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Severn Valley Railway offers driving experience as compensation for diesel trains

The Severn Valley Railway is offering short footplate experiences as compensation for the temporary postponement of steam trains on its main line.

Pic at Severn Valley Railway, Bridgnorth, of volunteer: Rob Wilson from Whitchurch
Pic at Severn Valley Railway, Bridgnorth, of volunteer: Rob Wilson from Whitchurch

Due to the current heatwave, the railway confirmed earlier this week that it will only be running diesel-hauled passenger services from Wednesday until Sunday.

The heritage railway has taken the decision to postpone steam services to prevent lineside fires, with temperatures set to soar into the 30s.

Officials have said they are reviewing the situation and are hoping for 'sustained rainfall' to dampen down the vegetation which can catch fire.

Lesley Carr, head of marketing at the Severn Valley Railway, said the vast majority of passengers understood the situation, though there were a few disappointed not to be travelling on a steam train.

She said that no one wanted to see steam train services running more than the team at the Severn Valley Railway, but they needed to act responsibly, as even the smallest spark could cause something serious.

“Last weekend we experienced a number of fires,” explained managing director Helen Smith. “They were caused by sparks or cinders escaping from steam locomotives.

"These can quickly take hold, because prolonged hot weather has left the lineside vegetation tinder-dry.

“Under these circumstances, the responsible thing to do is switch to heritage diesel-hauled passenger services for the rest of this week.

"We’ll review the situation at the beginning of next week, and what we really need is some prolonged rain to improve the condition of the vegetation.

"We are very fortunate to have an amazing fleet of heritage diesels at the SVR, and once again they are rising to the occasion.”

As compensation for this, short footplate experiences – where visitors get the opportunity to drive a steam train – are running at Bridgnorth and Kidderminster stations.

Lesley said that by running these experiences within the confines of the station, there is no risk of a fire.

The steam engines are not being worked as hard as they would be if they were transporting passengers on the line and therefore are safe to run.

There will be a small extra charge for these experiences to help cover the cost of coal.

The Severn Valley Railway also confirmed the return of the festive Steam in Lights event this week, running from November 18.

For more information on this event or to purchase tickets, visit svr.co.uk/steaminlights.

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