Published: 11th August 2014
East Midlands Trains (EMT) uses its High Speed Trains (HST) on around 10 charter trains a year, usually chartered by UK Railtours. But EMT and Vintage Trains of Tyseley in Birmingham, have joined forces to promote a special service on September 27 in aid of The Railway Children to run between St Pancras to York and Scarborough and back.
The train is called ‘The Scarborough Spa Express’ and is planned to depart St Pancras at around 0730am arriving into York at 1130am then Scarborough 45 minutes later. The service also calls at Luton, Bedford, Kettering, Leicester, Derby and Doncaster and for those wanting the full dining service, first class passengers can enjoy this so long as they are on the train no later than Leicester.
The train will take in some ‘rare track’ running via Barrow Hill on the return journey and fares range from £59 to £149 and are available by calling Vintage Trains on 0121-708-4960.
The Branch Line Society (BLS) is well known for raising funds for charity and its latest charter train was operated by Chiltern Railways with assistance from West Coast Railways.
Chiltern Railways ‘donated’ one of their four carriage Class 168 trains, No. 168215 for the BLS’s latest excursion over unusual track and West Coast Railways assisted with the operation away from the Chiltern authorised network.
The Chiltern Sidings and Semaphore Tracker ran August 2 and it visited sidings around Birmingham and Banbury plus westwards at Fenny Compton. Here it train ran as far as the Ministry of Defence depot boundary at Kineton on the truncated remains of the Stratford-upon-Avon & Midland Junction Railway.
Network Rail’s Mobile Operating Manager Rebecca Pountney and Chiltern’s Competence Manager Phil Cotton, who also works for West Coast Railways was at this stage working under their duties, opened up the Kineton signalling Lockout Release Cupboard to obtain the token to authorise the train's passage along the branch.
All pointwork in this area had to be clipped and scotched by Network Rail as it is not normally traversed by passenger carrying trains, the last recorded visit being 2000. The highly unusual special train raised £11,000 for the charity as part of Chiltern Railway’s participation in the annual “Three Peaks Challenge by Rail” fund raising event.
Kev Adlam, General Secretary of the Branch Line Society said “Our charter
visited unusual lines in Birmingham, Tyseley, Stourbridge, Banbury and Dorridge in addition to traversing the Kineton branch and took a great deal of cross-industry co-ordination to make it happen. The participants on the train had a very unusual day out visiting many lines that do not normally see a passenger train, especially in the Banbury area.
The Society wishes to thank everyone at Chiltern Railways, Network Rail and West Coast Railway Company for their total professionalism and enthusiasm in delivering a highly complex itinerary for our members.”
UK Railtours has arranged a special train from Marylebone to Bridgnorth on September 6 using Chiltern’s 100mph ‘Main Line’ silver liveried train. This is a very rare through train from London to Bridgnorth and the train has been called ‘The Silver King’.
The silver liveried "Mainline" set, featuring silver Mark Three carriages hauled by a Class 67 diesel electric locomotive, all in distinctive silver livery. At the other end of the train, a matching Driving Van Trailer will complete the formation operating in push-pull mode.
In direct contrast to the SVR’s usual offer, steam services mixed with heritage diesel trains, visitors will be able to experience a journey along the Severn Valley behind a 3000hp 125mph locomotive on a train equipped with power-operated doors, air conditioning and Wi-Fi.
The train starts at Marylebone and make its way northward via Banbury, Leamington and Birmingham Snow Hill where it turns south and west to Stourbridge Junction and Kidderminster where it will join the 16 mile preserved Severn Valley Railway (SVR).
The ‘Silver King’ will make a slightly incongruous sight going through Arley and Highley and Hampton Loade before arriving at the SVR’s northern terminus at Bridgnorth. The special train will make one round trip while on the railway for non-charter passengers.
The SVR is one of the largest UK preserved railways and carries over 200,000 passengers a year with thousands more visiting the scenic stations to enjoy the atmosphere of the 1950s railway and rural stations. One of the best attractions (for many) is ‘The Railwaymans Arms’ on the platform at Bridgnorth which has a huge selection of very well kept real ales available.
There is a railway museum at Kidderminster to visit and the Engine House at Highley, offering interactive exhibits including up to eight steam locomotives, a magnificent royal carriage to be seen.
Also find out ‘how the SVR works’ by visiting the Engine House exhibition and café plus there is a wealth of opportunity for all the family to enjoy.
A range of children’s activities, holiday clubs, interactive exhibitions and exciting events will ensure that visitors want to return time and time again.