Spring Diesel Gala on the 'Friendly Line in the Cotswolds' - Friday 31st March to Sunday 2nd April 2006
01 January 2006
The first major diesel event of the season on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway (GWR), which operates between Toddington, Winchcombe and Cheltenham Racecourse Stations, will feature the railway's operational fleet of no less than seven locomotives. The event is shaping up to be a very interesting Gala and it takes place over three days from Friday 31st March to Sunday 2nd April 2006.
With the increasingly widespread introduction of 'multiple units', electric trains and high-speed trains on the national network, a diesel locomotive hauling a train of passenger carriages on the main line has become a very rare sight indeed. However, the distinctive sight and sound of the post-steam era on Britain's railways will be recalled during this gala.
Visitors will be able to enjoy an intensive train service over the three days, with the locomotives clocking up several hundred miles between them over the 20 mile round trip on the GWR's line. Appearing in British Rail Blue livery, British Rail Green livery and the more recent 'Freightliner' and Network South East liveries, most represent types that once regularly worked over the GWR's route before the line was closed in 1976. However, there will be one or two running which didn't feature in those historic days, and subject to availability, the 'starring' locomotives will be as follows:
- Class 20 No. D8137
- Class 24 No. 24081
- Class 37 No. 37324
- Class 47 No's 47105 & 47376
- Class 56 No. 56003
- Class 73 No. 73129
- There is also the possibility of a guest locomotive appearing, but at the time of writing this has not been confirmed.
Wayne Finch from the GWR's Diesel Department says "restoring a main line diesel locomotive demands enormous technical skill and at Toddington, we have a group of dedicated volunteers who have restored some of these locomotives from scrap yard condition. There are some people who turn their noses up at diesels, but the represent a vital era in the evolution of Britain’s railways. Some of the locomotives running during the gala represent types that took over from steam during the 1960’s and were the mainstay of services throughout the country over the following 40 years. We can, therefore, promise visitors an unusual and special experience.”
Trains will be running from 10:30 from Toddington Station and 11:15 from Cheltenham Racecourse station on the Friday, and from 09:15 from Toddington and 10:00 from Cheltenham Racecourse on the weekend days. There will also be regular “shuttle” services operating between Toddington and Winchcombe stations on the Saturday and Sunday, as will demonstration freight trains, and many of the trains will be double headed. Furthermore, this will be the first time that Class 20 No. D8137 has run for several months, after undergoing mechanical repairs, and will be a further opportunity to see the gleaming No. 47376 sporting its recently applied ‘Freightliner’ grey livery and replacement ‘Freightliner 1995’ nameplates. Catering will be available in the ‘Flag & Whistle’ Tea Rooms at Toddington, whilst light refreshments and ‘Rail Ale’ will also be available from the buffet cars on the trains. Additionally, yard tours will be available so visitors can view other locomotive restoration and repair projects, such as Peak Class locomotive No. 45149, Class 26 No. 26043, and the extremely rare ex-LMS diesel shunter No. 7069. Rover tickets will be available, which will enable travellers to change trains as they wish on the day of purchase.
Toddington station is 100 metres from the junction of the B4632 and B4077 roads and 6 miles from junction 9 on the M5, whilst Cheltenham Racecourse Station can be accessed from the main entrance to the Racecourse.
More details are available by phoning Toddington Railway Station on (01242) 621405 or by visiting our website at www.gwsr.com.
This will be a splendid opportunity for families and enthusiasts alike to come along and enjoy a great day at ‘The Friendly Line in the Cotswolds’.