The Branch Line Society


68023 'Achilles' looking extremely smart prior to the Achilles Heel Trekker railtour on 23rd June 2016,
one of many BLS collaborations with DRS. [© Reproduced with permission]


The Society maintains an active programme of varied outdoor fixtures, and these are run primarily for members. In some cases, especially mainline charter trains, we are pleased to accommodate non-members.

Members receive 24 newsletters per year giving advance notification of events, and benefit from priority booking and discounted fares. You can normally re-coup your membership fee on just one fixture and some fixtures are for members only, so
join us today!

Click on a fixture name below for more details, and to book or notify interest.

Please note that although dates are given as far in advance as possible (in order to allow a measure of planning by intending participants to take place), they must be treated as only provisional until an event is actually open for bookings, as changes can and do occur.

17th December 2017


The Grand Farewell

The Branch Line Society is delighted to announce an unusual HST charity charter train in conjunction with Grand Central (GC), traversing much sought-after curves, loops and sidings! The six-coach train will be powered by two GC liveried Class 43 power cars. There will be an on-train raffle with proceeds donated to 125 Group, whilst profits from the charter will be split evenly between Railway Benefit Fund and Railway Children. There will be a Buffet Car serving a wide range of sandwiches, drinks, snacks and light refreshments. At least two real ales are expected to be available for sale. First Class passengers will benefit from an at seat service with breakfast of porridge and a hot breakfast roll, lunch of soup and sandwiches and an afternoon cream tea, accompanied by complimentary tea, coffee, fruit juice, water and snacks throughout the day. Standard Plus passengers will travel in a declassified First-Class coach offering an enhanced passenger environment, additional space and a free voucher for a hot drink from the Buffet Car. Grand Central has been operating three HST sets since the commencement of passenger operations on 18 December 2007, and these will be returned to Angel Trains for re-deployment in the near future. This charter marks the end of the first chapter of operations and celebrates the 10th birthday of Grand Central. Subject to availability, free Wi-Fi will be available throughout the train.

Mindful of the fact that some people can't make the entire tour, in particular those that may be travelling on the Pathfinder charter on Saturday, with the grateful agreement of Grand Central we are making advance part fares available.

Note that these are Standard Class only ADVANCE part fares and must be pre-booked by contacting the Fixtures Secretary with details of the journey you wish to undertake and a contact telephone number.

This enables people to travel on choice parts of the programme and sample the GC HSTs before they bow out of service with GC.

The part journey fares are as follows:

- Journeys between Newcastle and York £20 single / £30 return. Ideal perhaps for a Christmas shopping day out in York nearly eight hours to enjoy between 10.16 and 18.04
- Journeys between Sheffield and Bradford £30 single. Pick up 12.55, set down 16.28
- Journeys between Sheffield and York £45 Single. Pick up 12.55, set down 18.02

All proceeds will enhance our donation to our good causes.

To participate in the full tour, you can still book online by clicking on the tour title above, or pay on the day is also available.

6th January 2018


Scunthorpe Steel Works railtour

Make an early New Year resolution (to go on more BLS fixtures) now and book our first one of 2018. It is a good time to visit, as internal traffic is quieter after Christmas. An interesting and unique experience, enjoy it while you still can, and strike while the iron is still hot, at one of the UK's final 24 hour operational integrated steel works set in 200 acres (totally unspoilt by tourism). Over 100 miles of standard gauge track and a great way to see an operating steel works at close quarters. 09.30 prompt at the AFRPS platform until dark (about 16.30). An extensive full day railtour with a break at the AFRPS shed (view and photo the locos). Subject to engineering work, Birmingham, Liverpool and London (etc) rail connections are available. Maximum 47, first come first served, £41 MEMBERS ONLY, includes food and drink in the break, a detailed track map, stock list and souvenir ticket. Our tour supports the good work of the AFRPS. Book online or by post with an SAE (two for an acknowledgement) to Jill Everitt (see Contacts page). Queries and any specific line requests in advance only ASAP to Paul Stewart (see Contacts page).

This fixture is for members only.

This fixture has now reached capacity and regretably, no more bookings can be taken.

21st January 2018

Open for booking

Thompson Park Railway

Colne Road, Burnley, BB11 2AA, (SD 844 333). The Society is delighted to be invited back to this interesting 1,000yd complex railway operated by the Burnley and Pendle Miniature Railway Society for another 'all available lines' visit, including, since our last visit, new depot lines and the new platform loop. Tea and coffee will be provided in the clubhouse starting at 12.00.

Construction began in 2001; the railway was extended in 2005 and 2013. Track coverage includes the 'not normally used connection' and other non-passenger lines. A variety of traction is expected at this lovely 7¼" gauge railway in a delightful park setting. £11 adult BLS members, non-members £15. Online booking is available, or cheques payee 'Branch Line Society' by post to Jill Everitt (address on back page of BLN) with an email address or SAE (two for an acknowledgement).

Please advise any members you know who only take paper BLN about this event.

25th February 2018

Save the date

Newcastle: Tyne & Wear Metro railtour (north side)

Save The Date, Sunday 25 February 2018!

Save the date for an interesting fixture in the planning.

No further details are available at present.

24th March 2018
to Sunday
25th March 2018

Open for booking

The Sussex Salopian

A 'Track & Traction' loco-hauled railtour that is more than a full day out with the West Coast Railway Company (WCR) and '84G Railtours' (with thanks to Tim Brawn). Starting at Carnforth and finishing at Crewe on Saturday night and at Carnforth on Sunday, our 9-coach charter will be hauled by a West Coast Class 37 with a Class 47/57 at the rear (that will work small sections on the Southern) as far as Acton Lane. Then a Class 33 takes over working from Acton Lane all the way to Bognor Regis, and from Bognor Regis all the way to Banbury where the Class 37 returns to the front.

84G Railtours is a name Tim Brawn came up with having started his career at Shrewsbury in 1985 and echoes back to those days of the ADEX trains he used to travel on from Shrewsbury (84G) to various destination including those on the South coast. 84G was the shed code in steam days for Shrewsbury and the surrounding depots. Having assisted BLS in running several tours over the past few years, Tim wanted to continue to expand the relationship and great work done for the Railway Children charity, hence our first joint BLS/84G venture.

Note that there is an overnight break in Crewe, with hotel accommodation being the responsibility of the participant.

20th April 2018
to Tuesday
24th April 2018

Open for booking

Central/Northern Finland Freight Line Rail Tour

Please note: in addition to booking online, participants are required to download and complete the manual booking form which requires additional information to be supplied.

During the July 2017 PTG Southern Finland tour it was learnt that several lengthy freight lines in Central and Northern Finland are threatened with closure, potentially within a year. These lines are: Kontiomäki to Ämmänsaari (92km), Jyväskylä to Haapajärvi (164km under threat) and Seinäjoki to Kaskinen (112km).

Freight only lines comprise about 30% of the network (over 1,700km), and while a few see regular heritage services in the peak summer months, the vast majority are railtour territory. Timber and minerals are the main traffic, but lengthy lines mean high maintenance costs and it takes very little to tip the balance between profit and loss. Several lines have closed recently. Passenger services are also under scrutiny, with several lines under very definite threat of closure quite possibly within the next year or so.

Bookings are now open for a loco-hauled train over these and other nearby freight/passenger lines, with the route as follows:

   Tour Day 1 - 20 April: Jyväskylä - Haapajärvi - Pyhäkumpu - Iisalmi.
   Tour Day 2 - 21 April: Iisalmi - Otanmäki - Talvivaara - Kajaani.
   Tour Day 3 - 22 April: Kajaani - Ämmänsaari - Kontiomäki - Oulu.
   Tour Day 4 - 23 April: Oulu - Raahe - Ykspihlaja - Alholma – Seinäjoki.
   Tour Day 5 - 24 April: Seinäjoki –Kaskinen - Seinäjoki.

The loco will be from the Haapamäen Museoveturiyhdistys (Haapamäen Locomotive Museum Association) and is expected to be either their Dr12 or Dr13. A further loco, probably hired from VR, may be needed on the lightweight class 'A' lines such as the branch to Amansaari, but confirmation is awaited.

For further details, including a map, please refer to the manual booking form. Click on the tour title for a button to click to download this.

All tour participants are recommended to have full travel insurance taken out BEFORE making any booking and to be in possession of a valid European Health Insurance Card.

3rd May 2018
to Sunday
6th May 2018

Notify interest

Island of Ireland four day 'long weekend'

Expressions of interest are now invited for our May 2018 adventure! The now customary long(er) weekend includes, once again, both Northern Ireland and the Republic. There is a mix of national network exploration and heritage railways of various gauges, with a rather splendid twist this time. Coach travel will be included with the arrangements where required but all participants will, as usual, be responsible for all their own flights and accommodation. The itinerary spans Thur 3 to Sun 6 May (inclusive) with the ability to arrive on early flights Thursday and return by late flights on the Sunday evening. The programme is still being finalised but is currently expected to include Peatlands Park, service tram rides on the new LUAS extension to Broombridge, service train coverage of the Sligo branch out via Newcomen curve, inspection of the Ballymote miniature railway site a Cavan & Letrim Railway visit, Lullymore Heritage Park, Lough Boora Park, a visit to Dunsandle station, the Galway Leisureland Express, dinner in the Pullman Coach at Glenlo Abbey Hotel and an exploration of lesser used parts of Irish Rail infrastructure in the wider Dublin area by way of a full day Irish Rail private charter railtour!!

To express your interest, please email or write with an SAE to Kev Adlam (address is on the back page of BLN) to be kept informed directly of the more detailed plans as they emerge.

This fixture is for members only.

12th May 2018

Save the date

Save the Date - Mainline Railtour

Save The Date, Saturday 12 May 2018!

Save the date for a possible mainline railtour with 565 Railtours, West Coast traction & Colas Class 37s.

No further details are available at present.

14th June 2018

Save the date

Save the Date - Annual Pre-peaks Trekker

Save The Date, Thursday 14 Jun 2018!

Save the date for the Annual Pre-peaks Trekker - a loco-hauled charity railtour.

No further details are available at present.