Not The Flying Scotsman and AdBlue and tin-rattling (again)

That most iconic of Britain’s steam locomotives, The Flying Scotsman (4472, when I were a lad, but some other number now) has just had a major overhaul and is back on the track after several years of absence.

She (he? it?) was due to take a train from Manchester Victoria, up to Carlisle on the settle line and then back via the mainline to Manchester on a 12 hour trip yesterday, arriving back at around 19:15. I thought that I would go and have a look at her arrival.

Once I had got to the station, via a tram which was completely full of angry Manchester United fans (always a pleasant experience 🙂 ), I had a look around the newly refurbished station to get a good vantage point. A decent chap on the ticket barrier would let me through with a nod and a wink so as to get to the correct platform, but suspiciously, he hadn’t been told that the train was coming in… Because it wasn’t.

I found out via Twitter that it had a problem with its brakes and was therefore not in a fit state to haul a train all day. It was likely that an alternative loco was to haul, but that’s not quite the same thing, and since it wasn’t very warm, I decided to cut my losses and head home.

As I was leaving the office car park, I remembered that the train was due to be passing Eccles station about 15 minutes before arrival at Victoria, so taking a leap of faith, I parked my car close to Eccles station and waited there.

A darker, wetter, more forlorn station it is hard to imagine. extremely poorly lit, it would be a dangerous and nasty place to stand around at night waiting for a train, especially if you are a lone woman. But last night there was a family and a few others waiting for the special to come through. Chatting to one lady, it turned out that the FS was actually running, but as the second loco in a pair at the front of the train, with an old diesel pushing at the rear. How they coordinate the power output of these three engines I have never been able to work out, but it obviously works and the train was due in at exactly the time I expected.

What I wasn’t expecting, was for it not to stop.

I found myself the best place I could to have the steaming locos slow down and stop right in my frame and waited a few minutes. On cue, the single light of the front loco came around the bend half a mile up the track… it was obvious that this train wasn’t going to stop…

It thundered past the platform, at probably 60 or 70 mph, with full steam, smoke, whistle, the works. The flames from the fire lit up the smoke in the darkness and it was a fantastic sight. The smell of the smoke lingered long after it had gone through.

I got one shot…



I should get out more often taking photographs of these things – they are really interesting and photogenic. We have loads of preserved lines in the NW, so it’s not hard to do.

On the way home, the warning came on the dashboard of the car that the AdBlue tank was once again running dry. This system is the one that clears some 85% of NOx emissions from exhausts and is a good thing. VW are. allegedly, going to retro-fit millions of systems in their diesel cars to get round their emissions problem. Let’s hope that they fit tanks big enough to last between services.

Mercedes lied to me. They said it was a system I didn’t need to worry about and that the additive would last between services. Once again, it hasn’t. There are 2,000 miles to the next service.

Good job I bought a couple of litres and kept it in the boot, just in case.

Right, it’s time to go and rattle a tin at Tesco in Bidston on behalf of Bloodwise. It will be interesting to see what a difference this stupid name change has made. You have already read my feelings on this…

More later.

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