Express & Star

Steam engines replaced as Severn Valley Railway as heatwave leads to diesel-only service

The Severn Valley Railway will run only diesel-hauled passenger services this coming week as the region is gripped by another heatwave.

Diesel services will run from Wednesday to Sunday

To prevent causing lineside fires, the railway which runs from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster has taken the decision to switch to diesel services starting from tomorrow until Sunday, August 14.

“Last weekend we experienced a number of fires,” explained managing director Helen Smith. “They were caused by sparks or cinders escaping from steam locomotives.

"These can quickly catch hold, because prolonged hot weather has left the lineside vegetation tinder-dry.

“Under these circumstances, the responsible thing to do is switch to heritage diesel-hauled passenger services for the rest of this week.

"We’ll review the situation at the beginning of next week, and what we really need is some prolonged rain to improve the condition of the vegetation.

“This is the second time we’ve had to take this action this year, and we very much hope that our visitors will understand the reasons for it.

"We are very fortunate to have an amazing fleet of heritage diesels at the SVR, and once again they are rising to the occasion.”

In addition, the railway has decided to resume its footplate experiences with short rides running at both Bridgnorth and Kidderminster stations.

The postponement of footplate experiences – where people get to fire up and drive one of the steam-powered locomotives – was put in place to preserve coal stocks.

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine and exponential rise in coal prices by 148 per cent has caused issues with supply and thus the railway has taken measures to preserve its stocks.

Now, the heritage railway has confirmed it will be running short footplate rides, but there will be a small extra charge for this to help cover the cost of coal.

The SVR has risk-assessed the use of steam locomotives in this limited capacity and is confident these can go ahead safely.

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