Excursion - Italian Railways Society winter meeting

On Saturday 11th of February 2012 two members from Southport MRS, Jim Ford and Allan Trotter, ventured boldly to the deep south for a day all about Italian railways. Departing early morning we changed trains in Liverpool and boarded the 08:58 Pendolino to London Euston. As we were travelling first class, coffee and biscuits were served on route but no wine was forthcoming, this being Saturday and Branson is a bit skint. Of this we were well aware, therefore after a decent time had elapsed a bottle of Frascati was produced from our bag and morning aperitifs were partaken of. We arrived in London right on time giving the illusion that Benito Mussolini had been reincarnated and was now in charge of operations on Virgin Trains. It was then a short walk past the refurbished building of St. Pancras, which used to be a seven-platform railway station but is now just a shopping mall with the odd train or two.
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The meeting was held in Keen House, the bastion of the London Model Railway Club and on arrival we were made most welcome by the twenty or so ItRS members that were setting up the event. There was a Society sales stand with a good selection of books on offer and another table offering pre-owned models for sale. The offers were too good to miss and many purchases were made. Access was also given to the multi-gauge test track belonging to the LMRC and a fine and varied display of Italian trains were observed in operation. To get that old cliché out of the way, no they were not going backwards.

Coffee and snacks were then taken and in the afternoon we all settled down to an audio-visual presentation of Italian railways around 1959. The variation of the types of steam locos is hard to believe, some with chimneys and some without and others with inside cylinders and outside valve gear. Some later pictures from the 1970’s showed a FIAT-built ALn 668 920 railcar in America operating on the Rock Island Railroad (Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific RR). Now as Rock Island passenger trains names ended in Rocket, the Italian railcar acquired the nickname Ravioli Rocket. Much exchange of information and memories of visits to Italy took place and the meeting closed at 16:00.
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As we were not due to depart London until 18:07 we were left with a couple of hours to pass. What to do? A unanimous vote proposed a visit to the Doric where we immersed ourselves in some fine ale. Arriving on the concourse of Euston Station at 17:45, we inspected the departure board for our train which was displayed but no platform was indicated. This information was not posted until 18:00, resulting in a mad stampede to platform 18, which just happens to be the furthest one from our location. We were barely seated when the doors were closed and we were off.

Having previously replenished our wine cellar, we than partook in a cheeky little Orvieto to start off our return journey. Coffee, biscuits and crisps were again served and a further bottle of our Chianti accompanied by a pleasant debate finished off our journey back to Liverpool. A short stroll down to Central and it was the 20:38 to Southport and home. A great day was had by all. Ciao.