The Weardale Wanderer

With membership interest always at its highest when a rare Class 08 can be arranged, the opportunity to book a private charter at the scenic Weardale Railway, using the shunters on site for the coal traffic, could not be overlooked. Initial enquiries were met with a refreshingly warm response, and a date was promptly selected to avoid clashing with railtours or other preserved railway events, whilst also needing to run our event before their Santa season. The original request was for 08588 & 08870, but it soon became apparent that 588 needed work and it would not be available. The idea to deploy the English Electric ex-Nederlandse Spoorwegen “Hippel”, 653 "Herman" with 08870 came from the team at Weardale, and we decided to go for it!

Bookings came in very quickly and PLEG membership figures have risen accordingly. On the day, 120 passengers joined us and a fantastic donation of nearly £2000 was made in fares and through the on train raffle. The first prize of the raffle was a cab ride back from Stanhope to Bishop Auckland West and all raffle proceeds were to the benefit of the very active Weardale Youth Team.

With three Mark I coaches, the PLEG team were able to easily spend time with their members and discuss plans for 2012. Despite losing some time to Stanhope, a refreshing leg stretch break was provided and tea / coffee was arranged whilst photographs were taken. We were able to see one of the Class 141 DMUs depart on the service train.

On the run back to Bishop Auckland, we lost a little time but were still able to make the advertised Northern Rail service train connection at Bishop Auckland and run into the depot under steam power to pick up some unusual track for the track bashers, and to allow the service train to pass.

PLEG hopes to revisit the Weardale Railway in the New Year and try and secure a run out for highly sought 08588, and would like to thank all our customers and the staff / volunteers at Weardale for a very special day out.

Mileage summary, a stock list and track map highlighting track completed is below