Visitors for a bit of simulation.

On Thursday 10th June, we had a visit from Armstrong Powerhouse to record every single sound of 45041 Royal Tank Regiment.

There was plenty of stopping and starting and lots of noise. They make sound packs for the leading online train simulator to make the experience sound as realistic as possible.

They got everything they wanted and have said how very helpful the NVR has been for organising this.

This is their second visit, as they came to record sounds from 31271 a few years ago but I’m sure it won’t be their last visit. 

Below are some images from the day.

My thanks to Harvey Harrison for some of the above text and all the images below.

© Harvey Harrison
© Harvey Harrison Microphones in place
© Harvey Harrison Checking things at Overton Station
© Harvey Harrison Running round at Yarwell Station

Well that’s the first few weeks out of the way.

Here we are with services running again on the railway. Granted it may not be as many as we would like to run and we are running with reduced capacity. But we are running!

It’s nice to see visitors back at the railway enjoying themselves.

We have lots of events planned, the most notable being Thomas’ 50th birthday bash at the end of the month. Plus of course the The Steam EnGIN Express on the 24th July. I will be interested to see how the event goes. I feel that it will be popular and hopefully become a regular perhaps yearly event.

This coming Saturday the 12th of June sees the Wansford Miniature Railway Grand Opening. A lot of work has gone into the miniature railway’s construction and it will without doubt be popular.

Locomotives in Steam and on Display

Steam Locomotive Sweet Pea “Holly”
Steam Locomotive War Department No 90776 Royal Anglian Regiment 
Steam Locomotive GWR King “King Edward II”
Steam Locomotive GWR Parire No 4588
Steam Locomotive Sweet Pea “Joe”
Battery Electric Class 14 No 9520
Battery Electric 08 No 08679
Under Overhaul LNER B1 Roedeer on Display
Sweet Pea 

  • For the Opening of the Miniature Railway Train Services are £1 per return trip, tickets purchased on the day from the Miniature Railway 
  • Miniature Freight Train
  • Miniature Railway Shop with a selection of fund rasing items for sale
  • Miniature Traction Engines in Steam 
  • Special Celebration First Day Postal Covers
  • Blue Circle in Steam
  • Social Distancing is to maintained at all times in line with Government guidelines 
  • The NVR will be running main line Steam services on the day
  • Refreshments available at Wansford Station. 
  • All attractions subject to availability and Covid restrictions 
  • Please note to travel on the miniature railway you must be in possession of a Platform ticket or Main Travel ticket.  

If you’re visiting the railway please give it your support.

So lets look forward to a summer of trains and visitors.

The magic of The Nene Valley Railway.

When I joined the railway some sixteen years ago people often commented about the magic of the Nene Valley Railway, and I never quite understood what they were on about.

Today I am sitting here watching families arrive at Wansford Station, and see them showing their young children the view through the gates. I see the children hopping from one foot to another excitedly, looking forward to seeing Thomas and having a trip behind him.

Then I see the adults smiling as well already enjoying their visit and looking forward to what’s ahead.

Looking at that I now understand what people mean when they talk about the magic of the Nene Valley Railway.

Ready Steady GO!!!!!!!!

Tomorrow sees the recommencement of services on the NVR, hopefully with no more lockdowns ahead.

Services will still be far from what we are used to, we still have social distancing.

Looking at the official railway web site we have lots of special events coming up, please support them. This is still a critical time for the railway.

For those who do visit and travel, you are most welcome, thanks for your support it is appreciated.

The railway has played a very important part in Peterborough’s history and development and it’s fair to say the city would be very different if that first train had not steamed into the city in 1845.

Whilst we can’t fully recreate those days, travelling on the railway does give you the opportunity to travel on part of the first railway route into the city.

If you take some nice photographs during your visit and would like to share them please feel free to send them to me and I would love to include them on the blog. The email address can be found to the right of this posting.

Welcome back to The Nene Valley Railway.

Track Trespass.

It’s fair to say that all lines be they heritage or network suffer from track trespass occasionally. And this is not always done by youngsters. In my experience of catching trespassers they can be of any age and of either sex.

At the moment we are having problems with this around the Orton Mere station. With pupils going to and from school.

So this blog post is aimed at locals to the NVR.

Please remember it is an offence to trespass on a railway. It’s a dangerous place. Trains can run at any time and on any of the lines.

Now I am aware that the above video is of a train on the national network but the principal is the same.

A few hundred tons of train can’t dodge a trespasser and just because a train is on a heritage railway does not mean it weighs less. Walking on the track or beside the track is dangerous, there are numerous trip hazards some more visible than others.

So if you are one of those who trespass on railways just remember that railways can kill they are dangerous places. Graveyards and crematoriums are full of people who thought trespassing on a railway was not dangerous.

Coming to a screen near you.

For several years Railcam have had three cameras on the NVR.

Well I am pleased to announce that one of the cams showing the Main Wansford station and crossing is now available on YouTube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mO_xi4GHig for the direct connection

Our thanks to Railcam for providing this for the railway it is appreciated.

Oh those tickets are big!

I was reminded today of a comment often heard when people looked at the display on the walls of Orton Mere station.

We had pictures of various things on the wall, amongst them were pictures of old tickets enlarged to A4.

One off the most common comments we heard was:-

“Oh look how big tickets were in the old days!”

Most were amazed when we told them that they had been enlarged so they were easier to see, I could never imagine anybody walking round with an A4 sized ticket in their pocket.

Acting General Manager through the pandemic

Back in January 2020 I agreed to step up to Acting General Manager to cover the GM’s maternity leave. Little did any of us really know what was in store. Sure, the word Covid was starting to appear in the news, but at that point it did not seem any more dangerous than when SARS had been around.

By the end of February, I was firmly in position and the word Pandemic, was starting to be bandied about as infection levels in Europe were fast growing out of control, and then by mid-March it hit us all. Emergency meetings, analysis of budgets, realisations of lockdowns and the final decisions were made to shut the doors on the railway and furlough most of the work force.

As spring turned into summer, and more and more of the exciting events we had planned had to be either cancelled or postponed the enormity of taking on the role became apparent. However, I did not let it deter me and I grabbed the challenges ahead of how we would re-open with all the restrictions that would need to be in place and got working on them.

Sadly, as we edged nearer to the lifting of lockdown one, the lack of funding, unsuccessful grant applications and the knowledge that the hard months ahead would be with limited footfall, the horrible period of redundancies also took place. In all my working life, I have for most of it, been a manager of a team, and though had been part of dismissals I had never been part of redundancies. The process was without doubt gruelling and at times heart-breaking and it was very sad to have such losses in what was a small team was already.

However, onwards and upwards was the journey I travelled. With the support of staff and dedicated and generous volunteers we moved forward and opened our doors to visitors – yes it was different, but we adapted, we trialled things and adapted again and in a short space of time we were successfully running trains with a slick timetable that allowed for full carriage cleansing in between services among other things.

As the autumn approached we clung on tight, we prepped for Santa and sold tickets fast and furiously, in the few short years I have been with NVR I had not seen so many tickets sold quite so quickly as I did on the day we put the tickets live on our web site. The buzz was great, everything felt good, still the restrictions, but by then we had a good system in place and one we all felt good about. Then lockdown 2 hit, but this time it was different, it had an end date. It meant we lost the first few dates of Santa, but again we adapted, quickly moved bookings, laid on an extra day to accommodate and we once again retreated to furloughing staff for the month of the lockdown.

December dawned, and we hit the tracks running, the entertainer arrived, the presents were stacked high and we turned on the Christmas music. The first customers arrived, booked in and made their way to our new look grotto, where they met with Santa who was sat socially distanced on a stage surrounded by Christmas trees, his trusty reindeer and helpers. All went according to plan and we had 15 very successful train trips over the next two weeks that followed.

Behind the scenes though, my eye was firmly fixed on the news headlines. It was clear that the infection levels were gathering at such a pace that the remaining running days were hanging on literally by a thread. I had regular staff meetings with the office crew on the ‘what if’s’ hoping against hope that none of it would be necessary. But, by the evening of the 18th December after calls with the local authorities it was clear that the next days would be hard and we were required to make further adjustments to which tier levels we could allow to come to the railway. We had to reach out to customers due with us that weekend who were not in the same tier, ask them to halt their journey and contact us. We just about got through the 19th, when the daily briefing by Boris told us all we were heading towards a longer lockdown. The locos were put to bed, announcements out to the customers for the 20th and we shut the doors once again.

The 20th December was a very sad day for me personally. I came to work and three of us manned the office, taking calls and replying to emails, working through 15 train loads of customers who we were bringing deep disappointment to. All those children who had been looking forward to seeing Santa and having their special train ride, the pain was almost too much to bare.

A small band of volunteers were also on site, who stowed a lot of our treasured and expensive Christmas items away. They found time to host some families who had not got the message, making sure they had a warming drink and the children left with a present – not quite the same as seeing Santa but at least they did not leave empty handed.

Christmas ended for me that day – the pain of having to give in so dramatically to this awful pandemic in such a rapid fashion is one that will live with me for a long time, and but for writing about it here, will become a forgotten episode in the years ahead in the history of NVR.

We now find ourselves in March 2021, still waiting to climb out of that same lockdown, but a sense of excitement is beginning to build as vaccinations role out and a pathway out of the pandemic is now laid out.

So as I come to the end of my time in the role I find myself reflecting back on what has happened and hopefully as I hand the baton back I do so with an element of pride that I led my colleagues through what has been history in the making and I hope leaves NVR on a reasonable footing for the years ahead.

Kim Shaw