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Friday, 2 September 2011

Southend to Salisbury by steam

Not a post about Rochford, but I know that many local residents were on board for a one off steam train journey from Southend Central to Salisbury on Wednesday 31st August. Averaging 30mph, but with occasional spurts above 75mph, we were hauled by a 60 year old locomotive called Britannia along the c2c line to Barking, then diverting round the North London line, and eventually joining the main South West line near Feltham. The loco, famous for pulling George VI's funeral train in 1952, has been fully restored, and re-entered service this year. It hauled a hotch potch of ancient rolling stock ranging from old "standard" second class to full silver serviced pullman class, complete with fine dining and champagne (the closest we got was oggling through the window - too expensive). The journey took four and a half hours each way and, apart from a short delay due to a signal failure at Basingstoke, ran to time. The take up appeared to be close to 100%, and it was great to see so many onlookers, some looking more surprised than others, along the route. When we pulled into Southend at 10pm, the final destination, a crowd of youngsters did not seem to notice that it wasn't the usual type of loco and rolling stock that runs between Fenchurch Street and Shoebury these days, and couldn't understand why they couldn't board for Shoebury! Steam Dreams, the company that runs the services known as "Cathedral Expresses" plan further trips from Southend, the next being Winchester on 10th December.

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