Famous steam locomotive scheduled to haul Cathedrals Express
[Update 6th March: Steam Dreams now tell us that this trip will definitely go ahead, as Network Rail have announced that the repairs will be completed by 4th April, ahead of schedule.
HOWEVER, Steam Dreams also tell us that Sir Nigel Gresley will only be hauling the Cathedrals Express from Westbury in Wilts to Exeter Kingswear. Sir Nigel Gresley will not be passing through Hedge End, Botley and Eastleigh after all. The Cathedrals Express is to be hauled by a vintage Diesel Locomotive for the first part of this trip.
Network Rail have also announced that the land-slip which has closed the line between Hedge End and Botley is expected to be open by mid-March. ]
Eastleigh’s steam enthusiasts are (or should be) eagerly watching the repairs to the sea wall in Dawlish, as a rare visit of Sir Nigel Gresley hangs in the balance.
On 10th April, the LNER Class A4 locomotive named Sir Nigel Gresley is scheduled to haul the Cathedrals Express to Exeter Kingswear. This particular locomotive holds the post-war steam record speed of 112 miles per hour.
The Cathedrals Express, hauled by Sir Nigel Gresley, is however expected to be the first steam train to visit Dawlish after the recent storm damage to Brunel’s iconic sea wall, though the trip depends on whether the major structural repairs will be completed on time.
A spokesman for Steam Dreams, the company which operates The Cathedrals Express, said that they are very hopeful that the journey will go ahead as planned.
Marcus Robertson, Chairman of Steam Dreams commented:
“With the timing so finally balanced, there is still a chance with good weather and much hard work by Network Rail that the 10th April could be met. A statement by Network Rail that the line will be open by mid-April or earlier leads me to believe that odds are slightly better than 50:50 that we will be able to run.”
“Clearly the Dawlish route is a life line for the South West of England economy and I very much hope that The Cathedrals Express, by bringing steam back to the route, will help to re-enforce in a very positive way that it is business as usual.”
A decision on whether The Cathedrals Express will run on 10th April will be made at the end of March. In the event of cancellation, Steam Dreams say they will postpone the trip until the summer, but haven’t said whether Sir Nigel Gresley will be hauling the Cathedrals Express on any rescheduled trip.