Full steam ahead for trains - with a famous bus thrown in

Torbay Weekly

The South Devon Railway will be running trains every day over half term - despite forging ahead with one of the biggest improvement schemes in its history.

Trains will run between Buckfastleigh and the halfway station on the line at Staverton, with a bus replacement service operated by the line’s London Routemaster bus between Staverton and Totnes main line station and town centre, while the railway undertakes major infrastructure works.

The project centres on the removal of approximately half a mile of track along the ‘Royal Mile’, just north of Totnes Riverside station, and its replacement with brand new rail and concrete sleepers.

The new rail will improve the ride quality and is part of an ongoing project to upgrade the line’s track infrastructure. The Royal Mile is so called because the Royal Train was stabled there during the second world war when their Majesties were visiting Devon and particularly the Dartmouth Royal Naval College.

Trains are running between February 19 and 27 and the railway is planning to pair Great Western Railway ‘pannier  tank’ twins, No. 6412 and No.6430, for the first time since the latter joined the home fleet of steam locos in December.

SDR general manager Ernest Elsworth-Wilson said: “Our February half term services are always popular and we’ll have up to three locomotives working our services over the nine days. We look forward to welcoming everyone to the railway!

“It’s also very good news to be working on the permanent way and catching up with the relay programme. We are carrying out our most ambitious winter works plan yet, which is part of a major investment in the line over several years.”

The Routemaster bus is appropriately numbered RM1872 – the line was opened 150 years ago in 1872.

Details of the February half term trains are on the SDR website at www.southdevonrailway.co.uk.

* It is also full steam ahead on the Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company.

John Jones, managing director, says: "After the last two, rather challenging, years we are hoping for an uninterrupted season accompanied by (hopefully) some glorious English summer weather to maximise visitor numbers in 2022. Since the successful Christmas Train of Lights came to a close just a few weeks ago we have been busy preparing for this new season – and keeping everything crossed that people flock back to this beautiful area!

"As permanent inhabitants, we all know what a wonderful spot this is and, judging by the multitude of repeat visitors the area welcomes, it appears that plenty of them agree with us."

The steam trains started  on Tuesday February 15 with selected dates and then daily from April to the end of October along with Winter Services and the Train of Lights!  The award winning Round Robin will start up from April on selected dates.  Boat trips from Torquay will begin running again from April.