It was an eventful day down at Derbyshire's favourite branch line. The day started with the 'Bubble' suffering from a sticky EP valve but thankfully this soon resolve itself. No sooner had the service train left I received a phone call from the train crew informing me the recent stormy weather in Wirksworth had resulted in a tree blocking the line just south of Ken Roland's crossing. Despite the sterling efforts of the train crew it was impossible for them to move the obstruction due to its size and the train returned to Wirksworth so a works train could be despatched with the relevant equipment and numbers of volunteers to unblock the line whilst the passengers were looked after in the buffet. Thankfully we were able to remove the tree with the help of saws, collective muscle power and a rope attached to the train to drag the tree free of the line. (photos attached).
I feel its important to mention that our driver training at the railway emphasises the importance of 'defensive driving' on the first train service in case of such an emergency. The rails were wet and the tree was hidden in the shadows making it difficult to spot at distance but thanks to Pete Watt's skills the train was brought to a halt quickly and safely.
Down at Duffield the gremlins were at work too with the till system failing which all added to the feeling that the Gods were conspiring against us today! However normal service was soon resumed and the First Crich Scout Troop were able to journey down the line as part of the Chief Scout Gold Award. Down the yard the EVRA shop team held a meeting in the training room. The lone DMU apprentice worked diligently on final preparations for the Santa Train and Tim Oakes duly completed the floor in the BR box van. Between services Richard and Stuart undertook yard tours for our interested visitors which proved as popular as ever.
This afternoon our Catering Manager Eric Hills and his team laid on an excellent buffet for our volunteers in recognition of their continuing contributions to the railway and it great to see so many who had made a special journey to attend. Today's service was supported by the booking offices, EVRA shop and model railway.
My grateful thanks to everyone today who worked so well together to ensure, despite the challenges, our passengers were still able to enjoy the marvellous views the line has to offer at this time of year.
All the best, Tom