Footplate Experience

Spend a whole day operating a typical Great Western branch line...

...Including, of course, driving and firing an full size Steam locomotive!

The Western Branchline Experience is just that. After an appropriate briefing and instruction, you join five other people as a team to spend the whole day actually operating and running the Dean Forest Railway, under supervision of qualified DFR personnel.

Course members do not need to have any particular skills to participate as guidance is provided, and each member is free to do as much (or as little) and he or she wishes. A wide range of facets of operation is contained in the day, including driving and firing the steam loco  taking charge of the train as guard, operating the signal boxes (including single line token instruments), stopping the traffic in Lydney as Crossing Keepers and, if you have the time, helping light up and clean the loco before duties in the morning and putting the loco away in the evening.

There is also time to simply enjoy that extraordinarily intimate experience of standing on the veranda of the brakevan next to the smokebox of the engine as you steam along the line through the magical medieval Royal Forest. A truly delightful and memorable experience, which is not often available.

You are welcome to bring friends and family along, and they may travel on the brakevan, but will be required to buy a travel ticket for the day to do so (this will also allow them to travel on the passenger train). Please note that children under 12 are not permitted to ride in the brakevan.


2019 Dates

In 2019 we will be operating the Branchline Driving Experience on the following dates:

Sunday 2nd June
Saturday 22nd June (special freight driving experience)
Sunday 21st July
Saturday 7th September
Sunday 6th October




"I am writing to let you know how much we enjoyed last Saturday at Norchard.

The railway staff were so helpful on all aspects of the day, the signal box at Lydney Junction, the Guards van, the firing of the Pannier Tank and not least of all, driving the loco.

I was given loads of information by the signalman, the guard, the fireman and the driver on every aspect of the working day. Nothing was too much trouble for them and the experience far exceeded anything I had been expecting.

My wife expresses her thanks for being included in the day's working.

We have a friend and his wife who may well enjoy the Western Steam Branchline Experience next year with us.

Once again, many thanks for the experience of a lifetime.

Best Wishes,

Pat and Gordon McHenry




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