Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Vintage visitors add to busy time for heritage rail line

VINTAGE cars and motorcycles will feature on the West Somerset Railway during the four days from Thursday to Sunday of this week.
On Thursday, May 8, there will be a visit by a group of French Jaguar car owners who will be making a return journey on the steam railway between Bishops Lydeard and Williton.
At Williton, they will be met and given a guided tour of the facilities of the Williton Engineering Workshops which undertake a wide variety of engineering work on vintage machinery and includes cars in its work portfolio.
On Sunday, May 11, members of the Westland Classic Motorcycle Club will be visiting the railway as part of a ‘Spirit of the Sixties’ outing, taking a special train ride from Minehead to Blue Anchor and back as part of a day out which will see their vintage British motorcycles making a round trip from South Somerset and Dorset around West Somerset and Exmoor.
In between the visits, Saturday, May 10, will be notable for the arrival in Minehead of two excursion trains from the mainline network.
First Great Western is operating one of its High Speed Trains from Westbury via Bristol as a fund-raiser for the charity Railway Children, which provides care for abandoned children who have taken up residence at railway stations in the developing world.
All of the First Great Western staff on duty will be doing so on a voluntary basis to help the charity.
The HST is due into Minehead at 12.30 pm and will leave at 5.40 pm, giving its passengers plenty of time to enjoy their day at the seaside.
The second excursion train will come from further afield as the WSR welcomes back the Mid-Cheshire Rail Users Group, which is starting its day from Altrincham.
The train will be ‘top and tailed’ by Class 67 diesel locomotives and is due to arrive at Minehead at 2.10 pm and to leave at 3.45 pm.
WSR general manager Paul Conibeare said: “The range of visiting groups shows the growing appeal of the railway.
“It is a good tribute that we are welcoming back the Mid-Cheshire folk whose last visit was marred by problems on the mainline network, and the motorcyclists from Westlands whose 2007 trip was on the wettest Sunday of the year.
“Despite that, the West Somerset Railway obviously impressed them favourably enough to prompt a return.
“Two special trains in Minehead Station on May 10 will also make for a challenging day for the station staff who will have to work around shunting movements to make sure that rubbish is cleared from the coaches and the water tanks replenished during their time at the station as well as dealing with passenger queries, taking bookings, and other duties during the day.
“And in a final addition to the visitors on the Saturday, members of the Institute of Railway Signalling Engineers will be paying us a visit and looking around.
“It promises to be quite a day.”
  • Our photograph shows an earlier visit to the West Somerset Railway by a Virgin Trains HST, pictured passing through Crowcombe Heathfield Station in 2005. Photo by Dr Peter Darke.

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