Saturday, 5 January 2013

'The Solent Witness'

66007 arrives at a very dull Woking station.
I don't seem to make it on to all that many railtours these days. I guess there are a number of reasons- the cost, early starts, late running, high chances that the train won't actually do what it was advertised to, condition of the rolling stock- to name but a few.
However it was the week between Christmas and New Year and UK Railtours 'Solent Witness' seemed to tick all of the right boxes. It was local, started and finished at reasonable times (definitely a good thing for short winter days), had an interesting itinerary and was being run under the banner of a reliable and reputable operator.
Friday 28th December 2012 dawned wet. No surprises there then. At Woking there was barely enough light to photograph 66007 at the head of the train of Mk1 and Mk2a stock. I met my friends and we settled into our bay of seats for the journey down to the South West.
Cars for export are unloaded from WIA car carriers
at Southampton Eastern docks
The big surprise of the day (for me at least) was that passengers were allowed to disembark the train at our stop at Southampton Eastern Docks. UK Railtours and Associated British Ports should be acclaimed for allowing this as it was a most welcome break from an entire day on the train- quite aside from being an unusual and fascinating location to take some photographs and observe the surroundings!
66201 stands at the platform at Southampton Eastern Docks
66201 lead the railtour back out of the docks before we headed to further short freight branches around the Solent- those to Southampton Western Docks, Fawley and Hamworthy Goods being traversed. Most of these lines are busy with freight traffic and it was fortuitous that a day could be found to travel over all of them. The exception is the line to Hamworthy Goods which has not seen little traffic in recent years. A stone flow which used only a short length of the branch is reported to have now stopped running, while there have been no trains along the whole branch for some time.

The cruise terminal building seen from the train at
Southampton Western Docks

With all our freight track covered for the day it was time to re-trace ourselves back up the South West Main Line to return home. The train was well run, maintained (quite warm at times in fact) and within a couple of minutes of it's booked time for the entire journey. All I could ask of UK Railtours is some advanced notice in future that hot food was to be available to Standard class passengers- had I known about the very tasty curry and chili on offer I would not have made sandwiches the night before!

No comments:

Post a Comment