portions of the line and the railway’s very good coffee shop will be open for business.

Our powerful class 60 locomotive should make light work of the 1 in 29 gradient out of Preston Docks as we head towards Chester. Here we are booked to utilise one of the non-passenger lines behind the station as we adjourn in the Chester Down and Up goods.  Our class 60 locomotive is left behind prior to departing south, over an unusual route via Wrexham, Shrewsbury and the West Midlands.

Fares include a short break at the Ribble Railway with a train ride as described above and access to the museum and engine sheds. First Class Dining includes The Great British Breakfast, a light lunch and four course dinner. A buffet car serving hot meals will be available for those in Standard and First Class Non Dining. 

First Class Dining is not available from Crewe or back to Wolverhampton due to timing constraints.

Class PriceAvailability
Standard Class Adult£129Good
Standard Class Junior£109Good
First Class Non Dining£194Good
First Class Dining£299Good
First Class Dining Party of Four£1176Good

All timings are provisional and intended only as a guide.

StationDepartArrive
Watford Junction08.2022.00
Milton Keynes Central08.5021.35
Northampton09.1221.10
Rugby09.4020.45
Crewe11.20N/A
WolverhamptonN/A19.30

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