Published on 28th September 2012
The Great Western Society has announced the arrangements so far as tickets and timetables are concerned for Looe Branch outing for their 1908 unique Steam Railmotor, No. 93.
It will work in passenger service on the Liskeard to Looe branch line on Sundays 4 and 11 November 2012 giving passengers the chance to ride in the elegant Edwardian interior. These are generously decorated in oak and brass, with newly-woven upholstery and window blinds made to the original pattern.
The 104-year-old wooden-bodied vehicle has had to clear many safety approval and operating hurdles to be allowed to run on Network Rail lines. The train operations are still subject to approval by the Office of Rail Regulation but were due to receive the required certification in late September. The train operator in Cornwall, First Great Western, has been very supportive and is sponsoring the Looe branch events, with West Coast Railways being the train operator for the railmotor.
Tickets for the return journey from Liskeard to Looe cost £25 each and can be booked from Ticketweb at www.ticketweb.co.uk/RailMotor93 or by phone 08444 771000 (booking fees will apply).
There will be five return trips both Sundays, with the train carrying a maximum of 54 passengers each time. Tickets must be booked for a specific service at the following times and it will not be possible to leave or join the train at Looe. Therefore it is only possible to join the train at the Looe platform at Liskeard.
It is expected that the timetable for Steam Railmotor train on 4 and 11 November will be as follows:
The journey time is approximately 40 minutes in each direction and intending passengers are asked to note that there are no toilets on the train, so please plan accordingly.
Steam Railmotor 93 was built in March 1908 and ran as a self-propelled unit for nearly 30 years, before being converted to a locomotive-hauled auto trailer in 1935 and renumbered 212. In 1956 it was withdrawn from passenger service and converted to a work study coach, becoming an office in Birmingham.
It was preserved by the Great Western Society in 1970 and stored in the carriage shed at Didcot. In the 1990s the project to build a new steam power unit and rebuild the coach as a steam railmotor began. In July 2007 the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded the project £768,000 for the rebuild of the coach, and the work was carried out on the Llangollen Railway, being completed in March 2011.
The Liskeard and Looe Railway opened in 1860 and originally the terminus for Liskeard was at Moorswater, a little to the west of the town. In 1901 the railway opened a link from Coombe Junction to the GWR station at Liskeard, enabling Looe to be promoted by the railway as a holiday destination.
The 8.75 mile journey from Liskeard to Looe starts with a steep descent to Coombe Junction, where the train reverses. The line then follows the East Looe river, which becomes a tidal estuary with Looe railway station opposite the point where the West Looe river joins the East Looe.
The Looe Valley Line is designated a Community Rail line and is now promoted by the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership. Richard Burningham, Manager of the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership, said “I am delighted that steam will be returning to the Looe Valley Line this November.
The Great Western Society’s Railmotor is a particular treat and I’m sure the trains will be very popular indeed. At this time of year, the Looe Valley Line’s regular service is operated with a single coach diesel train and I think many local people will be very intrigued to see its century-old steam predecessor.”