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Olympia Express 2012

On 22nd December 2012 Hastings Diesels Ltd operated a charter service
from the Hastings line up to the show-jumping at Kensington Olympia.

Calling at Hastings, Battle, Robertsbridge, Etchingham, Wadhurst, Tunbridge Wells Central and Tonbridge. The train’s outbound routing was via Bromley South, Catford Loop, Factory Curve thence up to Kensington Olympia. After a reversal at Acton, 1001 berthed at Beckenham Junction having been routed out and back via Nunhead, Lewisham and the Mid-Kent Line. The return from Kensington Olympia was via Herne Hill with a pathing stop at Kent House.

Click here for the trip’s timings.

 

St Leonard’s Depot with 1001 idling
(having been started up around 06:40hrs).

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Hastings (platform 4) and in torrential rain
train reporting number 1Z59 waits for time.

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This trip omitted the customary stops at St Leonard’s Warrior Square and Bromley South. However, after its first stop at Battle the next pick-up point was Robertsbridge.
Note the headcode change from 22 to 59!

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Another ‘unusual’ stop for 1001 was Wadhurst.
Photographic opportunities on this trip were extremely limited; as a
consequence the photographic vantage points were slightly repetitive.

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Tunbridge Wells Central and 1001’s penultimate pick-up stop.

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Passing through Imperial Wharf station.

1001 Imperial Wharf 22122012.jpg

© Les Savine – click to visit a useful and interesting railway website!

 

Arrival at Kensington Olympia.

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Even the rain didn’t deter some photographers at Kensington Olympia. 

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After North Pole Junction we passed over the Paddington tramway.

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Reversal at Acton was a straightforward non-event!

Walking the length of the train (now 1Z60) was hampered by Network Rail’s inability to trim the buddleia.

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Compare to last year’s sun Beckenham Junction was decidedly wet!

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The adjacent Waitrose was positively bustling with Christmas shoppers!

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Wearing a festive ‘Santa’ hat 1001’s driver is waiting for the ‘off’!

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Back at Kensington Olympia our passengers (258 in total) board!

Upon departure the buffet car (which has a cooking area much smaller than most domestic kitchens) was almost immediately completely overwhelmed with many having to wait twenty minutes for their fish and chips /bacon butties. Fortunately most of our passengers appreciated all the hard work from HDL’s volunteer staff!

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Arrival at Hastings and the last of our passengers depart for home!

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This charter is aimed for those travelling to the show-jumping (rather than railway enthusiasts) and no doubt few of this highly-sociable group regularly travel by train. It was therefore interesting to see how quickly the use of slam doors has been forgotten with a few passengers even trying to push the ‘door lock indicator light’ to open the doors; some simply staring at the door handle and a good number not understanding the concept of having to manually close the doors upon leaving the train.

More importantly (and unlike those trips that convey enthusiasts who should know better) there were no known instances of our passengers leaning out of the windows!

 

So why does 1001 layover at Beckenham Junction?

Like the 2009 Olympia Express the 2010 trip was scheduled to layover at Willesden Junction. However, because of the snow the conditions underfoot would have been hazardous for staff at the depot - including the relief driver who was coming in from Kent. So in 2010 it was decided to berth at Beckenham Junction instead.

This worked so well that during the planning of both the 2011 and 2012 Olympia Express trips it was decided to continue with layovers at Beckenham Junction as it is such a convenient location.

So, whilst some staff undertook Christmas shopping in Waitrose (and restock a few buffet car items) others took the opportunity to ride on Tramlink down to Croydon (and back) while others took the train to the excellent Kent Garden Railways model railway shop - just ten minutes walk from St Mary Cray’s station.

Accordingly not only can Hastings Diesels staff claim to have gone Christmas shopping by train we did so by taking our ‘own’ train and yes, Waitrose does a ‘carry to the train service’!

 

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