Book your place on this coveted diesel experience at Elsecar Railway and you will find yourself trying a hill-start in a diesel locomotive! We didn’t know you could even do a start on a steep hill in a diesel engine so we can only imagine the exhilaration of conquering the train line here in South Yorkshire.
What’s more you can invite a friend or loved one to watch you in your quest as there’s room in the cab for an observer as well as your good self as driver and your expert Elsecar Railway hosts. Get ready to find out what it’s like to have the best view in the house as you trundle merrily along this heritage line.
And what a huge amount of industrial heritage there is surrounding this track. The line was actually built by local land owner and industrialist Earl Fitzwillam to serve the collieries and ironworks all around this area that were all part of his estate. In fact the rather lovely Elsecar Heritage Centre is next door neighbour to the railway and boasts exhibitions events and even a beam engine – the perfect complement to your diesel experience.
Of course it was diesels that started to supersede steam power in the 1950s and the engines that run up and down this line include the Earl of Strafford and Louise. The Earl is a majestic dark blue and was built by the Yorkshire Engine Co in Meadowhall so he’s a local lad. Working at first as a demonstration diesel engine he experienced real working life as well ending his career at Redland Aggregates in Notts.
Originally powered by a Rolls Royce engine the Earl now boasts a six cylinder supercharged Cummins power unit with 250bhp to be able to cope with the steepness of the line here at Elsecar. What’s so wonderful about this unit is that you can see how he is easily the willing workhorse of the line shunting hauling passenger trains and assisting with engineering works too keeping him very busy in retirement.
Louise is a lovely little diesel engine. Built in 1967 she has spent her whole life working for oil refineries. With her main duties including hauling heavy fuel trucks it’s no wonder she was fitted with a powerful 325bhp engine. At one time she was painted in the British Petroleum livery now she is in classic two-tone green of the National Coal Board just as many of the last working engines would have been on this very line to Cortonwood Colliery.
All in all we think this diesel experience along Elsecar Railway’s mile of challenging track will have you harking back to the years when Britain was known for its heavy industry. The chance to actually hit the throttle and drive one of these dependable heavyweight engines is a real coup for heritage rail enthusiasts.