ast week saw the final preparations for the Polar Express take place.
This included completing the electrics for the visual and audio displays at Grand Rapids station (Horsehay and Dawley), the Northern Lights (Heath Hill tunnel) and the North Pole (Lawley).
The new Christmas tree has been put up, with lights and a shining star at the top and the new elements of the set built at the North Pole. Santa's sleigh has been delivered, and the reindeer harnessed to it ready for the main man.
The chocolate shack has been delivered and is ready to go, along with all our other catering outlets. The marquee is complete, and the shop stocked with lots of polar goodies for sale.
Andrew Barclay No. 2138 'Swordfish' has received its headlamp, bell and cow catcher.
The dress rehearsals started on Saturday, the first one passed without incident but unfortunately, on the second run, BR Class 08 diesel 08757 'Eagle' suffered an issue and had to be taken off the rear of the train. Fortunately we had a replacement in the shape of class 37 diesel 37263 which was used for the rest of the trains on Saturday and Sunday, and will continue to 'stand in' until Eagle is fixed.
Early feedback from the public has been very positive, with lots telling us they think it's the best one ever! It's been a lot of hard work for our volunteers, but it is great to finally be started.
Next Saturday and Sunday (26th and 27th November), the railway will also be at the Warley National Model Railway exhibition at NEC Birmingham (stand C07). If you are attending, please come and say 'hello'.
As our volunteers will now be totally focused on operating the Polar Express trains until 23 December, this will be the last news update for a few weeks.
However, we will be back keeping you fully updated with everything going on with the railway in the New Year.
Everyone's attention at the railway is now fully focused on the final preparations for our Polar Express trains.
Andrew Barclay 0-6-0 ST No. 2138 'Swordfish' has arrived to haul the Polar Express trains. The loco has been hired in (with thanks to the loco's owner and Buckinghamshire Railway Centre) due to ongoing repairs to GWR 56XX 0-6-2 tank No. 5619. Swordfish has had her fitness to run exam and steam test at the weekend (she has a lovely whistle!), the train formed up, fully decorated and is now at Spring Village platform for cleaning and final preparations to be completed.
The marquee has been put up on Spring Village car park. This will house the shop and the snowball play area and is now being fully kitted out with sets and stocked with Polar Express goodies
Actors and Actresses were on site on Sunday, taking part in the first on-train rehearsal and receiving their costumes.
24hr security is now on site.
The set is being built at the North Pole (Lawley), the reindeers and new Christmas tree have been taken there (in the Class 144 Pacer!) and Santa's sleigh will join them shortly. The 'northern lights' are in place in Heath Hill tunnel.
The final chairs have been bolted down at Lawley siding, and the track has been tamped with new ballast. A shunt took place to release the 5-plank wagon (this has been brought down to the yard for collection as it has been sold), and to disperse the stock between the Lawley Platform road and siding so as to not obstruct the view of the 'North Pole' and Santa for our passengers. The Toad was also moved to its 'Polar position' at Lawley as it is used as a base by security.
Holts Tree Care very generously lent us their cherry picker so that we could use it to convert the final two Spring Village platform lights to LED bulbs. Additional lighting on the Old Loco Shed has also been wired up and is now fully functional
A two minutes silence was held at the railway at 11am on Remembrance Sunday as a mark of respect for those who have died in the line of duty.
With thanks to Ben and David J for the additional information used in the update.
The railway is now closed
The next event is the Polar Express (pre-booked ticket holders only) which starts on 25th November.
Tourist Standard Open (TSO) coaches
All maintenance in the coaches has now been completed.
The new LED lights in the coaches are being wired in. Two coaches have been completed, with two more still to do. They are now being decorated and cleaned as we go along.
Permanent Way (P-Way)
More jacking and packing has taken place to level out the track at the summit of the line. More chairs have been bolted down at Lawley siding to enable rolling stock to be stored on it.
The yard at Spring Village continues to be tidied with materials and hardware removed
Platform Extension at Spring Village
The extension was tarmaced by our good friends at G N Groundworks Ltd, who very generously did the work at no cost to the railway, including materials. They have done a brilliant job.
On Saturday we welcomed Telford MP Lucy Allan to officially open the platform extension, and a commemorative bench, which had been donated to the railway by the family of the late Stephen Paul Morris. It was great to be able to invite Lucy and Stephen’s family to our railway for this special occasion. After the opening ceremony was complete, everyone boarded the class 144 Pacer to Horsehay and Dawley station for food and drinks at the Furnaces Tearoom. Our thanks to Lucy for her continued support of our railway, and the family for donating the bench.
BR class 08 diesel shunter No 08757 'Eagle' returned to the railway after being on hire to Hams Hall depot over the Summer. The loco has also had some repairs done whilst it was away and is now being made ready for its role in toping and tailing the Polar Express trains during November and December.
The MOT aggregate has been spread out over the car park at Spring Village and has been levelled and flattened. The marquee for Polar will be arriving this week.
Also arriving this week is the 'chocolate shack' which will provide the hot chocolate drinks for our Polar Express passengers. A base has been put down near the picnic area for the shack to sit on.
Loving tender care has continued to be given to our reindeer. I have heard that this year, Rudolph will be sporting a special red LED nose. Something to look out at the North Pole!
The new Christmas tree is being decorated ready to be erected at Lawley.
The front of the counter in the Furnaces Tearoom has been repaired and painted.
Thanks to Ben and Nigel for the additional information used in this update.
The railway is currently closed
Our next event is the Polar Express which starts on 25th November. Tickets can be booked from our website.