For most of the year, steam buffs have to make their way to where the train is running. In the summer, the RTC sends its steamers looping round the North West conurbations to hoover up its passengers.
On Friday 3 August, Stanier Pacific No 46233 Duchess of Sutherland made a great arc round Manchester, calling finally at Rochdale before heading over the Calder Valley route to Scarborough. The sun was shining beautifully from just the right angle when the train was due, but it arrived ten minutes late into full dull.
On Saturday 4 August, newly restored Gresley A4 Pacific No 60009 Union of South Africa stormed up the hill into Bolton for its last Greater Manchester call before journeying into the Cumbrian Mountains. Nearly twelve hours later, it was back at Bolton with a weak low sun and a rainbow ahead of it. Did it find the crock of gold which will ensure a secure future for mainline steam?
Better enjoy it whilst we've got it - was the diesel substitution on Sunday's North Wales coast express a portent of things to come?
© Peter Hewitt's Transport Pictures