Published 9th March 2012
CHINNOR - The ‘Prairie’ will mark the first visit for many years of this class of engine at the hilly preserved line in the Chilterns. It is anticipated that when the engine leaves for Norfolk, the Southall based Great Western Railway Preservation Group’s Pannier No. 9682 (in its latter stages of an overhaul at Southall) should arrive to provide Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway with steam for the rest of the year.
The engine will be used on regular passenger services every Sunday from March 17th and between Good Friday and Easter Monday inclusive. The engine will also be used on evening trains on selected Saturdays offering anything between full silver service dining and fish and chip specials. Cream teas are available on some Sundays at Chinnor but all dining services need to be booked in advance.
There is also be the chance to drive the engine at Chinnor on special steam experience days held on Saturdays but again, these must be prebooked..
On leaving Chinnor, Prairie No. 5526 will move to commence a hire spell at the Mid-Norfolk Railway, due to continue through to August. At Dereham, No. 5526 will join Dennis Howells’ Pannier No. 9466 which will be in Mid-Norfolk service during June, July and August. Mid-Norfolk steam services will commence on June 2, see for details of when steam is timetabled between then and August 27. A third steam loco could arrive at Dereham for the MNR’s July 13-15 Steam Gala.
Unfortunately, the Mid-Norfolk Railway was unable to raise sufficient money in an ‘emergency appeal’ in time to buy a farm building which became available which could have formed the basis of covered locomotive accommodation at Dereham station.
The South Devon Railway will have two of its fleet out on hire this year, with its 2-8-0 No. 3803 remaining on hire to the Battlefield Line for the rest of 2012. This largely becomes possible following confirmation that when the overhaul of Locomotive 5542 Ltd’s Prairie No. 5542 (presently being undertaken as contract work at Buckfastleigh) is completed the loco will remain at the SDR. No. 5542 is usually associated with the West Somerset Railway but was not required at Minehead this year. The arrangement for it to stay on at the SDR as an operational loco will not preclude occasional visits to other lines.
No. 5542 will probably be ready to return to traffic around April with its immediate task being to cover for the Worcester Locomotive Society’s SDR-based Pannier No. 5786. The latter is presently being overhauled at Buckfastleigh and had been expected back in traffic around April/May but completion in ‘summer’ now looks more probable.
Other locos available for South Devon Railway traffic are GWR Pannier No. 1369 and GWR 0-6-0 No. 3205. Income from its locos out on hire could also finance visits from other locos this year to add interest to SDR operations.