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by Stephen Rabone

Yes, British Rail really ran this many trains, one day in May 1982, to take passengers to see Pope John Paul II when he visited York

The Editor, Stephen Rabone, reports on one of the largest events British Rail ever had to cater for.

The recent visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Britain brought back memories of the visit of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, in 1982. Over a period of six days, Pope John Paul II toured England, Scotland and Wales, attracting enormous numbers of Catholics to the various venues where he celebrated Mass. For British Rail, his visit produced the need for the largest number of special trains since the evacuation of children from London in 1939.

The Pope arrived in Britain on Friday 28th May at Gatwick Airport, and was conveyed on a special train to London Victoria. The papal special train was pulled by 73 142 “Broadlands” and included the Southern Region General Manager’s saloon. The special was allocated

TOP: It’s shortly after one in the morning and 47 006 is standing at platform 8 with newspaper train 1N11 from King’s Cross to Newcastle. On the day of the Pope’s visit, additional vans were added to convey extra copies of the national newspapers that, it was expected, would be required by many of the visitors to York.

CENTRE: The first of the day’s additional workings was the 02:49 arrival from Leeds. Headed by 45 038 the empty stock, now coded 5G06, headed off on the long trek north to Morpeth. It returned at 09:07 before an empty run to Rotherham Masborough followed by a loaded return arriving at 12:08. After stabling at Clifton carriage sidings, 45 038 made a single evening journey back to Sheffield.

LOWER: 45 059 has brought train 1E49, a Manchester to Newcastle newspaper train, into platform 9. This was the second of the overnight newspaper services to stop at York and, like the train from London, conveyed additional vans loaded with the northern editions.

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