Cake and Rail Experience for Two

Cake and Rail Experience for Two

It’s pretty much access all areas when you go on this Somerset railway experience! This great value railway experience for two gives you plenty to see and do at this delightful heritage railway near Shepton Mallet in Somerset. It will appeal to all ages and it’s railway day out that steam and diesel loco fans will love. 

Founder of the East Somerset Railway David Shepherd first set eyes on the dilapidated railway station at Cranmore in 1971 and it was “one of the many sleepy little branch line stations that were victims of the Beeching axe.” Since he had bought two steam locomotives from British Rail in 1967 that needed a home he invested in Cranmore. Passenger services stopped in 1963 and freight trains continued to use the line until 1985 then the first of the Somerset heritage railway passenger services ran in late 1973.

By buying an East Somerset railway experience you’ll be helping to safeguard this wonderful little part of British railway history. Your experience starts with introductions to the enthusiastic staff and volunteers who are working on the day. You’ll each be issued with an all day rover ticket that is valid for all services on the line which runs from Cranmore Station where you’re at to Mendip Vale.

As well as enjoying steam train rides on your railway day for two you get the rare treat of visiting the footplate of the steam loco. The footplate is always a busy place so opportunities to visit are limited. They are subject to operational availability and always have to be with the driver’s permission. It’ll probably be just before the train departs or just after it has returned to the station. This much coveted part of the day is great for photo opportunities and gives you the chance to have an informal chat with the driver and fireman so you can ask all those questions you’ve always wanted to!

Back at the main station there’s time for your cake and tea treat in the Whistlestop Cafe. A little stroll after all that creaminess might be a nice idea. You can head over to the East Somerset model shop visit the small museum in the station’s waiting room wander around the engine shed (where all the restoration work goes on) and take a look at the miniature railway too. If time and staff availability permits you may also be invited on a brief visit of the station’s signal box – a brilliant way to round off your VIP Somerset railway experience.

Find out more and book your place today!

Kent & East Sussex Railway Experience

Kent & East Sussex Railway Experience

A great value hands-on steam locomotive experience! Become part of the train operating team at the Kent and East Sussex Railway as you prepare to accompany and work with the crew on a return trip at this wonderful heritage railway – one of the finest in the South East.

These steam locomotive taster sessions are a bit like work experience albeit the best one you’ll probably ever do! You will discover what each role in getting a steam train running involves. This heritage railway like many others around the country relies on volunteers and it’s pretty amazing to see first hand how dedicated they are. And as they say here: “There’s always a lot to do. But there’s always lots of tea involved!”.

Incidentally that’s exactly how your steam locomotive experience starts. Over a cuppa you’ll be introduced to the train crew with whom you’ll be carrying out all the tasks needed to get a steam train on the move. Then it’s time to drink up and head out to the waiting train on the platform and get to work. After all there’s steam to make!

As you’ll be no more than six participants in each group there’s plenty of time to have a go at each role. Setting off from Tenterden Town station to Bodiam you’ll swap at each intermediate stop spending time on the footplate with the driver and the fireman in the train and with the guard of the steam loco. Once at Bodiam it’s everyone off to assist with the ‘run around’.

This is when the loco is detached from the front of the carriages reverses along an adjacent piece of track called the ‘loop’ to then re-attach at the back of the carriages. The train then sets off back for the return journey to Bodiam pulling the carriages. Many on these steam loco taster experiences say this is the highlight for them along with being fireman on the very steep climb back into Tenterden!

In total you’ll cover 21 miles on these superb steam locomotive experiences. In addition to your onboard tasks on the footplate as driver and fireman you’ll also spend time with the crossing keeper as well as discovering what guard duties involve too – and it’s not just checking tickets! There might even be time for more tea…

Find out more and book your place today!

Drive a Train at the East Kent Railway

Drive a Train at the East Kent Railway

The next departure from platform one on the East Kent railway is the train driver day! These experiences are totally hands-on. Not only will you be driving the ex-MOD diesel train you’ll be carrying out a whole roster of crew duties making it an all encompassing multitasking train driver experience.

The East Kent Railway Trust has worked hard over the years to create a fabulous railway. And before they set up their preservation society in 1985 there hadn’t been a passenger service since late 1948. Goods trains did run on this small branch line though but only as far as the colliery. So when that finally ceased production in the 80s the Light Railway ground to a halt too.

A lot of blood sweat and tears from a team of skilled enthusiasts over many years has put the East Kent Railway back on the map with a base at Sheperdswell and a line that goes as far as Eythorne. Offering train driving on this East Kent line is a great way for fans to get properly involved as a team member for the day.

On your train driver experience you’ll drive a return journey to Eythorne. But it’s not just about driving at the East Kent railway. You’ll be invited to assist with the coupling up of the brake van set the points in the signal box before you set off and hop from the cab to open the gates across the road before hopping back on to continue your train driving duties.

You’ll also experience the highlight of the East Kent Railway; the Golgotha Tunnel one of the longest in the south east would you believe. The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is the Kentish countryside as you gently head out of the valley. There’s then a quick pause at the junction for the former Guildford Colliery to check the points before entering Eythorne station the terminus of the trainline. This is a proper half day shift as an East Kent Railway worker carrying out all tasks!

These East Kent Railway experiences are the best way to explore and get a fabulous insight into a day in the working life of a preserved Light Railway. You’ll be fully involved for the duration and it’s one-to-one tuition in  the driver’s cab. What sets this train driver day apart is the fact that you can invite a select group of friends and family to ride in the brake van that you coupled your loco too! Brilliant stuff!

Find out more and book your place today!

Train Cab Ride in Kent

Train Cab Ride in Kent

If you know someone who’s mad about locos they’ll love these train cab rides! This is your chance to ride shotgun upfront in a diesel engine on the East Kent Railway. This delightful historic railway is the perfect place to experience a train ride from the cab sitting alongside the driver.

The railway line runs from Shepherdswell to Eythorne Station. It might only be a fairly short section of track but there is so much to see in that time. For starters arriving a Shepherdswell you’ll be immediately drawn into the lovely little station cafe where many of the travellers gather before boarding. This station is also where the East Kent railway’s miniature railway resides again a fascinating little addition to your experience.

But the main event is of course your ride in the diesel engine cab. Hooked up to carriages you will have the privilege of watching a classic diesel engine at work as it hauls the passengers along the line. And we have to say you get an amazing view down the line from the cab.

The first part of your ride is quite unusual too as you have to stop to let crew off the train to open the gates over the road at the North Bank level crossing. Not long after that comes one of the main highlights of your journey in the train cab – the Golgotha Tunnel. It’s fascinating to experience driving through it from the perspective of the driver in their cab.

Out into the cutting on the other side the Kentish countryside will start to come into view as you reach the treeline. The approach to Eythorne is also an interesting one as you can clearly see the old trackbed that branched off to the Guilford Colliery. Again you get the best view of it all from the cab. After crew check the points your ride continues into Eythorne.

After a stop of around 15 minutes you’ll accompany the driver in the cab for your return journey. All in all you will spend approximately 40 minutes riding in the cab of a vintage working diesel engine on a passenger service. And as an extra bonus the driver will save one very special job for you – sounding the horn! Brilliant fun at a superb little railway and at a great price too.

Find out more and book your place today!

Ultimate Steam Train Day

Ultimate Steam Train Day

Pull on your blue locomotive driver’s coat and flat cap – this is the ultimate train driving day for any railway fan! This is real train driving with you at the helm of a beautifully restored steam loco on a mainline heritage railway pulling a train of passenger carriages. This really is the ultimate gift for train lovers who want to spend the whole day as part of the crew.

This steam gift voucher allows to access places not normally open to member of the public as you integrate into the team running the railway on the day of your experience and be a thoroughly hands-on member too. What’s more given the extensive amount of driving that’s included in these ultimate footplate experiences you can make it a private group event by inviting up to seven friends or family to join you and share the driving duties.

On arrival you’ll be introduced to your colleagues for the day watch an induction DVD and of course start the day off as any respectable locomotive driver does with a large mug of tea and a bacon butty. But there’s a timetable to respect with eager passengers to transport along this wonderful heritage mainline so it’s time to climb aboard the footplate for your first of four epic return journeys along the full Great Central mainline.

You’ll soon discover that being a railway driver on these magnificent steam trains is pretty physical stuff with driving and optional fire-stoking duties to cover as you trundle through the Charnwood countryside from Loughborough to the Leicester North terminus station. An absolute highlight has to be rumbling gently over the tranquil Swithland Reservoir a lovely spot in the Leicestershire countryside – and you’ll get the ultimate view of it all from the footplate of your steam train.

And although you’ll be busy driving the passenger train on those four return journeys it’d be a shame if you didn’t take time to see all the superbly restored infrastructure at this heritage railway so your itinerary includes a guided tour of the loco shed and visit to the signal box. The loco shed at Loughborough Central is where the restoration maintenance and repair of the locomotives is carried out by the most passionate dedicated and highly skilled volunteers you could ever meet. It’s fascinating here and you’ll discover a lot about the history and the vision for the future for this railway line.

There’s also time to visit one of the signal boxes on the line. The 50-lever box in Loughborough is the only original signal box one the line and it’s Grade II listed. You should also make time to visit the on-platform museums (we love the parcel office at Rothley station!) the emporium shops and even the ladies and gents toilets all restored to their Victorian glory!

Indeed it might sound like a cliche that we spout all the time but this really is the ultimate train driving day. Being the sole double track mainline heritage railway in the UK this is the only place your can be the locomotive driver of steam trains that pass each on the line. And remember this is real train driving with your loco hauling carriages.

Find out more and book your place today!