The English Riviera Express


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ran very successfully and we thank all our fellow travellers for their part in an excellent day out.






Laurence Wheeler writes;

“Over 500 happy passengers were delivered back to stations from Shrewsbury to Hooton. It had been a most successful day.

 Above left; Dawn at Hooton Station as DBs 67008 surveys the road ahead  Centre left; 06:10 at Hooton on 16/4/2011 as DB Shenker driver fits English Riviera Express headboard to 67008 in readiness for its 540 mile return journey to Kingswear.  Pictures courtesy Robert Griffiths        Right; At around 7:30 the express approaches Wrexham.   

Above courtesy of; Left; Class67. No. 67008 Powers through Bomere Heath curve, a few miles north of Shrewsbury, with the Chester Model Railway clubs Riviera tour Hooton to Kingeswear on 16th April 2011.  Rt14/09/1953  Right;  Viewed from the towpath of the Llangollen Canal, DBS Class 67 No. 67008 crosses Chirk Viaduct with Chester Model Railway Club's 'English Riviera Express' from Hooton to Kingswear on 16th April 2011. The train was at least 10 minutes late at this point despite being less than an hour into it's journey.   Nigel Capelle

Everyone settled down in their seats to enjoy the journey down to Devon, enjoying the sun coming out over the verdant Shropshire hills. The refreshment crews did a splendid trade in bacon butties, as well as the usual hot drinks from the trolleys going through the train. Group members were kept busy checking tickets, delivering street plans, selling raffle tickets and of course the essential rubbish collection.

Below; first class accommodation in red and blue. Pictures courtesy of Daniel Fry

After a very brief stop to change crew at Bristol, we were soon at Exeter, where a score or so left us for an extended visit to this beautiful city. We even picked up a dozen or so people, mainly enthusiasts, to ride with us on the final stretch. Soon all eyes were to the left, and the Exe Estuary then the sands and cliffs of Dawlish. Some people celebrated the wonderful view with their first pint of real ale from the buffet.

Above courtesy of; the 2011 modern traction charters started to operate along the Dawlish Sea Wall on 16 April 2011 when 'The English Riviera Express' operated from Hooton to Kingswear and return.   The train, which operated as 1Z39, 06.43 Hooton - Kingswear is seen approaching Kennaway Tunnel bang on time at 12.06. The train was powered by Class 67 No. 67008 and was made up of coaching stock 9507, 6158, 5945, 6024, 5952, 1203, 3379, 3325, 3333, 3386, 3340, 3345. CJM

At Torquay a substantial number elected to visit the ‘Queen of the English Riviera’ and a few more the ‘kiss me quick’ resort of Paignton. Leaving Paignton under the watchful eye of Network Rail ‘orange jackets’ we passed seamlessly on to the metals of the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway. Their infrastructure is kept to a very high standard, and is well known to our DB Schenker driver with substantial excursion traffic both steam and diesel. All too soon we could see the Naval College as we descended to the River Dart and journey’s end at Kingswear.

Below; across the harbour. Picture courtesy of John Fry

Most people crossed the river to Dartmouth for a pleasant couple of hours, a pint, an ice cream and maybe some shopping. The stewards made their way to the village local where the

The stewards enjoying a well earned pint and meal! Courtesy LJW

 landlord made us very welcome and served us excellent fish and chip lunches. We later crossed the river on the most unusual car ferry (see below), where a pontoon is pushed from the side by a conventional small motor boat. Soon time however to return to Kingswear to prepare for departure.

Above; the ferry mentioned in the text.  Below; Mr Wheeler himself, proudly standing in front of the loco at Kingswear, having been invited there by appropriately qualified rail staff (who took the picture on his camera), hence the lack of orange jacket! Pictures courtesy Laurence Wheeler's camera!

Two potential problems than cropped up. Firstly the railwaymen showed us an oil leak on the locomotive, which was subsequently not found to be showing on the engine’s diagnostics and may just have been the result of overfilling and resting on a canted piece of track. More serious was that after running round, the locomotive refused to operate the train’s electricity supply meaning no lights, hot water or air-conditioning. After some heroic efforts, this fault would not clear, and delayed somewhat we decided to press on north during the daylight. No replacement loco was available en route, but with some slick operating we were able to regain our scheduled time as we ran effortlessly through Gwent and Herefordshire. The Train Manager skilfully conserved the power in the batteries by reserving them for tunnels and station stops, so the only real problem was no hot drinks. As dusk fell, people actually enjoyed watching the lights come on in the countryside on what was a beautiful moonlit night, and we received many favourable comments.

Left; Train rolls in to Torquay station.  Picture courtesy John Fry   Right; The express on return approaches Exeter St Davids. Picture courtesy John Cowlishaw

Pulling in to Hooton bang on time, the stewards were able to see people off the train, bid farewell to the train and buffet crews, and then sink a VERY welcome pint in the ‘Hooton Arms’. This was a great team effort of both Chester Model Railway Club and the Dee & Mersey Group of the Ffestiniog Railway. As a result of the railtour’s success a significant donation will be made to the very deserving “Waggon Tracks” project and developments and maintenance at the CMRC premises.

One gentleman joined us at Exeter and has quite a few pictures of that bit of the tour on his website.

Please keep your eyes on the website at the turn of the year for details of next year's destination; the date for your diary is SATURDAY 21ST APRIL 2012.

Laurence Wheeler

Railtour Organiser

Chester Model Railway Club / Ffestiniog Railway Dee & Mersey Group.