Winter steam this half-term to set you up for the new season

Published 14th February 2013

February holiday steam events promise terrific steamy action this Midwinter

Devon and Lancashire

Travel like it used be on a branch line at South Devon Feb 16-24

The South Devon Railway is holding a very special extended event in February. Star of the show is the Great Western Society’s GWR Steam Railmotor No. 93 in the mid-point (it had run at the beginning of January at the Bodmin & Wenford Railway and will go to the West Somerset Railway in March) of its winter tour of the South-West.

While the event extends between February 16-24, the Railmotor is not due to be in action every day. No. 93 is scheduled to be in steam on the SDR’s Buckfastleigh to Totnes Littlehempston heritage line on February 16, 17, 23 and 24, although 22nd might be added if tickets for the other dates sell out. Tickets to travel in this amazing vehicle will be priced at £20 covering one return trip in No. 93 plus unlimited travel on other SDR trains that day.

While centred on the visiting Steam Railmotor, the South Devon Railway has assembled an event around this self-propelled coach (basically the forerunner of later DMUs and today’s self-propelled units) to present the various forms of typical branch line travel of the past.

A Devon Prairie

Prairie No. 5542 (owned by Locomotive 5542 Ltd) has been fitted with auto-train equipment while visiting the SDR and will run during the February event in auto-train mode with three auto-trailers, two of which are South Devon residents with the third being No. 232, hired in from the Bodmin & Wenford Railway. Auto-trains operating in sandwich mode have been seen before (a loco in the middle with an auto-fitted coach at each end) but this combination - coach/loco/coach/coach – is something not thought to have been seen previously in the preservation era.

A more conventional loco-hauled train, but very much a bucolic branch portrayal, will run in the form of Mike Little’s GWR 0-4-2T No. 1450 (presently spending a period at the SDR and expected to still be in its present BR black livery before reverting to green prior to leaving Buckfastleigh) working two GWR coaches. To round things off, the SDR’s ‘Bubble Car’ will also be running – not steam, but very vintage!

Train operations during the period of the extended event are a shade complex, check the SDR website for details of what runs when.

As many as nine could steam for ELR February weekend gala Feb 23&24

If you hail from the other end of the country or want to see big engines in action, the East Lancashire Railway’s February 23-24 steam weekend could be the place for you.

There should be eight, and could be as many as nine, locomotives in steam. As is so often the case (and locos appearing at events are always subject to availability) the exact line-up can flex a bit as the date approaches.

Locos looking definite at the time of writing encompass visits by NELPG’s K1 No. 62005 and the Gresley Society’s LNER N2 0-6-2T No. 1744, joining Ian Riley’s ‘Black Five’ No. 45407 The Lancashire Fusilier, the NRM’s LNWR G2 0-8-0 (‘Super D’) No. 49395, The Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust’s 4MT 2-6-4T No. 80080, LMS ‘Jinty’ No. 47324 supported by Chris Beet’s Peckett 0-4-0ST May (1370/1915).

John Cameron’s K4 No. 61994 The Great Marquess and Ian Riley’s ‘Black Five’ No. 44871 had been expected to participate but now look unlikely to be present.

On the other hand, SR rebuilt ‘West Country’ No. 34046 Braunton (which returned to operation hauling ELR Santa trains, the first passenger services it has hauled since it was stopped at the West Somerset Railway after a tyre slipped in September 2011, and appeared in the ELR’s January 19-20 winter gala) had been expected to leave East Lancashire prior to the February event but now seems likely to appear on the roster.

Both these events in Devon and Lancashire are easily accessible via the national rail network.

Written by Cliff Thomas

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