and Emma are, despite their strong personalities, not a 'curio' like the
majority of our North Western fleet on Sodor. They are, however, seen as a
novelty in the region - as the only 'modern' high speed train on our network.
and Emma were one of the latter batches of the HST 125s, built by BREL in 1980
for the Western Region of British Railways. They were completely standard units
and used considerably through a long and successful career, with little event
or mishap. In 1987, they first visited Sodor. Their tale is a rather long one.
and Emma were at Barrow in Furness when Gordon arrived with the Wild Nor'
Wester', a fairly standard day with little exception - however, a Railtour was
standing at Platform 3 with a failed BR Class 127. They were due to go to
Carlisle. The foreman at Barrow requested Gordon pull the train, something my
Father allowed very happily, of course, if a replacement train could be
provided. There was one train available, a BR HST Set with a failed cooling
unit (with Emma's engine as opposed to Pip's) - however, the people at the shed
wryly suggested it would put up with
'The Fat Controller's timetables' (Harrumph!) easily and thus, Pip and Emma were
sent to Sodor to run the service.
and Emma's time there was troublesome. While running the train back to Tidmouth
Pip broke down herself, and they were left two miles from Kellsthorpe with both
engines out of order. James was stopped at Kellsthorpe Road station with a
stopping train and informed of the situation -
he thus had to push the high speed train to Killdane, run around it and
take it, with his stopping train, back to Tidmouth station. They were welcomed
regardless, and made good friends with our fleet, despite their embarrassment.
wasn't until 1995 that we next saw Pip and Emma. The Railway Series was at a
golden jubilee, fifty years since the first stories of our railway were
published, and we were due a visit from none other than Prince Charles himself.
The celebration was riddled with trouble, from rabbits burrowing under the
Ffarquhar Branch to Edward losing a wheel. However, it all turned out fairly in
the end - and we took lend of Pip and Emma to carry Prince Charles in the most
modern way plausible! Pip and Emma, did a fine job, and were welcomed back to
the island for a second time - this time, with no embarrassing failures. This
was Gordon's first meeting with the pair, and while the others were worried he
might offend them in his usual pompous way he too got on fine with them,
warming to idea of high speed trains becoming a more regular fixture on the
2006, when my father retired and I came into position, it became clear the NWR
was running a touch too antiquated. Our timetables for the "Wild Nor' Wester"
were too slow, due to the
requirement of swopping over to the mainland train at Barrow-in-Furness. Things
needed to change, and in 2007, my first anniversary of taking over the North
Western Railway, infrastructure went into a large-scale modernisation effect on
the Main line. Piece by piece our older pieces of line had signal systems
replaced and updated, new lines laid and tighter, more troublesome curves
replaced for smoother stretches. Old buildings were either restored or in some
cases rebuilt, and our land agreements changed to ensure further leniency when
updating our old trackside facilities. All the engines knew something was afoot
but nobody dare ask quite what. It wasn't until 2011 that the reason for the
work became clear, as Pip and Emma arrived, having officially been purchased
from their now privatised operators (after a lot of haggling - as is the Hatt
way!). These modifications are actually ongoing - and are scheduled to
completion by 2015.
and Emma, on a technical front, are no longer using the Paxman Valenta engines
they were originally fitted with, as, like most of the HSTs on the Privatised
network, they were fitted by their previous operators with the newer MTU 16V
4000 engines. Many people will likely groan at the concept, but they hold their
and Emma have proven themselves time and time again as more than a worthy
replacement on the Wild Nor' Wester service to Gordon, and their direct
services to London are now the highest prestige in the NWR's schedule. They are
easily one of the finest purchases the railway has made in years - even if one
does say so myself - and proof that the North Western Railway isn't all stuck
in the last century...(only a majority!)