West Somerset Railway plans two galas when restrictions ease

West Somerset Railway
West Somerset Railway

The West Somerset Railway (WSR) has announced plans for two small galas to take place in autumn as COVID-19 restrictions ease.

The events will be the first enthusiast galas held at the West Somerset Railway in almost two years since the winter steam event in December 2019.

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The first gala will be held on September 17-19 which will be a “mixed traffic” weekend complete with diesel-only haulage on the Friday, plus a mix of steam and diesel on the Saturday and steam-only service operating on the Sunday.

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Diesel locos planned to run for the September event are: Hymek Class 35 D7018 and Crompton Class 33’s D6566 and D6575, plus maybe one ‘guest’ diesel loco that is under discussion, but subject to budgetary constraints following the limitations enforced on the railway by the pandemic.

On the Saturday, the home-based WSR steam fleet of former GWR locos in Large Prairie No. 5199, Mogul No. 9351 and Manors No. 7822 “Foxcote Manor” and No. 7828 “Odney Manor” will join the diesels, and some of these locos will also haul the Sunday services.

All trains are expected to run between Bishops Lydeard and Blue Anchor & Dunster stations.

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The short section between Dunster and Minehead will be unavailable as engineering works continue on the renewal of the Seaward Way level crossing at Minehead, but a heritage bus link will be provided for passengers to travel on to Minehead if desired.

The WSR also plans to host its long-awaited Autumn Steam Gala on October 1-3, 2021.

A fleet of former GWR locos will be in action with Large Prairie No. 5199, Mogul No. 9351 and Manors No. 7822 “Foxcote Manor” and No.7828 “Odney Manor” giving a distinct British Railways Western Region branch line feel.

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The WSR hopes to bring in a guest steam locomotive to join the line-up too, but this cannot be guaranteed yet.

The WSR has repainted most of its coaching stock into a variety of liveries during the lockdown period, and it is planned to run a Maroon, Red/Cream and Choc/Cream sets for these galas in order to recreate some authentic scenes of BR Western Region secondary and branch lines.

Tickets are not yet available as the West Somerset Railway awaits to hear what the next stages of easing COVID-19 restrictions will be so seating plans can be arranged. Details will be released as soon as possible, but not before Monday 19 July.

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