Great Western ScotRailway

Hello everyone, how are we all doing?

Taking my son to school this morning in Kirkcaldy we were running a bit early so as his school is about 100 yards from the line it would have been a dereliction of love for trains not to take a walk down and see what rolls along. I saw three trains in the 15 minutes I was there, increasing in greatness as they passed…..although, here’s another little debate…first up was a 158 and then an unbranded 170….would you rank the 170 better than the 158? I like both of them to be honest so I only rank them in class number. Five minutes later there was a lovely rumble from the East and I smiled broadly as the headlights of a 43 appeared…two Scotrail Inter7city power cars and…this might not seem a big deal to some/most but in between the 43’s were 4 green GWR coaches. The first time I’ve seen this livery in the flesh (yeah, I know the names have been taken off them) and the colour, the depth of that green is stunning, and the Mk3’s suit it very well. So a very nice start to what is currently still a freezing day (it’s warmed up from -6 to -3 as I write).

I’ve had the joy of seeing a few of our Scotrail HST’s now, all but one of them have been pure luck haha. Time before this morning was whilst sat stationary at Thornton Sth Jn (5 mins East of Kirkcaldy) last week. To say I ‘lucked out’ is accurate…2 Scotrail HST’s and an LNER HST went through the junction before we were released. This brings me to my next point, or should I say experience. The train I was on was 2K14 Glenrothes w/Thornton to Edinburgh Waverley…which just happened to be (honestly, total coincidence!) the evening peak-time loco hauled service…the loco being 68007. Were were released to head to Kirkcaldy. The familiar rev and blast of the ‘Cat’ engine and we set off and traversed the junction over to the up line. If a loco had pedals like a car, then driver would’ve been tapping the accelerator slightly every couple of seconds or so, you could hear and feel the engine pull ever so slightly….one coach (I was at the front droplight of course)…two…three…and just as the sixth swung over the point….the power handle was applied generously and 07 went smoothly from merely rolling along to picking up speed as we started the climb to Dysart. The engine picking up speed, and tone as the rumbling bass was joined by the turbos etc spooling and then half way up the hill….roaring proudly and itching to go on….she leapt! A very, very brief pause before a massive kick forward and a big jump in speed, wow. It was wonderful. So as we approached three quarters of the way up the incline I closed my eyes and simply listened. And still 07 wanted to do more.

I can’t wait to see how they perform with TPE (and experience it, albeit without the window) because they don’t really get to stretch their legs on the ‘Circle’ and would be nice to experience them at full chat for a reasonable distance.

It’s been a bit of a weird time here in Scotland rail-wise. The last time we had an upheaval of stock I was too young to take notice apart from being heartbroken they were taking away the 47’s to Glasgow (from Edinburgh, I lived in West Lothian) and slowly phasing out loco hauled trains. I was ambivalent to the 156’s, 158’s and 170’s that eventually took over but to be honest, they’re great compared to the stuff we have now….I mean in terms of comfort of travel. It’s time to reach for those spectacles!!…

Is it too much to ask to sit in a comfortable seat, in a comfortable environment, and travel? Every electric commuter unit class we have in Scotland is rubbish. The 314’s have no toilets, 334’s are so noisy and creaking and jerky, 365’s are noisy (but fast), and 380/385’s have no character or life about them (they’re fast). Now, I appreciate that these trains are for one purpose only….the mass transportation of people….and these people probably couldn’t give a vermins’ rear quarters what they’re like (until one goes wrong or there’s something to complain about) but surely we can transport the every day commuter and member of the public in a comfortable as well as speedy manner?

My partner and I recently travelled from Cardenden to Glasgow for a day out. We were treated to a 170 from C’den to EDB (usually 158’s we get) and had a cracking journey along the Fife coast…basically we had to almost whisper to each other because if we didn’t the whole carriage would hear our conversation. All we could hear was the faint rasp of the diesel engine every now and again as we went along. I was itching to get a 365 to Glasgow as I’d never been on one and they had been drafted in as cover for the issues with the 385’s….and I was so disappointed. We were probably massively unlucky that where we were sat we had a rattling window frame and either a flat tyre or wobbly axle…it was horrendous. Add to that the noise of ‘take off’…Kelly said it sounded like an F1 car pulling away, and I agreed. As I say, we were probably unlucky.

The 365/380/385’s (for me) are soulless and clinical and dull and spartan.

I got a 380 from Wemyss Bay to Glasgow Central once and sat there thinking….”it’s awfy grey”. They weren’t all that smooth either.

I got a 385 from Queen Street to Edinburgh after the last Railcam meet and sat there thinking….”it’s awfy grey”. This one wasn’t particularly quiet either but not as bad as previous.

I don’t think i need to say anything about the seats….all I can say is thank goodness it is only an hour you have to sat on one (you can’t say ‘sat IN one’ because you’re not).

Yes I’m an old fart who loves the railways and how they used to be, for better and worse, but when I compare my experiences in any of our recently modern and new modern units to the ones travelling in 158’s and 170’s and of course the legendary Mk2’s it is amazing the difference in comfort and as a result, enjoyment of my journey. I had my father with me for the journey behind 68007 that I spoke of before….after my indulgences of thrash and power and noise…I went to join him, seated in the second set of four and table. As most of you will know, I’m not skinny and i fit snugly INTO a mk2 seat….but I fitted and plonked my bum down upon a cushioned seat that I sank into and settled into for a while. We departed Kirkcaldy….and that roar and rumble and whine?….it was like I had headphones on….could hardly hear it. I knew there was a big beast of an engine just 10 metres away from me but it didn’t sound like it. Normally I would spend the whole journey at the droplight, for the noise etc, but I rose once or twice for a climb up a hill or through a tunnel or the run from Sth Gyle to Haymarket…the rest of the time I was sat in comfort with a nice climate and a ride that was smooth and controlled and I enjoyed it immensely, I really did.

So why can’t we have that on all of our trains? I do know the main reasons and that’s for another post or two. The railway used to be enjoyable. You used to look forward to going on the train. It had interest and intrigue, it was mechanical and you felt part of it all. It was also accessible.

I’m going to shut up now. Thanks for listening and putting up with me as always. Here’s to the grumpy old sods!

Be safe whatever you do railway-wise an I will speak to you soon. Take care.

Steven (Cheggs1978)




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