by Peter Nicholson

West Somerset Railway’s 40th anniversary diesel gala, on June 10-12

Published: 13th May 2016

Marking 40 years of the the Diesel & Electric Preservation Group

The West Somerset Railway (WSR) presents a weekend of heritage diesel traction in recognition of the 40 years the Diesel & Electric Preservation Group (D&EPG) has supported the railway.

The first D&EPG locomotive to arrive on the WSR was Class 35 ‘Hymek’ No D7017, in March 1976, and it continues in operation today, and is the longest serving loco on the railway.

The D&EPG and its locos

Based at Williton, the group has a well-equipped workshop for restoring and maintaining its fleet of diesel locos for operation on the WSR. These are mostly former Western Region diesel hydraulics. The depot and yard will be open on all three days.

Locos in operation for the event, subject to availability , will be Class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ No D9526, Class 33 ‘Crompton’ No D6575, Class 35 ‘Hymek’ No D7017, and Class 47/8 No D1661 North Star.

Also appearing, for the last time on the WSR, for the time being, is Class 42 ‘Warship’ No D832 Onslaught. Following the event, it is due to travel home to the East Lancashire Railway at Bury after a seven-year loan to the D&EPG.

Class 52 No D1010 Western Campaigner will also see use, subject to a successful test run beforehand, having been undergoing a two-year restoration. However, there will not be time for a repaint and it appears rather weather-worn at present, representing its last days in BR service.

Visiting locos

To represent modern diesel traction, GBRf is kindly providing Class 66/7 No 66757 West Somerset Railway, named at Bishops Lydeard on September 26, 2015 – the start of the WSR’s 40th anniversary year.

Subject to confirmation by Peco, a Colas Rail Class 56 is to be named Peco 70 at Minehead station on the Saturday morning to mark the 70th anniversary of the model railway company.

Diesel and steam services

The first day, Friday, June 10, has a diesel-only timetable but there is a token steam operation on Saturday and Sunday for the holidaymakers, departing Bishops Lydeard at 10.55 and 14.55 each day.

A diesel-hauled Minehead to Dunster shuttle runs on Saturday and Sunday and a demonstration freight train runs on Friday and Saturday mornings.

Norton Fitzwarren services

A semi-fast diesel-hauled express service leaves Minehead at 11.47 for Norton Fitzwarren on all three days.

A DMU shuttle service runs between Bishops Lydeard and Norton Fitzwarren on the Friday, while top-and-tail trains operate on this service on Saturday and Sunday. Norton Fitzwarren station is only accessible by train.

Models and museums

Taunton Model Railway Club at Bishops Lydeard station, down platform, is open with its layouts in operation on the weekend. On the same platform the WSR museum and model railway is open all three days. The S&DJR museum and yard at Washford, and the WS Steam Railway Trust museum at Blue Anchor are open all three days.

Tickets

Advance tickets are available in at discount, for one, two or three days for adults, seniors (60+) and young persons (5-17 years). These can be booked via website www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk or by tel. 01643 704996.

Getting there

There will be no shuttle train between Taunton and Bishops Lydeard stations this year (it has sustained a heavy loss when run in previous years), but Buses of Somerset service 28 runs between Taunton railway station (the stop at the London end of Platform 2, and WSR Bishops Lydeard station). This is half- hourly on Friday and Saturday, but hourly on Sunday. It also stops at Watchet, Washford and Minehead stations.

Webber bus service 18 operates from Station Road, Taunton on Friday and Saturday, calling at Watchet, Washford and Minehead stations.

Taunton station is served by Great Western Railway services operating between London Paddington and Penzance and Cross Country Trains from as far away as Scotland.

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