Friday, 11 May 2018

Somerset Day

Somerset Day is a new event chosen after a public vote in 2015. May 11 was chosen in honour of Alfred the Great, though it isn't clear to me exactly how Alfred relates to the date. Anyway, for reasons that are not entirely clear, there was a gap in the timetable for today with no trains scheduled. This always looked a little odd and so we have taken the opportunity to plug the gap and run the Somerset Day Express.

I arrived at Bishops lydeard in good time to find the platform comfortably packed with prospective passengers. In fact, as the tickets had been mostly sold on line, all were actual passengers. Raveningham Hall was at the head of the train and we left at 1030. 

The train was non stop through crowcombe and stogumber and paused at williton just long enough to pick up three visitors from North America. More at Watchet then non stop to Minehead with just a stop at Blue Anchor. Arrival at Minehead was ahead of time and it was refreshing to avoid the lengthy pauses at the loops that seems to characterise the standard timetable.

Plenty of time to chat to visitors, run the dogs on the beach and have a snack in the dog friendly Apple Tree restaurant before we rejoined the train for the 1415 return trip.

Another 'express' run saw us return to BL time enough for a cup of tea before spending a couple of hours preparing for next month's AGM. The service was only finalised recently and I should thank all those who turned out at short notice to make this service possible. We couldn't do it without you.

Talking about the current timetable... It is obvious this has a number of shortcomings. Long pauses at crossing loops is one issue. Short turnaround times at the terminals mean visitors either don't have long enough or far too long and train crews get little time to rest. There isn't a lot we can do for this year, but we realise the issues and will make sure next year's timetable is better. 

Parked up at Minehead was the S160. It's fair to say this locomotive has had a disappointing start with continual air pump issues. As can be seen in this photo, the air pump has been removed and and sent away for repair. Let's hope it is fixed soon!

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