Steam locomotive No. 31806 to make history in Dorset this week

Steam locomotive no. 31806 on mainline test at Yeovil Junction
Credit: Andrew P.M. Wright

History will be made this week when Southern Railway ‘Mogul’ No. 31806 hauls a special excursion mainline passenger train between Yeovil and Weymouth for the first time in more than 50 years.

Swanage Railway ‘U’ class No. 31806 will be at the helm of the ten carriage train on Thursday 26th April 2018 as part of the Railway Touring Company’s ‘Great Britain XI’ 9-day railtour, taking passengers on a mammoth journey around England, Scotland and Wales.

The ten carriage train is being run by West Coast Railways.

Hauling the train alongside 31806 will be Keighley & Worth Valley Railway Black 5 No. 45212. The pair will haul the long heavy train up the climb from Yeovil Junction to Evershot before the downhill descent to Maiden Newton and Dorchester.

Still with 45212, No. 31806 will then haul the train up the bank from Dorchester to Bincombe Tunnel before the descent to Weymouth. The excursion will then run back to Dorchester and then on to Wareham, where the train leaves the mainline for the final 9 miles on the Swanage Railway to Swanage.

On the day, No. 31806 will depart Swanage for Yeovil at 7 am on Thursday 26th April 2018 and will run light engine down the mainline, where it is due to arrive at Yeovil Junction at 10:33 where it will sit the sidings awaiting its train.

For full information, timings and loco allocations, please see our Event Listing by clicking here

What did the officials say?

Swanage Railway Company chairman Trevor Parsons said:

“The last time that a Southern Railway 1920s ‘mogul’ steam locomotive – like No. 31806 – hauled a passenger train on the main line in Dorset was in the summer of 1965 before the last of that class of steam locomotive were withdrawn from service by British Railways and sold off for scrap.”

“No. 31806 carried out a successful main line test run between Weymouth, Dorchester, Yeovil and Wareham on Friday, 13 April, 2016, ahead of Thursday’s ‘Great Britain XI’ excursion train thanks to the permission of Network Rail.

“The Southern Railway ‘mogul’ steam locomotives, of the same class as No. 31806, were based at Bournemouth and Weymouth from the 1920s to the 1960s – working stopping trains between the two towns as well as cross-country trains from Salisbury to Bournemouth, Poole and Swanage. The locomotives also hauled freight trains.

“So it can haul trains on the main line, No. 31806 was upgraded thanks to a £75,000 Government grant to the Swanage Railway Trust from the Department for Transport’s Heritage and Community Rail Tourism Innovation Competition. The Trust supplied £25,000 of labour towards the work which also included the upgrade of five carriages.

“With No. 31806 now equipped with the required signalling and monitoring equipment required to run on Network Rail, the upgrade work to the locomotive – as well as a set of five carriages – gives the Swanage Railway the potential to run special steam trains from Swanage and Corfe Castle to the main line at Wareham in the future,” he added.

  • The story about 31806 is an interesting reminder of the event that took place in April, when I saw the headline I thought it was going to happen again