Diesel Driving Experience Days

Iskra

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Has anybody done one of these?

How did you find it? Was it worth the money? Are there any railways that posters could recommend? Any further useful information?

Prices seem to vary wildly from a couple of hundred pounds to four-figure sums, so I'm interested to hear feedback on these before taking the plunge.
 
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Llanigraham

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Not diesel, but I did the Tram Driving Day on the Seaton Tramway and that was excellent.
One to one instruction and several trips up and down the line, several cups of tea, a nice bacon butty for lunch and my wife joined us for the last round trip and a nice cream tea.
 

D1012

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8 Jul 2019
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Has anybody done one of these?

How did you find it? Was it worth the money? Are there any railways that posters could recommend? Any further useful information?

Prices seem to vary wildly from a couple of hundred pounds to four-figure sums, so I'm interested to hear feedback on these before taking the plunge.
The DMU experience at the Llangollen Railway is excellent and under £300. If you're lucky enough to get the first slot, you can walk to the depot from Llangollen station with the driver and help prepare the unit for service. The DMU guys are very friendly and informative. Can't recommend this experience highly enough.
 

brstd4260

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17 Nov 2009
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I've done a DEMU experience at Mid Hants, a DMU one at GWSR and Llangollen and a Class 47 experience at LLangollen, all of which were good, but the LLangollen ones were both streets ahead of the others with a more scenic line (sorry!) and much longer driving time - the whole way from Llangollen to Corwen East and back on the DMU as opposed to one way driving and one way second manning at the others. OK you get lunch and a longer overall train ride on the others because you sharing as part of a group of 6 or 8, but since I'm doing it for the driving experience I'd rather have the longer drive at Llangollen. Also the Llangollen trips were pathed between ordinary service trains rather than run on an otherwise non running day, which undoubtedly adds to the experience. The DMU experience was significantly cheaper and I think overall the better of the two with friendlier "trainers", but I'd unhesitatingly recommend either. Hope that helps
 

Bletchleyite

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Up and down the south WCML (mostly)
I drove the Class 101 set at Wirksworth about 10 years ago, making a childhood dream very much come true. It was excellent value at the time, but I think they've put the price up considerably since then as I guess it's a good fundraiser and the line is longer than it was[1] - if you've got the money it was still very well done, though.

I do quite like the sound of the Llangollen one, it's a bit closer, scenery-wise, to my real dream (unlikely to ever happen, of course) which would be to drive a Class 101 set up the Conwy Valley.

FWIW I found it relatively easy to get the hang of it - sitting behind the driver in the past had taught me a lot! The vacuum brake was challenging, though.

I reckon once all this COVID thing is over I'll be looking where I can have a go at a 142, though. Wensleydale, possibly?

[1] I did get to drive the full current length, though, while it wasn't open to the public it was safe to use and open to non-public trains by then.
 

Iskra

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Chapeltown, Sheffield
Thank you all for the excellent feedback.

The DMU experience at the Llangollen Railway is excellent and under £300. If you're lucky enough to get the first slot, you can walk to the depot from Llangollen station with the driver and help prepare the unit for service. The DMU guys are very friendly and informative. Can't recommend this experience highly enough.
That's great to hear that you enjoyed it, and it is a railway that I hadn't previously considered so thank you for bringing it to my attention. I think I would go for the loco option though :)

I've done a DEMU experience at Mid Hants, a DMU one at GWSR and Llangollen and a Class 47 experience at LLangollen, all of which were good, but the LLangollen ones were both streets ahead of the others with a more scenic line (sorry!) and much longer driving time - the whole way from Llangollen to Corwen East and back on the DMU as opposed to one way driving and one way second manning at the others. OK you get lunch and a longer overall train ride on the others because you sharing as part of a group of 6 or 8, but since I'm doing it for the driving experience I'd rather have the longer drive at Llangollen. Also the Llangollen trips were pathed between ordinary service trains rather than run on an otherwise non running day, which undoubtedly adds to the experience. The DMU experience was significantly cheaper and I think overall the better of the two with friendlier "trainers", but I'd unhesitatingly recommend either. Hope that helps
Thank you, great to have feedback from someone who can compare across multiple railways. Yes, I can see how some other rail traffic would add to the experience.

I drove the Class 101 set at Wirksworth about 10 years ago, making a childhood dream very much come true. It was excellent value at the time, but I think they've put the price up considerably since then as I guess it's a good fundraiser and the line is longer than it was[1] - if you've got the money it was still very well done, though.

I do quite like the sound of the Llangollen one, it's a bit closer, scenery-wise, to my real dream (unlikely to ever happen, of course) which would be to drive a Class 101 set up the Conwy Valley.

FWIW I found it relatively easy to get the hang of it - sitting behind the driver in the past had taught me a lot! The vacuum brake was challenging, though.

I reckon once all this COVID thing is over I'll be looking where I can have a go at a 142, though. Wensleydale, possibly?

[1] I did get to drive the full current length, though, while it wasn't open to the public it was safe to use and open to non-public trains by then.
Yes, this is about having a crack at a childhood dream for me too.

Wensleydale aren't currently advertising driver/footplate experiences :(
 

Flying Phil

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I believe that the GCR also offer Diesel driving experiences....(Pre Covid at least)....Details on the GCR website.
 

Iskra

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Chapeltown, Sheffield
I believe that the GCR also offer Diesel driving experiences....(Pre Covid at least)....Details on the GCR website.
Yes, I've seen and they would be relatively local to me, plus it's a new line and a 'mainline' at that. However, they have 3 tiers of Diesel experience, tier 1 (the cheapest) is currently unspecified or priced, tier 2 is £590 and tier 3 is £1100. It's hard to currently make a genuine comparison but The Severn Valley looks better value at £375 as they let you have a choice of diesel electric or hydraulic loco's and in my case I would have a choice between driving a Class 40 or 50 which are pretty epic. At the GCR you could end up paying more and getting a type 1 or 2, I'd still be happy with those but you look to get more wow factor for your money at the SVR.
 

Adam0984

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18 Feb 2014
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I've done the East Lancs Railway one driving a 37. When I did it you spend half the day doing guards duties and half driving. And also get a tour round the sheds
 

TheITGuy

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25 Apr 2020
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Suffolk
I did a diesel driving experience on the GCR back in 2006 and it was superb. Drove a class 47 from one end of the line and back, just myself and my wife in the cab (with the instructors of course!). It was on a Monday after an event weekend, so we hauled some coaching stock, dropping some off at intermediate stations. It was a very memorable day.
 

50039

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8 Mar 2015
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Tring
I drove 55019 at the SVR last year - somewhere in the £300s from memory. It was a great day, highly recommended... 2 return trips, tour of Kidderminster TMD at lunchtime....
 

pdeaves

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14 Sep 2014
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Gateway to the South West
I did the Swindon & Cricklade line on a DEMU. I can't say what the price was (so whether it was value for money) as the day was a gift paid by others. There was one other person 'experiencing' with me, plus the instructor. We took it in turns, the instructor making sure we got a fair balance of up and down workings (i.e. not always the same way), over the full length of the line (including southern extension that possibly wasn't open to the public then). As well as driving, duties included collecting/returning single line tokens (later in the day, doing this non-stop). We were shown the diesel power unit and had the basics explained. On 'my' particular day, what seemed like the wettest day of the year, almost the first control shown was the windscreen wiper! The engine room was also good for drying my clothes. The instructor was good; the administration leading up to the day not so.
 

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