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Operating News December 2013

Operating News December 2013

Operating News December 2013 2000 1329 Isle of Wight Steam Railway

The first weekend in July saw the annual 1940s weekend with an enhanced two train service operating on both days. Despite having only three bogie carriages available for Set ‘A’ plus the six four-wheeled carriages in Set ‘B’ a total of 2,296 passenger journeys were recorded over the two days, 1.2% fewer than during the same event in 2012. The Saturday was especially busy and had the weather on the Sunday not been so hot and if Andy Murray not been playing Novak Djokovic in the Men’s Singles Final at Wimbledon there is little doubt we would have recorded our best ever 1940s event in terms of passenger numbers. It was certainly good to see A1/x Class W8 Freshwater back out on the road hauling the four-wheeled carriages throughout the weekend.

On Saturday 20 July, during the two train service coinciding with our Victorian weekend, the 11.17 Down service from Havenstreet was cancelled (together with the corresponding 11.31 Up service from Wootton to Havenstreet) due to Hunslet ‘Austerity’ Royal Engineer suffering a blocked drain valve, the resolution for which required a quick visit to a pit road in the Down Sidings. After this brief service interruption all was going well until mid-afternoon when the problem recurred, this time with the locomotive in the Wootton section. We managed to complete the day without the cancellation of any further services although a delay to the final Up service of the day necessitated a quick ‘phone call from the signalman at Havenstreet to his counterpart at Ryde St. John’s Road to request additional stops be made at Smallbrook Junction by Island Line trains.

From Saturday 27 until Monday 29 July The Railway Folk took over the running of the Railway. In reality, of course, the operation of the Railway remained in the very capable hands of our qualified volunteers and staff but this new event was a resounding success and enjoyed by almost everybody. Indeed, several of our own regular volunteers assumed Railway Folk characters. Special mention must be made of Malcolm Hector who became the very short-sighted and somewhat lackadaisical ‘Max the Guard’, Philip Brookes who was ‘Dusty the Stationmaster’, a stickler for tidiness and punctuality and Sara Tagart, the mischievous but kind-hearted ‘Penny’. Although not a member of the operating department, we shouldn’t forget Derek Bishop, who naturally fulfilled the role of ‘Derek, the Events Man’, never to be seen without a beer barrel tucked under his arm! We operated a two train service for the duration of the event and a creditable total of 2,866 passenger journeys were recorded over the three days. Fortunately, this was just about sufficient to ensure that ‘Mr. Beeching’ (the man from the Ministry) didn’t close down the Railway – although he said that he’ll return next year to make a further inspection!

LBSCR Third 2403 made a welcome entry into traffic on Wednesday 31 July, thus strengthening the ‘A’ (bogie) set to four carriages. In joining the working fleet, history was made with this being the first occasion on which the Railway had operated a train comprising four Brighton bogie carriages. Still known to many at Havenstreet as ‘Kim’s Coach’, long-serving staff and volunteers will recall 2403 as a grounded body in its initial location at Havenstreet, in the show field alongside the fence adjoining the station garden. There, the late Kim Chalkley undertook much preparatory work and established a second-hand bookshop to help fund the early restoration work.

On Sunday 11 August Hunslet ‘Austerity’ No. 192 Waggoner developed a problem with the reversing lever shortly prior to the departure of the 10.30 Up service from Havenstreet. Coincidentally, LCDR 4-wheeled Composite 6378 also developed a fault with its communication apparatus at the same time and so both locomotive and carriage were withdrawn to the Down Sidings for attention. In the meantime, Class 03 D2059 was hastily prepared to haul the service train, which left just 15 minutes behind schedule. The diesel locomotive remained in charge of the passenger service until both Waggoner and 6378 were ready to resume their duties, joining the 12.32 Down service from Havenstreet. Later the same day our flagship locomotive Adams O2 Class W24 Calbourne made a welcome appearance on the running line for the first time this year, undertaking a light engine test run to Wootton and back before hauling a short goods train on a couple of trips. Calbourne returned to passenger service on the following day – the Glorious Twelfth indeed!

The first Up departure from Havenstreet on Sunday 18 August was halted near MP 4½ (in Rowlands Wood, near the Havenstreet Down Distant signal) by a fallen tree. Using the bow saw from the emergency tool cabinet Guard Ian Pidgley soon removed the offending branches and the train resumed its journey.

As usual, the Island Steam Show took place over four days during the August Bank Holiday weekend. It was a delight to see Calbourne hauling the four Brighton bogie carriages and Freshwater in charge of our six four-wheeled carriages. From an operational perspective the railway ran very well indeed, with only a handful of minor delays. The Guards’ Journals recorded a total of 7,924 passenger journeys over the four days, which was 7.8% ahead of the 7,354 journeys during the same four days in 2012, which itself was a very good year. Once again, Sunday was the busiest day, with a total of 2,370.

On both Wednesday 18 and Thursday 19 September (both one-train service days) an additional ‘half-trip’ to Wootton was operated during the lunchtime service break because of heavy loadings. This arrangement was possible only because relief crews were available. Unusually for one-train service days, the four-wheeled carriages were in use, this being because the bogie-carriage rake was receiving replacement brake blocks.

Published services continued daily until Thursday 19 September, but after just one day without any services we operated private charter trains on Saturday 21 September. The UK Railtours group had travelled from London Waterloo aboard a Class 159 charter train. Following a cruise around Portsmouth Harbour and then across the Solent to Ryde Pier Head aboard Wight Scene, the group of almost 400 passengers transferred to Island Line services for the short trip to Smallbrook Junction (and, indeed, many travelled in their own charter train which ran non-stop from Ryde Pier Head). We operated a two-train service using both Calbourne hauling our four Brighton bogie carriages and W8 Freshwater with the four-wheeled carriages in tow. A safe access into the engineering yard was created to ensure that those wishing to have a closer look at the locomotives and wagons in the yard and Goosefield Sidings could do so. The shop, refreshment rooms and the ‘T’ Junction kiosk were also open and well patronised.

Although no published services operated on Monday 23 September a signalman was rostered to facilitate the shunting required by the Engineering Department to undertake steam heating tests on the entire passenger carriage fleet prior to the onset of colder weather.

The Autumn Steam Weekend took place on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 October, replacing the planned Gala event which was scaled down due to the unavailability of Ivatt 41298 and A1/x Class No. 11 Newport. Nevertheless, an intensive working timetable operating from 10.00 until 18.30 required four duty locomotives, one for each of the two passenger rakes, one for the goods service and the Ventnor West ‘push-pull’ set later in the day while station pilot work was undertaken by the fourth locomotive. The four locomotives in steam were Calbourne, Freshwater and the two Hunslet ‘Austerities’, Waggoner and Royal Engineer. Two short ceremonies were staged on the Saturday, the first the mark the entry into traffic of the LBSCR 10T car truck 60579 and the second to officially welcome the LBSCR Third 2403 into service. We were delighted that Mrs. Pam Chalkley and her family were able to join us for the afternoon and enjoy a round trip in the carriage on which on late husband Kim had spent so many hours.


Sam Curtis passed out as pointsman on 14 July. Sam joined the volunteer staff as a 16-year-old three years ago and regularly works in the booking offices and as guard-assist. Sam lives in Newport and works in a retail role in Godshill.

Peter Blake successfully qualified as both foreman and pointsman on 15 August. Born and educated on the Island, Peter spent his professional career in the aerospace industry, living and working in various mainland locations, latterly in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Having taken retirement, he returned to the Island and now lives in Carisbrooke.

Les Morgan has passed out as a signalman. Living in Bembridge, Les is also a fireman and thus joins a very select group who are qualified to undertake duties within both the Operating and Locomotive Operations Departments.

On Friday 23 August, both Richard Brooker and Jim Roberts were passed out as duty officers. This is a supervisory role usually undertaken by one of our two part-time Operating Managers when available. Both Richard and Jim have been actively involved at the Railway for many years and both are qualified signalmen and guards, a pre-requisite for qualification as duty officer. For a number of years Richard’s alter ego was ‘Sir Topham Hatt’ (alias ‘The Fat Controller’) during visits by Thomas the Tank Engine. Jim is on the permanent staff as the Railway’s Health & Safety Officer.

Traffic figures

The traffic figures for Quarter 3 are shown in the following table.

2013 2012
No. of operating days Passenger journeys Avg. no. of passenger journeys per operating day No. of operating days Passenger journeys Avg. no. of passenger journeys per operating day Passenger journeys percentage variance
July 31 17,239 556 31 17,188 554 0.30%
August 31 27,688 893 31 26,256 847 0.055
Sept 25 11,111 444 27 11,753 437 -5.50%
Total 87 56,038 644 89 55,197 620 0.015

Operating days refer only to those on which published services operated. Passenger journey data on trains not shown in our public timetable (such the UK Railtours charter) is excluded. The one exception to this is the ‘Twilight Special’ which always operates on the Saturday evening of the August Bank Holiday weekend and is run primarily for staff and exhibitors involved in the Island Steam Show.