Severn Valley Railway: In the 1960’s the Chairman of British Rail, Dr. Beeching, in the interest of economy closed many British branch lines. To give some idea of the extent of these cutbacks about 2000 railway stations closed. Fortunately the line from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth was preserved. This 25 km scenic railway line was reopened in 1965 (staffed mainly by volunteers). The line follows the Severn River and is the longest preserved in the United Kingdom. Steam locomotives pull passenger trains, on a regular basis, for the benefit of tourists and enthusiasts. Railway enthusiasts from all over the world visit the Severn Valley Railway.Environment
Trains run every weekend except in January, February and early March. Trains also run every day from early May to the end of December. Twice a year there is a Thomas the Tank Engine weekend where the locos are adorned with faces from this popular TV series. We were fortunate enough to be at a “Thomas” weekend in April 2002, as were thousands of other people.
The Severn Valley Railway has a wide range of rolling stock and a large number of steam locomotives. They range from the smallest tank engine to the largest streamlined express locomotive.
The scenery along the line is breathtaking to say the least. There are seven villages along the line and it is possible to alight at their stations, wander through the villages and rejoin the train later in the day. The line crosses the Severn River via the Victoria Bridge near the village of Arley. The bridge has a single span of 70 metres and is the largest bridge of its type in the world. The station at Arley was a star in the TV comedy series Oh Doctor Beeching. The station was renamed Hatley for the series.
The Severn Valley has few roads so much of the beautiful scenery may only be viewed from the railway.
There are about 50 paid staff that are involved with maintenance and administration. Drivers, firemen and guards are all volunteers. 400 volunteers run the railway on busy weekends.
Australia has some preserved steam railways but none matches the Severn Valley Railway in the range of rolling stock, locomotives and stunning scenery. There is a line near Dorrigo, in northern New South Wales that could match or even exceed the Severn Valley Railway in terms of carriages, locos and scenery. Unfortunately this project appears to be bogged down in some sort of bureaucratic wrangling.