During the week there is currently only one practical "out-and-back" daylight run behind Class 37/4 locomotives and that comprises the 12.07 Birmingham-Holyhead, (13.19 ex-Crewe) out and the 15.58 Holyhead-Crewe return. This allows roughly 50 minutes at Holyhead to photograph the runround and frequent the coffee bar etc. which is no real problem. With the ever increasing number of new Class 175's and the change to natural time at the weekend I decided to undertake yet another "last time" run on 26th October 2000. I set off for Crewe with the hope that 37428 (October Events) might be in charge again and waited on platform 12 for the train to appear from the Birmingham direction. I turned round to see 37893 running into the platform from the Chester direction with four on where a shunter proceeded to uncouple the locomotive. I assumed that a multiple unit had run in from Birmingham and that the "no-heat" freight engine would be removed to allow 37412 "Driver John Elliott", which was parked in the depot yard, to take the train out to Holyhead. After all it was a chilly end-of-October day and earlier this year Charlie Hulme had reported on his North Wales Coast Railway web site something about EWS being asked to guarantee a 37/4 for the extension to Coast Line running. (For new readers, First North Western operate the trains but English Welsh and Scottish Railways provide the motive power for locomotive haulage). Wrong! - the freighter promptly performed the runround stance by running out into the yard, back down the centre road, out onto the Chester line and onto the head of the train. This set my brain into flashback mode and I recalled how me and the present Mrs Bowland took the now defunct 15.15 Sunday double header out to Holyhead and back without any heat despite there being 2x37/4's at the head. We affectionately developed hypothermia together, she said never again and she never has! I now had misgiving about a repeat scenario when the seats are damp and, after 4 or 5 hours of travel, one begins to feel distinctly ill - I wondered if the driver had a heater in the cab? We set off for Chester and it got worse, no drinks trolley although the ticket chap assured me it would board at Chester - not long to wait and the sun dropping over the yardarm. It didn't appear at Chester or Llandudno Junction nor was it loaded at Holyhead or Llandudno Jn on the return. It was a good job the station cafe was open at Holyhead - surely the bleakest station on the Coast Line - where a mug of coffee and a sandwich went down well. There were 30 Class 37's converted to provide electric train heating and a good number are still operational, there are also any number of Class 47 locomotives capable of providing heat to fare paying passengers. However, and here's the rub, while the Class 37 freight locomotive (no heat remember) is hauling passenger trains the Class 37 locomotives fitted with train heating capability are hauling, yes, you guessed it, FREIGHT TRAINS!

I am a cynic, I subscribe to the belief that Britain is dumbing down, we can't build bridges, we can't build trains (heard about c2c having to withdraw all their new stock?), we can't maintain safe tracks etc. etc.. In essence, does anyone out there in FNW/EWS land give a damn?

The class 37 ran well and kept time throughout in a period when few other operators can due to temporary speed limits and line closures etc., here is the pictorial story of the day.

 90036 was waiting to leave from the centre road with a rake of Post Office vans. 26/10/2000

 I returned from looking at the Diesel Depot yard to see a Class 37 creeping up on me from the North end of the station. There was no 37 working scheduled apart from the 12.07 ex-Birmingham which should have appeared from the South, besides it was only 12.55 and the Birmingham train was not due until 13.17. 26/10/2000

 37893 was at the head of the stock which I thought might be an ecs working for positioning purposes. However, the no-heat 37 was uncoupled and performed its runround to reconnect to the head of the coaching stock which was all locked. The EW&S marking shows that the locomotive was one of the earlier batch to receive the branding, the "&" was dropped fairly soon after introduction. 26/10/2000

 Riviera coach number 4902 was at the rear of the train, it's like visiting an old friend. The stock was unlocked by the shunter who also went along the train removing rubbish - hard working these guys. It was a raw day in Crewe and the carriages were very cold with no prospect of any change throughout the day. 37412 was on the depot doing nothing and it could provide heat! 26/10/2000

 While I was jumping up and down to keep warm I heard the growl of a 37, 37893 had hooked on so it must be something else. It was 37216 coming through the centre road with what appeared to be the Middlewich-Warrington train I have been trying to photograph on the Middlewich branch. 37216 is in "Mainline" livery. 26/10/2000

 The train set off on time and 37893 sounded to be in fine fettle but no drinks or food on board. The train was virtually empty which was unusual for this train, was it a relief? Chester came with very few people boarding and an uneventful run along the beautiful North wales Coast. This shot shows the train running onto the Menai Bridge. 26/10/2000

 Holyhead (Caergybi in Welsh) was reached on time and we went into platform 3 which was a first for me. The whole place was very quiet. 26/10/2000

 37893 was quickly uncoupled and ran forward onto the headshunt - not much room here. 26/10/2000

 Holyhead and the "Boat Train" platform - what a gloomy and unwelcoming atmosphere, you can almost smell the steam. At least the small cafe was open and a mean mug of coffee is served in there. 26/10/2000

 Departure on time and 37893 accelerates away under the road bridge where road improvements continue. 26/10/2000

 Bangor station ahead and a packed platform met the train. This tunnel always seems to drip water. 26/10/2000

 Journey's end and Crewe's platform 12 again with the light now lost - probably forever where the 37's are concerned. The train had been on time throughout despite the very tight schedules created by the train having stopped at most small stations after Bangor. Get the car heater on ASAP! 26/10/2000