THE West Somerset Railway’s Spring Steam Gala gets into full stride this Thursday (March 27) which continues until Sunday (March 30).
However tomorrow (March 26) will also see plenty of passenger train interest over the 20 miles of line between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead.
One of the ‘guest’ locomotives hired-in for the Gala will be in action. The Southern Railway ‘West Country’ Class 34007 ‘Wadebridge’ will leave Minehead station at 10.25 for a special non-stop Atlantic Coast Express run to Bishops Lydeard and will return at 12.40pm.
Other steam engines in action on the 26 will be the 7828 ‘Norton Manor’, 6960 ‘Raveningham Hall’ and the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway number 88.
The ‘Wadebridge’ was in use last Thursday.
Among the many visitors expected at the Gala event, there will be a party of 10 Italian Tourism Trade professionals who will be travelling over the line on Thursday March 27.
The group is exploring Somerset as part of a familiarisation visit to the country and the trip from Bishops Lydeard is part of the itinerary that has been arranged to include the leading attractions in the county.
They will also visit Dunster and the 1000-year-old Castle.
There is plenty for visitors to the 18th annual Spring Steam Gala to see and do.
It takes on the theme of ‘The Withered Arm and the Atlantic Coast Express’.
The Withered Arm was the name given to the network of lines run in North Devon and North Cornwall.
As well as the guest locomotives, the stations have taken on alternative names.
There will be model railways at Bishops Lydeard Station and a Railway Literature Festival in Minehead.
The ‘Driver for a Fiver’ scheme returns on Friday and Saturday and heritage freight trains will run, hoping to recreate scenes from the past.
A good way for Taunton based visitors to the get the Gala is by buses.
The First service 28 runs directly to the Bishops Lydeard station from Taunton bus station via Taunton Railway Station.
There are half hourly bus services on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and hourly services on Sunday.
Webbers service 18 buses from Taunton town centre don’t go to Bishops Lydeard but they will take passengers direct to the stations at Watchet, Washford and Minehead.
Webbers do not run a service on Sundays. For more information about the Gala, visit www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk.