Published: 19th February 2015
The main line special train market is getting busy and after its first full programme on Valentine’s Day, March has two more ‘special’ days.
St. David’s Day brings a special steam charter running from Paddington to Cardiff headed up by 1947 built LNER Class B1 No. 61306 Mayflower. This is being promoted by Steam Dreams and offers full silver service dining and calls at stations to Reading and Swindon. From there it is routed via the Cotswolds to Gloucester then along the River Severn via Chepstow to Cardiff.
Arguably at the top end of the charter train dining scale is the diesel hauled Belmond Northern Belle ‘St David’s Day Celebration Lunch’ which runs on a circular route from Cardiff.
For the enthusiast, Pathfinder is offering a couple of out and out enthusiast trains on March 6 and 7th. These are booked to use a pair of Direct Rail Services’ Class 37s on ‘Sabrina's Tea Train’ between Crewe, Stafford and the Ironbridge branch. The second train, the ‘White Rose Kipper’ runs from Crewe to Yorkshire branchlines on an overnight train – hence the name!
Mother’s Day brings several Belmond British Pullman and Northern Belle services starting on 14 March with a ‘Mother’s Day Lunch’. Running on a circular route from Crewe to Manchester and back. The next day the train repeats the offer running on a circular route between Chester and Liverpool. Also on March 15 Belmond’s British Pullman offers a ‘Mother’s Day Lunch’ and a ‘Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea’, both running from London Victoria.
And if its coastal scenery that attracts you, The Railway Touring Company (RTC) is running its popular ‘Cumbrian Coast Express’ from Euston to Carlisle on March 14 using a vintage electric locomotive to and from Carnforth. The train is steam hauled between Carnforth and Carlisle through the Lune Valley and returning via Millom on the highly scenic Cumbrian coastal route.
There are two more costal charters on March 21 with Pathfinder offering the diesel hauled ‘The Cumbrian Docker’ from Birmingham and stations to Preston to Barrow and Workington Docks and eventually, Carlisle.
The second train is ‘The Wensleydale and Durham Coast’ promoted by the RTC and runs diesel hauled from Carnforth calling at stations via Hellifield and Leeds to York and return. It is steam hauled between York and Redmire for a short break and then onwards to Sunderland and the Durham coast.
The luxury Statesman Rail train starts its 2015 programme on March 7 with the diesel hauled ‘Cairngorm Mountain Statesman’ running from Euston picking up at stations to Preston before going on to Aviemore for a two night stay. A week later their ‘Winter West Highland Statesman’ runs from Cardiff and stations via Hereford, Shrewsbury, Crewe and Preston to Fort William returning on March 16.
Statesman’s ‘Cairngorm Mountain Statesman’ runs on March 21st from Didcot and stations via Cheltenham, Stourbridge Jct. and Stafford to Aviemore. But be warned, most of Statesman’s tours are often fully booked months in advance so book early.
Steam Dreams continues to use the newly returned to the main line LNER ‘B1’ No. 61306 on its ‘Cathedrals Express’ services running from Southend, Upminster, Barking and West Hampstead, Slough and Reading to Bath and Bristol on March 7.
On March 12 the same engine takes the ‘Cathedrals Express’ from Kings Cross to York and return calling at stations via Hertford North to Peterborough. Perhaps the main train for enthusiasts is on March 21 when the ‘Cathedrals Express’ runs from The Bluebell Railway to Cambridge and Ely.
UK Railtours caters for all markets in rail charters and on March 14 runs ‘The Buxton Spring’ from King's Cross and stations to Peterborough into the hills at Buxton while a week later runs from Stevenage and stations to Finsbury Park to Chester with connections to Llangollen.
Perhaps for enthusiasts, the most interesting train runs on March 28 when a High Speed Train runs from St Pancras via Midland Main Line stations to Leicester and then on to Yarwell on the Nene Valley Railway. From there the train goes to near Kings Lynn and on to the freight line to Middleton Towers.
Vintage Trains runs its ‘The Red Dragon’ on March 7 using GWR ‘Hall’ No. 4965 from Tyseley, Birmingham Snow Hill and Worcester Shrub Hill to Cardiff.
The main UK charter train operator, West Coast Railways offers a new product for 2015, its ‘50 tours by Compass’. The first train is on March 25, ‘The Pendle Dalesman’ which runs from Kidderminster and runs via Tame Bridge Parkway, Rugeley Town and stations to Crewe, Preston and Carlisle.
The train is steam hauled from Preston to Carlisle via Settle and returns via Shap. On March 28 ‘The Salopian Express’ runs from Bishop Auckland, Darlington and stations to Crewe via York to Shrewsbury. This is steam hauled between Crewe and Chester outwards via Shrewsbury.
There are plenty of special trains on offer to cater for every taste to and from many geographical locations around the UK.