Monthly Archives: September 2014

The Autumn Diesel Gala.

This weekend saw the railways Autumn Diesel Gala. It ran for three days Friday, Saturday & Sunday.

Now it is I think fair to say that it will not go down as our busiest or best diesel gala. This was for a number of reasons, not least of which we did not really have any crowd pulling locomotives. The brief visit by the 66, which I gather has been in service less than a month in service on the main line caused a slight delay when it had problems. But it was popular with the visitors, some commented that it was a pity it only did one run. We also had I gather a couple of other diesel galas around the country, this will not have helped. Certainly I noticed the absence of some of my regular visitors who turn up every year without fail, they were not visiting this year.

However, it was most enjoyable, and my thanks go to all the people who helped me at the station this weekend your help was much appreciated.

One of the things I occasionally mention is poor communication, I am pleased to report this was not the case this event, we got timetables and we got information especially with the last minute changes made late Saturday afternoon to the state of play for the Sunday. It made a big difference.

We ran trips up the Fletton Branch on all three days. On Friday we ran a single trip up with the Mk1 coaches, On Saturday we ran the Swedish Rail Car & on Sunday it was break van rides behind a class 14 locomotive.

The busiest day was Saturday and the trips in the Swedish rail car were quite popular, not least I think because children could travel, no under 16’s in the brake van.  Nathan had great fun playing TTI on the Swedish Rail Car, and issued tickets to last minute arrivals, lots of people travelled on impulse.

Quote of the gala must go to the person who asked me…”Do you have any steam trains running in the diesel gala?” Now this bit is being added after Jason left a comment about some railways running steam on diesel gala days, this would in my mind at least make them mixed traction gala’s and not diesel or steam ones.

We were asked more times than I care to remember about a toilet, and as always the vast majority of people did not bother to say thank you when we directed them to where the nearest ones were located. I know I have mentioned this many times but the general standard of even the most basic of manners seems to be dropping at a rapid rate on knots.

So what about the locomotives that were operational? Well I don’t intend to rabbit on about them. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are a few pictures to save me typing several thousand words. They are in no special order and as you will see from them we had mixed dull and sunny weather.

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Several people have commented also on the new colour scheme for the station, the redecorating is really coming on well, and here is a picture showing how it’s coming along and what the colours are.


Personally I think it’s going to look rather nice.

So now we start the October wind down to our final public services of the year the first week of November. I will be glad of some weekends off I must admit.



How services were delayed by a Tornado OR the moan with a cone OR just a bog standard weekend.

It was an interesting weekend.

Let’s start with Saturday. I mean it is the first day of the weekend after all.

For both days Peter & Susan were with me, and on Saturday I would not say we were exactly busy, though shop and ticket sales, especially the latter were not too bad.

But we had a funny cross section of people in, and it seemed that the illiteracy level had reached new heights. I saw at least three people read the poster that quite clearly said that Tornado was only pulling the TPO service to and from Sutton Cross then come in and ask when Tornado was expected at the station, I didn’t have the heart to tell them that it was actually next expected on Tuesday when it leaves us after it’s visit. I mean the poster was in plain English, and there was no joined up writing, so I fail to see what the problem was.

Services ran late for most of the day due to Tornado having problems apparently with the TPO stock. Still everybody was in a good mood and nobody really moaned.

I must admit though that I was glad when the end of the day came.

Sunday dawned with sunshine, now this means that we will either have an exceptional day or that the idiots will be out in force, I am sorry to say that we mostly had the latter.

The day was a mixture of yet more questions asking where Tornado was intermixed with an amazing number of requests for a toilet. One groups asked for a loo indicating they were a tad desperate then after finding the answer was there was no loo they bought hot and cold drinks and spent over half an hour sitting on one of the station benches.

The crown for entitlement whore of the weekend goes to a late entry on Sunday afternoon, who came onto the station and asked Peter if he could sit inside and eat an ice cream he had bought elsewhere! He seemed genuinely amazed when the answer was no! I mean that’s like buying a take away and then going into the cafe next door and ask if you can sit and eat it there.

A close second come from another late entry who got a bit ratty with Peter when he was informed that Tornado would not be pulling the last service, after all he had been told the previous weekend at Wansford that Tornado would be pulling some services this weekend to a timetable. Which is of course true as the TPO runs were a timetabled service. The wind went out of his sails when Peter asked if he had checked exact times, if he had looked at any of the information posters or if he had checked on the web site? The answer to all those was a no! He got and deserved no sympathy.

It’s fair to say that 99% plus of the people asking only wanted to photograph the locomotive, they did not want to buy a ticket and travel, or in simple terms they did not want to contribute one penny piece to the railway to help pay for the locomotives visit. None bought a drink or a snack, none have my sympathy in any way shape or form.

So there you have it the TPO weekend at Orton Mere, now please don’t think the weekend was full of entitlement seeking idiots, we had interspaced with them some really lovely and charming visitors who were a pleasure to help and to chat to, and they more than made up for the others.

Next weekend sees the Diesel Gala, and whilst some will be to put it mildly a challenge at least generally they come for an enjoyable weekend and they spend money. I look forward to the three days.

The Steam Gala

This weekend saw a two day steam gala, and I must say I really enjoyed the weekend.

But before I start to waffle on about the weekend I would first like to thank all those that helped me. Namely… Sue the wife, Peter & Susan, Nathan, Jason and of course Rosemary who worked on the garden area.

It really was an enjoyable weekend, we had nice visitors, decent weather and a selection of locomotives.

Saturday was as expected the busiest day of the two for tickets but not for shop sales. Trains ran a bit behind time but nobody really minded. The star attractions were Tornado and the 9F Here are pictures of the two of them taken on Saturday.

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As you can see from the differences in the pictures we had a mixture of sunshine and light cloud.

The trains were full, sometimes standing room only. We also ran two freight services which were popular with especially the photographers.

Sunday started off with the news that Tornado had failed, the Operating Manager did a quick jig of the timetable and all was well, a few visitors were disappointed that Tornado was not running but all in all there were no problems with visitors because of it.

One major jig was that we did not do brake van rides up the Fletton Branch as we had on Saturday, this was due to the locomotive that had done the trips being assigned to the freight services due to being one locomotive down. Here is the locomotive in question just running round to the front of the freight for a return trip back to Wansford.


The weekend was tiring but as I said at the start enjoyable.

Sometimes weekends just go well and this was one of them. But they do tend to effect the staff, here is Peter at the end of Sunday obviously past his peak, the poor old soul.


I am pleased to say the weekend did not have the same effect on me!!!


The station gets it’s own red light area.

Well Orton Mere finally has it’s own red light area. It’s at the east end of platform 1 well away from the crowds, especially at night.

Now before you all get your minds any further into the gutter and all go down to the station once it’s dark I should point out that the red light is part of the new signalling system for the crossover. It was tested on Saturday as the short video below shows. Just click on the link to see it. The video was done by Keith of the S&T gang.


So now we not only get a red light area we also get flashing as well. Hopefully it will sync nicely with the photographs of the non-paying public. The white light which will normally show is even brighter. Come to think of it it’s a shame we can’t have them all along both platforms!!!

I can only comment on Saturday this weekend as I had today off, which was a bad decision really as I did more work at home than I would have at the station. It was another quiet Saturday, they are of late becoming too common with Sundays normally better.

Now we have the week to sort out stuff for the steam gala next weekend, hopefully the weather gods will be with us and we will have lots of PAYING visitors.



Yes well………….

Some weekends are unremarkable, and the one just gone must rate as one of the most unremarkable for a few years.

We weren’t busy, but we weren’t quiet. Shop and ticket sales were what I expected.

It’s just the time of year, the children are back at school in a couple of days, the parents have no money and are starting to panic about Christmas spending.

I mean you know when you have an unremarkable weekend when very few people ask about toilets.

If I was to pick out a highlight it would be the anglo French group that travelled on Saturday, they were early and we were not rushed so it was just nice to have a chat to some of them, when they returned they seem to have genuinely enjoyed their visit which is always nice to hear.

As always Peter & Susan were with me on Saturday, some of the regular volunteers have not been that regular this year, and certainly it looks like it may be a challenge to fill the ROTA for the steam and diesel gala’s in a few weeks.

Sunday saw the wife with me, and we were not busy, a few wandering about especially in the afternoon, but the iPads got a lot of use and I actually managed to read almost a complete book.

Today marks the first day of September and we have about eight weeks to go until the end of the season and the closedown of the station for a couple of months. But during that eight weeks we have several events including the gala’s mentioned above and hopefully the weather will be with us and we will get a decent number of visitors, we need the profit from these events, and after all without profit there would be no railway.