Updatedd 17.02.2019

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Saturday 16th February 2019 **Sighting*
* - A4 Pacific no. 60009 Union of South Africa on The Cotswold Venturer

Union of South Africa is due to be working the Cotswolds Venturer for the Railway Touring Company this coming Saturday 16th Feb. It is doing the Cotswold circular through Worcester, clockwise for a change, so it will be crossing the Vale of White Horse in the morning and returning via Oxford probably after dark. People near the Didcot – Reading Thames Valley section get two bites at the cherry!

On the day: the past three days of unseasonably bright and mild weather have ended too soon and there is a misty drizzle hanging over the Vale of White Horse as I wait for the excursion train, which leaves the loop line at Challow promptly after its water stop to fit in behind one of the now ubiquitous IET express sets. Having taken the recently much-used loco in all the acceptable locations on its route through our area I’m at one of my old haunts at Bourton to take on the challenge of the electrification masts – only to remind myself why I had vowed never to venture into the Vale again to photograph trains. The good news is that the demise of ‘number 9’ on the mainline ‘has been greatly overstated’ due to delays in planning permission for its (final?) museum home and the A4 is scheduled for several more trips again this year.

The loco has already accelerated its train up to its permitted speed as it passes below me and so is not sufficiently exercised to mask the ugly steelwork with its steam plume. The resulting photo could be considered more a ‘tribute’ to the brutalist style of the electrification infrastructure than an evocation of the glory days of steam!