Our first ever visit to a ‘ foreign’ railway came in early June 1998 with an invitation to the week long Diesel Gala at the East Lancashire Railway commencing on Monday 6th July. An excited maintenance team carried out what would become known as our ‘away visit exam’ to ensure safety and reliability …..not that any compromise was made on ‘ home ‘ metals but you obviously need to minimise any potential problems away from base.! The regulationary Ultrasonic Axle Test ( UAT ) was passed to permit 5580 to travel over Railtrack metals and following the ‘fitness to run ‘ exam on 15th June , we were ready ! Both exams were passed with flying colours with only a couple of ‘ out of date ‘ main resevoir pipes to replace…..
Movement took place on 22nd June with 5580 hauling fellow invitees 44004 & 45133 to Codnor Pk where 37248 & 37697 took over to Castleton. Here we were propelled upto the ELR / Railtrack boundary where 5580 once again took over hauling both Peaks to Bury. 5580 was booked out over 4 days of the Gala : Mon 6th July – EE Day , Weds 8th July – Types 1 – 3 Day , Sat 11th July – ‘ Mega Mix Day ‘ and Sun 12th July – Visitors Day.
D5500 is coupled to 5580 at Ramsbottom for the run into Bury…08/07/98.
5580 was started early on the Monday morning in readiness for her inaugral run which was in tandem with the NRM’s D5500 on the 1120 Bury – Rawtenstall & 1205 return. Problems on this run with traction motors on D5500 led to it being removed at Ramsbottom on the way up and replaced there on the return. Our next run was the 1710 Bury – Rawtenstall & 1755 return. Both trips were completed without any problems and she sounded superb in the hills !
5580 after arrival at Rawtenstall..06/07/98.
Wednesday saw 5580 deputise for poorly D5500 again on the 1120 & 1205 return with D5500 being pushed to Ramsbottom on the outward and being assisted by gravity back from there on the return….!Our next train was the 1350 Bury – Rawtenstall & 1435 solo , followed by a top train …..the 1710 Bury – Rawtenstall in tandem with Boness’s excellent 27001. The return 1755 saw 27001 working perfectly in multiple with 5580 back to Bury….!!
‘ What a fine pair ‘ ! 5580 & 27001 are prepared at Castlecroft ..08/07/98.
On the Saturday , we were charged with the 0940 Bury – Rawtenstall & 1025 return . D5500 was to accompany us again to ‘ Rammy ‘ but was failed due to flat batteries. D200 piloted us back from Ramsbottom on our return. Due to the requested Class 37/4 failing to appear , we gained an extra trip in the shape of our , by then , customary 1120 Bury – Rawntenstall & 1205 return piloted by the now started but ever poorly D5500…. The highlight of the week for many was the ‘ Beerex ‘ which ran as the 2005 Bury – Rawtenstall and saw 5580 in multiple with ‘ Beast ‘ 27001 on load 15 ! , with ‘ dead ‘ 24054 and 26004 on the back…..! Absolutely awesome…..they worked together a treat……!
5580 & 27001 waiting at Castlecroft ….1S81 ! ! ..08/07/98.
5580 stands at Ramsbottom with a Rawtenstall service train on 18/07/98.
Following a superb night out with the ELR lads , our first train on the Sunday was the 1030 Bury – Rawtenstall & 1115 return. Booked to ‘ come off ‘ at Ramsbottom we continued to Rawtenstall and left D5500 to have a rest at Ramsbottom. Our final train of the event was the 1710 Bury – Ramsbottom & 1742 return piloting Hymek D7017 from the West Somerset Railway on the outward and having the pleasure of piloting D200 back down the hill….. All in all a tremendous event , plenty of thrash , superb hospitality and a fault free performance from our No 1 loco…!
It didn’t end there however .. , whilst at the railway we were also offered the Saturday diesel turn on 18th July which we gladly undertook. All 5 return trips from Bury – Rawtenstall were completed without problem and drew to an unfortunate close our first visit to this ‘ top’ railway . We were indeed sorry to leave …..!
Thursday 23rd July saw 5580 return with the Peaks to Butterley , traction provided by 37211.