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York & The Mallard – January, 2020

After getting up-close-and-personal with an EF58 (my favourite Japanese electric locomotive), I realised I needed to tick another box: inappropriately touch 4468 The Mallard. I'd already seen one running, so this task was to be simple enough as the Mallard had been relegated to show-pony duties in the National Railway Museum in York.

The museum is a located to the north-west of York's main railway station. You can easily access it on foot, via the southern entrance of the station. Entry is free, but a donation is highly recommended! You'll find two large halls full of memorabilia, with the main hall being to the right as you enter the museum.


I happened to head staight-ahead as I entered and viewed the smaller hall first. Straight-up I was confronted with a life-size version of my first HO Scale model train. But then I realised it wasn't. My first loco was a 6201 Princess Elizabeth and this happened to be a LMS Hughes Crab... close, but no cigar.


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Before long, I was in the main hall and staring at a Eurostar. Although a relatively new engine, it's of historical significance, being one of the first consists to cross the channel on rails. I was perfectly surprised to then see a 0-series Shinkansen cab car!


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From there, a quick wander gets you to the back of the Mallard... where the lighting was better than from the front angle. Arghh!


There was something like an up-close-and-personal going on with the group at the back, but I wasn't interested... I just wanted to see the behemoth in person. It lived up to my expectations!

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And that was that... the rest of the afternoon was spent checking out the town.

York Station

After a night of pub-hopping, it was an early start off to Belgium, via London. To get to the station, I took the extended walking path to the south first, over a railway bridge and back up the western side of the line. Unfortunately, for the entire path there was next-to-zero visibility of the rails. It was also just after 0830 and the sun hadn't even considered shining yet.

After picking up luggage and checking out, I bunkered down with a coffee on a bench at York Station. I was actually very happy to see quite a few cafes located throughout the station! Don't always go for the first Costa Coffee available (although it is located in the old signal box)!


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The layout of the railway around the station seemed to indicate that there was a freight bypass to the south. Hence my earlier walk; I wanted to actually see freight through York prior to my departure. After the disappointing stroll, I'd sat at the station with the intent to just watch an Azuma pass through... but was pleasantly surprised when a coal train crawled past me!


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After that, a myriad of passenger trains passed in every direction...

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Interestingly, that purple metro above had a partner sitting next to it, as you'll see in shots further above. It departed as I was near it and the wheels sounded absolutely terrible! It wasn't quite the sound of flat-spots... or the sound of steel wheels turning a corner... it was a serious grinding sound! A quick look down at the rails showed what the actual cause was...


They've welded zig-zags on the rail-head! Woah... I assume that a train has come in at some point and slid on the DMU oil and hit the buffers. To prevent this, instead of sand or other cleaning, they've added friction-inducing rough-ness to the rail-head. Well played, but can't be good for passenger comfort or the wheel surfaces?


My non-Azuma London-bound LNER service arrived and that was it for York.

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  1. The purple unit is a Pacer, and are now being removed from service. But they have a reputation for rough-riding and high noise even without some extra help from infrastructure. The are long fixed wheel base units, no bogies, so they grind around even slight curves.

    • Damn, by the sounds of it I wish I’d stayed around longer to go for a spin on one. Looks like I need to go back and visit Shildon Museum anyway, so I’ll add a trip on one of these to the list as I’m passing through… if they’re still running.
      Thanks for the extra info!

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