Diesel Day 11th April – Visitor’s Viewpoint

Reluctantly having had to decide to discontinue the Diesel Galas, the railway looked at ways to satisfy the thirst of those whose interest is not just for steam power. Therefore new for 2015 the Railway has added a number of ‘Diesel Days’, not to replace steam traction, but to provide an additional train when, normally, only one train set would be in operation. The first of these days was on the 11th April when Class 37 Diesel Electric locomotive 37 075 provided the power at the sharp end.

Robert Batty wrote in to the website with his take on the day.

“In 2014 KWVR decided to call it a day for their annual Diesel Gala, which for many years has proved to be a popular event. The railway has been lucky to enjoy the visits of some interesting and unique locos. However with the cost of transporting these to and from the railway and lower attendance figures, the Railway decided to call it a day for their Annual Gala. In any sort of change there will always be those who agree / disagree and those who don’t really care.

37-075-150411'2-RBaAnyway, the railway didn’t want to turn it’s back on a supportive audience and asked those who did care to come forward with their suggestions. Since then, KWVR decided to advertise All Day Diesel running days, using the railways home based locos.

The first one ran on Saturday 11th April staring privately owned, 37075. The loco is owned by a number of Volunteers on the railway, it played a staring role in the recent Great Train Robbery Dramas (yes – even though it’s not a Class 40…)

I decided to pay a visit to the railway and see how the first all day Diesel running took off. Having got up a little later than planned – and had to go fill my car up with some petrol I was surprised to make it to Oxenhope for the first run down. Before the train set off I got a quick snap, right before the guard blew his whistle and off we went.

On the way down to Keighley I hadn’t had time to go get a cup of tea and I could have done with one. No disrespect towards the loco or the crew at all – the ride was spot on, however I was feeling a little worse for wear – you know what it’s like, ‘one more’ followed by a few games of pool and before you know it your sat eating a kebab and watching re runs of top gear…

Anyway, back to the Diesel. Once we got into Keighley I found myself a lovely cup of tea and went to snap a few pictures of 37075 running round to the front of the train. By this time the sun was still playing hide and seek, hiding behind the clouds, but I managed to get a few good shots (or at least that’s what I think).

37-075-150411'3-RBaIt wasn’t long before we were off on our way back up the hill to Oxenhope, ‘thrashing’ through the tunnels. I’m not an expert on enthusiasts – but there has to be said about the appearance of a diesel fan and a steam fan. I can’t put my finger on it – but you can tell the two. I overheard one guy telling his friends how he had managed to get a flight and a hotel to Prague for £25 – not sure what that had to do with riding behind 37075, but hey –  we don’t have to talk trains all the time do we?

It was another trip round before I had got rid of that ‘yacky’ hungover feeling. I remember perching myself in the Jubilee Bar looking and feeling sorry for myself as my cup of tea for emptier and emptier. I remember the young, rather excited young lad screaming and shouting out of the window – clearing enjoying himself. Took me back to when I was that age and the railway was my playground (I never screamed and shouted though – just sat and smiled – all innocently).

I was laughing to myself on the way up as well at the 2 lads on the bar, as a lady came over and asked if they had any Tomarto Juice – I think for a Bloody Mary. One of the lads was very good at pretending to know what she was talking about. They said they’d get some at Oxenhope. As she walked away they were straight on their phones texting and searching google for the ingredients of such a drink, fair play to them though.

By the time we reached Oxenhope on the second run, I was ready to take to the paths and roads, in search of some new shots. Each time I go out, I try set myself a challenge to find a shot that no one else has tried or succeeded with. The added attraction of photographing a diesel, is that you can snap it no matter which direction it’s going.

37-075-150411'4-RBa37075 accelerated pretty quick away from Oxenhope and it was then time to ‘romp’ around to find a spot to catch 90733 storming up the valley. Before I used my ever faithful Nokia Lumia 800 to capture pictures. it’s not a bad camera – but I’ve recently ‘splashed’ some cash and bought a Lumix TZ40 (think that’s right anyway) – as my friends know it – an Ebay special. Seems to work pretty well – point – click – done. One big advantage of this is that it has a pretty good zoom, well much better than my Camera Phone does. I was able to capture 90733 passing through Haworth Loop, and pass the donkey Bridge. I was quite impressed. It was worth the 10 minutes waiting around in the cold 🙂

I walked down into Haworth and paid good old Grandma Wild a visit before heading down to Mytholmes tunnel to hear the Class 37 ‘RAW’ past, going at a very nice… 25 miles an hour. By this time one of my friends had said he was coming over so I agreed to meet him back where my car was, up at Oxenhope and we’d take to the streets to capture a few more shots – before heading a ride at the end of the day.

By the time we’d stopped playing photographers and we got back to the lovely Restaurant Car for a round trip behind the 37. My friend commented that you don’t pull away from stations as quick as that behind a steamer. Also has to be said that the seats in the Restaurant Car give a nice comfy ride – especially when you’ve been walking around all day.

I guess for the railway, the day was all about trying something new, and seeing if it would work, and I think that they have found something that works. Each time the two trains passed on the loop, you could see the loyal steam fans peering through the windows, looking to see how popular the new train was (and I’m sure people behind the Diesel were looking to see if the normal service train was as popular.

My judgement would be that the new service was a fantastic success. There were plenty of people on pretty early – probably wanting to make the most of a rare occasion and later on the train was even more busy. Going back to the steam service – had the attraction of a big noisy diesel detracted from the normal steam service? I’d say it hadn’t. There still looked to be a decent train load on the normal service.

Will the Railway be running more of these dates in the future? I guess it’s all still early days. Going back to the 2 bar lads, I think that they hit the nail on the head. Riding behind a Diesel loco is something ‘out of the ordinary’ and that is what brings people out. KWVR is fairly good at bringing different experiences to the table. Some will maintain the popularity for a few years, others will continue to bring people to the Railway for a good number of years.

The next run is on Saturday 9th May – again behind the 37. If you’re tempted – get yourself along!”

Thanks to Robert for taking the time to give us his thoughts. We hope you take up his recommendation and come along to the next ones, as only by proving the venture to be a success will the Railway consider extending this ‘experiment’ into a more permanent feature.

All photographs: Robert Batty

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