47 years after the Paignton to Kingswear branch was sold to Dart Valley Railway plc, the ‘big railway’ will be running a train over it again.
In the first instance of privatisation of part of the UK network, it was in 1972 that BR closed the line, selling it ‘in service’ to the operator of the Totnes to Buckfastleigh heritage line.
Now staff at Paignton’s main line station – opposite that of the Dartmouth Steam Railway’s northern Queens Park terminus – are to run their own train over what has long been one of Europe’s most popular seaside lines, to raise money for charity.
Top and tailed by the DSR’s Class 37 No. 37275 and a Class 03 shunter, the four-coach special on Saturday, September 14 will be a “must’ for trackbashers, for it will run over rarely-used sidings and loop lines, and maybe even the Churston turntable, as well as the the main passenger lines.
There will be 200 seats available, priced £35 each. All the proceeds from the ticket sales will be donated to the Samaritans, and a raffle will be run on board to raise money for the mental health charity Mind, with prizes donated by Train Operating Companies and major retailers.
The Dartmouth Steam Railway & Riverboat Company has generously agreed to waive all operational charges to increase the money raised for charity.
The trip will be a full-day event starting at 10.30am, with an optional lunch break at The Weary Ploughman pub at Churston and the return to Queens Park at 5.30pm.
Joint organiser Laura Greening, a member of Great Western railway staff at Paignton’s main line station, said: “A few months ago some friends and I who work in the railway industry decided we wanted to raise some money for the Samaritans and Mind charities.
“Unfortunately on the national rail network fatalities are on the increase and we have all in one way or another been effected by the devastating effects on the families and friends involved as well as our own mental health.
“The Samaritans already work with colleagues on the network providing support in the awful aftermath as well as running suicide prevention course which are invaluable and we would like to give something back
“We already work really closely with the steam railway and after discussing with them what we wanted to do they agreed to allow us to run a railtour on their line waiving all operational costs to increase the amount we can raise for the charity.”
*Tickets for the once-in-a-lifetime all-tracks tour can be bought from http://billet.to/s/nwBZNBY