This photo at Buckfastleigh was taken on the first full training run for footplate staff and guards with an empty passenger train which was waiting to leave on Wednesday 7th April in the morning - five return trips were run in total that day. (Alan Taylor)
As part of the SDR’s re-opening plans, the railway started trial running of some empty stock (ECS) steam trains this week from Wednesday 7th April for a month-long period of ‘shakedown refreshers’ for footplate crews, Guards and signalmen.
These ‘Shakedown Steam’ trains are running in April and up to the start of May which is basically every Wednesday to Sunday inclusive. The dates are Fri 9, Sat 10, Sun 11 April; Wed 14, Thur 15, Fri 16, Sat 17, Sun 18 April; Wed 21, Thur 22, Fri 23, Sat 24, Sun 25 April; Wed 28, Thur 29, Fri 30 April, plus Sat 1 and Sun 2 May.
None of these trains will be carrying passengers of course and run to an unpublished timetable, but they will be regular throughout the days and away down the line for a maximum of an hour and a quarter usually.
This one of 5542 at Totnes was on the last of four trips on Thursday 8th. (Alan Taylor)
Don’t forget that the SDR Site Open Days start next week on Monday 12 April too, and our expected re-opening to public trains is from 17 May.
The above two pix of 5542 with four (empty) coaches were taken by SDR commercial director Alan Taylor who comments: “Throughout the day on Wednesday, we were met with enthusiastic waves and smiles all the way along the line. Walkers, motorists, residents at Staverton, and passengers on main-line trains were all pointing, smiling and waving at us. I gather the Buckfastleigh Town Council FaceBook page has received many ‘welcome back’ comments too, such as: ‘it’s great to hear the whistle again’, and ‘normality returns’! The feel-good factor is definitely still alive and well for the SDR in Devon!”
The above picture of GWR Class 2-6-2T No: 5542 is seen at Caddaford curve, near Buckfastleigh on the South Devon Railway working the 10.30 Buckfastleigh to Totnes Riverside on the 8th April 2021. The train is running so the crew, guards and signalmen can refresh their operating knowledge of the line. Photo © Colin Wallace.