Some of our plans for 2017 – The Atlantic Coast Express, and others

The MNLPS and LNWR Crewe are working towards “Clan Line” being a complete loco around the end of March. We have specifications prepared for light and loaded test runs from Crewe in springtime, plus a simple ‘return south’ charter afterwards. Whilst we have specified dates, there is always the danger of slippage should any problems arise. We are targetting the ‘Surrey Hills’ operation on 28th April as our first Belmond British Pullman job in 2017 – fingers crossed.

As has just been advertised, on Saturday 27th May we are running an ‘Atlantic Coast Express’ from Waterloo to Exeter via Wimbledon-Woking-Salisbury-Yeovil Jn. Back via Taunton and Reading, promoted by our good friends UK Railtours (see here). Fastest timings possible have been requested, but obviously the largely single line between Salisbury and Exeter dictates what pathways are available.

As is now known by some people, we are doing a re-run of the ‘Bournemouth Belle’ on Wed 5th July. This is the actual 50th anniversary of the last time the ‘BB’ was steam hauled, and also 35028’s last day in steam in B.R. service. Route is via the main line outward (train will carry on to Poole). Back diesel-hauled to Southampton, then 35028 via Romsey and Andover. Obviously this train will be with the Pullmans; UK Railtours again the promoter, and booking details will be published very shortly. Dare we say this will be the most prestigious and historically significant steam charter of 2017.

We have a date allocated – and the Riviera Mk 1 set is reserved – for Saturday 8th July, but itinerary still to be agreed. Issues of train length, pathways and gauging restrictions are getting ever more problematical with regard to what is feasible. That said, it is the 50th anniversary of the ‘last weekend’ so we hope there will be plenty of demand for something appropriate.

Finally, 23rd December is a provisional date for an Xmas lunch-type train somewhere, but nothing decided as yet.

It should be said that we in the MNLPS want to make “Clan Line” more ‘accessible’ to everyone than may have been the case in the past. Unfortunately, the costs associated with main-line running mean that the days of the £30 day-trip are long gone, but fares will be kept as competitive as is possible. Remember, 35028 is the ONLY operational main-line registered loco that was active right to the end of S.R. steam, and 2017 is also the 50th anniversary of the purchase of the loco by the then fledgling MNLPS in 1967. Therefore, your custom is valued, and by people booking in sufficient numbers as the trips are advertised by UK Railtours we can justify doing more.

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