Footplate experience

Discussion in 'Railtours & Preservation' started by Cornish Cannon, 5 Sep 2018.

  1. Cornish Cannon

    Cornish Cannon Member

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    Morning

    My Dad is an Ex railwayman who did 46 years on the railway starting as a Steam Engine cleaner retiring as a driver. He will be 80 years old next May and i was wondering if anyone knows of a company that allows people to experience being at the front or driving a steam engine on the main line anywhere from Exeter to Penzance for his birthday?

    I know he could go to the likes of Bodmin & Wenford railway but i was thinking more of the main line for the better experience. I have googled steam tours but thought someone here might know a direct answer of which company if any would offer this experience?

    Thanks for your help
     
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  3. matt

    matt Forum Staff Staff Member Global Moderator

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    No you can only do this on a preserved railway in this country. I believe it is still possible to do this in Poland.
     
  4. 70014IronDuke

    70014IronDuke Established Member

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    I am no expert on the modern scene, but I think they only allow four on the footplate on main line specials - driver, fireman, loco inspector and number four is usually a rep of the owner.

    Things are much, much, MUCH tighter than when your dad was driving, and I can't believe they would dare to allow anyone not currently certified to actually drive a train. Everyone is scared stiff of some problem coming up and legal action. You might, if you can find a main line special working, you might, I suppose, JUST get him on the fooplate, but I doubt it. It will be interesting to see what those better informed say.
     
  5. ac6000cw

    ac6000cw Established Member

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    One thing to consider is can he climb unaided on and off the loco? - this is something that has been a requirement (for safety reasons) for the steam driving experiences I've been on at several different heritage railways in the UK.
     
  6. Spartacus

    Spartacus Established Member

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    You might get him on the footplate in a station, especially if it was where the tour terminated, but certainly not between them on a main line, not without all the safety requirements for all staff in that position, some of which are quite costly. Even in old BR days it'd probably quite difficult to get official permission for it.
     
  7. Cornish Cannon

    Cornish Cannon Member

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    Hi Thanks for the reply's

    Yes he is still physically active, and he probably even remembers all the signals and line speeds. But i guessed it maybe wasn't possible to do as i couldn't find it advertised anywhere. although most things are possible at the right price. Poland i think is out of the question

    So maybe i will have to try one of the private railways.

    Thanks
     
  8. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    not on the mainline - preserved railways offer footplate experiences.
     
  9. ac6000cw

    ac6000cw Established Member

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    If you can't find what you want more locally, both the West Somerset Railway and the Gloucester Warwickshire Railway heritage lines have a very 'Great Western Railway' feel to them - in particular the WSR is the longest heritage railway in the UK (and hilly/twisty along the way), so it's probably the closest thing to a ride along a twisty, hilly mainline like the one through Cornwall. But note that both of those railways are sold-out on the steam driving experiences for 2018, so don't take too long deciding what to do if you want to organise it as a birthday treat next year.
     
  10. Shenandoah

    Shenandoah Member

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    The Dartmouth Steam railway offers these experiences. Whilst not a long line it does offer some steep gradients which, when on a footplate, allows being in a rather especial steam locomotive environment.
    After his journey, assuming he will have come back to earth, you can take him to any of the fine pubs and restaurants in the towns the line serves. A good place is the Weary Ploughman adjacent to Churston station.
    https://www.dartmouthrailriver.co.uk/special-tours/footplate-experience
     
  11. E&W Lucas

    E&W Lucas Established Member

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    I've had first hand experience of people turning up for steam cab rides at his age, complete with family who thought they were fit enough to be there, and a doctor's letter to "prove" it. You need to be able to climb an 8 foot vertical ladder unaided, from/ onto an uneaven surface, and quickly. If they ever had to do this, it would probably be with a cloud of something hot and nasty in pursuit. 80 is too old.
     
  12. JoeGJ1984

    JoeGJ1984 Member

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    Just going off at a tangent (for interest only) - if somebody couldn't climb up a ladder, would it not be possible to make sure the participant gets on and off only at a platform? (Maybe they may miss a little of the experience, but I shouldn't see it being too much of a problem).
     
  13. trebor79

    trebor79 Established Member

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    That would be ok until something goes wrong.
    Like a mudhole door gasket blowing, guage glass breaking, or blow back from the firebox. All of which I've experienced and anyone non essential needs to get off asap.
     
  14. trebor79

    trebor79 Established Member

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    Also it may not be possible to sit down and the ride is much rougher than people imagine. I've nearly been thrown out the cab before, and that was on a heritage line at nothing like mainline speeds.

    There's lots of hazards.
     
  15. Intermodal

    Intermodal Member

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    Although I imagine the guy who did it for a career probably has an idea of what it's like!
     
  16. trebor79

    trebor79 Established Member

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    His son probably doesn't though.
     
  17. E759

    E759 Member

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    Bodmin & Wenford can be a challenge for regular crews when the railhead is poor. Exciting for us passengers watching and hearing the kettle struggle. Must be fun for the crew too. But you should read their driver experience page which lists all the tasks and more that the experience driver is required to do. 7.62x54 is spot on.

    I suggest you find a railway which does driver tasters. These are likely to have less onerous requirements. The Bluebell have these and are they are very popular. If you can combine with their Golden Arrow, you’re allowed to sit down whilst you eat your meal, that could be a cracking present.
     
  18. Charles B

    Charles B Member

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  19. E759

    E759 Member

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  20. E759

    E759 Member

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    I discovered on Sunday a railway that allows 80 year ex-drivers (and anyone else that feels the need) the chance to drive a steam engine: This was the Welsh Highland Railway at their Superpower event 14-16/9/2018. The engine was a 1904 Hunslet 2' gauge quarry loco Hugh Napier.
    https://www.festipedia.org.uk/wiki/Hugh_Napier
     
  21. Llanigraham

    Llanigraham On Moderation

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    As does the Vale Of Rheidol at Devils Bridge during the season.
     

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