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May 2018

33108 is seen soon after departing Hampton Loade with a Kidderminster bound service on the 21st April 2018, By Ian Murray

Welcome to your latest edition of Branch Lines!

The 2018 season is now in full swing, with daily services and a packed and exciting season of SVR events ahead of us. Welcome to the May edition of Branch Lines! We lead this month with the great news that the SVR’s campaign to save Falling Sands Viaduct has got off to an impressive start, after its launch a few weeks ago. Following recent press speculation about a Safari Park station being built by West Midlands Railways, general manager Nick Ralls clarifies the SVR’s position on the matter. And we’ve news on many of the restoration projects that are currently taking place at the Railway, some dates for your diary and a fascinating filmed insight into the recent Open House event which you won’t want to miss.


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Simon Turner & Lesley Carr, Co-Editors 

Picture by Ian Murray

Superb early response for Falling Sands appeal

The Railway launched its ‘helping hands for Falling Sands’ appeal in April, and donations have come in thick and fast. Nearly 800 people have already signed up to add a name to the SVR’s first ever donation wall, and together with contributions from grant making bodies and businesses, this means the SVR has raised £80,000 as we go to press. The Charitable Trust is leading the appeal to repair Falling Sands Viaduct on behalf of the Railway, and director Shelagh Paterson is delighted with the progress:

“We are thrilled that so many people have already given us their support, and are looking forward to creating our specially commissioned donation wall which will go up in The Engine House Visitor Centre at Highley next year. However, there’s a long way to go to reach our target of £275,000. This is the amount that the Heritage Lottery Fund expect us to contribute, to match the £1million that we are bidding for from them.

“We urge everyone who cares about the SVR’s future to get involved and sign up for the donation wall to save the viaduct. For £50, you can add your own name, a friend or family member’s, or a name in memory of a loved one. Perhaps you could persuade the company where you work to get involved? We also have an option for businesses to add their names to the wall.” It’s easy to sign up for the donation wall online at , where you can watch a film about the ‘helping hands for Falling Sands’ project.

Clarification about potential Safari Park station

There has been recent coverage in the press about West Midlands Railways’ intention to build seven new stations, including one at the Safari Park Halt, subject to feasibility studies.

General manager Nick Ralls has responded to this from the SVR’s point of view, saying “The situation has not changed from that described at this March’s Question and Answer session for working members. A concern was raised over a possible relationship with a main line operator and main line trains using SVR track. We said then that whilst discussions have taken place with a main line train operating company, it is only to explore possibilities. No decision will be taken in isolation and would require consultation prior to any decision being taken to the Holdings Board.

“This statement is still correct, and again I would like to reassure working members and supporters that consultation would be undertaken before any such agreement was to be considered by the Holdings Board. For absolute clarity the SVR is not involved in any feasibility study at this time.”

Then in June – it’s the Good Gala

It’s the centenary weekend for heavy freight engine No 2857 and the SVR will be celebrating in style at its two-day Goods Gala on 2nd and 3rd June.

There’ll be up to two good trains in operation alongside the usual passenger services, showcasing the changing face of freight traffic from the 20th century, right through to the modern day on Britain’s railways.

There’s a host of other attractions across the weekend including vintage commercial road vehicles, brake van rides, and special openings of Eardington Halt station on both days to celebrate the little station’s 150th birthday. However please note that trains will NOT be stopping at Eardington.

Full details of the event and bookings for brake van rides are at




Even more luxury for 7960

The Charitable Trust-owned kitchen diner composite has recently received a curtain upgrade, thanks to the fundraising efforts of the Friends of Kidderminster Station Group. Through collections and donations they’ve raised enough to re-curtain both the dining sections of the carriage, providing a welcome upgrade on the previous hand-me-down window coverings.

7960 is currently used to accommodate the Railway’s afternoon tea and morning coffee services. Although these do tend to be booked up very quickly, there are still limited seats on some of this season’s departures from Bridgnorth. You can book tickets at

Photo: Michael Howard

A jam-packed month at Bridgnorth MPD

Shed master Martin White reports:

Easter has come and gone and so has Open House weekend. From the perspective of Bridgnorth Motive Power Department, the interest and feedback we received during Open House certainly showed that it was enjoyed by those who made the effort to attend. The boiler shop, in particular, was a great attraction, where people could get up close and see what is going on. Visitors saw for their own eyes that 75069’s boiler is almost ready to have the tubes fitted. Thanks to all the staff involved in setting up and stewarding the event. Just like the rest of the Railway, it takes a lot of time and effort, plus patience and the ability to talk a lot whilst the visitors come round!

From a steam loco perspective we’ve just about managed to maintain the steam services in early 2018 by using some of the smaller locomotives double-headed, to fill the gaps due to a temporary shortfall of our usual larger locos. Double-headers wasn’t a panic measure, it had actually been planned for some months as we knew that we would be a little short of the larger locos at the early part of the season, thus far everything has gone pretty much to plan.

34027 re-entered service on 6th April, but was actually available as ‘spare’ loco during Easter week. 43106 came out of traffic at the end the day on 1st April and was back in service on 25th. It would have been back sooner had not both of the insurance company boiler inspectors been on holiday for the same week! Nevertheless, to achieve this timeframe took a considerable effort from the staff involved, in particular the boiler smiths.

2857 meanwhile has had some attention to the side rods as part of its intermediate overhaul along with one or two other minor jobs whilst it is being reassembled following its major valve and piston work. The return to traffic of the 2-8-0 is now very close following its test steaming.

Other work has included a number of general running repairs on 7802 and the tank locos. 813 has received its winter maintenance and had some pipework modifications made within the cab to rectify a brake problem. It has been successfully steamed and tested on a train.

In the boiler shop the front tube plate of 75069 is now riveted in place and the tubes are being prepared for fitting. The repair to the boiler for Isle of Man Railway No 15 has been completed and the boiler despatched back to them and a number of other small long standing contract jobs are being finished off to get them out of the shop.

Having mentioned above the busy time that mid-week running brings, anyone who was around the SVR on Friday 20th April might have been expecting a quiet day. However, this was not the case as there were three footplate experience trains operating, plus an observation saloon charter, hence four steam locos in use. Additionally at Bridgnorth both 7802 and 813 were in steam moving around the yard and station undergoing testing. That made six locos in steam, plus the class 33 diesel returned the 30 ton steam crane to Bridgnorth after a few days of P-Way work earlier in the week. Not bad for a day when no public trains were operating!


Open House film

Railway enthusiast and film maker Sam Birchall of Sammy B Videography spent a number of days around the SVR, capturing the interest and excitement of last month’s Open House event. Sam moved to the Bridgnorth area from south London six years ago, and is clearly hooked on heritage rail! See his film at

Wheelchair diner conversion gets underway

Staff at Kidderminster Carriage & Wagon have started intensive work to convert coach 80776 into a first class wheelchair diner. They’re currently stripping out and dismantling some of the walls. They’ll be installing a cleverly designed zigzag arrangement of tables, to allow the maximum amount of flexibility for combining wheelchair diners and varying numbers of non-wheelchair users.

Twenty years ago, the SVR converted this same coach was into a wheelchair accessible vehicle, the first one to go into service on any heritage railway.

Its current restoration and upgrade is part of a larger project to enhance the SVR’s accessibility. The Charitable Trust successfully secured £75,000 of funding from the Department for Transport towards the project.

Photo: Richard Herington

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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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