ERS 88 - Maintenance Engines

ERS 88 - Maintenance Engines - Ian

Fred complains bitterly about being over-worked, despite the arrival of new diesel Scott. When the line is closed for repairs, Fred gets to rest like the steam engines when his Driver accidentally leaves him parked on the wrong side of the track repairs, leaving the surly diesel marooned for a week. This is based on a true incident, although the Talyllyn’s No 9 ‘Alf’ was in fact left on the ‘other side’ for more sensible reasons!


Ivo Hugh, fed up of being stuck in the works during overhaul (during which he has parted company with his wheels) exclaims a desire to get back to work. Duke tells a story of Falcon, who was so impatient one morning with the first train, that he left every station early and consequently left all the passengers behind! This story is loosely based on an incident recounted to me by a retired railway Guard living in the vicinity of the ‘Central Wales’ or ‘Heart of Wales’ railway line. In the 1950’s a Guard allowed a train he was working to depart from two stations nearly ten minutes early, having not realised that his watch was set fast. The train was eventually stopped by a signalman, who was rather surprised by the early running! As the gentleman told me, a number of letters arrived soon afterwards asking what had happened to the train that morning, and a visit to the Manager’s Office soon followed!

This one is an adaptation of a true Talyllyn incident; the ‘true’ story can be read in the delightful book ‘The Talyllyn Railway’, written by J.I.C.Boyd. Skarloey remembers a time during the lean years when, having been repaired enough to return to service, two boys who find they have missed their train home climb aboard his footplate and use him to get themselves part way up the line before derailing him. Although Rheneas’ has a nasty shock on finding his friend stranded up the line, it does cause a degree of amusement.

Army troops have arrived for a track-laying exercise on the Skarloey Railway, something which has occurred on many an occasion over the years on the Talyllyn. The importance of being the chosen to assist the visitors goes straight to Sir Handel’s smoke box. Meanwhile two new first class coaches, the bossy Penny and the hen-pecked Rhydian, arrive. Sir Handel takes an instant dislike to them, calling them ‘vans’. The Army exercise isn’t a great success, and when Sir Handel inadvertently tips up Penny, the pompous engine finally gets his comeuppance.