Bodmin & Wenford Gala via HRT
(24th September 2005)

Mike Searle on a day out.

A 6 am departure for Slough wasn’t my idea of the perfect start to the day, but as I was being driven there by my next door neighbour I felt that I could put up with it !!!

Of course when you give yourself plenty of time to get somewhere there are never any hold-ups and sure enough we arrived 45 minutes early, but the time soon passed and, a little late, 67005 and 67016 (required) brought in the tour train. Breakfast was served almost immediately and thoroughly enjoyed. Westbury came and went; the sea wall at Dawlish stirred the usual mutters of excitement; and 20 minute late running was magically converted to 10 minutes early which saw us held at Totnes to allow a pair of Voyagers to pass. A handful of passengers got off at Plymouth and then it was the turn for those of who had chosen the ‘Bodmin Wanderer’ option.

The helpful approach of the Bodmin & Wenford Railway was soon evident when they held their 12.46 departure at Bodmin Parkway for the arrival of the pair of Hoovers (031 and 049) on the Pathfinder tour (although I appreciate this was in their own interests). With 50042 in charge of the preserved railway’s train, three large logo 50s at the same spot made a fine sight. On  arrival at Bodmin General 37142, looking splendid in gleaming blue livery, was swiftly attached with an extra carriage for a return journey to Boscarne Junction. 33 110 then worked up to ‘Parkway for 37 142 to return the train to ‘General.

Now the 50 was to work again, so it was time to grab a cab ride on 08444. Whilst gronking up the yard for the second time I asked whether there would be any possibility of Class 10 D3452 working cab rides (as it had done so earlier in the morning). “ I can’t see any problem,” came the driver’s reply, “come back a little later.” ‘A little later’ came after 20166 had pulled us up to ‘Parkway for the 50 back to ‘General. The services which had been running a worrying 15 minutes late (the connection from my last planned train of the day was 15 minutes) were now back on time.

As I arrived in the yard area the Class 10 was started up, but the staff ensured that anyone wanting the 08 (the advertised shunter) was catered for first. The Class 10 made a couple of runs before being shut down for the day. A regulator fault on the 37 meant it was unable to work the 17.00 double header with the Class 50 so the Hoover had to work alone. With all the running diesels on the railway in the book I was very pleased with my day’s work, but it was capped with an invitation to ride in the cab of 50042 on that last run up to Bodmin Parkway.

On re-boarding the dining special visit notes were exchanged with my neighbours who had opted for the Eden Project, followed by a delicious dinner and the luxury of being driven home.

So a superb day was ensured by the thoughtfulness and help of the staff at the Bodmin and Wenford. They clearly had the idea of ‘If it’s possible, give the customers what they want’ and I know several of us went away both pleased with our day and most impressed with the railway. One or two other preserved lines would do well to take a leaf out of their book.

Mike Searle

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