South Devon Railway celebrates start of 20th anniversary season with half fares all weekend
The scenic, steam-operated South Devon Railway (SDR) will be marking the beginning of its 20th year of operations and the start of its main daily running season with a bargain Spring ‘half fare’ weekend this coming Saturday and Sunday (26th and 27th March).
Passengers will be able to cast off the cold and wet Winter blues and step out to bask in a cut-price steam feast redolent of the ‘Golden Age’ of steam.
No fewer than nine trains will be running on both days over the pretty seven-mile line from Buckfastleigh to Totnes, and which will appeal to families and enthusiasts alike.
Countryside lovers will be able to see and enjoy some stunning Spring scenery from the comfort of the trains as they meander their leisurely way down one of Devon’s most glorious valleys by the River Dart which is now carpeted with daffodils and primroses, and walkers can take advantage of some beautiful walks and see the flowers from stations too.
Coming a few weeks before the Easter break, the South Devon Railway always marks the start of each season with a special cut-price event to say ‘Thank You’ to the line’s many regular visitors, local people and volunteers, all of whom love the authentic recreation of the long gone, but not forgotten Great Western Railway.
And with continuing worries over the nation’s economy, the timing of the regular event is an ideal opportunity to get out into the countryside for cash-conscious families as all fares will be at half-price.
Fares on both days will be at half-price, so an adult round trip will cost just £5.00; a child return (ages 5-14) will be £3.00; Under fives and SDRA members go free.
The first train leaves from Buckfastleigh at 10.00am and from Totnes (Littlehempston) at 10.45am. Trains will leave both stations at about 45 minute intervals on both days.
Commenting on the “half-fare” weekend, South Devon Railway General Manager Dick Wood, said: “This year is the 20th anniversary of the South Devon Railway taking over the Buckfastleigh branch line, so it should be a memorable one for everyone who loves the sight and sound of our steam trains here in the West Country. We have literally come a long way in 20 years!
“We usually run our half fare weekends at the start and end of every main season, but the timing of this year’s event is going to be an added bonus for many local people who have felt the bite of the recession and are looking for a great value for money treat.
“There are some superb views of the lovely valley of the Dart to be had at this time of year, and there really is no better way to see them than from one of our relaxing steam trains. The line-side is always at its best in the Spring with beautifully manicured banks and hundreds of primroses and wild daffodils, with maybe the odd glimpse of canoeists battling the river too.
“We’ve always been true to our charitable roots by giving something back to our many friends and supporters every year, so our Spring half-fare day is just the ticket and always a popular event.
“For diehard railway enthusiasts, we’ll be running both a Great Western era train with chocolate and cream coaches and a set of 1950’s style BR crimson and cream coaches over the weekend pulled by two former Great Western locos.”
Volunteer workers are always being sought to help with the running of the railway and the South Devon Railway Association (which supports the railway) is holding a start-of-season recruitment drive over the weekend too. So, if anyone is interested in getting their hands dirty and helping to keep the railway’s wheels turning, then they can just turn up and talk to some of the volunteers already helping run the SDR who can happily explain all of the jobs on offer and what’s involved.
With ample car parking at Buckfastleigh on the A38 Devon Expressway, the South Devon Railway is just 25 minutes from Plymouth, Exeter and Torbay.
The South Devon Railway also features an extensive range of products in the Expressway model railway and gift shop, and quality food and drink in its ‘Refreshment Rooms’.
The South Devon Railway will be running trains EVERY day from the half price weekend on 26/27 March until the end of October. The Expressway model railway shop has gifts for children of all ages and is open for business on most days along with the Refreshment Rooms.
For further information about the Spring “Half Fare Weekend” or to arrange preview photography or filming, please contact SDR General Manager Dick Wood; Operations Manager John Haslam or Commercial Director Neil Smith on 01364 643536 or by email.
Photographs are available from our in-house photographer Sarah Anne Harvey via her website.