One of preservation's major recent triumphs has been Stanier Jubilee 4-6-0 No 45699 Galatea which has been transformed at Carnforth from a rusting hulk to a fully operational locomotive. The West Coast team can be proud of their work, but this was a real challenge today: for only the second time to take ten coaches from a standing start at Carnforth over Grayrigg and Shap, and return via Ais Gill.
Galatea got away smartly from Carnforth, reaching 30 by the M6 roundabout, and then it was a steady slog upwards to 58 at Elmsfield just as the climb to Grayrigg started. We were down to 48 at Hincaster Junction, 38 at Oxenholme and 27 at Docker. Then we held our own in the 20s on a wet rail, with an absolute minimum of 23 and reaching Grayrigg summit at 25. On the run down into the Lune Gorge we only reached 48 and there was dirty, smelly smoke hanging in the air.We stopped at a signal before Tebay where the driver made a phone call, and then we pulled into the loop at Tebay. We wondered whether our trip was doomed, but after a Pendolino passed, we were away again.
It was clear that this time we meant business and we roared up to Greenholme reaching 29 before speed started to fall slowly away. We were still doing 25 at Scout Green and 21 at Shap Wells, with a minimum of 17 just before the summit. This was better than the 14 ten days earlier, and from a standing start in Tebay loop we only lost two minutes on the schedule from Tebay to the summit - an impressive result from the welcome blowup. In celebration we rollicked down to Carlisle in the high sixties and low seventies, pulling back three minutes between Penrith and Carlisle.
Carlisle was the only opportunity for passengers to take photos - my thanks to Bob Abel for two shots that I missed. Then we were off southward again towards Ais Gill. There was little sparkle in the run to Appleby, just a brief 60 at Lazonby and we lost three minutes on schedule. After a quick water stop we were away slowly again, with a maximum of 39 at Smardale then 25 at Kirkby Stephen. Then amazingly we started accelerating up Mallerstang Common, well into the thirties for a couple of miles with a maximum of 35. Speed then fell away slowly, with a minimum of 22 and passing the summit board at 25. From Ribblehead down to Settle Junction we rattled along around the line speed of 60 before ending our steam haulage in darkness at Hellifield.
It is wonderful to have a 'new' Jubilee active in the north, and doubtless experience and fine tuning will improve performance, even in the wet and windy conditions of this trip. There's just one plea to West Coast - please could we see Galatea in BR green before too long? Please Mr Smith? Pretty-please??!!
© Peter Hewitt's Transport Pictures