top of page
Christmas ads Santa train.png

December 2023

Enchanted Express by Alan Corfield.jpg
Enchanted Express by Alan Corfield

Welcome to your latest edition of Express Points!

Across the SVR the sleigh bells are ringing, and there’s definite festive spirit in the air as the big day approaches! The Christmas season is now well underway and the hard work from dedicated volunteers is resulting in plenty of smiles from visitors. 

In your festive December edition of Express Points there’s an update from the infrastructure team,  you can find out about services over the festive break and make a note in your diary of events planned for 2024. 

Whatever your role at the Railway over the Christmas season, we hope it goes well. From the Express Points team, Merry Christmas and a peaceful new year. All the very best for 2024!  

Lesley Carr and Karen Crick, co-editors

The Express Points team is Lesley Carr, Karen Crick, Amy Baker, Pete Cherry and Nicola Fox.

Next edition Thursday 11th January

What's new?

Festive season well underway

With the big day fast approaching, here is a quick update on the SVR festive season.   


The Enchanted Express is departing from Bridgnorth on weekends until Christmas Eve. Feedback so far has been amazing with positive comments on social media, and a great review article in the Shropshire Star.  


Santa Trains depart from Kidderminster at weekends and on Friday 22 December. Passengers have been experiencing a magical steam train journey to Arley where they disembark for an all-new pantomime, featuring Jingle and Jangle the elves. Availability is now limited with some train times fully booked. 


This year’s festive dining experiences include Luxury Yuletide Evening Dining, Enchanted Afternoon Teas and the newly launched Festive Gin Trains (over 18s only please).  If you haven’t yet booked your tickets, please hurry as places are limited with just a small number of tables still available. Bookings close this Thursday 14 December.  


Finally, Carol trains are fully booked and have been for some time. All these great experiences combined mean there is something for everyone on the Railway this festive season, and a big thank you goes to all those who have helped make it happen.  

Specialty gin launched in time for Christmas

The Severn Valley Railway has recently launched a brand-new coal infused gin, in collaboration with Piston Distillery, originally founded in Worcester. 


This new gin has been inspired by the Railway’s heritage and has a rich fruit flavour with blackberries from hedgerows and wooden notes inspired by railway sleepers. Crushed and blended charcoal make the gin black in colour, representing the Railway’s history and steam-powered locomotives. 


“We’re excited to be launching this new and exclusive Severn Valley Railway gin” said Nicky Freeman, the SVR’s visitor experience manager; “the special blend of flavours combined with a hint of heritage railway has resulted in a coal infused gin which we hope will be a popular choice in the run up to Christmas.” 


Grace Stringer, managing director of Piston Gin, said “this has been an incredible project to be involved with, combining the history of the Railway with Piston’s old-school distillation methods. The result is a refreshing, clean-tasting gin with a difference!” 


The new gin retails at £39.99 and is available from the SVR gift shop and online shop. It’s also on sale at the SVR’s award-winning pubs, The Railwayman’s Arms at Bridgnorth and The King & Castle at Kidderminster.  


In the run up to Christmas, gin lovers can also treat themselves to a Festive Gin Train. Sit back and relax on board a heritage train, while Piston’s team talk about the botanicals and flavours that go into their unique brand.  There will be plenty of time to enjoy a gin & tonic made using the new SVR gin.  


Daytime Festive Gin Trains are on 19 and 20 December – with limited availability.  Bookings close this Thursday 14 December.  

What's coming up?

Festive Season Service at the SVR

75069 Awaits departure at Arley. Luke Vines .jpg

A Festive Season Service will be operating from 26 – 28 December and 30 December to 2 January. 


Once Christmas Day has been and gone, the Railway still has plenty to offer.  A festive service of mixed steam and diesel haulage will run the length of the 16-mile line, to help blow off those post-Christmas cobwebs (with exception of 29 December). Timetables vary across this period, so check before travelling.  


For those with a valid free return ticket, these festive services will be the last chance to use it before expiration on 2 January.  


Diesel fans can celebrate also, as the lack of festive services on 29 December is due to the introduction of a brand-new event, the Winter Diesel Day! More on this below. 


Information can be found at Calendar And Timetables | Severn Valley Railway (  

75069 Awaits departure at Arley. Luke Vines 

Winter diesel delights - Friday 29 December 

Since we first mentioned the Winter Diesel Day, the concept and timetable have grown into a full day of diesel action.  


Starting at 8.30am, locomotives including 40106 and D182 will provide train heating while a range of other machines provide the traction.


We are pleased to also confirm Class 20 20007 will be attending the event, this will be the locos first and only passenger workings in 2023


In an unusual pairing, a Class 20 or D8568 will double-head trains with steam loco 7714. The diesel multiple unit (DMU) will be back in use too.  


Special-event pricing applies, and free return vouchers cannot be used on this day.


Tickets can be booked, and the timetable downloaded, here: 

40106 frosty day at Bewdley John Sherratt

40106 frosty day at Bewdley John Sherratt.jpeg

Winter Steam Gala - A photographer’s dream!

43106 'The Flying Pig' at Little Rock, heading south on a crisp winter's day. John Titlow.

The exciting news that the Severn Valley Railway is holding its first- ever Winter Steam Gala has been widely welcomed.  

The event, which takes place on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 January 2024, promises ideal conditions for photographers, as professional photographer and SVR volunteer John Titlow explained: 

“The days may be short, but winter is the best time to be out riding and photographing steam trains. Nothing is better than a cold, still winter day with the locomotive working hard and the exhaust laying on top of the train as it winds its way along the line. Snow and sun can only make it better!” 

The Railway is planning at least five steam locomotives in operation and a busy timetable that includes visiting locomotive 2253 ‘Omaha’, which has stayed at the SVR after its gala appearance in September.  

The gala is also a last chance to see 21C127 ‘Taw Valley’ in wartime black, and to bid a temporary farewell to 43106 ‘The Flying Pig’ as it reaches the end of its current boiler ticket. Back at its home base after a season away, 7812 ‘Erlestoke Manor’ will also appear at the gala, alongside the recently overhauled 2968, which makes its gala debut.  

Services will begin at 8.30am each day, finishing about 7pm, including an evening special on the Saturday, with 43106. 

Shareholder tickets are valid for this event. 


Tickets can be purchased now and the timetable is available at:  

43106 'The Flying Pig' at Little Rock, heading south on a crisp winter's day. John Titlow

Footplate experiences - new dates available

Footplate experiences are returning in 2024 and you could be driving ex-GWR Pannier Tank 7714 or 7812 Erlestoke Manor in February or March next year. 

Our experienced volunteers will welcome you on board and ‘show you the ropes’ before you experience the wonders of driving a full-size steam locomotive.  

Three levels of experience can be booked: taster, introductory and intermediate, and February dates have now been released.  

If you are looking to take part in a footplate experience, or have someone in mind for a special gift or treat, please make sure you read the important information on the website at Footplate Experiences | Severn Valley Railway ( or contact the team at   

From summer 2024, we’ll have a new programme of footplate experiences, using both steam and diesel locomotives. Details will be available soon.  

What’s on in 2024 

The Railway will close for its winter break following the Winter Steam Gala on 6-7 January.  

Planning for next year is well under way and there will be more details to follow in the new year, but in the meantime, we have included some event highlights for your diary: 

  • Spring Steam Gala     
    18 - 21 April 

  • Spring Diesel Gala     
    16 - 19 May  

  • Step back to the 1940s     
    29 - 30 June and 6 - 7 July   

  • Autumn Steam Gala     
    19 – 22 September 

  • Autumn Diesel Bash     
    3 – 6 October 

There’s a full list of 2024 events on the website events offer webpage SVR_Whats-on-poster_2024.pdf and don’t forget the early-bird ticket offer for the events listed. Tickets can be purchased now at 2023 prices and this offer ends on Sunday 7 January 2024. 2024 Events Offer | Severn Valley Railway ( 


Event dates and times may be subject to change; please keep an eye on the SVR’s social media and for further announcements.   

SVR Branch meetings

The SVR Stourbridge branch’s programme continues in the Brindley Room at the Bonded Warehouse in Canal Street, Stourbridge, commencing at 7.30pm. A small charge of £3 is made to cover room costs. 

3 January - 'More Black Country discoveries'. Speaker Keith Hodgkins  

7 February - 'Banking on the Lickey incline to working on the SVR'. Speaker Bob Dunn.  

6 March - 'An evening with Les Ross and Ray Poole'. 


The Cheshire branch meets at 7.45pm on the second Thursday of the month at the Packhorse Bowling Club, Westminster Road, Macclesfield, SK10 3AT. There is no charge. 

11 January - ‘PSOV videos ‘The Jacobite story’ and ‘The sounds of steam on the Settle & Carlisle’’.  

8 February - ‘‘Railway Roundabout’ videos from 1960 and 1961’.  

9 March - John Hooley with a slide show on ‘Boats, Trains, & Ferries’.  


The Wolverhampton branch meeting due to have been held on 18 December has been cancelled, following the sudden death of Alan Davies, the branch chairman (see ‘In memoria’). The next meeting on 15 January 2024 will be a general meeting to discuss the future, if any, of the branch. More details are on the branch website at .   


The meetings are open to all. 


Photo: Roundabout Revisited (BBC 1961) included a five-minute item on holiday traffic at Bewdley, including ex-GW 6144, 6353, 7308, 9657 and W23W plus ex-LMS 44966.   

Railway Roundabout.png


In memoria

Peter Brumwell passed on 24 October after a short illness. Peter registered as a volunteer in 1997, joining Bewdley Carriage and Wagon Department. He later joined Kidderminster Railway Museum’s archive section. 

Alan Davies passed suddenly on 24 November. An obituary will follow soon in an NBI, with funeral details. 

Robert (Bob) Hitchman passed away on 20 November following a long-term illness. Bob became a member in 1980. During the 1990s he joined Bridgnorth permanent way, including the Sunday Gang, and embraced paid-staff duties as and when required. Bob formed the Wednesday Gang, tackling lineside vegetation on the north end of the line and concentrating on Borle Straight and Highley Bank. 

We send our deepest sympathies to their families. 

Barry Moreton, volunteer liaison.  

Space precludes fuller obituaries appearing in Express Points, but these appear in internal NBIs and later in SVR News.  

Across the Railway

Infrastructure news

January will bring the closed-season shutdown, and the annual winter works projects. Head of infrastructure Chris Bond gave Express Points an update.


The first two weeks back in January 2024 will focus on replacing rotten timbers on the running-line crossover at the north end of Highley station. After that the permanent way (PW) team will move to Bridgnorth to commence phase 2A of the yard-relaying project, which is the replacement of the point between roads 1 and 2 and the raising to the rail level on the loco pit. 

At the same time, Bridgnorth signal box is undergoing a complete rewire of the signalling system as part of a planned preventative-maintenance project. 

In the meantime, work is already underway at Foley Park (between Kidderminster and Bewdley). Four years ago, we installed for future use a set of points, to be controlled by a ground frame which was previously installed at Kidderminster. By the time you read this, a turnout, siding and headshunt should have been added to make a new yard. The first occupier should be the Harsco stone blower, which will make Foley Park its base. We hope to further expand the sidings next year when time, money and resources are available. 

The signal engineering (S&T) volunteers are connecting the ground frame so that soon the yard will be accessible using the Bewdley-Kidderminster possession key. For now, it will be restricted to when the signal boxes are closed.

In the future, once S&T have done cabling work, the yard will be able to be used when the signal boxes are open, using a release from Kidderminster box.  

Other than the above, there will be some underpinning of Bewdley South signal box by Walsh Construction. This has involved complex negotiations with the adjacent landowner to get permission to gain access to the rear of the box from their land. This work has been mostly funded by a grant from the Arley-based Turner Trust via the SVR Charitable Trust’s fundraising efforts. 


Due to financial constraints, the number of projects taking place will be much reduced next year. 

Photo: Partially laid-out headshunt at Foley Park on 30 November. Barry Light  

Partially laid out head shunt at Foley Park on 30 November. Barry Light.jpg

Rolling stock

A mixed bag at Bridgnorth MPD 

Stranger in the works - Martin White.jpg

The Christmas services are now in full swing and, with the steam loco fleet split between the Santa services at Kidderminster and the Enchanted Express at Bridgnorth, the period has been a busy one, as Bridgnorth Shedmaster Martin White reports: 


Many of the operational steam locos benefitted from some attention administered by ESMP paid staff in the brief closedown period in November, including quite a lot of work on steam-heating systems. Much of this was coincidental rather than planned work, with 43106 and 75069 in particular needing some repairs and/or new parts in their steam heat valves.  


The first few weekends of the Enchanted Express operations have been hauled by Stanier Mogul 2968. Fresh out of the box from its heavy general repair, it’s starting to accumulate some revenue-earning miles whilst remaining under the watchful eyes of the Bridgnorth-based personnel who are able to carry out any minor repairs or rectify any issues which arise during this initial shakedown period. 


It is interesting to reflect that during the first three or four decades of SVR operation there always seemed to be a Stanier loco available as part of the SVR fleet, but the return of 2968 marks the return of a Stanier loco to the operational pool for the first time in 10 years. 


The first few weekends of Santa operations at the Southern end of SVR were handled by 75069 and 7812, ‘Erlestoke Manor’, which, as planned, has recently returned from a summer of operating at the West Somerset Railway. 43106 and 7714 have travelled to Bewdley from Bridgnorth to join them and increase the number of locos to handle the Santas and Christmas dining services.  


Future December weekends will see some swaps and changes of locomotives made with both 4930 ‘Hagley Hall’ and 43106 operating on both the Santa and the Enchanted services. 


Elsewhere in the loco works, USA-built 2-8-0 ‘Omaha’ is receiving some attention to its injectors, and work has now resumed on 813 with its new dragbox/frame casting being trial-fitted.  

Stranger in the works - Martin White

Other news

Nick’s festive lights display 

Stourport resident and SVR Volunteer Nick Wright is putting on a festive light show, with thousands of lights adorning his house on Malham Road, DY13 8NN. 


The lights are on each evening from 5pm – 9pm through to 31 December. On Sundays between 5pm and 6pm you can enjoy a sensory light show accompanied by themed music to get you feeling festive. 


Donations can be made on site, with contactless and cash options, or online at 


Merry Christmas Nick, and thank you for your support.   

A bit of inter-departmental working! 

When an old friend and colleague from London Transport got in touch with an offer of a tail lamp, signalman Rob Smith knew just the person who would give it a good home.  


Here is Rob handing over the lamp to Ian Ridpath, acting head of guards and shunters (left).  


Ian said ‘I was pleased to accept this tail lamp on behalf of the Railway. We have many tail lamps, but some are starting to show signs of wear and tear, so this lamp will be put to good use.'  

Tail Lamp handover from Rob Smith

Tail Lamp handover from Rob Smith.jpg

v1 14th December 2023

v2 14th December- Edited a piece of text

Need to contact us?

Branch Lines Logo3.png

A dedicated newsletter for SVR supporters - Branch Lines

A monthly newsletter dedicated to SVR Supporters has been created, this allows Express Points to be directed to our working members. ​CLICK HERE for the latest edition of Branch Lines.

If you're a supporter of the SVR, but not a Working Member then please email to be added to the distribution list

Thanks for reading!

If you receive our monthly newsletter by email and wish to unsubscribe from our newsletter please email

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.

bottom of page