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It's half-term...and cream-tea trains at the Severn Valley! (15th February 2013)

THE Severn Valley Railway returns to full operation tomorrow (Saturday February 16th 2013), running its steam trains over the next nine days to coincide with local schools’ half-term holidays. But it’s not only schoolchildren that the Kidderminster - Bridgnorth heritage line is hoping to attract.

From Monday to Friday next week, the railway will also run a series of ‘Cream Tea’ specials in which for the princely sum of just a fiver (pre-booked price, otherwise £6), fare-paying passengers will be served cream tea in the luxurious surroundings of the vintage GWR ‘Hawksworth’ Observation Saloon, where comfy sofas and armchairs, and panoramic vistas are the order of the day.

The 1948-built Observation Saloon - a carriage which has its own kitchen -  will be attached to the 10.35 and 2.05pm train departures from Kidderminster, and to the 12.10 and 3.55pm departures from Bridgnorth.  Up to two dozen passengers can be accommodated at one time in the saloon, and cream teas will be on a one-way (Kidderminster to Bridgnorth, or vice-versa) first-come, first-served basis.

Explained SVR General Manager Nick Ralls today: “Essentially, the next nine days are really about the schools half-term holidays, and we’re running ten trains each day to cater to the needs and interests of the family groups who are our principal visitors during this period. But since we’re running these trains anyway, adding the Observation Saloon to these four particular departures and serving cream teas makes good sense commercially.”

Steam locomotives will take centre-stage throughout half-term week, and the SVR is intending to turn out its newest resident engine – the former BR Southern Region ‘Pacific’ No.34053 Sir Keith Park – alongside GWR tank engines Nos. 4156 and 1501, for its ‘A Timetable’ service this weekend. But for the first time, the railway will run one of its ‘heritage’ diesel multiple unit trains on one round-trip each day – the 11.40 from Kidderminster to Highley and 2.05 Highley to Bridgnorth, and the 3.20pm departure from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster.

From May, ‘A Timetable services will include haulage by one of the six different types of former main line diesel locomotives in the SVR fleet. Further information online at www.svr.co.uk, or call 01299-403816.