Watlington Flyer at Princes Risborough

Three weekends of successful training operations pave the way for the Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway to operate into Princes Risborough

Published: 12th July 2016

Visit behind the scenes and enjoy a free train ride on July 16

The Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway (C&PRR) has completed three trial and training sessions operating non-public trains into Princes Risborough. The first train was a Class 121 ‘Bubble Car’ which ran into Princes Risborough on June 25 during a gap in normal train services on the preserved line.

The following Saturday 2 July had been advertised as a special operating day using the unique Class 17 diesel ‘Clayton’ No. D9568 but the locomotive developed a minor fault which meant the day was cancelled. The fault was rectified too late to re-instate the advertised train service but it was decided to operate the engine to test the repair. Once tested, the operation was extended into Princes Risborough - but without any carriages for operational training purposes.

The final training session was completed in the evening of 10 July after the day’s steam-driving experience participants had completed their special day. The four carriage train departed Chinnor at 545pm behind Class 08 shunting diesel D3018 Haversham ,the locomotive which ran the very first train on the C&PRR line in 1994.

Sheep on the line

At the rear of the train was former GWR ‘Pannier Tank’ No. 5786 in its maroon London Transport guise as No. L92 on hire from the Worcester Locomotive Society based at the South Devon Railway. The train arrived 40 minutes later at Princes Risborough into where a new platform will be built. The train arrived a little later than planned due to sheep on the preserved railway’s line. Both locomotives carried a special headboard to commemorate the operation.

Once the operational requirements had been checked, six minutes after arriving, the Pannier tank pulled the train a mile from Princes Risborough squealing round the tight curve to Thame Junction from where after a short break, it was then pulled back to Princes Risborough by Haversham.

First for half a century

By this time, a small group of locals had gathered on platform 3 at Princes Risborough to watch the trial runs having heard the steam locomotive whistles entering the station. Chiltern Railways’ passengers also stopped to have a look at the special train through the vegetation. This train was the first steam train to visit the former end of the Watlington line at Risboro’ it is thought for over 50 years. This is why the main headboard carried was ‘The Watlington Flyer’.

When will public trains start?

Passengers will not be able to join or leave trains at Princes Risborough when they start operations because a new platform has to be built. Work on this is expected to commence in August once the various legalities have been completed with Network Rail and Chiltern Railways. Public trains are also likely to commence in August this year but check with the railway’s website to confirm.

The first train is reserved for those that bought tickets for the first train over the last 25 years – a long wait but worthwhile now!

Visit the railway, ride for free and join as a volunteer!

The railway is hosting a public open day on between 10am and 3pm on Saturday July 16 when the train rides will be free and there will be access behind the scenes.

So if you have ever wondered what the inside of a working signalbox looks like, or the inside of a locomotive (steam or diesel) then visit and take a look. The new Railway Education Centre will also be open and this is a work in progress project at the moment and won’t be finished for some time.

The railway needs you

The day is also a recruitment day and is looking for volunteers. Now that the trains will be running into Princes Risborough, a new platform needs to be built and the Railway Education Centre needs fitting out, there is lots to be done. The funding is in place for the platform but as ever, more is needed.

The railway is at last going places, literally. Especially from the start of 2017 when the platform will e completed and passengers will be able to use a cross-platform interchange with Chiltern Railways’ services.

YOU can be part of this successful operation (and it makes a great CV entry!) and learn new skills and meet folk who enjoy fresh air and hard work!

Addition to the fleet

The preserved railway infrastructure department has taken delivery of a completely overhauled permanent way Wickham trolley and wagon. The trolley can carry several staff while the wagon can carry tools or equipment or small quantities of materials. This perfectly complements the huge road-rail machine which can lift a track panel and carry out ballasting activities.

Donation by Chiltern Railways

Chiltern Railways has donated a dozen carriage battery chargers to the preserved railway and were delivered on a special service running from Aylesbury on 28 June.

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