In later spring 1998, I was scanning in photographs I'd taken in the early to mid 1980's. Some of them were taken while on Scottish and East Midlands rovers. Having lost interest in BR with the wholesale withdrawals of the '80's (no more 25's, 26's, 27's, 40's and 45's) and only recently rekindled my interest, I resolved to buy an All-Line Rover and catch as many of the remaining loco-hauled trains as I could, before they disappeared for good. Armed with 'Class One', and the 'Great Britain Passenger Railway Timetable', I planned a weeks travel from Sunday to Saturday (the sleepers don't run on Saturday nights).
The weather over the summer was poor and I hung on hoping for it to get better. Eventually, September arrived and I resolved to travel in the last week of the summer timetable (20 - 26 September) whatever the weather, and catch the last 'Ramsgate' on my last day - as a fitting end to the week! My mum persuaded me to travel first class. This turned out to be useful as I didn't have a problem getting a seat all week. The free meals were good too!
Early September saw me at the travel centre at Newcastle Central station, armed with my planned sleeper times. The clerk was an enthusiast himself, although he said he now preferred railways on the European mainland and I should try them myself, as they were much better than the current british ones. I vowed to try them out at some point, but possibly not before all the loco-hauled trains had gone from Britain! After about 30 minutes, I came away with my rover and 8 reservations - 6 sleepers and both ways on the "Ramsgate". Now all I had to do was wait. I hoped the weather would be good ...
Text and photographs Copyright J.D.Coleman 1998.