By Phil Marsh

Charity Railtours, Branch Line Society and Railway Magazine announce series of fund-raising railtours for good causes.

Published: 31st July 2016

If its rare royal track you are after, book now!

In date order of operation, rail.co.uk looks at the latest batch of special charter trains which are all aimed at raising funds for worthwhile charities.

13 August 2016 - ‘The Wycombe Wanderer’

The Branch Line Society has announced another two charter trains raising money for good causes. First up is in conjunction with Chiltern Railways and uses a 3-car Class 165 train. The train will cover many bits of track not normally used by passenger trains and runs from Marylebone to Oxford Parkway by various sidings and loops.

All profits will be donated to Chiltern Railway's nominated charities, the Railway Children and Homestart. The on-board fund raising will be a raffle, a quiz and the sale of souvenirs of the trip and it is hoped to have a trolley service of drinks and light refreshments and real ales on the train.

The train starts at Marylebone at 1053am and visits many loops and sidings at Northolt, West and South Ruislip as well as the High Wycombe Engineers Siding. After a break at High Wycombe, the train carries on to Bicester Depot Goods Loop and Banbury Road Sidings near Oxford Parkway. On the way back to Marylebone, the train drops into Bicester Village Run Round Loop, Bicester North Engineers Siding and terminates at Marylebone at 7pm.

How do I book?

Contact The Branch Line Society via their website - the fare is £65.

29 August 2016 ‘ - A Tale of Two Ports’

The BLS second train runs on 29 August and is operated by GBRF called ‘A Tale of Two Ports’ hauled by two Class 66/7 locomotives operating in top and tail mode. The train visits the Port of Sunderland and into the private lines there as well as the Port of Tyne with a leg stretch and photographic break arranged at Newcastle.

The two ports have nominated charities for a donation, Port of Sunderland's nominated charity is Seafarers UK ( www.seafarers.uk ) while several charities have been nominated by the Port of Tyne Community Action Fund at the Community Foundation. Fund raising activities will be boosted by on-train activities such as a raffle, catering plus souvenirs of the day.

The train starts at Crewe at 6.15am and calls at Stoke and uses the Lichfield Chord en-route for York at 9.30am. And on to the Darlington Down Bypass, Ferryhill and into the Port of Sunderland. It then returns through Sunderland platform 1, and on to the Port of Tyne to Newcastle for a break. After this, the train returns to Sunderland via the high Level Bridge, various goods loops to Norton-on-Tees West Jn and to York at 715pm and Crewe at 1030pm.

3 September - ‘The Independent Yorkshireman’

On 3 September, The Railway Magazine has sponsored ‘The Independent Yorkshireman’ in conjunction with Virgin Trains and Direct Rail Services. This starts at Chester hauled by a DRS Class 57/3, then calls at Crewe before running via Alsager and Stoke to Stafford via the new Norton Bridge flyover. The train reverses at Stafford now being pulled by two DRS Class 37s to Scarborough via the new down fast line at Norton Bridge and avoiding Crewe station by using the Crewe Independent lines.

The train carries on via Crewe Coal Yard and calls at Warrington Bank Quay for more passengers and runs via Manchester Victoria, Hebden Bridge, Wakefield Kirkgate to York and on to the coast at Scarborough. Passengers who alight at York will have five hours to explore and at Scarborough, three hours off the train.

The train returns from Scarborough and York via Knottingley, Doncaster, Sheffield, Hope Valley, Hazel Grove, Altrincham, Northwich, Greenbank, Acton Bridge, Warrington BQ where it reverses and is routed via Helsby to Chester and backto Crewe using the ‘up’ independent lines and on to Stafford and back to Crewe once more.

There are some tickets still available and they cost; Adult standard £85, child (5-15) £20, adult first £125, child £30. First class includes breakfast, tea, coffee and a hot evening snack. The train conveys a buffet car and a real ale bar. Proceeds will be donated to the Mental Health Foundation amongst others.

How do I book?

Call 01507 529529 from 08.30 to 19.00 Monday to Friday and 08.30 to 12.30 Saturday

1 October - ‘The Wolverton Wanderer’

On 1 October, Charity Railtours has arranged for the Hastings Diesel unit to operate from stations between Hastings and London to Chinnor, Coventry, Swanborne and Haversham covering some very unusual track along the way.

This trip is aimed at the enthusiast and it will be the first main line train to operate over the new connection between the national network and the Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway. The train is fund-raising for Macmillan Cancer Support and takes in some track mainly used by The Royal Train.

The train only has six carriages and there are not many seats left so booking as soon as possible is advised. The train starts at Hastings at 0622hrs and calls at ST.Leonards Warrior Square, Battle, Robertsbridge, Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Bromley South at 0750hrs and Kensington Olympia at 0830hrs.

It is routed via West London Jcn, South West Sidings, Acton Wells Jcn, West Ealing Jcn, West Ruislip to Princes Risborough at 10am and turns west there and for the four mile run into the Chilterns. After a break there, the train runs back to Princes Risborough, reverses and heads north to Banbury, Leamington Spa to Coventry where it reverses again to head south.

Travelling via Northampton, the train heads into the Centre Sidings at Wolverton and descends under the West Coast Main Line and uses the original London to Birmingham route through Wolverton to the end of the line at Haversham Bank by Wolverton Viaduct. The train has a buffet car offering light refreshments to be consumed at your seat.

Knorr-Bremse remains silent on request to Wolverton Works’ visit

Unlime the two northern ports who welcomed the Branch Line Society train onto their network, Knorr-Bremse were asked if this train could use Wolverton Works’ tracks - but they did not bother to answer the request.

The train reverses from Haversham Bank buffer stops and runs back under the main line and through Milton Keynes where it runs above the main line crossing Bletchley viaduct. It will reach the end of this line nearly a mile and a half west of Bletchley at Swanbourne Siding before heading east to Fenny Stratford thus traversing all the Bletchley high level track.

Then its back to Hastings at 2150hrs after calling at Watford Junction at 1850hrs, Kensington Olympia 1940hrs and stopping as per the outward leg.

How do I book?

Visit www.charity-railtours.co.uk/ and follow the instructions. The preferred payment method is by cheque to avoid paying commission to card retailers allowing the maximum donation to be made to Macmillan. Alternatively, Charity Railtours can be called on 07518 045077 and payment made via Debit or Credit Card.

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