[WSR News 2001]

West Somerset Railway


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Flying Scotsman to visit WSR ?

[Mon 22-Oct-01] St Albans Travel is planning a programme of three mainline tours using LNER Pacific no 4472 Flying Scotsman in 2002. One of these is due to run from London to Minehead and return on Saturday 12 May 2002, using the Northern Belle VSOE set. Although details have yet to be finalised, this may well bring the first visit of 4472 to the WSR and only the second visit of an LNER engine, after the appearance of B1 61264 earlier this year.

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Autumn gala report

[Tue 18-Sep-01] Another successful Autumn Gala was held on the WSR over the weekend Friday 14 to Sunday 16 September. The event, blessed by generally favourable weather, featured all eight of the available locomotives in service - visitors 813, 4247, 9466 and 45337 together with residents 4160, 6412, 7820 and 7828. 6412. Among many highlights of the event were the return of Port Talbot Railway 0-6-0ST no 813, this time hauling a short mixed branch train over the full length of the line. No 4247 made a very successful entry into WSR service after trial runs earlier in the month, and covered over 230 trouble free miles during the gala. The power and sure-footedness of this engine was shown to advantage as it romped up the WSR's banks with just a muted blast from the chimney. Freight ("Goods" in GWR parlance) services made a welcome return, with a daily trip in each direction shared between 9466, 813, 4247 and 7820. Each of the WSR's galas features different events, but for many one of the highlights of this gala was the action at Minehead with the use of 6412 as station pilot to shunt trains. Several trains arrived at Minehead in platform 1 but were then shunted to the bay platform 2 for the next departure. This meant continuous activity as the pilot dashed back and forth between successive arrivals and then trains engines moved out from the yard to take up their next service departure. Double-heading featured on several trains with 4160 and 7820 on a 12 coach train on Friday evening, and the large and small panniers 9466 and 6412 working a couple of services. More gala pictures may be found here.

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A new livery on the WSR

[Wed 18-Sep-01] A new coaching stock livery is now o be seen on the WSR with the arrival of BR Mk1 BSK 35451 which is painted in BR(S) unlined green livery. This coach is inetnded for use in due course as the main-line support coach with 34046 Braunton. It is fitted with dual steam/electric heating and dual vacuum/air brakes and Commonwealth bogies. It carries a 100mph max speed branding, but it is unlikely that this speed will be achieved on WSR metals ! The coach was used in service on the branch mixed train during the WSR Autumn Gala. .

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813 at large

[Wed 08-Aug-01] Despite the poor weather, the Alternative Rally weekend of 4/5 August provided much of interest for visitors, with features and events at many of the stations along the line. A highlight for many was the appearance of GWR (ex Port Talbot Railway) 0-6-0ST no 813 which operated a local shuttle service between Crowcombe abd Bishops Lydeard. The stay of 813 was brief, and the engine was already loaded on a road transporter at Bishops Lyderad by Sunday evening (photo).

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New diesel shunter

[Mon 06-Aug-01] Visitors to Wiliton Diesel Depot on the "Alternative Rally" weekend were able to inspect the latest arrival at the depot. It is a Sentinel 0-4-0 diesel shunter no 16. This engine was built by Sentinel at Shrewsbury in 1964 for the Manchester Ship Canal Company, who operated an extensive internal railway network. The engine is a chain driven 0-4-0 and is powered by a Rolls Royce turbocharged diesel engine. The loco has been restored in smart MSC blue livery, and is expected to be used as Williton depot pilot.

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Diesel Locomotive Diary

[Tue 31-Jul-01] To mark the 40th anniversary of its construction, Class 33 diesel electric 33048 will be working trains on the West Somerset Railway on Saturday August 25th. The locomotive will leave Bishops Lydeard at 11.30, work 14.50 Minehead to Williton, 15.45 Williton to Minehead and finally 16.45 Minehead to Bishops Lydeard. This is the final planned working for BRCW Type 3 on the West Somerset this year prior to its planned withdrawal for overhaul, which will see it repainted in original green livery. This weekend also marks the start of a period of "heritage" diesel traction operations on the WSR with Class 35 "Hymek" D7017 due to be in action on Sunday 26th and Monday 27th August and Class 52 D1010 "Western Campaigner" working trains on Saturday September 1st.

Meanwhile Class 04 D2271 and Class 03 D2133 share station pilot duties at Minehead, and Class 08 D3462 is currently rostered for similar duties at Bishops Lydeard. All being well it is likely that D2133 will haul its first WSR passnger train during the Sixties weekend on 6/7 October. The same weekend should also see the recently arrived Class 117 dmu in service in original BR dark olive green livery with "whiskers".

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Vintage Vehicle Weekend
The "Alternative Rally" 4&5 August

[Tue 17-Jul-01] Owing to the Foot & Mouth epidemic, the WSRA's traditional Steam Fayre and Vintage Vehicle Rally scheduled to be held at Bishops Lydeard over the weekend Sat and Syn 4 & 5 August has been cancelled. The availability of the rally field is the major reason for the cancellation. However as a replacement, the WSRA is planning an alternative Vintage Vehicle Weekend under the banner "The Alternative Rally". The event will take the form of exhibits at most stations along the line. Exhibits are planned for stations at Bishops Lydeard, Crowcombe, Williton and Watchet. The latter exhibit is being carried out with the help of the West Somerset District Council. Exhibits will consist of steam traction engines, model railways, vintage cars and vintage motorcycles etc. A Vintage Bus service will operate between stations offering the opportunity to use both rail and bus travel to the exhibits.

On Saturday 4 August, Cheshire Railtours will be operating a diesel hauled mainline rail tour from London Victoria to Minehead and return. The Severn Coast Express in the traditional form will not run, but it is intended to run a Dining Train plus additional coaches on the Saturday night. For reservations please contact Minehead station

Agreement has been reached with the owners of GWR 0-6-0ST No. 813 to visit the WSR for the weekend. The loco will work shuttles between Bishops Lydeard and Crowcombe 4 times each day and possibly also some extra shuttles to Norton Fitzwarren on the Sunday only. Fares will be 3.00 each return from BL to Crowcombe with all proceeds going direct to the WSRA to help cover the cost of bringing this unusual guest engine to the line.

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[Sun 24-Jun-01] The Annual General Meeting of the West Somerset Railway Plc took place at the Regal Cinema in Minehead on Saturday 23 June. In the Annual Report and Financial Statement for the year ended 31 Dec 2000, the Chairman Denis Taylor reported another successful year for the railway. Passengers numbers totalled 154,421 in 2000, a slight increase from 153,382 in 1999. Turnover increased by 6.4% from 1,142,188 in 1999 to 1,215,469 in 2000. The net value of the Company increased by 1% to 1,147,213 at the end of the year. The company made an overall net loss before tax of 24,001. However this is entirely due to the extra provision for repair of S&D 2-8-0 no 53808 which is proving to be very expensive. Before this extra provision, the Company made a surplus of 64,784 in 2000.

The Company is now in the advanced stages of planning the extension of Electric Key Token working throughout the line (Electric Token System or ETS in GWR parlance). At present EKT is used between Minehead and Blue Anchor, with staff and ticket working elsewhere. EKT will provide increased operational flexibility on peak operating days. EKT requires the provision of a cable route throughout the length of the line and will take approximately five years to complete. The first cable section is costing 36,000.

The cancellation by Railtrack of the Norton Fitzwarren Junction resignalling scheme planned for last winter was noted with considerable disappointment. Although funding for the work was available thanks to the excellent support of the three local authorities, Railtrack were unable to provide technical resources to manage the programme, owing to the priority on other signalling schemes and TPWS installation. It has now been agreed that the resignalling will form part of the Silk Mills Level Crossing replacement scheme. Details of this scheme, which involves the construction of a new road overbridge across the main line at Silk Mills just beyond the junction at Norton Fitzwarren, were given by a County Council representative. It is expected that this scheme will go ahead in 2003. It was emphasised that the design of the bridge will take full cognisance of possible future longer term developments in the area including a park and ride scheme, a possible new station on the mainline, and the need to provide clearance for up to five railway tracks under the bridge.

The need for a turntable or other loco turning facilities on the WSR was raised in discussion. The Board acknowledged that this would be desirable, and indicated that options for suitable land at Minehead are being discussed with the local authority. However the very high cost of installing the turntable (over 300,000) compared with the very small additional revenue that it would generate mean that the turntable is low on the list of current Company priorities. Finding a suitable turntable location is also complicated by the network of sewage pipes in the vicinity of Minehead station.

The Chairman once again highlighted the acute shortage of boiler repair facilities in the UK, and as a consequence the return of both 53808 and 5193 to steam is now unlikely to take place before Summer 2003. A GWR tender has been acquired for use with 5193 after conversion to a Mogul.

A shareholders dining special service was operated in connection with the AGM, using the Quantock Belle set. The train was hauled by pannier 6412 from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead. Unusually the train paused in the up Platform at Crowcombe where it was overtaken by 7820 on the following down service train. The return special working from Minehead was hauled by 4160. The workshops at Minehead were opened for shareholders who were able to inspect progress on the overhaul of S$D 2-8-0 no 53808, and the restoration of GWR 5163 and 3850. Also present was the newly arrived Stanier Class 5MT no 45337 from the East Lancs Railway. This engine will be based on the WSR until early October.

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Visiting motive power

4247 at GWS Didcot Sat 26-May-01 [Wed 06-Jun-01] The expected visit this summer by Bulleid West Country Pacific by 34027 Taw Valley (alias Hogwarts Express) will not now take place, following the sale of the loco earlier this year. However two other visiting engines are due on the WSR shortly. The first will be LMS Stanier Class 5MT no 45337 making a return visit from the East Lancs Railway. It is due to arrive in June and remain on the line until late September. Also expected soon is GWR 42xx 2-8-0T no 4247. This engine has just completed an extensive restoration from scrapyard condition, and is currently at GW Didcot (photo) for final work prior to steaming tests and running in. It was steamed for the first time on 5 June. It is expected to move to the WSR later in the month.
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6412 on travel

[Wed 06-Jun-01] Pannier tank no 6412 was stopped for repairs to firebox lap seam rivets at Williton. It is now back in service, usually operating from BL on the red timetable. It will be leaving the WSR to visit the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway in July where it is due to work from 6 to 22 July and from 10 August to 3 September. From 24 July to 8 August 6412 will be at the Midland Railway Center at Butterley. It is due back at the WSR for the Autumn Steam gala 14-16 September.
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5542 progress

[Mon 04-Jun-01] An important step forward in the return to service of GWR 4575 Class 2-6-2T no 5542 was taken on Friday 25 May when the boiler was steam tested and duly certified by the insurance inspector. The boiler is due to be moved to Washford shortly to be reunited with the chassis at the SDRT site, paving way for final assembly and steaming of the loco. This will be marked by a "Return to Steam Special". No 5542 is no stranger to the West Somerset. It was allocated for many years in both the GWR and BR era to Taunton shed, finally departing in September 1957 to Westbury shed from where it was withdrawn in December 1961. (See also 04-Mar news item)
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Odney Manor

7828 Minehead Sun 20-May-01[Mon 28-May-01] GWR Manor Class 4-6-0 No 7828 Odney Manor has made a welcome return to service on the WSR following extensive boiler repairs which were undertaken over the winter. No 7828 ran 8703 miles in WSR service last year. However at then end of the year evidence of cracking in the outer firebox was revealed, and the boiler was lifted from the frames at Minehead. Following ultrasonic testing, two sections of the outer firebox were cut out and replaced, along with a dozen or so stays. The work was undertaken by contractors at Minehead. After fitting of new superheater elements, the boiler has now been tested and the loco reassembled. By agreement with the owner Ken Ryder, the loco will remain on the WSR until at least October 2001. No 7828 is pictured below at Minehead on Sunday 20 May 2001.
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The Capital Castle

[Fri 18-May-01] Saturday 19 May will see the first main-line special since the start of the preservation era to be steam hauled throughout from Minehead to Paddington. The train headed by 6024 King Edward I departs Minehead at about 6.45am, picking up at WSR stations to Bishops Lydeard, then Taunton, Bridgwater, Highbridge and Bristol Temple Meads, before running up the Great Western main line via Swindon to Paddington (Full train time details). It had originally been intended to double head this 14 coach train throughout with 6024 and 5029. However problems with watering both engines at Bristol in the time available mean that 5029 will now depart the WSR light engine ahead of the main train, and will be attached in front of 6024 at Bristol. Both engines will haul the train as far as West Ealing where 6024 will be detached, leaving 5029 to haul the train into Paddington. Unfortunately the platforms at Paddington, unlike those at Minehead, are no longer capable of accommodating two engines and 14 coaches. The train will return from Paddington behind an EWS diesel loco (probably a Class 67) as far as Bishops Lydeard, where a resident WSR diesel locomotive (provisionally Western D1010) will take over for the final run back to Minehead.
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Diesel Hydraulic weekend 19/20 May

[Sun 13-May-01] WSR services over the weekend of Sat 19th and Sun 20th May will feature haulage by two of the WSR's BR Western Region Diesel Hydraulics Class 52 Western D1010 and Class 35 Hymek D7017. On Sat 19 May D1010 will operate the 1025 and 1435 departures from Bishops Lydeard returning with the 1215 and 1600 departures from Minehead. D7017 will operate the 1135 and 1510 departures from Bishops Lydeard and the 1340 and 1645 return from Minehead. On Sunday 20 May, the diagrams will be reversed. The remaining diagram each day will be covered by a steam engine, as will the dining service on Sunday. A 10 one day and 17 two day rover is available, for which a total of at least 80 miles of diesel hydraulic haulage per day is possible.

D7017 Minehead Sun 20-May-01 D1010 Minehead Sun 20-May-01

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WSR Comings and Goings

[Wed 18-Apr-01] Following the very successful WSR Jubilee Steam Gala, visiting B1 61264 departed by road back to its home base on the GCR. Other visiting engines have seen further action. On Saturday 7 April, 5029 Nunney Castle and 4936 Kinlet Hall plus support coach left the WSR to head the very successful "Double Duchy" railtour from Taunton to Penzance. The same pair returned east on Easter Bank Holiday Monday 16 April heading "The Royal Duchy" from Penzance to Taunton. 4936 continued light engine from Taunton back to Tyseley, while 5029 and support coach returned to Bishops Lydeard, now facing east. On Easter Saturday 14 April, 6024 King Edward I ran engine and suppprt coach from Bishops Lydeard to Bristol and then worked Pathfinder's "Torbay Limited" from Bristol to Kingswear, and return as far as Taunton, before working back to the WSR. The performance on this run especially the climb to Whiteball was most impressive. No 6024 was immediately pressed into WSR service over Easter Sunday and Monday 15-16 April. It headed an eleven coach train back to BL on Sunday evening (photo). Other visitors were also in action over the weekend including both 80136 and 9466, along with resident 4160. The line was very busy and it appears that the Foot & North crisis had not deterred visitors to the line. Amongst other recent arrivals was Amey Railways Plasser & Theurer tamper DR73920. This was berthed over the weekend at Williton (photo) prior to undertaking tamping work on the WSR. Both 80136 and 9466 will leave the WSR in the second week of May, while 5029 and 6024 will depart on a railtour to London on 19 May.

6024 at Crowcombe 16.45 Minehead-Bishops Lydeard on Easter Sunday 15 
April 2001 Amey Tamper DR73920 at Williton  Sunday 15 April 2001

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The Silver Jubilee Steam Gala

[Mon 02-Apr-01] Despite the Foot & Mouth restrictions and the changeable weather, the WSR's Silver Jubilee Steam Gala over the weekend Fri 30 March-Sun 1 April, attracted an excellent attendance from both photographers and passengers. The number were boosted by a Hertfordshire Railtours 14 coach charter train from Letchworth Herts to Minehead on the Saturday, hauled by EWS diesel 66061. The gala event featured six visiting steam engines 5029, 6024, 4936, 80136, 61264 and 9466 which are illustrated below. More pictures here).The event attracted a total of 5890 passengers over the three daus, a 28% increase over 2000.

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Railtour arrivals

7820 and 4936 after arrival at Minehead on 7.25am Paddington-Minehead 17/03/01 [Sun 18-Mar-01] Saturday 17 March marked another milestone for the WSR. For the first time since the preservation era, two incoming mainline steam hauled rail tours traversed the line on the same day. The first to arrive was Past Time's "Exmoor Express", the 7.25am Paddington-Minehead (1Z43), which was hauled by GWR Hall Class 4-6-0 no 4936 Kinlet Hall from Didcot to Minehead. The train formed of 10 coaches from Rail Charter Services BN91 set in crimson and cream livery travelled from Didcot via Reading West, Newbury, Westbury and Frome arriving at Bishops Lydeard after a short stop at Taunton. At Bishops Lydeard, 7820 Dinmore Manor was attached as pilot, before the pair departed at 2.15pm running non-stop to Minehead. At Minehead (photo) 7820 was detached and ran round the train to shunt it from Platform 1 into the Bay platform 2.

4160+5029 arrive at Minehead on 6.25am Derby-Minehead 17/03/01 Following approx 40 mins behind was Pathfinders "Exmoor Coast Express", the 6.25am Derby-Minehead (1Z96) which was hauled by GWR Castle Class 4-6-0 5029 Nunney Castle from Nuneaton via Barnt Green, Cheltenham and Bristol Temple Meads. Unfortunately the failure of one of the two injectors on 5029 (due to a cracked clack box) lead to the use of a Class 47 diesel pilot no 47761 as a precautionary measure. This train was formed of 12 coaches from the Riviera Trains CP01 set in chocolate and cream livery. At Bishops Lydeard, the diesel was detached and WSR prairie 4160 was added as pilot. Difficulty in creating the vacuum brake on the generator coach, led to its removal by the BL Class 08 diesel shunter D3462, before 4160 and 5029 set off for Minehead, At about 3.55pm, the train arrived in platform 1 at Minehead (photo) in torrential rain.

EWS diesels 47761 and 67007 waiting at Bishops Lydeard to take over return railtours to Derby and Paddington respectively 17/03/01 Not long after 7820 and 4936 departed from platform 2 with Past-Time's "Exmoor Express" the 4.20pm Minehead-Paddington, which they worked as far as Bishops Lydeard. Here both engines were detached and a new EWS high speed Class 67 diesel loco no 67007 was attached (photo) for the return to Paddington via Taunton, Westbury, Swindon and Reading. This was the first visit of a Class 67 diesel to the WSR.

Following behind was the Pathfinder tour running as (1Z97) 5.00pm Minehead-Derby. This was rostered for double-heading by 4160 and pannier 6412. At Bishops Lydeard the steam engines were replaced by EWS Class 47 diesel 47761 (photo) plus the generator coach for the return to Derby. All in all a busy day, and a sign for the future when through working from Railtrack should become more frequent.

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Changes to gala line up

[Sun 04-Mar-01] There have been several changes to the loco line up for the WSR Spring Gala Friday 30 March to Sunday 1 April. Unfortunately, work required for main line certification of Castle Class 5051 Earl Bathurst cam not be completed in time for it to haul Past-Time's "Exmoor Express" Paddington-Minehead tour on Saturday 17 March. As a result its main line duties will be taken over by 4936 Kinlet Hall from the Birmingham Railway Museum, which is due to deputise for 5051 at the WSR gala. In addition to the previously announced guest list, it is anticipated that BR Standard Class 4MT 80xxx 2-6-4T Tank (probably 80136) will also be present although has not yet been finally confirmed. Finally a surprise addition to the gala guest is LNER B1 Class 4-6-0 No 61264. This will be the first ex-LNER loco to visit the WSR in the preservation era. IF all plans come to fruition there will be a total of six visiting engines: 6024, 5029, 4936, 9466, 61264 and the 80xxx, plus resident 7820, 4160, 6412 and 1788 Kilmersdon, making 10 engines in steam.
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5542 arrives

5542 in S&D shops at Washford [Sun 04-Mar-01] GWR small 4575 Class Prairie Tank no 5542 has arrived back on WSR metals. The engine (minus boiler) was transported by road from the Bridgnorth workshops of the Severn Valley Railway in January, and is now housed in the S&D workshops at Washford, where restoration work will be completed. Meanwhile overhaul of the boiler is in hand with patches to the firebox and welded repairs in hand. A return to steam before the end of 2001 is a possibility although 2002 seems more likely. No 5542 was for many years a Taunton engine in the GWR and BR era, and regularly hauled passenger and freight trains over the West Somerset. The same road transporter which brought 5542 took the remains of Battle of Britain Pacific 34053 "Sir Keith Park" to its new home in Kent.
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Army dmu for WSR

Class 117 Dmu at Minehead 20/05/01 [Sun 25-Feb-01] The WSR will soon have use of a Class 117 dmu, courtesy of 275 Railway Squadron of the Territorial Army. The TA Squadron has purchased the unit from Angel Trains to provide first hand training experience of dmu maintenance and overhaul. The three car unit consisting of Driving motor brake second (DMBS) 51352, Trailer composite (TC) 59505 (photo) and Driving motor second (DMS) 51376 will be restored in BR green livery, and will be used in WSR passenger service for three years. The Class 117 diesel multiple unit was designed by BR at Derby Works and built by the Pressed Steel Company for use on BR Western Region suburban services out of Paddington and elsewhere from 1960. They were amongst the last of the first generation dmus to remain in service. The power cars of theArmy unit last operated as part of unit 117311 based at Haymarket Depot Edinburgh, but all three vehicles have latterly been in storage at MOD Shoeburyness. (Photo: The Class 117 unit at Minehead Sun 20-May)
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2001 Season Motive Power

[Sat 17-Feb-01] Plans are being drawn up for the 2001 season motive power. The period March-May will see several visitors for the Spring Gala (see separate story), some of which will remain on the WSR for sometime thereafter. These include 5029 Nunney Castle, 4936 Kinlet Hall, 6024 King Edward I. Later in the summer should see the return of Bullied Pacific 34027 Taw Valley, although it is not clear what livery it will carry at this time. Another return visitor is LMS Class 5MT no 45337 from the East Lancs Railway. One or two other visiting engines are possible, but negotiations are still in progress. Meanwhile the WSRA pannier 6412 returned from the North Norfolk Railway on 3 January and will spend more of the year on the WSR and is expected to see service until the end of June. In the background work is continuing steadily on overhaul of 34046 Braunton, 3850, 53808 and 5542. The latter may return to service before the end of 2001 although 2002 seems more likely. 34046 is due to receive main line certification in due course, and a support coach BSK 35451 (previously used with Jubilee 45596) has already been purchased. The first guest loco for 2002 has already been announced. It is Pete Best's 42xx 2-8-0T no 4277 which will visit from its current base on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
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Diesel hydraulic loco operating dates

[Wed 07-Feb-01] This year's Heritage diesel running day programme will focus on the DEPG's BR Western Region Diesel Hydraulic locos D7017 and D1010. These locos are booked to operate the diesel diagrams on the following dates:
Class 35 B-B D7017: Apr 14, May 5,19,20,27,28, Aug 26,27, Oct 6,7
Class 52 C-C D1010: May 19,20, Jun 24, Jul 28, Sep 01, Oct 6,7
These locos may also operate special dining trains on other dates.

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2000 Another record year

[Sun 14-Jan-01] With the close of the 2000 season on New Years Day 2001, WSR passenger records have again been broken. A total of 154,421 passengers were carried during 2000, slightly ahead of the previous record of 153,832 in 1999. This has been achieved in the face of a general downturn in tourism in the West Country in 2000.
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