By Phil Marsh

Celebrate Rail Week, ride on HS2 to celebrate the Network SouthEast 30th anniversary and see two new steam locomotives at The Severn Valley Railway

Published: 16th June 2016

Rare behind the scenes events on three very different railways

There are three chances to find out what it takes to run three types of railway on offer over the next few months. One is visit to the London Overground Depot at Willesden which maintains trains for the intensively used Transport for London rail network, another is linked with TfL’s predecessor Network SouthEast (NSE) marking the 30th anniversary of the start of that organisation at a limited open day at the private railway on the route of HS2 at Finmere near Buckingham. The third event is at the top preserved railway, the Severn Valley Railway.

Rail week at Willesden

Rail week is a UK-wide celebration of rail and Transport for London and their train operating concession, London Overground Railway have joined forces to offer depot tours and a ‘Simulator Experience’ at Willesden Depot on 25 June and 2 July between 1030 and 1pm on both days.

Willesden is best accessed by rail and is on the LOROL network served by trains from around London and the Bakerloo Line.

The event is open to parents and students and booking information can be obtained by calling 07557 009022 or by emailing stakeholder@lorol.co.uk .

The Severn Valley Railway ‘Peep behind the scenes’

Saturday 16 July is the date for the annual Peep behind the scenes’ at the Severn Valley Railway, one of the UK’s top preserved lines. The day offers the chance to have a look inside the signalbox, carriage shed and new Diesel depot at Kidderminster (see: http://www.rail.co.uk/rail-news/2016/severn-valley-railway-opens-heritage-railway-diesel-facility/ ). The next station from Kidderminster is Bewdley where visits to Bewdley North Signal box at the end of Platform 1 and the yard are on offer.

And don’t forget the Kidderminster Railway Museum and its stunning array of exhibits which does not charge for admission.

Top tip

– The Tea cakes and snacks in the museum are the best in town!

There will be a Diesel Unit shuttle service from Bewdley Platform 1 to the remaining stub of the Stourport and Tenbury Branches from Platform 1. At the northern end of the line at Bridgnorth, the Engine Shed and Yard will be open for visitors and they will be able to see where the locomotives are overhauled and maintained.

What to remember?

Admission to all these locations is by purchasing a wristband at the respective station and you must follow any instructions given and signage because the railway will be operating as normal while the behind the scenes visits are ongoing.

Although some wheelchair access is available, the visits are to working depots so access all areas for less able visitors may not be possible.

As the SVR says,

Peep Behind the Scenes is a unique and exciting opportunity to see even more of how the SVR works, whilst experiencing first-hand the skill and dedication needed to run a Heritage Railway. You will be entering a true working environment, and while every effort has been made to make your visit as comfortable and as safe as possible, there are the occasional uneven surfaces and steps to negotiate.

It will also involve being in close proximity to oily and greasy heavy machinery, so please listen to the advice of Stewards, and at all times remain within the clearly marked walkways. But above all please ask questions, enjoy your day and make sure your wristband is visible at all times.

Due to the fact much of the Railway was designed and built many years ago, pushchair and wheelchair access is limited at some locations, but in true SVR spirit we will do our best to accommodate everybody.

Don’t forget to see the two new-build steam locomotives at Bridgnorth

There are two steam locomotives under construction at Bridgnorth, the 82045 Steam Locomotive Trust Tare building a new Riddles designed 3MT tank No. 82045. This has been underway for some years and is now awaiting wheeling to create, initially, an 0-6-0 rolling chassis while work continues on the front and rear pony truck assemblies. The driving wheelsets are complete and ready for fitting.

The bunker, cab and smokebox are at Bridgnorth and other components being manufactured across the UK and the engine may well be operational in the next 30 months.

The recreation of the first steam locomotive to operate at Euston is well underway at Bridgnorth. The ‘Catch Me who Can’ operated over 200 years ago on a circular track close to today’s Euston station and was designed by Richard Trevithick. It was the first fare-paying passenger locomotive (giving novelty rides) and was built at the Hazledine Foundry in Bridgnorth.

Travel by rail to Kidderminster station using London Midland services running between Birmingham and Worcester.

Take a ride on HS2 at Finmere 13 & 14 August

The Network SouthEast Railway society has teamed up with the Coulsdon Old Vehicle & Engineering Society (COVES) to host what will genuinely be a one-off rail event on 13 & 14 August 2016.

The event is to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Network SouthEast being formed and the event takes place at Finmere station on the former Great Central Railway near Buckingham on the proposed route of HS2.

The event is limited to 150 tickets a day which MUST be prebooked by the end of July. Trains will operate over track relaid over the last 6 years using a Class 73 No. 73130 and former Southern Region ‘4 CIG’ 1753.The event will also mark the opening of the Society’s new museum by former NSE Director Chris Green on the Saturday. There will also be a historic vehicle display and heritage bus trips on offer.

Finmere station will appear in full NSE gala style with NSE seats, litter bins, working “clicker” clock, solari departure board and lots of NSE bunting and each visitor will be given an NSE goodie bag.

Refreshments will be available from Travellers-Fare using Buffet car 69339 with real cider & ale served from the NSE bar in 1753’s guards brake plus some limited edition merchandise on sale.

How to get a ticket and to get there

Trains to Finmere ceased 50 years ago so it’s the X5 bus from Milton Keynes or Bicester stations.

To apply send cheques, payable to Network SouthEast Railway Society, with a S.A.E A5 sized envelope stating which day you wish to come to: NSERS Events C/O 41 Highfield Road Ipswich Suffolk IP1 6DD

Your ticket will be posted to you as applications arrive but if unsuccessful your torn cheque will be returned.

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