On This Day… Night Riviera

57604-2014080657604 PENDENNIS CASTLE
Exeter St David’s station, 6 August 2014

Six years ago today I was staying in Exeter and decided to have a bash at photographing the First Great Western ‘Night Riviera’ sleeper service as it paused at St David’s station at around 1am.

57604 ‘PENDENNIS CASTLE’ (looking splendid in Great Western Railway livery) had departed from Penzance bang on time at 21.45 and would eventually arrive at London Paddington at 05.01 with its seven coach train.

57604 is one of four class 57/6 locos converted from class 47s (47209 in this case) in 2004 for use on the sleeper service between London, Devon and Cornwall and still carries the special livery that was applied in 2010 to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the Great Western Railway (GWR) being incorporated.

From the Archives – Caledonian Sleeper

In my previous post I briefly mentioned the Caledonian Sleeper service that links London with Aberdeen, Fort William and Inverness.

Two trains depart from London Euston six days each week, the Highland Sleeper is made up of three portions that divide at Edinburgh to serve routes to Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William. The Lowland Sleeper has two portions serving routes to Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central.

15 years ago a holiday at Banavie gave me an opportunity to photograph the portion that winds its way through the Highlands to and from Fort William.

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Fort William station, 3 September 2005

Monday 3 September saw a rather tatty 37417 Richard Trevithick stabled beside the station with a five coach train, the last vehicle of which was British Rail Mk.3 Sleeping Car with Pantry (SLEP) 10506.

BR Mk.3a SLEP 10506-20050903BR Mk.3a SLEP 10506
Fort William station, 3 September 2005

The diesel loco only works the train as far as Edinburgh, where an electric loco takes over, so I wasn’t surprised to see 37417 return the following day.

37417-2005090437417
Fort William station, 4 September 2005

The next day brought a loco with a more ‘Scottish’ name to Fort William in the shape of 37406 The Saltire Society (The Saltire Society is an organisation which aims to promote the understanding of the culture and heritage of Scotland).

37406 (nameplate)-2005090537406
Fort William station, 5 September 2005

37406-2005090537406
Fort William station, 5 September 2005

37406 returned the next morning and was stabled beside the station with its train and I grabbed a quick pic of British Rail Mk.2e Unclassified Open Brake (BUO) 9809 (for passengers not making use of the Mk.3’s bunks) before heading off for the day.

BR Mk.2e BUO 9809-20050906BR Mk.2e BUO 9809
Fort William station, 6 September 2005

The sleeper service continues but the Class 37s and BR built coaches are no longer in use… The 37s were replaced in 2006 by Class 67 diesels (themselves replaced in 2019 by Class 73/9 electro-diesels) and the coaches by brand new CAF-built ‘Mk.5’ stock that also entered service in 2019.