Somehow over a month has gone by since the last Watercress Line update. It seems that time does fly when you’re having fun and that’s exactly why many people are currently visiting the line. Thomas the Tank Engine is currently ruling the roost at Ropley, with many of his adoring fans and their parents visiting the railway. Day Out With Thomas Summer ends on the 16th August, so be sure to not miss out! Details of the nine days of child friendly steam traction can be found on the railways website (click here).
Thomas the Tank engine events are not so popular with many rail enthusiasts, but as an enthusiast myself, I think that it’s great to see children enjoying themselves on a preserved railway. I’ve spoken to many parents during this event and plenty of them had never visited the line before and wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for the famous blue engine. Thomas the Tank engine really helps bring in new people and no doubt sows the seed for budding engineers of the future and my view is important for heritage rail’s future.
Of course, it’s not all been about Thomas in the past month. During the summer school holidays, trains are operating every day o the Watercress Line. All of the railways serviceable steam fleet have been working in some capacity, along with some diesel services on special trains or when one of the elderly steam locomotives fail. Inevitably, this does happen occasionally when operating machinery of this vintage. The railway works very hard to prevent it whenever possible and are as disappointed as anyone else if a diesel has to be brought in as a substitute.As reported earlier, the railway has had some exciting progress with the restoration of what will be the first Bulleid designed carriage in service in the next few weeks. In around three years time we are planning for it to be joined by two others, which will add some variety to the existing Mark 1 stock. The Canadian Pacific project is progressing, with a blog update recently published on the railways website (click here to read it). There is a lot of work going on (by me!) behind the scenes trying to plan around 60 lines of deliverable elements that will hopefully see the fame of CanPac elevated significantly.
Finally, two things – firstly a reminder that there are currently three job vacancies open for the CanPac project (click here for more) and finally a request to help us bring 35005 Canadian Pacific back to life.
We still have to raise another £200,000 for the £1.5million CanPac project. The project will see not just the overhaul of 35005 Canadian Pacific but also 2 wooden Bulleid coaches. The boiler work alone is expected to exceed £100,000; so anything you can give will be gratefully appreciated, no matter how small you think it might be.
Thanks for reading.