7714 crossing Wribbenhall Viaduct on her way to Bridgnorth. Preventative maintenance for both Wribbenhall and Borle Viaducts are on hold as part of plans to restrict expenditure as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo by Rob Green
Welcome to your latest edition of Express Points!
So here we are, a month into post-lockdown services, and the story for the Severn Valley Railway is looking very positive, with impressive passenger capacity throughout August! September sees more of the same, with private compartments on steam-hauled services, along with the introduction of some new elements. Tables in open coaches will be available to couples and single passengers, plus there’s the important addition of the Pioneer service – three return diesel-hauled trips on every Friday of the month!
A recent fall from height incident and subsequent investigation by the Office of Road and Rail have put safe working at height firmly on the agenda, and general manager Helen Smith explains why basic training is now compulsory for all staff, whether volunteer or paid.
Also, this month, we rub shoulders with Hollywood stars, celebrate the last footplate turn for one of the SVR’s long-serving drivers and we look ahead to the shape of special events later in the year and how these will work within social distancing restrictions.
You might have spotted that this month's Express Points has arrived a week early. This is because your editorial team are both out of action for various reasons next week.
We’d love to hear the news and goings-on from your part of the SVR, with a decent photograph or two as well. Please email your contribution for the next issue to email@example.com by Thursday 1st October at the very latest.
It’s good to be back in business, isn’t it?
Lesley and Patrick
Express Points is edited by Lesley Carr and Patrick Hearn, with technical assistance from Amy Baker
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September timetable builds on August success
A tweaked timetable of services for September went on sale last week, which extends the August offer, and has been designed to appeal to couples, solo travellers and supporters keen to clock up some ‘diesel miles’.
Sales throughout August have been extremely good, with an average of 85% capacity sold across all services, and many selling out completely.
For the coming month, private compartments for up to six people remain priced at £75, and there are also £40 ‘tables for two’ and £20 ‘tables for one' available in open coaches. Passengers choosing the table options will need to wear face masks throughout the journey.
During September, there’ll be two daily excursion trains, one from Kidderminster and one from Bridgnorth, with morning departures on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.
It’s been decided to include the services on Tuesday 1st September, as it follows straight after the bank holiday, although normally Mondays and Tuesdays will not have any services in September. Additionally, on Fridays, there will be three diesel-hauled round trips starting from Kidderminster, featuring a different class of locomotive each week, giving diesel-lovers the chance to add 96 miles in one day (please see separate ‘Pioneering diesels’ article below).
On Saturdays, traditionally the most popular day for visitors, there’ll be two excursion trains from Kidderminster and one from Bridgnorth, with the addition of a Sunset Special service departing from Kidderminster in the early evenings. Passengers can either alight at Highley for a pre-booked dining experience at The Engine House, or they can choose to travel the full length of the line to Bridgnorth. Please see separate article ('The SVR supports local businesses') for more details about the exciting catering innovations that are being introduced this season. Tickets are available at svr.co.uk or by phoning 01562 757900.
Photo: Southern passes Western on the Severn Valley on 20th August 2020. 34027 runs through non-stop with the first train from Bridgnorth whilst 6960 sits in the loop at Highley. John Titlow
Working at height training now mandatory
Following a recent very serious fall from height incident, the SVR has been subject to a formal inspection from the Office of Road and Rail and is awaiting the outcome. The ORR could decide to prosecute, and an unlimited fine could result.
As a result of the incident, Bewdley Down Yard is closed to all volunteers. This includes the carriage workshops and the goods shed. The only exception is the use of the area as a walking route to the barrow crossing, to access the MPD and signal box, toilets and sleeping accommodation.
The Safety Committee has decided that from 1st September no-one, either paid staff or volunteer, will be allowed on any site to work unless they have completed the basic ‘working at height’ training within the last three years. You must also ensure your line manager/supervisor has a record of you completing it. The training video is on SVRLive.
General manager Helen Smith underlined the importance of every member of staff, both paid and volunteer, completing the training, regardless of their role:
“You all work at height although you might not realise it. For example, you walk around next to platform edges, and you use step ladders or risers to reach high shelves. Just as importantly, you watch other people working from height and could identify a problem before it becomes an incident. You can all help prevent further incidents on the Railway. Watching the short video and answering the questions will take you just 10 or 15 minutes, and it could save someone’s life.”
The SVR has had a number of preventable working at height incidents during the last few years, including three within the last 12 months. In order to take corrective action, improve performance and identify training issues, there will be a full review of the Railway’s risk assessments and policies for the site and an internal investigation with the people involved. This may take some time to complete.
Photo: 7714 at Kidderminster 11th August 2020. Andrew Simmonds
The SVR seeks further grant funding
Earlier this month, the SVR submitted an application to the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage, which is being administered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund on behalf of the government. This fund is intended to help heritage organisations that have been put at risk by Covid-19, and that need help to adapt and re-open.
Competition for the funding is understandably very intense and of course there is no guarantee the SVR’s application will be successful. A decision is expected by the end of September.
The SVR has already benefitted from £250,000 of emergency funding from The National Lottery Heritage Emergency Fund, and the Railway’s own fundraising appeal, the Fight Back Fund, has now passed £900,000.
The enforced closure and lack of passenger revenue, together with the limited way in which the SVR must currently operate, has had a severe impact on the Railway’s finances.
Photo: one of the services the SVR has been unable to run during the Covid-19 pandemic is Footplate Experience trains. We go back to 2001 for this image of Stanier ‘Black Five’ 45110 on a SVR Steam School special from Ian Murray’s collection.
Bewdley South bracket signals
Infrastructure manager Chris Bond has been in touch regarding the fine triple wooden bracket signal adjacent to Bewdley South signal box, and tells us:
“This signal has been professionally inspected to assess its condition and, unfortunately, it has been found to be in poor condition and in need of major work. As a result, an anti-climb plate is to be fitted to prevent further access. On no account should this signal be accessed until further notice."
At Bewdley volunteers have been preparing a temporary replacement post.
Chris added: “A plan for repair or replacement will be formulated and, once this has been done, further updates will be provided”.
Photo: This 2019 image is from Alan Corfield.
Calling all SVR shareholders
Documents for Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) Plc’s Annual General Meeting are available for download and details of how to vote are at https://www.svrlive.com/agm2020.
If you’re not already an SVR shareholder, you can find details of how to apply for shares at https://www.svr.co.uk/ShareOffer1.aspx.
As we advised in previous Express Points, the AGM will be held by proxy only because of Covid-19 restrictions and the Chairman as proxy will cast your vote. Shareholders can vote online or by post. To ensure your vote is recorded, the deadline for either method is 2.30 pm on Thursday 10th September 2020, this being 48 hours prior to the holding of the AGM.
The SVR currently has around 2,500 shareholders who have agreed to use email rather than post. If you have not opted in, please can you do so on the Contact Preference Registration? It is much more cost effective for the Railway to send the annual accounts information and the annual shareholders' newsletter to shareholders by email.
Gallery - John Titlow, Ian Murray and David Bissett
The return of trains has seen our inbox bulging with images! Our contributors this month are John Titlow, David Bissett and Ian Murray, for which many thanks. Please click on the gallery for full size, uncropped images and descriptions.
Enola Holmes movie release in September
Do you remember the excitement last year when the SVR was taken over by a film crew for a number of days for a project that was very much under wraps at the time?
Filming took place between Kidderminster and Arley in July 2019 with those sections closed to the public. Passenger services ran between Bridgnorth and Highley using a special timetable.
It subsequently emerged they were filming scenes for Enola Holmes, based on a spin-off series of novels about Sherlock Holmes’ younger sister. The film will be released on the Netflix streaming service on 23rd September.
Kidderminster Town became Basilwether station, with parts of the concourse repainted into maroon. Arley station buildings were repainted green, with the station sporting a 'Ferndell' running-in board.
The star-studded cast includes Millie Bobbie Brown, Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin and Helena Bonham Carter, plus of course our very own Severn Valley Railway!
The photo shows Enola with her brothers Sherlock and Mycroft with a certain toplight coach behind them. Top marks if you identified GWR 3930 Full Third! All this fame hasn’t gone to the toplight’s head however, as it’s been putting in the hours throughout August for our reopening services.
Photo: Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin, and Millie Bobby Brown in Enola Holmes. Credit: Netflix
A memorable last turn for Roger
The start of August, and the SVR was open at last. For one veteran driver it was an especially poignant time. Taking the controls of 75069 and the Adventurer service on Monday 3rd, this was to be the last turn on the footplate for Roger Norfolk, who would reach the compulsory driver retirement age of 75 two days later.
Roger started as a volunteer with the Railway in the late 1960s, initially with the permanent way gang. As a young teacher from a Birmingham school, it represented a chance to get away from the city, and return home tired out at the end of day, having got his hands well and truly dirty!
He moved on to become first a fireman then a driver, whilst in his ‘day job’ he moved away from teaching to join British Rail on the mainline. With almost 52 years of volunteer service, Roger has driven dozens of different types of locomotive:
“A quick count came to 63 but there were probably a few others now forgotten. Some were short run-round trips and others at the invitation of the booked driver, but most were full turns. I am sure, though, that other senior drivers can easily surpass this total.”
We wondered whether he had any favourites?
“My teenage spotting days were mostly spent alongside railway lines of the Eastern, Southern and Western (later London Midland) regions, so all locomotives have their attraction. As an operator, though, I do like the BR standard classes for their ease of preparation, working and disposal, so I was delighted that 75069 was my last locomotive. It has, though, been a real privilege to be passed to drive and fire any of the everyday locomotive types I knew so well from the lineside all those years ago.”
Any words of advice for aspiring youngsters?
“Certainly, always strive for high standards, for we have a long and proud tradition to maintain. Read, understand and learn the rules and the theory, for these are the backbone to working a safe railway. Seek out ‘best practice’ by asking questions, listening to advice and watching experienced folk at work, as this will help hone your skills, whether it be cleaning, firing or driving. This is not quite as easy as it sounds, as many loco men have different opinions and styles; everyone thinks they know best but be wary of following ‘bad habits’. Always strive to get the best out of each locomotive for the efficient production and use of steam, whilst at the same time looking after it as an important historical asset. Folks in my generation were lucky because we were able to work with and learn from men who had worked steam locos as a living; the ‘Black Book’ came alive, and so it can be for you.”
Roger will continue to volunteer with the Railway, playing a part in management, training and briefing roles.
Photo: Kate Cooke
Arson attack on passenger shelter
A fire, that appeared to have been deliberately started, damaged the passenger shelter at Country Park Halt, on Sunday 2nd August. Shropshire Fire Service attended and extinguished the fire using knapsack equipment. They confirmed they were treating the incident as arson. It appeared that a nearby fence panel had been used to start the fire inside the brick shelter, and flames spread to destroy the timber roof.
The incident was reported to the police, but no leads have so far emerged. Infrastructure manager Chris Bond said:
“Coming on our second day of reopening after lockdown, this incident was one we could well have done without. The damage is not covered by our insurance, and putting things right will have to fit in with other priorities on spending. I have obtained original drawings for the structure from civil engineer Jonathan Symonds, and I am using these to sort out quotes. We’ll probably need to replace the entire roof, and we will look to line the inside of the building with fire-resistant materials to prevent this happening again.”
Photo: Craig Jackson, Shropshire Fire Service.
SVR wins Trip Advisor accolade
The Severn Valley Railway has been chosen by Trip Advisor as a Travellers’ Choice Winner. This puts our wonderful heritage railway as one of the top 10% of attractions, worldwide! The platform awards the accolade by combing through reviews, ratings and savings from travellers across the world, and uses the information to recognise the very best.
Something for us all to be very proud of!
John Gill Some years ago in the not too distant past I was standing on Bewdey Station platform watching the day go by after watching the trains perform identical movements. A number of platform colleagues were in attendance and whilst we were putting the world to rights the sound of a distant jet aircraft was heard- the familiar roar and all that. As we chatted with the world approaching paradise the sound increased until emerging over the Kidderminster horizon and flying fairly low was a Vulcan bomber. Banking over the station and with a wing wobble as salute the Vulcan accelerated away and into the distant cloud.
“Must be a practice for one of our 40s days”, suggested one of our assembled company. We continued with our duties.
A couple of days later, Richard Havard, a member of the VLO team, visited the office when the Vulcan matter was raised. We then learned that the fly past was not for the SVR or Bewdley Station but for Engine House volunteer John Gill.
Richard explains, “After leaving University, John fulfilled a lifetime wish to fly with the RAF. Over the ensuing years his aviation experience and expertise grew allowing him to pilot military jets, including Vulcans, and serve his country in many theatres but primarily during the cold war when he and his team were always on alert awaiting ‘the call’”
Following retirement from the RAF John became a test pilot for Rolls Royce, later moving to Bewdley and after settling in, joined the SVR in 2008 as a meet and greet volunteer at The Engine House. His RAF officer experience assisted him specialising in escorting parties to the various Engine House highlights, including The Royal Saloon for which his services were frequently required.
After 10 years’ service John’s health began to falter as a result of which he retired from active Engine House service. Unfortunately, a recent ailment resulted in him succumbing to this on 10th August.
Over the years that he has been volunteering with us, John has accrued many friends who send condolences to wife Dawn and the family.
And the flypast! This was the last flight of the V Bombers before retirement and specially flown over Bewdley as a salute to John. We are honoured to have known you John. Thank you for services to this country and the SVR. Rest in Peace. You have earned it. Barry Moreton, VLO
SVR (Holdings) director and chairman of the diesel committee, Jonathan Dunster, writes with an update on the SVR fleet and visiting locomotives, as volunteers are returning to work under social distancing restrictions.
Class 11 12099 Heavy overhaul continues, and work during August has included attention to the main generator which is the ‘heart of the machine’ so to speak. This component is being painstakingly overhauled to ensure it gives many years of good service.
Class 14 D9551 Work has continued at Bridgnorth under the expert leadership of Gary Williams to return the loco to serviceable condition following the overhaul of the turbo charger, connecting rods and attention to a multitude of other items. Successful test runs were undertaken on Monday 17th August, and as expected the locomotive is now considerably stronger than previously. All being well, 9551 will be operating on the September Friday diesel turns.
Class 17 D8568 The repaint into BR blue livery is continuing at Kidderminster TMD following a considerable amount of bodywork attention as well as other work on the Paxman engines. If all goes well, the loco will return to service later this year.
Class 33 33108 Having been the mainstay of winter operating for Permanent Way work etc, this locomotive finally returned to Kidderminster in early August for a routine examination, external and internal clean and also inspection of the air reservoirs. Upon completion of this it has returned to Highley but will need to come back to the TMD at some point in the near future to be lifted as a defective traction motor needs to be replaced with an overhauled spare.
Class 35 D7029 Having spent the worst of the winter stored inside the carriage shed, the locomotive is now outside the TMD. Considerable progress has been made on the body work restoration in recent years and further work on the loco will be undertaken once D8568 and D1015 have been completed.
Class 37 37190 This loco is owned by our close friends at Locomotive Services Limited, based around Crewe. As was the case previously with Royal Scot and Britannia, the loco is here to be tested following mechanical attention.
Class 37 37308 Arrived in early July from Lydney. This locomotive, which has been technically SVR-based for some time will now, have its overhaul completed at Kidderminster, and this will begin as soon as 47773 departs. The locomotive is owned by three members of the Class 50 Alliance team.
Class 40 40106 Departed in late July, hauled by 40145 back ‘home’ to Bury. While away the loco will be lifted from its bogies to enable the steam heat pipework to be replaced as well as attention to the bogies themselves. The loco will return to Kidderminster in the autumn ready for the winter season where its steam heating capabilities are always useful.
Class 42 D821 Work has commenced on the scheduled maintenance and repairs that had been scheduled to take place before the Railway had to close down in March.
Class 47 47773 This loco is at Kidderminster for contract body work and a repaint after which it will be returning to Tyseley depot where it is based for Vintage Trains.
50007 Hercules Serviceable and has been used on a few SVR traffic movements during July to test recent speedometer repairs. Also, it has had a mainline trip with GBRf delivering a new Class 769 unit to GWR at Reading. It returned to Kidderminster from its latest mainline run on 18th August.
50031 Hood In storage pending commencement of engine overhaul, which is planned to begin in 2021.
50033 Glorious Work is about to restart on replacement of the cab floors, which stopped when the railway had to close in March.
50035 Ark Royal Has been busy of late, working a considerable number of ballast trains associated with the Falling Sands track renewal. After completion of this key activity the loco returned to Kidderminster for a full underframe / traction motor examination together with an external clean. The loco is now to be fitted with an electrical priming pump for lubricating oil and also a pre-heating system for warming the engine prior to use in cold weather.
50044 Exeter Work continues towards returning this loco to mainline condition. The GSMR cab radio is now installed and it is also being fitted with an electric lube oil priming pump.
50049 Defiance Also serviceable and has seen some use on SVR traffic movements during August, while also receiving some attention to no 2 end cab glazing. It was also used alongside 50007 by GBRf on the mainline recently, returning on 18th August.
D1013 Western Ranger Work continues on reassembly of the locomotive and in particular the completion of the electrical systems. Replacement automatic voltage regulators have recently been fitted and tested, and are modern electronic variants to replace the original carbon pile type.
D1015 Western Champion Work continues to build up replacement engines and ultimately return the locomotive to mainline running. It is hoped ‘15’ will be operational for SVR use on one engine in the near future.
D1062 Western Courier The subject of considerable attention to its bogies and running gear, and is currently on our 35t lifting jacks at Kidderminster where work has included fitment of replacement carden shafts and bushes.
Please click on the gallery for full size, uncropped images and descriptions.
New faces, old faces
Over the last few months of upheaval and strangeness, there have been some departures from the paid staff of Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) Plc, with new people joining, and some changes in the overall organisational structure.
Not surprisingly, a few people have contacted Express Points to ask for some clarification on who’s who! We hope this chart, which you can click on to view in a new page, will explain more.
Thank you to everyone who has bravely volunteered a photograph to assist identification!
Special events in 2020
The sets of compartment coaches are proving their worth in current services on the Railway, and part of the thinking behind the arrangement was that they will more than come into their own for the Ghost Trains and Christmas offerings.
Tickets for the Ghost Trains are already on sale at the SVR website with services on Thursday 29th, Friday 30th and Saturday 31st October. There are four nightly departures from Kidderminster to the haunted station at Arley, with the last one of the evening being aimed at an 18+ audience with ‘extra scariness’ on board the train.
We caught up with events manager Lewis Maddox, who is finalising plans for Christmas. He told us:
“So that we can help people maintain social distancing, we’ll be using compartment stock for all pre-booked Christmas events. Two sets will be used for the Santa services and one for Steam in Lights.
“Social distancing means we’ve had to consider the whole concept of Santa. We can’t have families meeting Father Christmas face to face, so what do we do? We have a plan! We’re looking at six daily steam-hauled departures from Kidderminster to Arley. Passengers leave the train at Arley for a Santa Pantomime, performed by professional actors inside a marquee with seating, staging and lighting – the whole works! While this takes place, presents are distributed on the train to minimise face-to-face contact.
“For Steam in Lights, we’ve made a few changes to last year’s programme and will be running three evening return trips, Bridgnorth to Hampton Loade, with a steam loco on the north end and diesel on the south end. The countdown to the experience will see the train pulling into the station from the south end, and on board there’s a completely new storyline featuring the Cacklers and improved on-train audio. Also, look out for a snow cannon!
“We’ll be running Carol Trains and dining experiences, and we’re still working on the concepts for these. Having the Steam in Lights set based at Bridgnorth means we can run daytime services to The Engine House to boost revenue at weekends.”
Photo: 2857 runs through Hampton Loade on a Steam in Lights service on 6th December 2019. John Titlow
Work on Hagley Hall restarts
Last week saw the return of paid staff to the Motive Power Depot in Bridgnorth to work on the overhaul of 4930 Hagley Hall. They’ve wasted no team in getting stuck in straight away. Dave Fulcher-Insull, team leader for the project, sends this report.
My team has returned on a three-day-a-week shift system, and we’ve made a satisfying start on the work. It’s good to see what’s already been achieved in a relatively short space of time.
We’ll spend the next few months concentrating on finishing off the tender, and expect to have this all done and dusted by Christmas, although we’ll save the painting until the rest of the engine is finished.
Since our return to work, we’ve lifted off the tender tank to get access to the frames, and then fitted the refurbished vacuum cylinder back in, using newly manufactured brackets. The brake cylinder itself has had a new body, piston head and piston rod.
We’ve also taken the opportunity to install the vacuum reservoir on the inside back of the tender frames. The reservoir has been manufactured as new, after the failure of the original component.
On Sundays, a group of volunteers are coming into the MPD in order to measure up and manufacture new cladding for the main cylinder block for the engine itself.
Unfortunately, the shutdown means we’ve dropped behind at least six months in the schedule for Hagley Hall’s completion, but we’re certainly wasting no time at all in getting straight back onto it now that we’ve returned from furlough.
Meanwhile, at Northern Steam Engineering in Stockton-on-Tees, work on the boiler continues, with the flue tubes recently fitted and ready to be expanded at the smokebox end. Whilst understandably this too is behind schedule because of the continuing Covid-19 crisis, the boiler will be ready well in advance of being required for the full assembly.
It really is good to be back at work, and we’re looking to make a positive impact on getting this important overhaul moving ahead at pace.
Hagley Hall’s overhaul has been funded by generous donations to the SVR Charitable Trust, along with substantial ongoing fundraising by the Friends of Hagley Hall group and a £95,000 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. As project manager, Laura Hines has kept the Heritage Fund up-to-date as a condition of the funding they’ve provided. Meanwhile, Shelagh Paterson has expressed thanks on behalf of the Charitable Trust to Northern Steam and everyone at the Motive Power Depot in Bridgnorth for all their hard work.
Please click on the gallery for full size, uncropped images and descriptions.
Cracked cranks and leaking plugs
The Motive Power Depot at Bridgnorth is working hard to cope with staff on flexi-furlough, supply issues from contractors and some unexpected problems to add to the mix. The new normal is not altogether unlike the old normal, according to volunteer shed master Martin White:
In a world where nothing is quite normal any more, MPD and the loco works have at least presented some semblance of the ‘old normal’ to SVR visitors. A three-train service, hauled by three steam locos is the norm for August, albeit the timetable we've been running to is rather different to last year’s. 7714, 75069, and 2857 shared the duties during the test trains and for the first few weeks of the service and then during week commencing 17th, some scheduled changes and swaps started to occur. 6960 ‘Raveningham Hall’ and 34027 ‘Taw Valley’ appeared on the loco roster whilst the other locos were dropped out of traffic for boiler washouts, etc.
Presently, these five comprise the main running fleet, as the other serviceable locos are too small to haul the current seven and eight coach trains.
43106 has yet to re-enter traffic due to delays to its new driver’s brake valve, largely caused by parts supply issues from a contractor.
1501 was due to have re-joined the operational fleet and had got as far as being steam tested following its extensive maintenance and repairs. Unfortunately, a completely unforeseen issue arose during a test run to Highley and back on Monday 24th August. A crack was discovered in the right hand return crank. If you’re not familiar with the details of steam locos, this is part of the motion and rods that whirl around and make the loco chuff. So severe was this crack that when the offending parts were stripped at Bridgnorth the next day, it took very little effort to completely break off the cracked section. Fortunately, the loco-owning group have some spare parts, recovered years ago, when 1501 was obtained from Coventry Colliery. A replacement return crank is now receiving attention at Bridgnorth to make it fit 1501 as a replacement for the broken one. Crack testing of the replacement, and of the existing left hand crank, has taken place and detailed examination of the failed crank is underway to try to identify the cause.
This unexpected activity has diverted staff away from other tasks, including the brake valve for 43106, and everything is exacerbated by the engineering paid staff still being on part-time flexi-furlough due to Covid-19.
Sadly, this was not the end of the locomotive issues. On Thursday 27th August, 75069 was declared ‘a failure’ whilst being prepared for duty at Bewdley MPD. A boiler fusible plug (a special plug fitted in the crown of the inner firebox) was found to be displaying evidence of leakage, which meant that the loco could not be used until a boilersmith had attended to it, by draining some of the boiler water and removing the plug to examine it and replace it with a new one. The result of this was that for the first time since we resumed running trains, a diesel was used in place of the scheduled steam loco (50035 Ark Royal, with thanks to the diesels team - Ed.)
This is all pretty much the same as the ‘old norm’. When you’re working with 70-year-old steam locos, you have to be prepared to expect the unexpected!
Please click on the gallery for full size, uncropped images and descriptions.
Bats, bees and back on track at Falling Sands
The project delivery manager for the Falling Sands Viaduct restoration is Laura Hines, a role that’s funded entirely by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Laura has been in touch with an update, and it seems that another form of wildlife has been attracted to the SVR’s Victorian viaduct:
Whilst we still have a few bats in residence, restoration work to repair the brickwork at Falling Sands Viaduct has restarted. Working with ecologists from Worcestershire Wildlife Consultancy, the SVR and our contractor CAN have been granted a low impact licence from Natural England. This will ensure correct access to the affected arches and allow work to progress. Woodcrete bat boxes are being erected to provide habitats for the displaced bats, which we hope will be more comfortable than the holes in the viaduct!
Over the past couple of weeks we have seen other wildlife keen to make the viaduct their home, with a small nest of bees moving into one of the disused drainpipes. We are working with a local bee expert to find the best way to deal with this effectively to ensure we avoid further delays.
Whilst the on-site team are busy raking out and re-casing the bricks, the trains continue to safely cross the viaduct. Due to the bats and bees (not to mention Covid-19) the work on site is likely to be delayed by three to four weeks, moving the final completion towards the end of November.
Behind the scenes, the final touches have been made to the Stove R (2886) exhibition, including sounds and smells! We’ll soon begin planning how the travelling exhibition will operate. The interpretation at the Engine House, including the FSV play area, has been installed. Family activity sheets are now available to help children journey around the site and explore the new characters. Accompanying historical information will soon be made available to visitors, now that the research volunteers are back at work following lockdown.
Photo: Graham Phillips
The past month in Carriage & Wagon
Our carriage & wagon correspondent Angela Walker writes with this update on a busy month, across both C&W sites in Kidderminster and Bewdley:
Another month has flown by and I cannot quite believe it is time to write some notes! In August, more paid staff have returned, and the teams continue to work in bubbles, working shifts of either Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday or Thursday/Friday/Saturday. The carriage running maintenance team and the carriage cleaning team are covering a seven-day rota, on reduced hours. Although we have almost the full team of paid staff back in the carriage department, working a three-day week or reduced hours means project work is a little slower. When the hours are back to normal, we will see more progress.
Mechanical progress is being made on BR composite corridor (CK) 16169. The carriage is currently on accommodation bogies whilst her commonwealth bogies are having their mechanical overhaul. New brake rigging bushes have been machined. The bolster has been dismantled to remove rust and corrosion, the coil springs are being cleaned, painted and re-fitted. The brake cylinders for 16169 have also been overhauled.
Work also continues on GWR 2242 Hawksworth brake third, owned by the Great Western (SVR) Association. The team are working on the second bogie, including the replacement of bow girder brake rod, brake block back and brake hanger bushes.
Two sets of steps are currently being made ready for use with BR coach 4593, which is going to act as a temporary mess room for the carriage works, so that we can comply with social distancing rules.
In the carriage works paintshop, GWR corridor composite (CK) 7284 is receiving attention again as more of the carriage team return. Door locks are being overhauled, another door skin has been replaced, and work on the battery box is progressing. A survey of the interior led to the decision to re-upholster some of the seats.
34562, BR brake second corridor (BSK) is having work undertaken on her gangway, with the old bellow being removed and replaced with new. The damper brackets have been re-fitted and a new spark hood will be installed to replace the old one which was worn out.
I would like to give a shout out to the carriage cleaning team, who continue to work tirelessly with all the extra cleaning procedures in place. They are a very important piece in the SVR jigsaw, and if that piece were missing, the picture could not be complete.
Well done to everyone who is doing their bit for the SVR, no matter how big or small. - Thank you.
Please click on the gallery for full size, uncropped images and descriptions.
The SVR supports local businesses
If you’ve visited one of the Railway’s cafes or shops over the past month, you’ll have noticed a definite change, with a wide selection of new produce and products. It’s all part of an initiative the SVR has launched to work closely with local businesses.
Lisa Palmer, head of sales, marketing and commercial, said:
“During the pandemic, we’ve taken the time to upscale our offering across the full line. From food to merchandise, real ale to home-baked bread, we’re keen to support businesses in the region whilst celebrating the best of Shropshire and Worcestershire.
"You’re now guaranteed a freshly prepared tasty treat from the Severn Valley Railway, and a gift from Worcestershire and Shropshire to take home - all from businesses on our doorstep.”
Rupert Bennett, managing director of Bridgnorth’s Bennett & Dunn Cold Pressed Rape Seed Oil, said:
“We are extremely proud to supply our range of oils, infusions and dressings to the Severn Valley Railway.
“The Railway shares our ethos of using local quality suppliers whenever possible. I travelled with the SVR as a child and to be a supplier now is very exciting!”
September will see the launch of new dining opportunities on the Railway, both of which make use of locally sourced produce. Passengers on the Saturday evening Sunset Special service will be able to alight at Highley for a pre-booked delicious three-course dinner at The Engine House (please see Evening Dining for more details.) And passengers travelling on both the Explorer and the Adventurer services have the option to pre-book a Vintage Afternoon Tea (please see Vintage Afternoon Tea for more details.)
STOP PRESS: The King and Castle at Kidderminster needs volunteers to take Covid-19 registration details, particularly on Fridays (from 3:00 - 9:00), Saturdays (12:00 - 9:00) and Sundays (12:00 - 6:00). If you can help, please contact bar manager Kevin Slade (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Photo: Eve Chance and Lisa Palmer with some of the locally produced goodies. Dan Shorthouse
A big thank you from Bewdley station
Assistant station master Dai Phillips has asked Express Points to pass on the gratitude of the station management team to everyone who’s pitched in to prepare the station for re-opening and during the first month of running.
During lockdown, volunteers living close to the station played an important part by carrying out regular security patrols, especially important as we still had several coaches stabled at Bewdley, as well as locos and other valuable equipment on site.
As soon as they could, volunteers came back to return the station to a suitable standard after months of no attention.
When we started running trains again on a daily basis, we needed our own staff, plus help from colleagues in other departments, and for this we were most grateful. Thank you everyone for your efforts.
Photo: Martin and Lizzie Turner at Bewdley on 10th August 2020. Lesley Carr
Comberton Place offices are closed to visitors
Following a mandatory Covid-19 risk assessment of the SVR’s office space, managers have concluded that it’s no longer possible to welcome ad-hoc visitors into Comberton Place for the time being, in order to protect staff, both paid and volunteer. HR manager Kate Cooke has advised all staff:
“There’s now a message on the door at Comberton Place advising that the office is no longer open to the public for Visitor Services to assist face-to-face, and that we are now dealing with all enquiries by phone on 01562 757900.
“If you are approached by a member of the public asking to enter the offices, please do not let them in and point out the message displayed on the front door.
“Please be mindful when entering and exiting the building using your staff entry fob, and make sure that the door is fully closed behind you. We have a responsibility to keep all staff safe and your cooperation with this is greatly appreciated.”
SVR locos pay tribute to Stonehaven
In the days following August’s tragic Stonehaven derailment in Scotland, locomotives hauling SVR’s services carried wreaths in tribute to those who lost their lives. The following Wednesday, in common with national rail companies and others, SVR staff observed silence at 9.43 am. In both cases the SVR did not seek publicity, and did so only to show its respects.
Loco crew manager Jon Teuwen told Express Points: “The idea for the wreaths came from lighting up cleaner and trainee fireman Harry Bradley. The original wreaths were purchased by Harry and adjusted by Tom Clarke’s partner Dawn in order to make them blue and white, like the Scottish flag. Tom, accompanied by his and Dawn’s young son Teddy, then delivered these to the loco crews at Bewdley and Bridgnorth.
“This was a lovely and very thoughtful gesture by Harry, Dawn, Tom and Teddy, done as a tribute and act of remembrance to our fellow railway colleagues and the member of the public who sadly lost their lives in that tragic accident in Scotland.”
Photo: 2857 at Kidderminster carrying a wreath 13th August 2020. Russell Maiden
September will see the return of diesel-hauled services on the SVR for the first time this year, following the scheduled closure of the Railway in the early part of the year, and then of course the unscheduled Covid-19 lockdown.
The Pioneer service will operate a high mileage diesel diagram, from 9.45am-7.30pm, Kidderminster to Bridgnorth return, three times.
These will operate every Friday during September and, subject to all the usual caveats, the planned loco roster will be as follows:
Friday 4th September - 50033 Glorious will be at the Kidderminster end of the train all day and the Bridgnorth end loco will be swapped for each departure from Kidderminster with 50007 Hercules working first, then 50035 Ark Royal and finally 50049 Defiance.
Friday 11th September - 33108
Friday 18th September - 37190
Friday 25th September – Class 14 D9551 and Class 17 D8568
EDIT 31st August. Do check the website for changes, there is a change of traction already for 25th September.
Sales are going tremendously well, and as we go to press, the Pioneer services are 63% sold out. Further details at https://www.svr.co.uk/SEItem.aspx?a=166.
Photo: 37190 in Kidderminster TMD undergoing a Fit To Run exam on 5th August, with 47773. Bob Dunn.
V2 31st August 2020 (change to diesel rota)
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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.