Out of the Ordinary
Frequently Asked Questions
Since the announcement of our GBRf 2018 plan in early February, we have had a phenomenal response and level of feedback. The Headline video has been watched over 2,700 times and our mailing list now stands at around 1,150 addresses. We think this tour will prove very popular indeed! We have had many questions and queries through the various forums and social media platforms that we engage with and thought it best to issue a Frequently Asked Questions sheet to ensure everyone has seen the responses and the latest updated information. Please DO read the website pages first as a lot of the questions asked have the information published there, including estimated times. Also, please remember that the majority of the organisation is done in our spare time. We have spent many, many hours in deliberating what we will do and what will be of interest. The main driver of the plan is “something for everyone”, whether that be routes/yards/loops that people may want to do, a variety of traction or just simply something outrageous. The feedback is that we’ve put together a great plan and that it ticks a lot of boxes for a lot of people.
Can you confirm the route between Edinburgh and Glasgow on Day 3?
Apologies, an error crept in on the initial information and it should have read “Edinburgh Waverley - Linlithgow - Cumbernauld - Carmyle - Glasgow Central”, and the website has now been corrected. We have been vague on certain parts of the route (e.g. from Sevenoaks to Catford on Day 2). This is where we have given Network Rail some leeway in how they path/route our train to fit in with the busier parts of the Network. We’d rather ensure we get to the headline places at the right times and most of the variants where alternatives exist have been covered by other tours in recent times.
Can you stop at <insert local station> as it suits my needs?
A lot of thought and time went into the balance of pick up/set down locations. We obviously need the train to be easy to get to, but also not too tedious as to stop at many places. A station call also adds several minutes to the journey time and can make the difference between a good path and one that gets looped several times for other services to pass. We’ve also tried to balance those who want lots of track with some leg stretch, so we’ve put stops in at Newport (Day 1) and Kensington O (Day 2) to give people some options. The break at Fort William is the longest we can accommodate, given pathing constraints on the single line and again the balance of doing something else later in the day. Each station call potentially costs money as there is an admin charge raised by the managing TOC. We do try to get these charges waived, but that isn’t always agreed. So, we are not considering any further station calls at this stage, other than one possible addition on the final day as we are aware that Crewe to Paddington without a stop may rule out a number of options for travel home. We will update in the coming weeks.
But <Insert Class> locomotives are not allowed to <Insert Location>?
The plan started evolving from a very good beer and curry back in early September, from which ideas from the sublime to the ridiculous were ruled in/ruled out or added to the list of possibilities. We do operate trains for a living(!), so we already have a good idea of what’s achievable, worth an ask or almost certainly a no. That’s why we’re not taking Mk1s through the Channel Tunnel or a Class 66 through City Thameslink (which were suggestions through the some forums!). Class 142s were a close run thing! We had discussions with Network Rail long before announcing what we want to do and have already submitted our formal bid along with the list of requirements where our plan is technically “non-compliant” with current planning rules. We would not advertise the plan unless we have a high degree of confidence that it is workable and this is the same process for any charter that takes unusual things to unlikely places. We have already had formal confirmation that Class 92s will be able to go to Blackpool North (for example) as the electrification design took them into account and a couple of other ‘non-compliances’ are around having the gauging engineers just physically checking drawings of locos against data of their infrastructure.
Can I have <Insert Specific loco number> on the train?
It depends! We are very active on various Forums and do take an interest in what people want. A visit to Celsa and a Class 86/87 to Paddington were some of the most popular requests we’ve seen, so we included them in the plan. Getting down to more specific ‘sticky numbers’ is a different matter. We are more than happy to spectate the lively debates on social media and note what is said – isn’t that what forums are for? But, please do not message us direct (unless you want to donate an very large extra sum to charity) and do understand we aim to provide something for everybody and we cannot please everyone all of the time.
Will you do Part-fares or pay on the day?
Sorry no. We have already set the fares at levels we believe are excellent value for money and more than comparable with tours from established operators. Whilst most bookings are expected to be for the whole tour, we have conceded to break down some availability into individual days (or night). We expect the train to sell-out very quickly and not be able to accommodate any late bookings.
Can I transfer my ticket part of the day to someone else?
Again no. Tickets are sold on the basis of complete days or the whole tour. This is then fair for everyone, especially people who have booked the whole train or a day for specific locos/lines/yards. Each day we will issue our wrist-bands which participants will be required to wear.
What’s on the Full Works menu?
In line with regular tour operators who do dining options, we have outlined what level of service will be provided each day (e.g. Full breakfast or pastries, Lunch, Dinner etc). The exact menus won’t be finalised until very much nearer the time and will be a set menu issued on the day. We will be able to cater for Vegetarians/Vegans and those who need certain diets (e.g. Wheat/dairy free). We cannot however guarantee our food will be free from certain allergens (e.g. nuts) as all the food will generally be freshly prepared in kitchen cars on the day. If you have a specific allergy that could lead to a reaction, then please consider if this is right for you. If in doubt, then please email us for a response prior to bookings opening. For the Friday night curry, we do appreciate that a lot of people will not want to tolerate a high level of heat, so the aim is to provide a mild curry dish. We also want to avoid what certain curry meals can do, given you are on the train all night. ;-) That said, we will be asking our caterers to see if a slightly more ‘interesting’ curry option could be provided for those who enjoy such things, but we won’t be able to confirm this until nearer the time. Just to re-iterate, it will not be possible to sit diners and non-diners together due to the logistical difficulties of serving food to specific seats in differing coaches.
Can I pay a deposit and the balance later?
Sorry no. Given the additional administration requirements of this, we do require payment in full at time of booking through the website.
What do I get for the Standard PLUS or First PLUS additional fare?
As we are providing different catering to our last similar tour (GB15), we are not offering a “Platinum” option this time. However, the goodie-bag offering on that tour proved very popular, so we wanted to do that again. If you select the PLUS option, you will receive a bag with GBRf branded items, some specifically unique to commemorate the 2018 tour. We won’t reveal the contents as yet (we are negotiating with some suppliers to see what extra items we can obtain) but we will ensure the combination of goodies will be more than worth far more than the extra £50 spent, which in itself will very much increase the donations to charity.
Are the coaches Mark 1s or Mark 2s?
Following much feedback from GBRf 15, we have secured a rake of Mark 1 coaches for this tour. This does come with one or two extra stewarding requirements, with regards to door bolts as opposed to Central Door Locking controlled by the guard, but we appreciate the experience of enjoying a locomotive working hard is enhanced by the opening window vents. One thing we are going to be strict on however, is leaning out of windows. On GBRf 15, despite booking terms and conditions, brochure instructions, announcements and stewarding, a small minority still thought it acceptable to put arms and heads out of windows whilst the train is moving. We face a constant battle when pictures and/or videos are published showing such actions in justifying why we run these trains when people cannot abide by simple instructions.
The tragic accident at Balham less than two years ago, proves that anyone could be caught out by close infrastructure or foliage (he was a railway employee and an enthusiast, presumably aware of what he was doing). This has put a spotlight on charters from the Railway Inspectorate and we will be strictly enforcing a no leaning out rule on our trains this year and will eject offenders without hesitation. If you cannot follow this simple rule or think you know better, then we’d rather you did not travel on our trains.
Is this a Class 73/1 farewell tour?
Who says we are withdrawing them yet?? No, certainly not. If it was, then we’d be telling you that and we’d be planning something special with just those locos (or something related). Doing some mad things with the locos on this tour just seemed too good an opportunity to miss!
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