Steamed up and ready to go at South Devon Railway

By Nick Knight   |   Editor   |
Saturday 26th March 2022 7:00 am
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The South Devon Railway (SDR) is reopening for daily steam train services from this Saturday (26th March).
Picture: SDR
The South Devon Railway (SDR) is reopening for daily steam train services from this Saturday. Photo by Sarah Anne Harvey (SDR )

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THE South Devon Railway (SDR) is reopening for daily steam train services from today (Saturday).

This follows the completion of a major programme of track renewal undertaken during the winter.

The general manager of the scenic seven-mile line between Buckfastleigh and Totnes Riverside, Ernest Elsworth-Wilson, said: ‘We are really looking forward to the start of another season and welcoming passengers again to our railway. This year, we’re celebrating the 150th anniversary of the opening of the line, which originally terminated in Ashburton, back in 1872.

‘Increasingly, businesses such as local hoteliers and holiday parks, are reporting healthy bookings for 2022 so we are optimistic that we’ll have another busy season.’

The railway has just completed major trackwork renewals which have centred on the lifting of half a mile of life-expired track on the ‘Royal Mile’, just north of Totnes Riverside station, and its replacement with new ballast, sleepers and rail, which will improve the quality of the ride for passengers.

Steam trains along the whole line will be running every day, with the exception of Tuesday (March 29) when the last piece of work on the re-laid stretch will be completed and, for one day only, the railway will be operating steam trains from Buckfastleigh to Staverton and a rail replacement service using its 1964 London Transport Routemaster bus between Staverton and Totnes station and town centre. This also means that our customers can start their SDR journeys in Totnes town centre on Tuesday.

Ernest Elsworth-Wilson, the SDR’s general manager explains: ‘Our team has worked incredibly hard to complete all the winter work on time.

‘The last bit of work we need to complete is to tamp the track – that is compacting the ballast beneath the sleepers and ensuring it is 100% level. Unfortunately, our own tamping machine has let us down and we are so very grateful to Colas Rail and Network Rail who have stepped in at the last minute, following a call to them, and have very generously loaned us all the equipment we need to complete the tamping on Tuesday, free of charge. It is extremely generous of them to help us out.’

The rail replacement forms part of the South Devon Railway’s current major infrastructure investment programme.

More details of train times are available on the SDR’s website, where online booking is also available. Visit

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