76084 Needs Support Crew
The support coach and crew are an essential part of the long distance operation of preserved steam locomotives in the United Kingdom on the main line network. Since main line steam operation ended in 1968, the static infrastructure and paid staff required to support steam locomotive operation no longer exists, requiring the use of support coaches and crews to travel with 76084. The crews are made up of volunteers from locomotive preservation societies. The support crew supplements the three-man professional train crew consisting of the Driver, Fireman and Traction Inspector, who are employed by the Train Operating Company (TOC) for charter trains and railtours.
The 76084 support crew will be made up of volunteers, and you will often have to travel long distances just to assemble, before carrying out your duties on 76084. Other Support Crews number around half a dozen people om each outing, and depending on their roles, will often include either professional railwaymen, or volunteers or employees of our partner steam heritage railways.
A typical commitment of a support crew’s time is 100 hours for 5 hours of actual train running, although commitments of up to 7 days are not unknown. In the immediate future commitments as huge as this are unlikely.
76084 Support Crew members must have the following:
- a Personal Track Safety (PTS) certificate and
- a recent medical
as a minimum before being considered for Support Crew membership. Both of these will have to be obtained at the Support Crew member’s own expense. The PTS is a 2 day course the cost of which varies dependent on numbers participating and the medical could be in the region of £70.
Before any steam railtour can commence, the support crew must prepare 76084 for operation. The crew will then accompany it on any required positioning moves or light engine moves, as well as on the actual railtour. The crew will service 76084 at stops for coal/water, and at terminal stations. While stationary at terminal stops, and at the end of the run, the crew will also clear the ashpan as part of a disposal routine.
Preparing 76084 is a time-consuming activity, involving an unofficial physical inspection of 76084 and support coach. After 76084 and support coach passes an official fitness-to-run exam, members of the crew light 76084 fire, and commence cleaning and oiling the engine while the steam pressure is raised. 76084 can take between 9 and 12 hours to reach operating steam pressure when raised from cold.
During water stops, as well as refilling 76084 tender with water and possibly coal, the support crew should inspect the engine oil levels and check for overheating in mechanical bearings. The crew will also tend the fire and provide food for the footplate crew.
While on the move, most of the support crew ride in the support coach. One crew member rides on the footplate, to act as 76084 owner’s representative. This person assists the train crew who have general knowledge of steam locomotives and the UK mainline by offering specialist knowledge of the idiosyncrasies of our locomotive, and reacting to matters arising. On the move, the remaining crew in the support coach will also record 76084’s performance while operating, including punctuality and fuel efficiency.
The UK no longer has any water troughs and very few water cranes on the mainline network, as opposed to on heritage railways. Cranes that remain include Appleby, Scarborough and Grosmont. Most water stops today are therefore carried out using firehoses carried on the support coach. Water is sourced either from road tankers, or from hydrants, but with tankers preferred due to pressure variation and the risk of boiler contamination from hydrant sources. The traditional water stop is 45 minutes, although the lack of available sidings and scheduling requirements often mean that short ‘splash and dash’ arrangements occur using road tankers, which can deliver 2,500 gallons in 12 minutes, using two pipes.
We are hoping that 76084 will ‘Go Mainline’ in 2016. 76084 will initially extent the NNR’s operations to Cromer but work further afield may take place. The actual time or date that she will need a dedicated team to support her when running on the mainline is still a little unclear. 76084 Locomotive Company Limited is positioning itself to be ready for any eventuality.
Being part of the Service Crew is like being a member of a family. Though at times the working day can be long there is a great deal of pleasure to be had working behind the scenes. Seeing the numerous onlookers as we travel over Network Rail metals is reward in itself. Service Crew Member
Joining the 76084 Support Crew
The Support Crew Application Form is now available to download. If, after reading all the above, especially the requirements, you are still interested in becoming a member of the 76084 Support Crew then please complete, scan and email your completed application form to SupportCrew@Standard4.com.
We ran a Personal Trackside Safety (PTS) course for the first batch of new 76084 Support Crew members in the summer of 2016. They have proved their worth in recent months during 76084’s movements across various parts of the national network. You could be part of this small but important band of 76084 Shareholders and Supporters.