Issue 151    December 1st   to March 1st 2022

Steam Specials – by Tony Bartlett

It seems that my upbeat report last time on the resumption of steam-hauled excursion trains was rather over-optimistic. Of the five possibilities listed only two happened – two others were cancelled, including the eagerly awaited visit of Flying Scotsman, and one was routed away from this area. In addition two further runs of the Royal Duchy passed through here diesel-hauled before picked up steam haulage at Taunton – a device used on occasions where the extended length of the trip is difficult or uneconomic to achieve with steam-haulage in today’s railway environment.

The second West Somerset Steam Express did operate as planned on 14th August with newcomer LMS 4-6-0 Bahamas again in charge, but the highlight was to be Steam Dreams’ Mayflower to Cornwall three day holiday break which featured double steam haulage in both directions, and diesel sectors at the far end of the journey, providing us with the memorable sight and sound of two steam locos and the 11-coach holiday train crossing the Common outbound on 28th September, on one of those fine and warm days of this year’s autumn season:

The LNER B1 4-6-0 Mayflower did feature in the haulage as expected although it was Bahamas again which led the cavalcade both outbound and on the return journey.

And that was to be that for 2021 with no further steam (or diesel) specials indicated so far for the rest of the year. For steam enthusiasts who find this a disappointing proposition the CHAIN web-site contains a Local List of steam trains which may be operating nearby on the Reading to Oxford/Swindon or Basingstoke to Salisbury lines where a number of Christmas market excursions are at least planned, even if they fail to materialise based on this past summer’s experience.