Temporary return to heritage diesel at Severn Valley


British Railways Standard Class 4 4-6-0 leaving Highley station on the Severn Valley Railway, Highley, Shropshire.

With another spell of extremely hot weather and no rain forecast, the Severn Valley Railway will run only diesel-hauled passenger services from Wednesday to Sunday this week to avoid causing lineside fires.

“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 catch 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.

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“This is the second time we’ve had to take this action this year, and we very much hope that our visitors will understand the reasons for it. We are very fortunate to have an amazing fleet of heritage diesels at the SVR, and once again they are rising to the occasion.”

In addition to the diesel-hauled passenger services, the railway will be running short footplate rides at both Bridgnorth and Kidderminster stations, with the chance to experience the thrill of travelling on a steam locomotive footplate. There will be a small extra charge for this to help cover the cost of coal. The SVR has risk-assessed the use of steam locomotives in this limited capacity and is confident these can go ahead safely.

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