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Severn Valley Railway plumps for Valentine’s Day...on February 16th! (30th January 2013)

EVERYBODY knows that St. Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14th. But the Severn Valley Railway is to run its annual dining train 'special' for sweethearts and lovers two days later this year - on Saturday February 16th 2013 - for two very good reasons.

Firstly and primarily, February 16th marks the start of the Railway’s 2013 operating season after its traditional programme of winter track maintenance and renewals which would have prevented the Kidderminster-to-Bridgnorth steam heritage line running trains any earlier.

Secondly, the railway contends, weekends are always more socially condusive than midweek days, when many working couples would find it less easy to take time off.

But coincidentally, after researching the history of Valentine’s Day, the Railway has discovered another reason why February 14th is not sacrosanct to St. Valentine.

It has found that in a grand revision of the Roman Catholic ‘Saints Calendar’ as long ago as 1969, the Feast of St. Valentine was dropped from its February 14th slot when churches on a national or even local level were left to determine when, or if, they commemorated the day.

The reason, the church says, is that apart from his name, and the fact that he was buried on February 14th beside the Via Flaminia, an ancient Roman road linking Rome with Rimini, nothing is known of St. Valentine.  It emerges on further investigation that the Orthodox Catholic Church actually celebrates St.Valentine’s Day on July 6th!

“We can get too bogged down in religious history though” says SVR Catering Manager Elise Ballard. “What’s more important is that the Valentine’s Lunch train which steams out of Kidderminster on February 16th is a memorable one for our couples for all the right reasons – and we’re certainly putting a lot of ‘tlc’ into the menu to make it so

The Valentine’s train raises the curtain on a dining train calendar that is the busiest the railway has run in its 43 years of steam train operation.

The headline news here is the launch of ‘Marry on a Friday’ - a £2013 steam-hauled on-train wedding breakfast package being offered to newlyweds, in which  up to 56 guests will get the ‘red carpet treatment’ in their own dining carriage, during a three-hour reception ‘on the move’, over the full length of the SVR line.

An evening function in ‘The Valley , the railway’s function room at Kidderminster,with a buffet for up to 100 guests and DJ, is offered as an ‘optional extra’, the two packages being combined for a total fee of £3,102.

According to official police statistics, crime is falling, and the number of murders committed in the UK is the lowest for more than 30 years. Cheerfully, it’s a very different picture on the SVR, when the number of murders – as enacted on the railway’s hugely popular ‘Murder Mystery’ dining trains – is multiplying!

This year brings up the 16th anniversary of the ‘Murder Mystery’ Dining Trains, and the programme of mainly Saturday evening specials has been expanded again to 13, including two lunchtime ‘matinee’ murders.

Amid the classic ‘gaslight era’ ambience of a 1930s mahogany-panelled GWR restaurant car, diners will take their places and over a sumptuous three-course meal, try to deduce from a series of clues who they think is the murderer.
The plot – a different one for each of the 13 trains - will again be unfurled by actors of the Staffordshire-based troupe ‘Murder by Appointment’.

The first of the dining train dramas unravels on board on Saturday March 30th with ‘Elope to Murder’, and the programme continues with at least one ‘Murder Mystery’ each month until November, when the ghastly deed is enacted on all four Saturdays. The full list of dates (all Saturdays unless otherwise described)  are:  March 30th, April 13th, May 25th, June 8th, Friday July 19th, Thursday August 8th, August 17th, September 14th, October 26th, and November 2, 16th, 23rd and 30th.
The evening meal and entertainment costs £36, plus standard rail fare.

Also new for this year is the introduction of ‘Lunch and Sticky Pudding’, a tempting dining option exclusive to the four Bank Holiday Mondays, at Easter (April 1st), Early May (May 6th), Spring Bank Holiday (May 27th) and August Bank Holiday (August 26th), in which lunch is served in the beautifully restored ‘Shrewsbury saloon’ (former GWR-design inspection saloon No.80972), attached to the 12.40pm departure from Bridgnorth.

All dining trains are pre-bookable online at , or by calling 01562 757515.