Wednesday, 8 October 2014

                            76084 STEAMING ON THE GREAT CENTRAL
Attending the Great Central Railway's gala marked the third heritage line on which 76084 has run since the completion of restoration last year. It is different in character from the other two. While the North Norfolk is a coastal line with one main steep bank and the East Lancs has more gradients and sharper curves around the Pennine hills the GCR is a preserved section of main line. So here 76084 has long stretches of straight track, much more gentle curves and gradients typically as easy as 1 in 176. Our locomotive went past an impressive array of signals, passed the extensive Swithland Sidings and on the long double track section passed other trains without having to wait until both were in a station.
    76084 steamed well on the first two days when I attended and by all accounts did so on the other two. In attendance throughout the gala were some of the Restoration Team, mainly from the North East, who prepared the engine from 6 am and disposed of it at the end of the day. There was plenty of chatter from 76084's chimney on the variety of passenger and goods trains it hauled as well as clouds of steam billowing from it to see and smell. Whatever the train it performed well and made an impressive sight at the head of all of them. With these different trains and passing others on the double track it was just like a main line scene of the 1950s or 1960s -when 76084 was in BR service.
    The Great Central is to be congratulated not only for developing into such a major railway but also for the intensive services provided during the gala. Even on the 'quieter' first two days you didn't have to wait more than 10 to 15 minutes to see another train. Thanks to the loco crews and plenty of uniformed platform staff station stops were smart and the trains were soon on their way again. The possibilities when the GCR has the missing bridge put back in at Loughborough to link up with the GCR (N) are exciting. A heritage main line railway from the outskirts of Leicester to the outskirts of Nottingham.
    76084 played its part well in the gala, attracting plenty of attention. As well as shareholders and those who restored there were others who came to see and ride behind it. It was a delight to see, hear and smell it in action again. It proved what we always knew it would be: an economical 'big' (i.e. tender) locomotive ideal for pulling heritage railway trains.
    76084 is scheduled to haul weekend trains at the GCR for the rest of October. The GCR is in a central England location. If travelling any distance it's probably best to contact the GCR beforehand to check when it is running. Otherwise, why not go to see 76084 and travel behind it yourself?!

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