September 2019

Taw Valley is seen at Arley on the 2nd August 2019, with an afternoon service for Bridgnorth. By Ian Murray

Welcome to September's Express Points!

Hold onto your hats, as we prepare for another visit from Tornado! It’s just been announced that the ever-popular new-build locomotive will be making several special appearances at the SVR during November. And as the Railway gears itself up for next week’s Autumn Steam Gala, we’ve a behind-the-scenes report from the motive power depot where preparations are in full swing.  And of course, hot on the heels of steam, comes diesel, with the Autumn Diesel Gala due to take place on October 3rd-6th. 

Your September Express Points comes to you later in the month than usual.  This is because we couldn’t bring the August edition out until rather later, for various reasons.  Anyway, thank you for bearing with us, and fingers crossed, all will be back to normal for October, with publication as usual on the first Sunday of the month, which will be the 6th.  

Please get in touch with what’s happening in your neck of the SVR woods – there are lots of people wanting to hear about it. Send us a photograph as well, and we’ll include your news in the next edition.  Email expresspoints@svrlive.com and please let us have your contribution by Thursday October 3rd at the latest. 

Each month we have a draw for a £20 voucher to spend on the Railway.  Check to see if you’re one of them here

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If you’re not a working member, but you are an SVR supporter, shareholder, member or just very interested in knowing more about what makes this wonderful Railway tick, please subscribe to our sister newsletter 'Branch Lines' by CLICKING HERE 

 

Our thanks to Patrick Hearn for his assistance in compiling the September edition of Express Points.

 

Simon Turner & Lesley Carr, Co-Editors

Works plate of Private Owner Class B Aviation Fuel Tank No 345, under overhaul by the SVR Wagons Group at Bewdley. Picture by Kevin Moseley

There’s a Tornado heading our way! 

Batten down the hatches, as the world-famous Tornado will make a welcome return to the SVR in November. There’ll be two services a day from each end of the line on November 9th, 10th, 17th and 24th You’ll be able to ride behind the iconic locomotive, on board our appropriate LNER teak set of carriages, for normal fare prices, and book in advance for special reserved seating. There will also be the chance to upgrade to first-class, complete with a luxury hamper of local food to enjoy en-route. 

The Peppercorn Class A1 locomotive, the first new mainline steam locomotive to be built in Britain for 50 years, attracted thousands of steam enthusiasts to the Railway during its last appearance in 2016 – when it drew the crowds alongside Flying Scotsman. 

Since that visit, its fame has reached even greater heights following its 100mph test run on the East Coast Main Line in 2017 – the subject of BBC documentary ‘Tornado – The 100mph Steam Engine’ and, for younger fans, its starring role in the Paddington 2 movie, also released in 2017. 

Its much-anticipated return to the SVR comes in a significant year for the locomotive itself, marking the 25th anniversary since its construction began. 

Events co-ordinator Lewis Maddox said: “Tornado was a huge hit when it last appeared here – tickets to ride behind it sold fast and our platforms were packed with people trying to catch a glimpse of it in all its glory. 

“We’re expecting the same response this time around, and to make sure as many people as possible can come and enjoy it, we’re keeping our fares at the standard rates and are offering a range of additional experiences, which can be booked in advance.” 

Tornado will haul the 10.30am and 2.30pm services from Bridgnorth and the 12.40pm and 4.40pm services out of Kidderminster. Standard fares for travel apply: adult/senior from £19.80, child from £13.00 and Family £49.00. Tickets will be available to book at https://www.svr.co.uk/SEItem.aspx?a=160 or by calling 01562 757900. 

75069 back in service 

Thanks to sterling work by #TeamSVR, the recently restored locomotive No 75069 re-entered service on Saturday 7th September, and is set to play a leading part in the forthcoming Autumn Steam Gala. 

BR Standard 4 locomotive No 75069 had been out of action since 23rd July, when it hit a tree which had fallen across the track between Hampton Loade and Highley during bad weather. 

The locomotive wasn’t hauling a train with any passengers on at the time of the incident and nobody was hurt, though the impact caused minor damage to the track, causing part of the line to be closed-off for the day while repairs were carried out. 

The collision also caused some damage to the locomotive, which had only returned to steam in February for the first time in more than 24 years, following the most extensive restoration project the SVR has ever completed - forcing it to stay off the tracks once again. 

However, the SVR’s Running Repairs Team at Bridgnorth has worked tirelessly to repair the engine, and five weeks later – two weeks ahead of schedule, it is back up and running in time to feature at ouir flagship Autumn Steam Gala, from 19th-22nd September. 

Engineering services manager, Neil Taylor, explained the work involved: “Team leader Will Marsh and his team had to remanufacture two new sets of steps, renew the steam heat and vacuum brake pipework, remove and check the bogie, dress out flats on the driving wheels, refurbish the running plate, remove and check the draw gear, refit new drain cocks and associated pipework and refit refurbished guard irons. 

“Although I wouldn’t call it a major repair operation, there was a lot to do in a short space of time for it to be ready for the Gala.” 

Photo: Ian Murray

Bridgnorth MPD prepares for the Steam Gala 

Volunteer shed master Martin White takes us behind the scenes at the motive power depot (MPD) in the very busy run up to next week’s Steam Gala 

 

“The hiring in of visiting locos is managed by locomotive co-ordinator Duncan Ballard, who is actually part of the operations team and hence isn’t covered by the MPD. Suffice to say that it’s far from being a straightforward task!  

 

“Once locos are selected and agreement is reached in principle with the owners, a process of checking and examining them commences. Occasionally in the past locos, declared fit for their home railway, are found to struggle, or be unfit for SVR work. Our requirements for loads, length of line and length of day may be considerably different to where they usually operate. A visit to view and examine another loco is normally a day away from work for two or three staff, but it can be two days away depending upon distance. This year two engineering services staff set off at 07.30 on a Wednesday morning to conduct an examination and didn’t get back until after 8.30 on the Thursday. Loco axle weights are particularly important. If recent weights aren’t available, then we will need to weight them and adjust them until they meet permitted tolerances. 

 

“When locos are delivered by road, there’s more work for staff; shunting, coupling tender and loco, filling boilers, tanks and coal spaces, lighting up and raising steam. They have to be examined and passed as fit to run and possibly moved to other end of line to be ready for their diagrammed turn. The week of a gala is always an exceptionally busy time for the loco maintenance gang who do this work. 

 

“Footplate crew rostering is another sizeable activity but of a different nature. Once the working timetable is finalised, the loco diagrams are reviewed and the crew turns are determined. Safety critical work is restricted to shifts of a maximum of 12 hours, hence any loco diagrams longer than this need to be split between multiple crews. Usually a loco preparation time of two hours and an hour for disposal has to be included. Also 12 hours’ rest is required between safety critical duties. Staff are asked to provide their availability for turns in advance, then a few weeks before the gala a rostering meeting takes place, attended by member of the MPD management team. Next week’s event requires around 120 footplate staff/turns and in addition we need duty shed masters, 08 drivers, spare crews to provide cover, lighting up cleaners, JCB drivers, etc. It’s usually a lengthy meeting involving lots of paper (and lots of tea!) The draft roster is then cross referenced and cross checked before being published.  

 

“This year’s timetable has proven to be particularly challenging. ‘Taw Valley’ for example will effectively be continually manned for 60 hours from Friday morning until Sunday evening, and it’s not even rostered for the overnight service! It’s no wonder few other railways have ever tried to do what we do!” 

 

Photos by Martin White show a sea of tea and paperwork at the rostering meeting, and 30541 being lowered down the ramp on arrival at Bridgnorth 

 

Bonus photo for this month shows the ‘driver and mate’ of Sam Tibbles’ coal lorry, making one of their regular deliveries! 

Cash donation envelopes prove popular 

The SVR Charitable Trust recently launched a new-style cash donation envelope, and the response from SVR visitors has been very encouraging. 

A count up after just 10 days, saw 109 envelopes returned, containing £348.35 in donations. All the income from these envelopes will go to fund apprentice training in the Heritage Skills Training Academy.  This campaign clearly has a strong appeal for visitors, who see the value of what the Railway is doing in order to future-proof its heritage engineering skills base.  

The success of this scheme hinges entirely on the goodwill of the SVR’s TTIs (travelling ticket inspectors) who kindly distribute the donation envelopes throughout each train. Thanks to their efforts, and based on these early results, this scheme could raise up to £10,000 a year. Photo: Volunteer Horace Poole counting the returned donation envelopes 

D1062 Western Courier  

following routine inspections and a test run on Saturday, 10th August D1062 was withdrawn from traffic. Unfortunately the inspection revealed a fault with "B" End bogie which has required the loco to be lifted for further inspection and rectification. 

  

After the bogie was wheeled out it was found one spring was tilted and touching the frame, as the bearing arm that links the two springs had collapsed and worn away, leading to the weight shifting and making the axle tilt. 

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Replacement equalizing beams are being prepared to replace the worn out one recently removed, including NDT and replacing the old fork bushes. 

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Notwithstanding the unexpected issues with D1062, the Western Locomotive Association volunteers continue to progress the overhaul of sister D1013 Western Ranger. 

Photo: Jack Walker 

Do you collect train tickets?  

From Peter Darkin in the SVR archive:

"The SVR archive has recently been given just under a hundred used train tickets. They are mostly from Europe although a few originate from elsewhere.  I have attempted to list them all with origin and date and found a few bus tickets included."

 

"The archive has no use for these tickets and they are offered free to anyone interested in having them. Please contact me on peter.darkin@svrlive.com "

Get set for the Autumn Steam Gala  

Three locomotives that have never visited the Severn Valley Railway before are set to star at our festival of steam from September 19th-22nd, as well as newly-overhauled Standard 4 No. 75069, back in service following its derailment thanks to some very nifty work at MPD. 

  

We'll have an amazing array of 12 engines in steam, including No. 76017, No. 30541 and No. 34029 City of Wells (nicknamed 'The Volcano'), all making their debut on the Railway! 

 

Trains will run over all four days, including overnight on Friday and Saturday. We have a feast of additional attractions along the line too; from miniature railways at The Engine House to an on-train breakfast service. 

  

Pre-book your tickets now and purchase your working timetable to start planning your day: svr.co.uk/AutumnGala 

 

The staff canteen at Bridgnorth will be open for cooking from 7.00am each day, with cooking finishing at 1.30pm on Thursday and Sunday, and 3.30pm on Friday and Saturday.  

Security will be employed on most overnight services on Friday into Saturday, and Saturday into Sunday, to assist staff with any problematic behaviour. 

A commemorative DVD from Steam Valley Productions will be on sale, showcasing Southern engines that have run on the SVR over the last decade. There’s also a range of clothing with the Gala logo available from the shops and a souvenir mug.  

The working timetable has been printed and will be issued to appropriate staff over the next few days – this will also be available to purchase from Booking Offices for members of the public for £5. A complimentary Gala leaflet will be available on the day, listing attractions, timetables, opening times and more, which is currently downloadable from svr.co.uk/AutumnGala. 

Photo shows 30541 arriving by road haulage at Bridgnorth ahead of the Gala 

New on train buffet supervisor 

Mike Jenkins has been appointed into a full time paid role as our on-train buffet supervisor, following a probationary period during which he volunteered in this role. He’ll be overseeing the buffet and bars service on trains, leading and supporting the dedicated volunteer on-train buffet staff, and he’ll be responsible for the maintenance of equipment, and the application of safety and food hygiene standards.  

 

Mike will be accountable for delivery of budget and revenue targets, accurate and controlled stock maintenance/stock takes, and improve the sourcing and purchasing of food. There is scope for the service to be enhanced further and generate more income to invest back into the Railway.  

 

If you, or anyone you know, is interested in joining the volunteer on-train buffet staff, please contact Mike on mike.jenkins@svrlive.com or the VLO on vlo@svrlive.com

Autumn Diesel Gala

Tickets are on sale for the SVR's Autumn Diesel Gala on October 3rd to 6th, with diesel trains over all four days. 

We'll have 15 engines in use, and a chance both to sample the Railway's home-based locomotives and the following visitors:

 

D8568 : Clayton Class 17 Bo-Bo

33108: B.R.C.W. Class 33 Bo-Bo (currently on hire to the SVR)

37688 Great Rocks: E.E. Class 37 Co-Co  (currently on hire to the SVR)

40106 Atlantic Conveyor: BR Class 40 1Co-Co1  (currently on hire to the SVR)

50033 Glorious: E.E. Class 50 Co-Co

Full details of the event and special attractions can be found on the Diesel Gala page of the SVR webpage

EE Class 50 50033 Glorious was hauled from Eastleigh to the SVR by sister 50007 Hercules on 29th August, following repainting. Photo: Kenny Felstead

Last Bus Gala at Bewdley  

Bewdley station hosted what was its last Bus Gala at the beginning of this month. Assistant station master Dai Phillips explained that after running the event there for 10 years, it’s been decided to look for a new venue: 

 

“Every year we have struggled to fit everything in, due to the limitations of the site. It has always been awkward to arrange the buses and also turn them when they arrive back from giving rides, as the public and large vehicles do not mix! 

 

“We would like to thank everyone on site for their co-operation over the years, and also all staff who have helped with the set up and during the day. Special thanks to our colleagues from other stations and other departments for their invaluable help on the day. 

 

“The Bus Galas have made a valuable contribution to station funds, and we also see increased sales from the buffet on the day. We are hopeful that the event will move to Kidderminster and grow from there. It is a much larger site, and a better layout.”  

New stone lintel in place at Bewdley 

With help from ‘Alan the crane’, our resident stonemason Philip Chatfield installed the new bay window lintel at Bewdley last month. It’s certainly looking just the job, and much to everyone’s delight, the scaffolding was out of the way in time for the recent Bus Gala held at the station.    

Photos: Dai Phillips  

News at Ten 

Did you see ITV's News at Ten with SVR HR manager Jane Preece and apprentices Max Green and Jake Cox talking about the Heritage Skills Training Academy on Thursday 22nd August? It is now on Youtube, with the SVR featuring from 1:28.  

  

To feature on the main national news as having a solution to recruiting youngsters is great publicity for the HSTA and the SVR. 

  

Jane also had three minutes on BBC Hereford & Worcester drive time show and featured on the 5pm news too! 

No leaks here! Progress on 9581 at Bewdley 

The volunteers restoring GWR 9581 wheelchair and buffet car took advantage of some unexpectedly good weather towards the end of last month to apply the final coat of white paint to the roof and gutters of the coach. The team was in good spirits, as Richard Gunning explains: 

“It had rained heavily during the previous week, but this was proof that the roof is now leak-free, for the time being at least. We therefore decided to ask our contractor to remove scaffolding. This had the added benefit of freeing up a corner of the area needed for the Bus Rally on the 1st September.   

“The clear site meant we could then fit another new external door, this time to the North East corner. We now have five fitted in total. 

“Inside, we’ve started producing the ceiling supports. It’s going to take many curved sections and these will be by laminating layers of birch plywood in a former, whilst the straight ones are being made from good quality redwood. Several are already fixed inside the roof.  This is being painted in Mk 1 style, with black bitumastic paint. In all, this will be a time consuming job which we hope be be complete sometime next year with the installation of the wiring, walls and ceilings.” 

More donations are urgently needed to complete this volunteer-led, Charitable Trust-funded project. Please click to download a donation form   http://www.lnersvrcoachfund.org.uk/news_letters/DONATIONS%20AND%20GIFT%20AID%20FORM%20GWR%205043-9581.pdf 

Photos by Mike Cranmore show the newly fitted external door, and volunteers giving the roof a final clean before painting 

In memoriams  

Roger Mantom 

We were sad to receive the news that Roger Mantom passed away on 29th July. Many will recall that Roger and wife Margaret were volunteers with the On Train Buffet team operating out of Kidderminster until Roger was taken ill a short time ago. His funeral was held on 19th August, and friends and family joined Margaret, daughter Mary and son Robert for a reception at the King & Castle afterwards. Barry Moreton, VLO 

Pete Simpson 

We have received the sad news that long-serving volunteer Pete Simpson has passed away. An appreciation will be issued shortly together with funeral arrangements. In the interim we send condolences to Pete's relatives at this sad time. Barry Moreton, VLO 

Passion for Steam 

Many readers of Express Points may remember John Hurley, who was one of the SVR’s early volunteer drivers in the 1970s. Although John sadly passed away some years ago, his daughter Jenny Bate-Hurley has composed the memoirs John wrote of his time as a mainline railwayman and subsequently at the SVR. 

 

If you would like to order a copy, priced at £7, please contact Jenny at davidbatehurley@btinternet.com  

Safety update from our retiring fire safety officer 

Mel Cook will soon retire from his paid role as the Railway’s fire safety officer, but will continue as a volunteer fire safety advisor. As he steps down, Mel writes about the ever present need for vigilance around safety matters, and reflects on his years at the SVR. 

 

“There is no doubt that the Office of Rail and Road are closely monitoring heritage railways. We must we operate according to the regulations and continue to have regard to safety issues. This year fire authorities and courts have levied severe fines to industry and sales outlets.  Heritage Railways are not exempt and penalties could affect the future of the SVR.  In my opinion, our Railway is a safe place for members and visitors, but we must be always vigilant.   

 

“The SVR safety team has conducted audits of all premises at least twice over the past three years.  I have reviewed and rewritten all our fire risk assessment, and my colleague Ray Stilgoe with the assistance of Keith Brown from PWay has surveyed all our railway crossings.   

 

“Accidents and incidents are checked and reports written as necessary.  It is obvious that a tourist attraction such as ours will inevitably have accidents.  These mainly fall into the slips, trips and falls category for visitors, combined with workshop issues involving paid staff and volunteers.  There are other incidents from time to time.  I believe we remain efficient in the actions to offset challenges to our safety procedures.  We appear to be very similar in statistics with other railways. 

 

“I’m retiring in October from my paid staff role as fire safety officer and my largely volunteer position of safety team leader.  Fire safety in its varying forms has been part of my life for over 50 years and it is time to ease back.  However, I will continue in a position as a volunteer safety advisor, and will offer advice if requested.  I am sure a new general manager will see safety as a priority.  With my wife Julia, I will continue to represent SVR on the Worcestershire Health and Safety Group www.worcestershiresafetygroup.com and the Safety Officer Forum.   

 

“I would like to thank Nick Ralls, Ray and Julia for their support.  Also SVR department managers, station masters and staff for their many questions and safety appreciation. I regularly travelled on the original SVR from Stourport-on-Severn station to Tenbury, Wooferton and Shrewsbury from five years of age with my grandfather.  I spent days watching the trains at Stourport, so the SVR will always be part of my life.  I intend to write an article for SVR News noting my many memories riding on the old GWR railcars. As a volunteer I will still be able to offer safety advice as needed.  You will not get rid of me that easily!” 

Share your love of the SVR with our visitors 

The Charitable Trust is recruiting a team of volunteers to help bring alive the history of the Railway, in a programme of activities and events linked to the Falling Sands Viaduct restoration project.  This will involve researching history and recording memories in an exciting oral history project.  

It’s a chance to learn new skills, uncover untold stories about the SVR and be part of something that both present and future generations can treasure and enjoy. If this sounds like something you’d like to know more about, please contact the Trust’s Laura Hines at laura.hines@svrtrust.org.uk or phone 07539 366820. 

Photo of 813 crossing Falling Sands Viaduct by John Whitehouse 

Something spectacular is arriving this Christmas… 

Tickets sales for the SVR’s first ever Steam in Lights services are being snapped up.  Since they went on sale on 30th August, more than 75% have been sold.   

Arriving on 29th November, Steam in Lights is a dazzling, 90-minute extravaganza, featuring magical creatures, sparkling lights, snowfall and excitement. You can immerse yourself in a magical story of mischief and mystery, helping to make the lights shine along the line during your quest to find the Christmas Cacklers. 

 “This is set to be a truly spectacular experience,” explained events co-ordinator Lewis Maddox, “We have never done anything like it before and are extremely excited to offer it this Christmas. This absorbing, interactive experience will be an unforgettable way to experience the Railway in a whole new light.” 

If you’d like to try something very different, our Steam in Lights services start on November 29th  and run on selected days through till December 21st.  Find full details of dates, times and ticket prices at www.svr.co.uk/SteaminLights or call 01562 757900. But hurry, as this event will sell out fast! 

Spooky volunteers needed 

Halloween is fast approaching, and your help is needed to turn Arley station into a truly terrifying experience. Volunteers are needed play the roles of witches, ghosts and all manner of ghoulish characters in this year’s scare team. 

The event runs on Saturday 26th, Wednesday 30th and Thursday 31st October, with three trains per evening. Training and make can be provide on request, but if you have your own, even better.  

If you’re interested in giving our passengers the fright of their life, or would like some more info, please contact lewis.maddox@svrlive.com. Please feel free to invite others to get in touch too. 

Were you an SVR Apprentice?

The Apprentices' Club is 30 years old next year, and as a part of the celebrations, Rob Edwards is making a photo collage of all the current working members who are ex-Club members. So, if you're a current working member AND a former Apprentice Club member, please send Rob a head and shoulders picture of yourself. Just email your photo to rob.edwards@svrlive.com, with 'JC Image' and your name in the subject line.  And please spread the word to anyone you know who qualifies.

Wands at the ready for our Wizard Express  

There’ll be magic in the air at the Severn Valley Railway next month as the popular Wizard Express steams in once again from Saturday 26th to Tuesday 29th October. 

 

Young witches and wizards are invited to get dressed to impress and head to the Railway for a magical Journey to Wizard School at Highley. After collecting their wax-sealed Wizard School invitation at Kidderminster or Bridgnorth, families can board their steam train for a thrilling journey through the enchanted Severn Valley. Magic wands and tasty treats from the trolley await on board, where magicians will perform spell-binding tricks along the way. 

 

Your ticket will also allow you to travel up and down the line during the day. Tickets must be booked in advance at https://www.svr.co.uk/SEItem.aspx?a=135 

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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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