Steam Special

photos  by

Tony Bartlett

Pease click Sightings (above) for  reports

This page last
updated 27.11.2023

Upcoming Trains

Next advised steam train(s) through Hungerford, but do check before you go.………….

Do please visit Photo Gallery for 2019 and previous years
This is the first of two pages for your enjoyment. Do scroll down there maybe more than one!

See the Reports in SIGHTINGS

Friday 1st December 2023 – Steam Dreams’
the Bath Christmas Market with Bulleid Pacific 34046 Braunton

Steam Dreams are back in action on our line with an excursion train which starts out diesel-hauled from East Anglia before Braunton takes over at the usual point in West London, near to the WCR steam depot at Southall, for the trip to Bath Spa. This is currently scheduled to use the Berks & Hants route through Hungerford outbound, although the evening return is routed along the GW main line through Swindon and Didcot. There are ominous sounds coming out of weather forecasters about winter weather at the end of the week, which could provide some interesting steam effects and snowy landscape views but in extremis could lead to the cancelling of the excursion. So best keep a look out for progress on Realtime Trains, the entries for which are already available at:

Outbound 1Z46 0700 Bury St Edmunds to Bath Spa showing a Newbury water-stop from 11:42 to 12:05

And return 1Z48 1655 Bath Spa to Bury St Edmunds showing a Milton Jcn water-stop from 18:01 to 18:26 (in the cold and dark)

Wednesday 27th September 2023 **Reminder**
– Steam Dreams excursion to Bath via the Surrey Hills

Good to see Steam Dreams back again in action on our line – with a full steam trip from London Victoria to Bath Spa by the scenic route via Redhill and Guildford. Therefore we may expect the train to arrive in our area well through the morning. Current timings are available on Realtime Trains as follows:

1Z90 0822 London Victoria to Bath Spa – expected at Hungerford a little before 13:00 and,

1Z92 1655 Bath Spa to London Victoria – returning here at about 18:00

The original plan was to use the BR Standard pacific Britannia for the trip but I remember reading somewhere that it suffered a disastrous failure on a charter train recently, and I see that SD on their web-site are now saying that it will be Braunton, a West Country pacific of similar capability. In fact I see that SD are still using my photo of the loco on the Common before the clearances to illustrate the point. You’re welcome SD!

The eagle- eyed will spot that this was from when Braunton was carrying the name and number of a very similar Battle 0f Britain pacific Lord Dowding.

Saturday 16th September 2023 **Reminder** –
the final West Somerset Steam Express of the season

As Autumn swiftly descends on the railscene, the final run for 2023 of the RTC excursion to the West Somerset Rly takes place this coming weekend. Details are similar to the previous WSSEs this year with no. 45596 again in charge to and from the preserved railway.

Timings from Realtime trains are:

outbound – Hungerford passing at about 08:55 – see 1Z70 0700 London Paddington to Minehead West Som Rwy and return – Hungerford passing at about 19:00 – see 1Z72 1516 Minehead West Som Rwy to London Paddington

Also operating on the day is a UK Railtours excursion, the Skipping Devonian which is planned to take our Berks & Hants line on its way to Paignton. No timings are currently available for what is likely to be a diesel-hauled train – keep an eye on Newbury all day on 16/09/2023 – STP items if interested.

Saturday 12th August 2023 **Reminder**
– the second West Somerset Steam Express of the season

Working to the same formula as the first run last month, the train will be steam hauled throughout with no. 45596 Bahamas again expected to handle the out and return segments on the national network. Timings are already available on Realtime Trains – see the links to follow any changes and progress on the day:

1Z29 0700 London Paddington to Minehead West Som Rwy – Hungerford at 08:55ish

1Z30 1516 Minehead West Som Rwy to London Paddington – Hungerford at 19:00ish

At the moment the forecast is for better weather than the first WSSE – let’s hope

22nd July 2023 **Reminder**
– LMS Jubilee Class 4-6-0 no. 45596 Bahamas on a West Somerset Steam Express to Minehead

The Railway Touring Co are starting up their popular summertime WSSEs this coming weekend. LMS Jubilee Class Bahamas has been scheduled for the complete journey from Paddington over the direct Berks & Hants route to Bishops Lydeard where it will hand over to one of the preserved West Somerset Railway’s own locos for the trip onwards to the seaside.

The timings for the outbound journey can be viewed at 1Z52 0700 London Paddington to Bishops Lydeard – the first water-stop is scheduled for Newbury main station at 08:20-50, suggesting passing through Hungerford at about 09:00

The return trip is at 1Z53 1642 Bishops Lydeard to London Paddington indicating an unusual water-stop at Frome (rather than Woodborough loop) and passing through Hungerford at about 19:00 – still light enough for evening viewing and photography on a decent day, although the sun low in the west may provide the usual challenges.

21st June 2023 **Reminder** – Flying Scotsman on a circular trip to Salisbury

The Railway Touring Co have taken over the appearance of FS in our area this year with a varied route for an excursion which passes through Hungerford on its outbound sector to Salisbury via Westbury and the Wylye Valley. Local passengers are having to commute to Reading which is the start point of the circular itinerary, although the journey starts and finishes at Paddington.

In the usual way of things, the timing points have appeared late on Realtime Trains and are accompanied by the official advice repeated here:

 Special Notice

This service is expected to be extremely popular with many people going to see this train. Please use safe vantage points to see and take pictures of the train – stay clear of the line and do not risk your safety or that of others by trespassing on the tracks. Thank you.

The plan is for the train to be steam-hauled throughout, with a lengthy water-stop at Newbury Racecourse.  Intriguingly the schedule starts with the customary 60mph speed limit for steam,  but from Newbury onwards this is raised to 75mph, so we may expect to see some lively running along the Kennet Valley and up over Savernake (and a max through the curves at Hungerford??). Faster running in some cases has been allowed recently to avoid delaying normal passenger services.

The plan currently shows leaving Newbury at 11:46 and passing through Bedwyn at 12:01, although a waypoint for Hungerford itself will probably appear on the day – see 1Z52 0938 London Paddington to Salisbury for further details.

27th May 2023 **Reminder** –
LMS 4-6-0 Bahamas on the South Devon Explorer

**** The excursion will now be diesel-hauled from Woking all the way through Hungerford to Bristol, where the steam loco will take over!***

The Railway Touring Co steam special to Plymouth is due to be coming through Hungerford this coming Saturday hauled outbound by steam. Starting behind a WCR diesel on the Southern route to the west at Woking, it heads south to pick up at Guildford before reversing (now headed by steam) on to the line to Reading for a run down the Berks & Hants line through Hungerford to Westbury, where a further reversal takes it diesel-hauled up to Bristol and the Great Way Round route to South Devon. An early start is dictated for this lengthy round about excursion and you will need to be trackside here at about 08:00 to see the special accelerating away from its pick-up at Newbury.

The timings for this complicated itinerary are on Realtime Trains at 1Z39 0623 Woking to Plymouth – this should be checked for progress on the day before setting out to view. The return is by the more conventional direct route but unfortunately the steam loco is to be taken off the train at Taunton and the timing indicates passing through here at about 21:30.

The planned Steam Dreams trips into and around Oxford on the same day using the Thames Valley route have been scuppered by the continuing problems with the viaduct at Nuneham (currently the south end of the bridge is standing on jacks while the new abutment is being built). It appears that there will just a single out and back trip from London via High Wycombe and Bicester.

Saturday 15th April 2023 **Reminder**  –
The Great Britain XV and a Great Western Envoy

Now reported in SIGHTINGS

1st April 2023 **Alert** –                            Now reported in SIGHTINGS
the Golden Arrow excursion to Canterbury

Saturday 4th February 2023 ***Alert***.           Now reported in SIGHTINGS
– The Bath & Gloucester Steam Express starting from London Paddington

The steam programme gets under way early this year with a Railway Touring Company steam special from London to Gloucester routed by the Berks & Hants line through Hungerford. The train stops to pick up at Newbury and was not sold out when last viewed on the operator’s web site. As yet there is no information about which steam loco is involved, just that it is one from the northern (Carnforth) pool of West Coast Railways steam locos. It is planned that the steam loco will be in charge throughout the journey with no cost-saving diesel sectors.

The timing for the outbound journey is already available here on Realtime Trains, indicating a stop at Newbury (main station) at 09:07 to 09:45 (taking water?) and passing through Hungerford at about 09:55. Timings for the return journey have not yet been released by Network Rail but it is likely to be after dark when coming back through here.

The Help for Heroes bridge restoration project at Bridge 99 on the Kennet & Avon canal has been completed and the viewing platform over the canal is now available for public use. The area has been used unofficially for many years by railway photographers because of the grandstand view it provides of the railway as it climbs up the valley through Crofton to Savernake Summit. The final touches include a flight of steps providing safe access up the steep bank to the viewing area and an interpretation panel describing the history of the bridge. I was pleased to contribute a photograph of a passing steam train to illustrate this facet of the site.

I was present at the site this morning and the cement was not yet dry on the installation of the panel when the first steam train passed by! And by coincidence it was the same British Pullman train as featured on the panel, albeit with Tornado in charge rather than Clan Line. So I took the opportunity to capture the moment – same train, same photographer, same camera and lens three years later: