APRIL 5TH 6TH
Somerset Diesel Gala - eventful but a great success!
The East Somerset Railway held its first Diesel Gala for many years over the
weekend of the 5th and 6th of April, and the weekend proved to be more
'eventful' than had been planned!
The weekend saw more mainline diesels gathered at Cranmore than had ever
been seen there before, and featured Mainline-liveried 37798, EWS 47758,
Fragonset 31468 "Hydra", together with Hanson-liveried 59102 "Village of
Chantry" and Yeoman-liveried 59004 "PAUL A HAMMOND". Also running were Yeoman-liveried 08032, reputed to be the oldest Class 08 still running in industry, and the resident ex-Port of Bristol Authority 325hp Sentinel shunter PBA39 which visitors had the opportunity to drive under supervision under the "Driver-for-a-Fiver" scheme.
More than 400 people visited the railway on Saturday, when train services
were rotated between 37798 and 47758, with 31468 sharing trips until
departing for Westbury at 3:45pm.
4:30pm real drama struck when a technical fault with the braking system on 37798
resulted in the unmanned locomotive running through the catch points at the ESR/Railtrack
boundary and becoming completely derailed, giving the visiting enthusiasts what
is hopefully a never-to-be-repeated photo opportunity! Fortunately the
locomotive remained upright and sustained relatively minor damage, although the
catch points themselves were extensively damaged.
As a result of this incident, the Saturday evening "Bangers and Mash" dining
services were worked by 47758 alone whilst recovery operations involving the
ESR, Railtrack, EWS, and GTRM got underway. Recovery operations continued by
floodlight throughout Saturday night, and by Sunday morning the one bogie of
the locomotive had been rerailed.
On Sunday train services were worked by 47758, and once again visitor
numbers were very encouraging, boosted possibly as word spread about 37798's
The recovery of 37798 was finally completed at about 10:00pm on Sunday,
allowing both the two class 59s and 47798 to return to Merehead the mainline
in time for Monday's regular revenue services.
ESR would like to thank Mendip Rail, EWS, Wessex Trains, and Fragonset
for their help making the event possible, East Somerset Models for
sponsoring the event, and in particular the EWS drivers from Barton Hill
depot who volunteered for driving duties over the weekend. In addition,
special thanks are also due to the ESR staff on duty throughout the weekend,
the EWS rerailing crews, and the EWS, Railtrack, and GTRM/Carillion incident
response personnel who responded so professionally and worked so hard night
and day to rerail 37398 and reopen the connection with the main line.
With thanks to East Somerset Models, Mendip Rail, EWS, Fragonset AND Wessex Trains for help with this event.