6th April 2003
Dean Forest Railway
Branchline Diesel Weekend

Duncan Jennings reviews....

Click here for some photos taken on the day.

Arrived at Norchard just after 11 and so missed the first round trip of the day, which turned out to be an 08 instead of the booked 14. This gave me a little time to photograph 73901 which had been conveniently placed in the station yard, and grab some breakfast from the "Coaches Cafe". After watching the DMU pass through the high level station (not yet open) 13308 "Charlie" (formerly 08238) arrived from Lydney and after changing engines to D9555 we trundled off with the only dud loco of the day.

I'd worked out a move over breakfast which meant that I'd be here all day waiting to get both 08s in so having done the 14 to Lydney I then flagged D3937 "Gladys" (formerly 08769) and waited for the DMU to arrive. The intervening time was filled with photographing 73906/002/005 and the assorted restoration projects in the sidings at Lydney, and getting pissed off at the fact that 73906 (required) was running and could be used but the paperwork hadn't all been done yet - bloody bureaucracy!!

The 1250 from Lydney was the first of two DMU drags with 50619 + 56492 being hauled up the nice steep high level line through Norchard to the current limit of operations at Tufts Junction. The steepness of the line made the 14 quite loud even on the relatively light 2 coach load then at Tufts, due to lack of a run-round loop, the 14 was uncoupled and the DMU worked back down the hill.

Returning to Lydney for the 1400 departure the only move was the DMU to Tufts and back as the 14 then took up the other path on a demonstration freight with a rake of Dogfish. For a change this time the DMU went into Norchard low level then reversed to Middle Forge Junction and then up to Tufts so I took the opportunity of a lunch break at Norchard. Also this time around, the DMU from Lydney to Norchard dragged a Vanfit wagon which was then shunted into the yard by D3937.

After lunch the DMU duly returned me to Lydney for the serious business of a return to Norchard with a required 08 for a required 08 - Charlie out for Gladys back. Caned in the first of these two, then got a picture of the 14 going up the hill at Norchard on the second drag to Tufts, then caned in Gladys back to Lydney.

Back at Lydney there followed a "playing trains" interlude as the last train was due to be worked by the 14 which was, of course, now at Tufts. First our 08 came off the stock and ran back to the signal box, then the 14 arrived on a short freight, then the 08 shunted the wagons out of the way, then the DMU arrived and finally the 14 shunted onto the stock for the last departure. It could have been a bit tedious if I was in a hurry to get back to a car and get home but I wasn't so it made for some nice photographic opportunities.

The final run back to Norchard with the 14 was uneventful and as enjoyable as the rest of the day, all in all a very relaxing day with a nice atmosphere and some good engines, it just lacked a JA really.

Thanks must go to the railway for putting the event on in the first place, if nothing else it's great to see a 14 working one of the lines it would have worked in service days. Also congratulations to the staff, everyone was cheerful, talkative and helpful which made it an enjoyable event to attend. Also a word of thanks to the "Coaches Cafe" - the bacon & mushroom rolls were excellent!

Duncan Jennings

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