Thursday 3 March 2016

Mission Survive or What's the Point?

With the news that another 9F is on its way back to steam on the East Lancashire Railway, the sight of a 9F often makes an enthusiast think 'well that cant go on the mainline, whats the point?'

92134 is the last example of the class to have a single chimney. Its also a 9F - and.. you cant take them on the mainline.

Here come our favourite word 'flangeless'. 

The 9F has a flangeless set of wheels in which Network Rail say would happily go up and down the national network breaking everything in its path. Think of a cable thief working overtime with a very big dodgy white Transit Van and you have the evil 9F.

So why do 9 survive into Preservation?

Well the rules on flangeless are relatively new. Flangeless was riding up and down Britain for many years before the ban. No doubt you may have stood excitedly on a platform waiting for a flangeless experience.

Owning a 9F could be seen as owning a racing pigeon with its wings clipped. It will bobble around the floor of your pigeon loft looking lovely, it will never shit on you from a great height, but you will still be stepping in the same shit. Pigeon shit from above is lucky, stepping in it is just an annoying mess.

92134 is now braced for a long and illustrious career on the East Lancashire Railway. It will be a formidable addition to its Loco Fleet. Bury will definitely not be thinking they are stepping in pigeon shit. 

Here comes the upside to having 'Preserved Lines Only Engines'

Have you read the news regarding West Coast Railways?

We could be at the beginning of a huge resurgence for Preserved Railways in this country. The very shrewdest of Railways will be bumping up their Dining experiences and offering a real alternative to those gaps in the Main Line Charters.

What would be the ideal locomotive for this scenario? A locomotive that can only work on the exclusivity of Preserved Railways and nowhere else?

The 9F

Through the mess of that ORR investigation and its resulting Carnforth mess is the light of the 9F. It symbolises the isolation of a steam locomotive that can go no further onto the 'big Railway'. It also shows what only Preserved Railways can offer and nowhere else.

Our hunch is that those Railways who offer something unique, something different from those Black 5s on the front of a Tour over the Settle - Carlisle are in for a treat of a year. If they offer this on a plate, a silver dining plate there in for big rewards.

Those that offer a stunted 'Black 5 over Settle - Carlisle' experience, namely a Black 5 with a set of dirty Mark Ones chugging along all too briefly will struggle. They are showing you what you're missing on the mainline. In fact there sole focus is to emulate the Tours that were happening on the Mainline a mere few weeks ago. 

12 months ago we would have believed the East Lancashire Railway has gained nothing more than a frustration in adding a 9F to its ranks, but now all the pigeons are grounded - it is the pigeons that have flair and a unique identity that will stand out from the flock.

The 9F is back.

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