Steam engine set for first public run on mainline railway since 1988

A record breaking steam engine is being prepared to operate a public service on the mainline railway for the first time since 1988.

Clun Castle will take passengers on a day trip from the West Midlands through the Cotswolds to Oxford via the Great Western Mainline on April 6.

It follows a £750,000 overhaul of the locomotive by owner Vintage Trains which ensured every part was repaired, restored or replaced.

Clun Castle was built at the former Great Western Railway works at Swindon in 1950.

In 1964 it broke the record for the fastest steam-hauled train from Plymouth to Bristol, before being decommissioned by British Rail four years later.

The locomotive will pull trains to a range of destinations this year, including Chester, Llandudno and Hereford.

Vintage Trains managing director Cath Bellamy said: “Vintage Trains is pleased to be back on the mainline, with our magnificent flagship engine Clun Castle leading the way following its overhaul at Tyseley Locomotive Works.

“The romance of steam has a huge following with Vintage Trains offering a range of destinations complete with silver service dining.”

In September last year, the Office of Rail and Road granted Vintage Trains a Train Operating Company licence to operate scheduled mainline services.

Their trains, including Clun Castle, will feature on timetables between Birmingham Snow Hill and Stratford-upon-Avon from the summer.

The firm recently announced a partnership with the West Midlands Rail Executive to promote the area’s economy by attracting visitors, creating apprenticeships and regenerating stations.