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February 2022

Visiting 7MT 70000 Britannia has been on loaded test trains following overhaul, hauling its Mark 1 support coach and several of the Mark 3 coaches currently stored on the Valley. On 4th February 2022 it is crossing Falling Sands Viaduct. Photo: Bob Green

Welcome to your latest edition of Branch Lines

Excuse us while we catch our breath! It’s been a busy time of late, and there’s so much to tell you about what’s been going on at the Railway!

Firstly, the superb news that the SVR Charitable Trust reached the fundraising target of £475,000 for the Home & Dry appeal. Preparation work is well underway to get things ready for the arrival of the contractors in May, a second-hand crane has been purchased, and there are huge sighs of relief all round!

Today (Thursday 10th February)  the Railway broke the news that it’s transforming Taw Valley into a locomotive fit for a Queen, announcing a temporary repaint into purple and change of name for this SVR resident, in honour of The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the 2022 Commonwealth Games, taking place in Birmingham. That’s going to steal a few headlines, we think!

As if that wasn’t enough, there’s more! Last Saturday, the Railway featured in the opening minutes of Match of the Day Live on BBC1 as the Kidderminster Harriers took on West Ham United in the fourth round of the FA Cup. If you missed it, we have a link to the opening of the programme.

It’s all here, along with lots of other news from up and down the line.

Reader Bob Kershaw wrote to let us know how pleased he was to see the SVR featuring in Channel 4’s Britain’s Scenic Railways at Christmas, which we reported on last month: “The reactions and comments by all of the visitors were a clear testament to how the whole team at the SVR had gone a long way beyond the proverbial extra mile. The result was outstanding [and] made me feel proud to be in touch with the SVR.”  Thanks Bob – and we’re equally proud too, if that’s allowed!

Remember, the SVR reopens on Saturday 2nd April, the first day of Open House Weekend - hope to see you there!

Lesley Carr & Patrick Hearn, co-editors 

The Branch Lines team is Lesley Carr, Patrick Hearn, Amy Baker and Nicola Fox


Scroll down, or a new feature is you can click on the item to be taken straight to it

Next edition Thursday 10th March

We did it! £475,000 secured to get the loco shed Home & Dry

The Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust has successfully raised the target amount of £475,000, to fund desperately-needed improvements to the locomotive works at Bridgnorth.

This was made possible by the support of 3,000 donors, £31,000 worth of raffle tickets, and £58,500 from grant-giving bodies. Many donations were received locally, but some came from as far afield as Victoria, Australia!

Ken Davies, whose original donation kick-started the fund, was present when the cheque was presented to the team at the locomotive works. “I was delighted to be invited to the presentation of the cheque by the Charitable Trust to the SVR,” said Ken. “I really enjoyed being shown around the locomotive works and especially seeing the progress being made with 4930 Hagley Hall. Despite it being a cold January day, the locomotive works was a hive of activity – a great atmosphere.”

Contractors have been selected to carry out the works and the Railway is forging ahead with plans to transform conditions for staff at the locomotive works. Critically, the badly-leaking roof will be repaired, and energy-efficiency measures installed, including better lighting and insulation.

Another welcome part of the project will be the arrival of an overhead travelling crane, to allow engineers to move heavy items safely and more easily when working on locomotives.

Volunteers are pivotal to the project, committing over £40,000 worth of time. The project will be expertly supervised by Bridgnorth-based volunteer, and professional structural engineer and project manager, Antony Bartlam. He will be assisted by a volunteer team, including Nick Yarwood, who has experience with contracts and project programming, and architect Ben Wright. In turn, this team will be supported by senior leaders from the Railway - Chris Bond, Martin White and Richard Morris.

Shelagh Paterson, Ken Davies, Nick Yarwood and Martin White with the Home & Dry cheque for
Staff at the loco works celebrate the success of the Home & Dry appeal. Loretta Milan Copy

Head of engineering Martin White said:

“This project is going to make a huge difference to the volunteers and paid staff who work hard to keep the locomotive fleet operational. Volunteers are already clearing the way and carrying out small-scale construction activities that need to be completed before the main contractors’ work begins. A deposit has also been placed on a refurbished, second-hand overhead crane which offers a great value solution to requirements.”

Shelagh Paterson, executive director for the SVR Charitable Trust said:

“Thank you to all the donors who, despite the challenges of the Covid pandemic, rallied around to help raise funds for the Home & Dry appeal. The money raised will vastly improve conditions for both the engineering team and locomotives. The locomotive works are vital to the running of the Severn Valley Railway, helping create memorable experiences for so many people. We’re looking forward to seeing the transformation.”

These important works are due to be completed later this year and there’ll be regular updates at:

Photos: Shelagh Paterson, Ken Davies, Nick Yarwood and Martin White with the Home & Dry cheque for £475,000. Loretta Milan

Staff at the loco works celebrate the success of the Home & Dry appeal. Loretta Milan

We did it! Home & Dry

Shareholder passes and tickets for 2022


SVR shareholders will receive their passes or complimentary tickets for 2022 in the post in the next few weeks, before the Railway reopens on 2nd April for Open House Weekend.

The Railway is keen to distribute the passes and tickets as early as possible this year, in order that shareholders have the best opportunity to make use of their benefits in the coming season. Passes and tickets for shareholders are valid for the full season, until 2nd January 2023.

New passes are being issued for all qualifying shareholders (silver level and above.) These will replace all previously issued passes, which will no longer be valid. Medallions cannot be used as authority to travel. Photo ID must be shown alongside the new passes.

Complimentary paper tickets are being sent to qualifying shareholders with holdings below 1,600.

Please note that since the reintroduction of ‘hop on, hop off’ services, the Railway no longer requires shareholders (or anyone!) to pre-book online.

A shareholder focus group was set up after last year’s Annual General Meeting. An independent consultant has been appointed to guide the process and further information will be sent to shareholders in due course.

February marks the 160th anniversary of the official opening to public traffic of the Severn Valley branch, between Hartlebury, Bewdley, Bridgnorth and Shrewsbury.

Shareholder passes and tickets for 2022

A purple patch for the Severn Valley Railway

Heads will be turning at the Railway later this year, when a very special steam locomotive makes an appearance. To celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the Commonwealth Games, the SVR is taking the unusual step of renaming and repainting a home-based steam locomotive.

34027 Taw Valley will not only carry a different name later this year, but will also appear in a brand-new purple livery, to commemorate The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

The name change and repaint will be strictly temporary measures, and later in the year, the locomotive will be restored to its original name and livery.
“This is all about making the biggest impact possible,” explained SVR chairman Mike Ball. “We’re putting a huge amount of effort into our celebrations for both The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the 2022 Commonwealth Games which are being held in Birmingham. We’re sure that the unusual appearance of the loco will prove a huge draw to visitors.”

Artist's impression of how the temporary livery might look.png

“The sight of a purple steam loco might not appeal to all heritage enthusiasts, but it’s certainly going to cause a stir amongst the visiting public, and we’re aiming to stimulate maximum interest in heritage rail amongst the widest possible audience this year.”

This won’t be the first time that 34027 has appeared in an unconventional livery. In 2000, it was turned out in maroon and carried Hogwarts Express nameplates to promote J K Rowling’s Harry Potter books, appearing at signing events throughout the UK. Taw Valley never made it onto the silver screen however, as the film producers chose 5972 Olton Hall instead.

The temporary new name for the locomotive will be chosen by public vote. Almost 1,200 suggestions were submitted, and a shortlist of these will be put to a public vote from next Monday, 14th February.

Head of engineering Martin White gave details of how the transformation into purple will take place:

“Taw Valley is booked in for its annual boiler exam this month, and following its steam exam will enter the paint shop at Bridgnorth. We expect to have the repaint completed by early April.

“In all fairness, the loco was starting to look a little weather-beaten. With three years still to run on its boiler ticket, a smarten-up was a good idea to avoid further deterioration and enable maximum use of the loco.”

Taw Valley will be returned to its BR green livery later this year. There will be an opportunity for this in the autumn, when the loco will undergo scheduled maintenance for a significant valve and piston examination.

The loco’s owners are fully supportive of the temporary name and livery change. Speaking on behalf of his fellow owners, SVR director Phil Swallow said:

“We’re delighted that Taw Valley is going to play such a prominent role at the SVR in 2022. The rename and repaint will be a very fitting and memorable way to celebrate two extremely important occasions this year. Ultimately, this is a hugely fun thing to do, and whilst it might upset some people, it will contribute significantly to our celebration of these important events and will attract many visitors to the SVR.”

A purple patch for the Severn Valley Railway

FA Cup fever at the SVR

The English nation’s eyes were firmly fixed on Kidderminster last Saturday, as Kidderminster Harriers FC took on the mighty West Ham United in their fourth round FA cup tie. Happily, more than a little bit of the magic sprinkled down onto the Severn Valley Railway too!

The BBC’s Match of the Day Live cameras shot their opening sequence at Kidderminster Town station, with presenter Mark Chapman building up the excitement from the footplate of visiting locomotive 70000 Britannia. He talked further about his visit to the Railway in the pre-match chats from the Harriers’ ground, giving the SVR more namechecks on national television!

Meanwhile, back at the station concourse, a family fan zone had been created, with giant screens beaming out the action from the pitch, and table football and a penalty shoot-out game to add to the fun.

Sadly, a place in the next round of the Cup was snatched from the Harriers in the closing seconds of extra time, as West Ham scored the decisive goal in the 121st minute to knock Kidderminster out of the tournament.

But for the Railway, it was a success all round. “We had a sell-out event of 350 tickets,” said Michael Dunn, head of visitor experience. “It was an amazing day. Many visitors told me they were glad to come somewhere special to enjoy the game and felt safe in doing so with us, which I know was a concern of many at the time. Sport in the community can build so many positive relationships, and with the Commonwealth Games on our doorstep this summer this is a fantastic start to a successful year.”

Gallery: click on the gallery to see larger images, captions and credits.

Video: BBC’s Match of the Day Live cameras shot their opening sequence at Kidderminster Town station

FA Cup fever at the SVR

Overhauls, maintenance and…getting ready for the roof & crane works

What’s been going on in the loco works during January? It’s business as usual, with overhauls and maintenance but with the addition of a special treat for 2022; preparation for the roof and crane project. Bridgnorth shed master Martin White reports:

Starting with overhauls, 4930 Hagley Hall continues to come together, with work taking place simultaneously on the paintwork, and the mechanical reassembly. Fitting of pipework, running plates, cab fittings, cab floor, etc has been taking place with plenty more still to do. A detailed project plan has been compiled, listing all of the remaining tasks, their estimated durations, and the resources, whether paid and volunteer, and to whom they are allocated. The loco painting, similarly, being undertaken by a mix of paid and volunteer personnel, has involved many hours of rubbing down and layers of paint to achieve the high-quality finish expected. The intention is to get the paint work as near complete as possible ahead of testing and running in, so that once testing is complete, the final finishing will hopefully require relatively little effort. Watch this space!

Winter maintenance as usual involves rectifying recent faults and deferred repairs, preventative maintenance, annual examinations, and preparation of those locos that are due annual boiler inspections. 1501 is part-way through boiler inspections, which will determine whether it will receive a postponement to the end of its ticket until later in the season. 34027 Taw Valley is to be seen by the boiler inspector, with a cold exam scheduled for 7th February and an in-steam exam on 15th. Amongst other work taking place are repairs to the boiler cladding around the dome area, which has suffered from some corrosion. Working atop Taw Valley, requires a fall-arrest wire to the overhead gantry, purchased to facilitate safer working at height, along with the necessary welding emissions and filtering equipment etc. See separate article about Taw Valley - A purple patch for the SVR

Roof and crane preparatory works will feature throughout the first four months of 2022. One group who have put in an immense amount of work towards this is the Western Locomotive Association. In order to allow contractors more space and access to the rear west side wall, members have spent January emptying two 30ft storage containers. One of these containers was heavily corroded and is being cut up for scrap, whilst the other will be relocated and utilised for temporary storage whilst the workshops are under the contractor’s control.

Another group that has been grafting hard is the 4150 loco restoration team. Their loco has now been re-wheeled in order that it can be moved off the lifting jacks in the main works. The area around the jacks is to have the floor levelled by Bridgnorth station volunteers, both to make it a safer work area in the future, but also to enable some of the large machine tools in the shed to be stored there during the roof and crane works.

In other news, 7714 is to visit the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway for their spring steam gala from 11th to 13th March

Gallery: click on the gallery to see larger images, captions and credits.

Shed Notes




‘Fifteen Guinea’ number plate goes to auction

The original British Railways number plate from the smokebox of Black Five 45110 has been discovered after more than half a century and will be auctioned this month.

The locomotive went into the history books after working the last main line steam-hauled train for British Rail (as it by then had become) in 1968, on the famous ‘Fifteen Guinea Special’. It arrived at the SVR in preservation in 1970, and after spells in traffic, was withdrawn in 2008. It is currently stored in the Kidderminster carriage shed, awaiting overhaul.

The SVR’s YouTube cameras captured the recent occasion when number plate and locomotive were reunited at the carriage shed, for the first time in nearly 54 years. Also present were two of the volunteers who painted the locomotive after it first arrived at the SVR.

Watch the film, and make sure you subscribe to the SVR’s YouTube channel to receive notifications on future films, as they’re launched.

‘Fifteen Guinea’ number plate goes to auction

New head of operations

Longstanding volunteer Steve Wainwright is the SVR’s new part-time head of operations. He will support operations manager Matt Robinson and recruit his deputy, oversee the review of the rule book, manage heads of departments and provide operational guidance across the Railway. 

During his career working on the main line, Steve has held posts ranging from driver to professional head of operations, including working with both steam and heritage diesel traction.

Additional external contract work has enabled the Railway to pay for this role.


General Manager Helen Smith said: “I’m sure you will all join me in wishing Steve the best of luck in his endeavours with the SVR.”

New head of operations

100% approval for 5164


In December, Branch Lines reported that ownership of Large Prairie 5164, the oldest surviving member of its class, had transferred to the Erlestoke Manor Fund (EMF). Following on from that acquisition, a referendum of EMF members returned 100% approval to amend the EMF constitution to allow its funds to be used for all three locomotives now in its ownership.

5164 arrived at the SVR in 1979 and has since covered many miles on SVR metals. The locomotive has been on static display under cover at Barrow Hill Roundhouse since 2014. As it enters the EMF fleet, 5164 joins fellow GWR locomotives Erlestoke Manor and Bradley Manor. Adrian Hassell, chair of EMF said:

“I’m delighted to see the unanimous support for the new project from the existing EMF members. This means that fundraising to restore 5164 for operation on the Severn Valley Railway can now commence in 2022, while work to bring back 7812 Erlestoke Manor and 7802 Bradley Manor progresses well.”

Photo: 5164 at Oldbury Viaduct on the goods, offering brakevan rides at the spring steam gala on 11th April 2014. Phil Jones.

100% approval for 5164

Spring into 2022!

The SVR’s regular services start on the 2nd April with Open House Weekend, and to help visitors plan in advance and put a spring in their step, day tickets are already on sale. Also, passengers can book for three of the SVR’s special events, the Spring Steam Gala, Spring Diesel Festival and Step Back to the 1940s.  



The Spring Steam Gala is the first special event of 2022. From the 21st to 24th April, passengers can enjoy unlimited travel behind the best of the SVR home fleet along with at least two special guests from other railways. For Diesel fans, the Spring Diesel festival from May 19th to 22nd promises a full-throttle four-day treat, for fans of all classes of heritage diesel engines, taken from the SVR’s unrivalled home fleet, alongside three visiting locomotives. At both these events, the return of the popular multi-day rover tickets means passengers can make significant savings by buying multiple day tickets. 


Moving into summer, it’s the SVR’s 27th ‘Step Back to the 1940s’ events. A regular sell-out occasion, this year there’ll be more attractions than ever before, as visitors dress up to the nines to enjoy sights, sounds and tastes from the Flyin’ Forties. 

Spring Steam Gala Ad 2022.jpg

“A trip on the SVR is all about getting away from the everyday,” said Michael Dunn, head of visitor experience. “For our regular services, we’ve frozen the price of individual pre-booked tickets at last year’s rates, and we’re working on some exciting packages for families and frequent travellers, to make sure that heritage rail travel at the SVR is more affordable than ever before.” 


Shareholders travel free (on production of their pass or shareholder tickets) and Members receive a 33% discount on tickets for regular services and at the Spring Steam Gala, Diesel Festival and the 1940s events. 


Other events in the pipeline include model railway weekends, dance and vintage transport events, and the exciting four-day celebration for The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee from 2nd – 5th June. With the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games also on the SVR’s doorstep this summer, visitors from across the world will be able to enjoy all that the SVR has to offer. 


To book tickets visit or phone the visitor services team on 01562 757 900.

Spring into 2022!

Britannia makes the grade!

On 24th January, Britannia Class 7, 70000 arrived on the SVR, following overhaul at Crewe, for a month of testing and shakedown running in. Reunited with its tender on 25th January, the locomotive underwent first a cold exam, then was steamed for a hot exam with SVR engineers present.

Testing commenced on 26th January with three days of successful light engine running. A small fault was detected on the final day of light engine running but this was rectified within a couple of hours. 

Loaded testing took place from 31st January – 4th February using carriages from the Locomotive Services fleet, which are currently being stored on the SVR. These were joined by a support coach, which arrived by road from Crewe and joined the rake to act as the brake vehicle.

Locomotive Services staff who were also competent on the SVR route operated the train for these loaded runs. Approximately 380 loaded test miles were completed, in addition to the around 200 light engine miles completed the week before. 

On Saturday 5th February, Britannia assisted the SVR with filming work for the BBC in connection with the FA Cup game at Kidderminster Harriers, which you can read about in our separate article, FA Cup fever at the SVR. 

Outshopped from Crewe in January 1951, 70000 was the first of the class to be built and was given the name Britannia at a ceremony on Marylebone station by the incumbent Minister for Transport, Alfred Barnes.  

Rescued for preservation, Britannia was returned to steam on the SVR, running on the Railway for a number of years before moving back to main line running. After its boiler ticket expired, it went through a period of inactivity, followed by several overhauls, before returning to SVR metals for a gala appearance in 2018.

Gallery: click on the gallery to see larger images, captions and credits.

Britannia makes the grade!

Apprentices building a bright future

With National Apprenticeship Week taking place this week, it’s a fitting time to see how some of the SVR’s apprentices, who are training as part of the Heritage Apprenticeship Scheme, are getting on. This year, the focus is on ‘building the future’ which is particularly apt for the SVR as the scheme is designed to take precious skills into the next generation. 

Attracted by the traditional techniques used in preserving heritage locomotives, Jacob Cox began his apprenticeship in 2018 and, after a series of placements designed to develop a variety of skills, has been working most recently in the carriage works at Kidderminster. 

“I enjoy the manual work that goes into maintaining a heritage railway,” explained Jacob. “And have really developed this during my apprenticeship. I appreciate the time all the teams have put into sharing their knowledge with me. Through the placements, I’ve discovered what I enjoy doing most – working with machines and fitting – and this helped me decide to specialise at the carriage works.” 

Growing up in a family passionate about steam and traction engines inspired Barney Hill to join the SVR as an apprentice in 2018. He decided to settle into a role as a machinist and fitter at the Bridgnorth locomotive works and is currently working on locomotive 34027 Taw Valley: 

“The best thing about doing an apprenticeship at the SVR is the opportunity to work with like-minded people who have decades of experience to share. There is nothing quite like working on a heritage railway. I enjoy the problem solving and sometimes even have to take on the role of a locomotive draftsman when the original drawings don’t exist.” 


George Whitehead has great memories of visiting the SVR when growing up and this inspired him to join as an apprentice in 2019, alongside working on vintage cars in his free time. After completing his placements, George decided to stay at the locomotive shed at Bridgnorth and support the work of the restoration team. He is currently helping to get 4930 Hagley Hall locomotive ready to re-enter service later this year: 


“Hagley Hall is such an important engine and working on the restoration project is one of the proudest things I’ve ever done. The benefits of doing placements across different areas of the Railway have added up; not only teaching me different skills but also helping me understand how all the aspects of running a heritage railway work. Now, it’s great to be able to apply this knowledge to Hagley Hall.” 

The Charitable Trust has committed to raising £100,000 again this year for the Heritage Apprenticeship Scheme which funds the training and development of up to five apprentices. Around half is covered by grants secured by the Trust and the rest by generous individuals who want to enable the next generation to develop important heritage Railway skills to ensure a bright future for the Railway. 


To find out more, and to support this scheme, please visit:

Gallery: click on the gallery to see larger images, captions and credits.   

Apprentices building a bright future

An ‘uplifting experience’ at Kidderminster

This coming weekend (12th/13th February) will see the ‘lift’ of the Network Rail footbridge at Kidderminster, with the work due to take place in the early hours of the morning.


Work began on the demolition of the footbridge pilasters (the intermediate support for the bridge deck) in early February. This week, NR took possession of the main and exchange lines so that a crane base could be installed, consisting of a geotextile material, covered with compacted stone. 


The footbridge, known as OWW104 in NR parlance or ‘the wooden bridge’ to the SVR, has been a feature of the site since the 19th century, as infrastructure manager Chris Bond explains. “It’s presumed the original was indeed of wood construction hence the colloquial name. The bridge seems to appear in a GWR map dated 1912, and had probably been changed to steel construction by then. Undated drawings show that it was extended by the GWR to the configuration we know today, presumably in response to an expansion of the goods yard.”

Removal of the old bridge will make way for the replacement of the abutments at either end, and the demolition of the central brick pier. Once this is achieved all traces of the existing bridge will have disappeared. The contractors can then turn to lifting in the replacement bridge span, which will be a single-span, constructed in weathering steel. This multi-purpose material doesn’t require painting and will form a stable rust-like appearance after exposure to the elements, giving it greater resistance to atmospheric corrosives. The date for lifting in the new span is yet to be confirmed but will take place in the small hours of the morning, so as not to affect SVR services. It’s hoped the project will be completed by May.

Gallery: click on the gallery to see larger images, captions and credits.

An ‘uplifting experience’ at Kidderminster

The SVR’s promotional leaflet for 2022 will hit the racks soon 

A fresh and enticing promotional leaflet will soon be distributed across Great Britain, to promote the Railway to a brand-new audience.


Featuring stylised artwork of the soon-to-return locomotive 4930 Hagley Hall, the leaflets will be placed in stands at ‘high footfall and dwell’ areas including holiday parks, hotels, bed and breakfasts, railway stations, tourist information centres and other attractions – mainly focused on places within a 75-minute drive time of the SVR. Airports have also been added for the first time, to appeal to international visitors travelling to Birmingham for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. 


“We’ve gone for a premium feel this year,” explained marketing manager Dan Shorthouse. “There’s an eye-catching finish and bolder colours. Newer technologies such as QR codes will allow customers instant access to calendar information and booking, whilst beautiful imagery and emotive language has been used to turn potential passengers into real ones. 

2022 promotional leaflet for the SVR.jpg

“The challenge was to create something that shouts about our heritage offering but looks impressive when battling for ‘eye candy’ in a packed leaflet stand. After much deliberation, we’ve changed the paper quality for exactly that reason. Of course, there was no competition for the cover this year, it had to be locomotive Hagley Hall!” 


A simpler two-page timetable leaflet will also be produced, for use on the Railway and for distribution to existing supporters, members and shareholders. 

The SVR’s promotional leaflet for 2022

Falling Sands Viaduct goes virtual

HF New.png

The impressive structure of the recently-renovated Falling Sands Viaduct is soon to become virtual! Students from Kidderminster College’s Gaming Department are developing an interactive game, based on the building of the Viaduct in the 1870s, and the lives of navvies at the time. 

There is very little archival material relating to Falling Sands, due to its remote location, so the students have spent months recreating the Viaduct’s building site, based on historic images of railway construction sourced from archives around the UK. 

As part of their research, the students recently enjoyed a visit to the Viaduct to see the results of the £1million restoration, which was funded thanks to the support of generous donors and a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund through the SVR Charitable Trust. Volunteer Nick Yarwood, who oversaw the successful restoration works, showed the students the key architectural features including evidence marks of the framework used in its construction back in 1878.

The Digital, Games and IT Curriculum Leader at Kidderminster College, Zara Sharma said: 

“We've enjoyed working with the Railway and learning about the Falling Sands Viaduct restoration. It's so close to us in location, yet we were unaware of the rich history and interesting finds within the Viaduct. It was great to visit and gain inspiration for the game being developed. We're excited to see what the learners develop, and are looking forward to launching the finished game so others can play.” 

Speaking on behalf of fellow students, Josh Hamp described the visit as, “informative and gave us ideas around what to make for the project and how to make them more accurate to the time period.” 

The Falling Sands game, designed to be played on mobile phones, is due to be launched in early summer alongside new exhibitions at the Engine House in Highley, and the Stove-R Guards’ Van at Kidderminster Station.

Gallery: click on the gallery to see larger images, captions and credits.

Falling Sands Viaduct goes virtual

On-train dining and buffets will be back in 2022

Plans are well underway for the return of on-train dining and buffets during the 2022 season. A team from Carriage & Wagon and the carriage cleaners spent five days putting all the sets back into their pre-pandemic formations, including the buffet cars.

“Huge thanks to the team for their sterling work on this,” said Michael Dunn, head of visitor experience. “It’s exciting to see the buffet cars returning to the sets again. Cleaning and general maintenance is the theme at the moment, and there’s plenty to do to get everything ready for when we reopen, as some of the vehicles haven't been used in over two years.

“We’ll be able to operate the buffets as soon as we reopen, and I know that will be very welcome, not only to passengers but also to the on-train buffet staff, who’ve had a very long wait to get back to carrying out their roles.

“Restaurant buffet coach 1667 is a key focus at the moment. There were initial concerns about the state of the floor, however on inspection all is better than initially thought, meaning on-train dining can return quicker than initially planned, sometime in the summer.

Sophie Putney, Rob Steward with Colin Astbury with BR Restaurant Buffet 1667, looking at i

Sophie Poutney, Lucy Kelly and Rob Rivett from the catering team visited the carriage in the paint shop, and some small lay out changes are taking place internally to provide a better focus for the team. Look out for further updates in the near future.” 

Photo: Sophie Poutney, Rob Rivett and C&W's Colin Astbury with BR Restaurant Buffet 1667, looking at internal configuration and refreshing the space since it was last used over two years ago. January 2022. Michael Dunn

On-train dining and buffets will be back in 2022

Celebrity Class 66 ‘Evening Star’ makes brief appearance

Following further successful testing of Bayer’s weed killer trains, on Friday 4th February, the SVR took delivery of the next two Bayer Trains, which arrived courtesy of a rather special locomotive.

Celebrity diesel-electric locomotive class 66 66779 ‘Evening Star’ paid the SVR a visit to deliver Bayer’s latest weed killing trains ahead of testing. 66779 was the last class 66 to be built and has made one previous SVR visit when it delivered 37688 from the Mid-Norfolk Railway.


Photographed with 66779 at the sharp end on arrival at Bewdley, the two Bayer trains were subsequently split over the barrow crossing. 66779 then returned light engine to Kidderminster before working on to Bescot.

70000 Britannia was also running on test on the SVR at the time, but sadly the workings didn’t allow a joint photo opportunity, as an early-running Britannia turned around off diagram at Bewdley in order to let the Bayer trains access Bewdley without issue.

Testing of these trains should take three weeks, and we hope to bring you a full update in the March issue of Branch Lines. There’s a film on the SVR’s YouTube channel about the testing of the first Bayer weed killing train, which tells you more.

Gallery: click on the gallery to see larger images, captions and credits.
Video: Watch the film, and make sure you subscribe to the SVR’s YouTube channel to receive notifications on future films, as they’re launched.

Class 66 ‘Evening Star’ makes brief appearance

Trackside magazine to partner with the SVR for Spring Steam Gala programme

Trackside cover.jpg

The newest addition to the heritage rail publishing world, Trackside magazine, is to partner with the SVR to produce a souvenir programme for the Spring Steam Gala. Thanks to Trackside’s support, a complimentary copy of the 32-page programme will be given to every ticket holder at the event, which takes place 21st-24th April.

And, in another gesture of support, Trackside is offering a subscription deal to SVR members, shareholders and supporters. When you sign up to subscribe, Trackside will make a £5 donation to the SVR Charitable Trust. What’s more, with the cover price soon to rise to £5, there is a limited window of opportunity to save 25% on the cost of an annual subscription before prices go up on 1st March.

To take advantage of this offer, go to and select SUBSCRIBE. In the top menu bar there is a prompt GOT A CODE? Select this and enter the code ‘SVR' which will take you to a bespoke SVR-branded landing page. Here you can select your subscription before proceeding to the CHECK-OUT where you will be asked to enter your membership number. Non-members should simply enter ‘Branchline’, in order to activate the £5 donation.

Alternatively, telephone the dedicated Trackside subscription number 01293 312241 and give your details over the’ phone.

Trackside to partner the SVR Spring Steam Gala

Winter work at Sterns

A significant project has been undertaken at Sterns to mitigate further the instability of the area at the north end of the site. The SVR has made use of an alternative lightweight fill, to reduce the weight on the embankment, thereby lessening the progressive movement experienced here in recent year.

Work is complete to remove a deep area of ballast, caused by successive tamping over the years and replace with a special light weight fill material. This should reduce the weight on the area by over 50%, which should help to slow down the progressive movement experienced in recent years.

Thanks to Ice Age glaciers, Sterns sits atop slip-planes that have led to a series of landslips over the years.

In recent years, the area has received much attention. In 2020 a comprehensive drainage network was installed with £120,000 of funding provided by the SVR Charitable Trust. In 2021 solar-powered electronic tilt monitoring, identical to that used on the national network, was fitted to detect any slip and immediately send alert messages to staff.

On 18th January, contractors Walsh Construction, working with SVR staff, began to excavate the 300 cubic meters of embankment that needed to be removed, to make way for the lightweight fill. Dry weather meant this work progressed ahead of schedule, with all the material removed within a week and the geotextile membrane laid down.

The lightweight aggregate arrived at Eardington and was transported by rail to Sterns where, over the period of a week, it was settled in its new home, ready for the top layer of ballast. Much of the ballast that was removed in the excavation was sadly unusable as it had been contaminated with clay. The team was able to reuse around 60 tonnes of this and track relaying commenced on 2nd February, allowing work trains to pass.

We estimate that we removed at least 150 tonnes of ballast plus an estimated 650 tonnes of fill material from the area,” said infrastructure manager Chris Bond. “Contractors replaced this with around 400 tonnes of lightweight aggregate. Ballasting adds 40-60 tonnes, once the track is re-laid. These figures are estimated and taking into account the density of the clay removed, the weight of the fill material will probably be higher. Excluding the ballast element, the reduction of embankment weight will be 50% or greater. Hopefully these works will slow down the movement of the track.”

Once the newly laid ballast has been tamped in March, the monitoring will be reinstalled and all the sensors zeroed. It is likely that the tilt monitoring will be a long-term deployment unless a significant period of stability is observed. Our on-site film shows exactly how the work took place.

Gallery: click on the gallery to see larger images, captions and credits.
Video: Watch the film, and make sure you subscribe to the SVR’s YouTube channel to receive notifications on future films, as they’re launched.

Winter work at Sterns

Winter works at Country Park Halt

With the locomotives all tucked up in their sheds and stabled in the yards, winter maintenance is in full swing along the 16 miles of SVR line.

Works at Country Park Halt have been carried out, to improve drainage and prevent water from lying in the cess. A new run of 300mm perforated pipe has been laid along a 60 metre length, with five concrete ring chambers.


One of our culverts that previously flowed across the cycle path in winter creating an ice rink now correctly discharges on the river side.

The pipe and concrete rings were delivered using one of the Railway’s ‘Rudd’ wagons. The trains were mostly worked by one of the home-based Class 09 fleet, due to the low mileage from the access point to worksite at the north end of the Railway.


This has meant the Class 31, normally dubbed ‘the PW loco’, had an unusually quiet January, only working the materials trains on 10th and 17th, and an ECS move on 26th.

“The works were successfully carried out with the able assistance of the operations department,” explained infrastructure manager Chris Bond. “This included rectifying the longstanding problem of a culvert discharging onto the cycle path, so there’ll be no more ice skating in cold weather! The culvert now correctly discharges on the river side, the works are now complete, and the machinery is off site. Another job well done.”

Gallery: click on the gallery to see larger images, captions and credits.

Winter works at Country Park Halt

v1 10th February 2022

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Any opinions or views expressed in this newsletter are entirely the opinions of the contributors, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Directors of Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) PLC. which owns the Severn Valley Railway, Severn Valley Railway Company Limited, the members of which are responsible for its operation, or the Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust.

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