Vintage Trains Limited (VTL) is firmly back on track with the announcement of its comprehensive railtour programme for 2019.
Designed to appeal to a wide audience, from the avid rail enthusiast to families with or without children and diners looking for a new culinary experience, the programme amounts to over 30 railtours to a variety of destinations, all starting from its heartland in Birmingham or the West Midlands.
Introducing the 2019 programme, Cath Bellamy, Vintage Trains Managing Director, said: ‘Vintage Trains is pleased to be back, with our magnificent flagship engine Clun Castle leading the way following its overhaul at Tyseley Locomotive Works.
Our first charter programme combines some of our old favourites – quite literally back by popular demand – with some new ideas. We see a big opportunity to attract lots of passengers, new to steam. Our 2019 program give us a chance to start testing our ideas and welcoming lots of new passengers on board’.
Loyal VTL passengers will recognise old favourites in the 2019 programme, but there is also much to appeal to new audiences, be they families looking for a fun day out or those seeking an all-new premium dining experience on a summer evening.
Cath Bellamy added: ‘Our exciting new partnership with Riviera Trains ensures that we have adaptable coach availability to better match demand across this wider customer base, particularly with our first class, silver service dining option’.
2019 Railtour Programme
VTL’s 2019 programme brings back a number of old favourites interspersed with new destinations. All regular railtour trains will start from either Birmingham Moor Street (BMS) or Snow Hill stations and will commence on March 9th with a Cotswold Explorer running on a circular route via Oxford. Clun Castle will bring yet another dimension to this much loved route with its beautiful scenery and demanding inclines. The Cotswold Explorer itinerary will be repeated on April 6th/June 1st/July 6th/October 12th. This train will include a full out and back silver service dining option.
A new title for 2019, the Chester Venturer, runs direct to the cathedral City of Chester whilst thefamiliar Welsh Marches takes a circular route via Hereford. These trains will also offer a full dining option across the journey. The Chester Venturer will run on April 28th/June 8th/July 20th/Oct 19th. The Welsh Marches runs on May 25th/July 13th/Sept 14th.
Adding variety to its programme, 2019 will see several excursions running to specific destinations which offer a full and exciting day out for the family. The first to be confirmed will visit the May Day Bank Holiday, Llandudno Victorian Extravaganza. This well-known event in the transport enthusiast calendar has become a honeypot for road transport, steam traction engine and military vehicle enthusiasts and above all, its Victorian steam fair which takes over the streets of the distinctive town centre for the whole weekend. Clun Castle will power the train with the locomotive being on static display in the platform for all visitors to see.
Other special excursions are in the planning process and will be announced separately as soon as confirmed.
The Shakespeare Express
VTL has been running the Shakespeare Express steam service between Birmingham and Stratford upon Avon on summer Sundays for a number of years. It provides a unique opportunity for passengers to step back in time to the more elegant and romantic days of train travel on a GWR line still displaying much of its original infrastructure. The SE will offer a variety of on-board dining options including a Sunday breakfast, Sunday lunch and Afternoon Tea. This year’s programme commences on Sunday July 21st and will run every Sunday until September 8th.
Vintage Trains has a track record of delivering a great dining experience on many of its excursions but 2019 will bring more variety. Its railtours will offer a variety of options including a first class, silver service dining option. There will also be a programme of early evening, bespoke dining trains from Birmingham Moor Street to a variety of destinations – to be announced separately.
Tyseley Locomotive Works Open Days
Now a firm favourite in the VTL calendar, Tyseley’s Open days welcome young and old to the hub of the operation to enjoy a very different day out. This year’s dates are June 22nd/23rd and Sept 29th/30th. Plans are already underway with several goliaths of steam invited to attend – full details will be announced later.
Riviera Trains Partnership
In order to provide additional flexibility in its train formations and therefore the customer offer, VTL is pleased to announce a three-year partnership with Riviera Trains in an agreement which stables 10 of its BR Mk1 Chocolate and Cream liveried coaches at Tyseley. The contract enables ‘mix and match’ with the VT coach fleet and more flexibility in the customer offer. The ability to potentially deliver any mix from all standard class to first class Pullman full dining enables VTL to target new markets with its railtour programme.
Tyseley’s own fleet of Mk1 and Pullman coaches is undergoing refurbishment with 8 of the fleet already complete, derogated and licenced to run. This work programme will continue alongside a contract to return the Riviera Trains coaches to dual (air/vacuum) braking. The ability to supply air or vacuum braking to the motive power will enable VT to supplement its 2019 schedule with visiting steam, diesel or electric traction. More information on additional trains to the programme will be announced later.
The Locomotive Fleet
For 2019, Tyseley’s icon, Clun Castle, will spearhead the railtour schedule. Fresh from overhaul and its February test runs, Clun’s first public run since 1988 will be the Cotswold Explorer on March 9th.
Where operational requirements apply, Tyseley’s Class 47 diesel locomotive (47 773) will join Clun Castle in ‘top and tail’ mode. Rood Ashton Hall will also be available and during the year it is planned to use visiting steam, diesel and electric power to head several VTL railtours. Schedules will be announced later.
Booking Vintage Trains Railtours
Full details of the railtour schedule with dates, pricing and booking information for forthcoming railtours is available at www.VintageTrains.co.uk or by calling Vintage Trains on 0121 708 4960.Enjoy more Heritage Railway reading in the four-weekly magazine. Click here to subscribe.