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Saturday, August 8, 2020

Churnet Valley Railway to reopen on 1 August

The heritage Churnet Valley Railway has announced that it will reopen on 1 August 2020 with a post-Lockdown steam-hauled train timetable, refurbished coaches and, for ‘one- night- only’, a special curry train. 

As the Covid-19 lockdown eases after four months, the Staffordshire heritage railway has announced services will resume with a revised operation. The railway’s new timetable rolls out from the first Saturday in August, offering twice-daily services every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday until 1 November 2020.

Delighted to be back on track, the Churnet Valley Railway’s first return trip between Froghall and Ipstones, will depart from Froghall Station at 10:30am, with a second train leaving at 1:30pm, so day-trippers can once again enjoy the two-hour, 21-mile return journey through the Churnet Valley, also known as ‘Little Switzerland.’

The Staffordshire line has also unveiled the schedule for its socially distanced dining trains, serving Staffordshire Cream Tea and Sunday Lunch.

The line’s first post-lockdown journey will see the return of loco 6046 to the track. Built in 1945 in Pennsylvania (USA) the retired engine arrived at the railway for restoration in 2006 and is one of the flagship locos at the railway. Chris Simcock, Churnet Valley Railway’s volunteer of 13 years, will blow the first whistle as the black beauty chugs out of Froghall Station. At 28 years of age, he is the youngest volunteer steam train driver.

“I can’t wait to get back on the footplate,” said Chris enthusiastically. “I am even looking forward to getting up at 5am to prepare the engine”.

Those looking for a more unusual trip on the train can book a table on the Bombay Express. For £30 per head, vindaloo veterans can sample a specially prepared, three course, fine dining Indian feast. In a first-class dining coach equipped with full bar and waiting service, this is Bombay bliss, Stafford style. The curry train departs Cheddleton Station at 7pm on Friday 11 September.

As soon as is practical, the railway also hopes to resume murder mystery evenings and train driver courses, all of which will operate subject to appropriate government guidance.

Header image: Loco 6046, Churnet Valley Railway. © Dave Gibson

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