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Freight & shunting footplate experiences

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I've been shopping around lately for a "pay some money and drive a train" footplate experience, and one thing that has occurred to me is that most such offerings are either light engine or with some passenger carriages - I'm quite happy with the passenger carriage option, as I've never done any footplate experience things before anyway, so this is not a complaint... But, the thing I like best is actually freight operation, and the only place I've found that advertise the option of pulling wagons around rather than passenger coaches is the KESR (and at a price which sadly exceeds my budget).

Anyone know of any other place that has some wagons that they use in that manner?

 

The other thing which occurred to me is that what I would *really* like to do is shunting. I doubt anyone offers an experience of taking a few wagons from somewhere to somewhere else, shunting them around a bit, making up a new train and then taking it back to where you started from. Would I be the only one in the queue for that? I can't immediately think of any preserved railway with the infrastructure to do it (maybe at Highley or Swithland? Don't know how much space there really is at either though). Would probably be questionable how sensible letting a novice have a go at shunting would be, too. Could get quite bumpy...

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The East Lancs used to do goods driving courses, and I think the SVR have in the past.  The problem is shunting is one of the riskiest operations performed on a heritage railway, who largely use volunteer labour who aren't as experienced shunting wagons as BR shunters used to be, which increases the risk.  Shunting is a very skilled operation for a driver and to let a complete novice have a go is something that a lot of operators are going to shy away from, at the very least you're talking reportable operating incident like a SPAD or vehicle damage or at worst a fatality.

 

Don't forget these wagons are still somebodys pride and joy, and they've sunk a lot of man hours and care into them.

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The West Somerset do diesel enginmens courses, hauling a freight train.

On a trip in October last year I passed a diesel hauled freight which I took to be one of the courses.

post-7081-0-76551000-1516546046_thumb.jpg

D6575 was at the head of this short freight at Crowcombe Heathfield, 14/10/2017

 

cheers

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The Ffestiniog do/did a slate wagon stunting day using a quarry Hunslet. No idea if they still do it but it might be worth asking...

 

Steven B

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At Apedale, we have done a World War One footplate experience which is all about shunting and assembling groups of wagons in order to be able to supply the needed stores to the troops at the front line. Participants get to drive both steam and diesel locos. We  have found that it is very volunteer resource-intensive, but the participants at the day which have been run seem to have hugely enjoyed the whole thing (including the chap who derailed the diesel loco!). We are mulling over the future of these days, but if you're interested, drop a message via the contact page at www.mrt.org.uk.

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The down side to using freight vehicles is where do the participant's family/friends ride? A brakevan isn't the best place to have a group of people when the guard is having to think about his duties which can be more onerous than those of a passenger guard. If there is enough interest we could certainly run something at Foxfield but it would be completely different to our current driver experiences which are a full day from 9.30am to 4.00pm.

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The down side to using freight vehicles is where do the participant's family/friends ride? A brakevan isn't the best place to have a group of people when the guard is having to think about his duties which can be more onerous than those of a passenger guard. If there is enough interest we could certainly run something at Foxfield but it would be completely different to our current driver experiences which are a full day from 9.30am to 4.00pm.

I agree there's more to think about than making sure people don't do something dumb, the NYMR is bringing in brake van rides (slowly) and the Guard looks after the train whilst a steward is provided to look after the passengers, but again its all warm bodies that have to be found.

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Not everything is suitable for everyone. If there wasn't anywhere for friends & family to sit I'd just tell them that they couldn't ride the train. Which is fine for someone like me spending my money for my own amusement, but maybe wouldn't be so good if it's a gift as these things often are.

 

The tracks to the trenches thing looks really fun. And similarly some wagon shuffling at Foxfield colliery would very much appeal to me, though I can understand why that would be harder to arrange. I bet the hill out of there would be fun light engine, never mind with a trailing load.

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Not everything is suitable for everyone. If there wasn't anywhere for friends & family to sit I'd just tell them that they couldn't ride the train. Which is fine for someone like me spending my money for my own amusement, but maybe wouldn't be so good if it's a gift as these things often are.

 

The tracks to the trenches thing looks really fun. And similarly some wagon shuffling at Foxfield colliery would very much appeal to me, though I can understand why that would be harder to arrange. I bet the hill out of there would be fun light engine, never mind with a trailing load.

Having done the GWSR course which is 7 coaches and a dozen or so participants, you have to consider time and money. Shunting takes time, and for everyone to have a fair go, you wouldn't be going very far. As has been pointed out, safety of both people and stock is paramount, and buffering up isn't that easy when they're twenty feet or more away.

I dare say if you approached some lines they may do something different (I believe SVR will do custom courses), but would expect you would have to pay out a four figure sum even for a part day.

 

I would recommend the GWSR Gold course though, two turns of firing and two of driving, plus uncoupling/coupling, signal box tour and if you ask, disposal at the end of the day.

 

Dave

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Not everything is suitable for everyone. If there wasn't anywhere for friends & family to sit I'd just tell them that they couldn't ride the train. Which is fine for someone like me spending my money for my own amusement, but maybe wouldn't be so good if it's a gift as these things often are.

 

The tracks to the trenches thing looks really fun. And similarly some wagon shuffling at Foxfield colliery would very much appeal to me, though I can understand why that would be harder to arrange. I bet the hill out of there would be fun light engine, never mind with a trailing load.

Once we get Foxfield Bank passed for passenger services we do intend to offer courses including the bank... Watch this space (so to speak!)

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I have been talking to the marketing department at Foxfield and they are planning to introduce freight driving experiences this year, as well as diesel driving experiences. so if anyone fancies having a go at either of those on our interesting gradients you may well be able to soon.

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Try Rocks by Rail, near Stamford, they offer steam or diesel driving with an excavator as well. Authentic site with a good running line.

 

Dava

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Llangollen railway do an all day freight course that involves 2 or 3 round trips, with shunting wagons in / out of the train at Carrog in between runs. I think they have 6 participants for the day, each having a go driving / firing / signalling / guarding and as shunted on the ground.

 

http://llangollen-railway.co.uk/drivers-experience/

Llangollen railway do an all day freight course that involves 2 or 3 round trips, with shunting wagons in / out of the train at Carrog in between runs. I think they have 6 participants for the day, each having a go driving / firing / signalling / guarding and as shunted on the ground.

 

http://llangollen-railway.co.uk/drivers-experience/

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