Published 19th June 2012
TUNBRIDGE WELLS, GROOMBRIDGE, ERIDGE - The Spa Valley Railway and 1317 Support Group’s ‘1317’ Oxted Unit will return to service in July in a blaze of glory after a period of overhaul.
The train, numbered 1317, was built in Eastleigh in 1962, operating on the Southern Region of British Railways. The Class 207s, as they would later become, differed from their other counterparts thanks to the inclusion of steel and re-inforced fibreglass ends. The units were built using the Mark 1 design, and used an English Electric engine, the noise of which earned them the delightful nickname “Thumpers”.
1317 is historic to the area, operating the last services on the line between Tunbridge Wells West and Eridge in 1985. 27 years later, after a great deal of work by the Spa Valley Railway and their industry partners, the unit can return to Eridge, interfacing with its replacements, the Southern Class 171.
1317 was withdrawn from front line service with Connex South Central in 2004. The unit was fortunate in that it underwent a power unit replacement before being moved to Tunbridge Wells West and the Spa Valley Railway.
The unit has undergone an intricate overhaul carried out to the highest standards, with both technical and cosmetic work being undertaken. The unit will now sport the attractive Blue and Grey livery of British Rail, the livery it wore when operating the last services from Groombridge to Eridge. The interior, having had a total refurbishment, now sports the “Trojan” moquette style.
The unit is somewhat unique in that it does not contain centre coaches from Electric Multiple units, such as the Class 207 at the East Lancashire Railway, nor does it have any corridor connections.
Friday, July 6th and Saturday, July 7th are the two designated special days of operation. On Friday, passengers can purchase special “Golden Tickets” priced at £20 for three return trips to Eridge, the first of which will be the very first trip to Eridge since 1985 on a Class 207 unit. For those wishing to travel later on in the day, an evening service will operate with three further return trips keenly priced at £15.
On Saturday, the Spa Valley’s regular fare structure will be in operation, however passengers can opt to use 1317 instead of the usual train with Steam motive power.