Britain's longest established operator of scenic railway excursions
An SRPS Railtour is a rail excursion with a difference! Unpaid SRPS volunteers work hard to serve our passengers and enhance the friendly atmosphere of our tours.
The SRPS Railtours volunteer staff are pictured at Penzance, destination of our longest ever tour, The Total Eclipse. As well as stewarding the trains on the day, these volunteers maintain and clean our special train, which is based at the Scottish Railway Preservation Society's steam centre at Bo'ness. This work has included repainting the SRPS Railtour carriages in the traditional maroon colour. The coaches, which date from the 1960's, are usually hauled by main-line diesel locomotives.
SRPS Railtours is Britain's longest established operator of scenic railway excursions. Each year since 1970 SRPS volunteers have organised a programme of main-line day excursions on the main-line network. In 1997, in recognition of the Society's achievement, English, Welsh & Scottish Railways named a main line locomotive, 37413, The Scottish Railway Preservation Society.
SRPS Railtours give the opportunity for passengers to travel on a traditional train and enjoy the splendour of Britain's most scenic lines - the Kyle Line, the West Highland Line and the Settle & Carlisle Line. The most popular destinations in Scotland are Kyle of Lochalsh, Mallaig and Oban. Destinations south of the border have included Chester, Llandudno, York, Scarborough, Harrogate, Whitby & the North Yorkshire Moors, Keighley & the Worth Valley, Buxton, London, and Penzance. In recent years the Christmas Cracker excursions to Lincoln for the Christmas Market have been a feature of the programme. Most SRPS Railtours are diesel-hauled.
Steam specials have been a highlight of SRPS Railtours, hauled by a variety of locomotives including 60009 Union of South Africa, 3442 The Great Marquess, 60532 Blue Peter, 4472 Flying Scotsman, and Bo'ness-based engines 673 Maude, 246 Morayshire and 44871 Sovereign. The Santa Steam Specials from Edinburgh Waverley round the Suburban Circle were an annual feature during the 1980's. In 1990 SRPS Railtours organised several trips hauled by 60009 Osprey as part of the Forth Bridge Centenary celebrations, and in 1994 two double-headed steam specials ran to Fort William to mark the Centenary of the West Highland Railway. The first of these, hauled by 3442 The Great Marquess and 2005, ran exactly 100 years to the day after the first passenger train to Fort William. In 2008 The Great Marquess also featured on an SRPS Railtours special train for the official re-opening of the line between Alloa and Stirling. Since then several other notable steam locomotives including 60009 Union of South Africa, 70013 Oliver Cromwell, 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley, 46115 Scots Guardsman, 60163 Tornado and 46233 Duchess of Sutherland have featured on the popular Forth Circle steam specials which use the line through Alloa.
From the earliest Railtours, carriages from the SRPS collection were a feature of these trains. In the 1970's several pre-Nationalisation vintage coaches were used on Railtours, including the North British Railway Saloon, Great North of Scotland Royal Saloon, Gresley Buffet, Caledonian and LMS coaches. In the 1980's & 90's a fleet of former British Rail Mark 1 coaches was acquired by the Scottish Railway Preservation Society. These carriages, repainted in maroon livery, are maintained by members at Bo'ness, the only volunteer group to maintain a set of passenger coaches to the high standards required for running on Network Rail lines. The Railtour coaches have been based at Bo'ness since 1991, using the link line at Manuel to gain access to the Edinburgh-Glasgow main line.
A feature of SRPS Railtours is the catering. Meals are prepared in the kitchen car and served to passengers at their seats. On some trains over 800 meals are served. There are also two buffet cars in the train. Since 1992 a computer ticketing and seat reservation system has been used, and this also gives detailed information on meal requirements.
When not required for SRPS Railtours the train is available for charter by other organisations. Such charters have taken the coaches to the South and West of England. A charter on 24 August 1996 was the first passenger train to proceed beyond Birkhill and onto the main line by means of the connection at Manuel.
As well as providing an enjoyable day out for thousands of passengers, SRPS Railtours have been a major source of funds to develop the Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway.
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