Wednesday, 18 July 2012

More fun on the Churnet Valley Railway

I did my third stint as trainee crossing keeper today (leading to becoming a signalman, hopefully), and the forecast heavy rain didn't happen - we had a lovely sunny day instead.

I called in at Leekbrook on the way to Cheddleton this morning to check that all was well there, and on reaching Cheddleton noted no locomotive in steam. The N7 tank engine, currently the only steam locomotive on the railway which is fully serviceable, had failed with a steam leak, so the day's services were diesel hauled by a class 33 locomotive.

Apologies for the poor quality of the photos in this post; I did not have my camera with me so had to use my rather ancient phone camera. As ever, please click on the pictures for a larger image.

One of two resident Class 33 diesel locomotives, 33021 is the only one in full working order and it provided our motive power today, the N7 steam locomotive having failed

After the usual preparations and walking the line to Leekbrook tunnel we saw the first train off to Froghall. Later, I decided to ask to sample a view of the line from the cab of the diesel locomotive, and when the third train of the day arrived at Cheddleton I walked along the track to the loco and asked the driver if I could do a run with them. "Of course, come on up" he replied.

A view out of the door of 33021; the driver awaits the 'right away' from the guard, while beyond is the big S160 2-8-0 steam locomotive that started my interest in this railway and my footplate volunteering at MoSI. 
I had been bought a 'driver experience' by the family as my 60th birthday present which took place on S160 no.5197, and that came with a year's membership of the railway. The driving experience led me to volunteer at MoSI as steam locomotive footplate crew where I am currently a passed fireman and occasional driver, and I kept up the Churnet Valley membership. Reading the CVR member's magazine led me to volunteer on this railway with the aim of becoming a signalman.

View of the line from the second man's position in 33021
Our train in Froghall station viewed from the 'rear' cab (which was the 'front' cab on our southbound trip from Cheddleton), as we run-around it to couple on at the northern end for the return journey up the valley

 Our locomotive coupled on at Froghall, ready for the return journey up the line

Approaching Cheddleton on our northbound journey. Trains don't stop here northbound, but continue up to the northern terminus of the line at Leekbrook Junction

The view from the cab as we come to a stand at Leekbrook Junction, ready to run round our train for the southbound journey to Froghall, stopping at Cheddleton and Consall. Leekbrook signal box (soon to be restored) is on the left, and beyond the gate the line from Stoke-on-Trent comes in from the left, while further north the line to Cauldon Lowe diverges to the right. CVR trains occasionally run onto the Cauldon branch, and will do so on the Stoke branch once that is fully restored.

 To change ends at Leekbrook, we walked to the opposite-end cab through the engine room. Here is the DC generator which, driven by the loco's diesel engine, provides power for the bogie-mounted traction motors.

 Gauges mounted on the engine at the opposite end to the generator

 The 1,500hp Sulzer straight-8-cylinder diesel engine in the engine room

 Approaching Cheddleton from Leekbrook

The driver's console seen at Cheddleton, where I left the train

I thanked the driver for my ride up and down the line in the cab of the 33, and returned to help John, the rostered crossing keeper, with that job. The good weather brought out plenty of visitors so the station and the trains were busy. Our job on the crossing was not too demanding so we had plenty of time to appreciate the lovely scenery of Cheddleton on this delightfully sunny day in what has been to date an otherwise wet and dismal summer.


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