Earlier this month, the North Yorkshire Moors Railway invited RailAdvent along to take a trip from Pickering to Whitby to see how their railway operations are after the latest Coronavirus lockdown.
We started our day at Pickering, we were on the 12:00 (noon) departure to Whitby.
Although you need to pay for a ticket at the station car park, it was nice to see contactless payment available.
On the path to the station, we were met by greeters from the railway, who were all masked up and asked if we had a ticket, which we did, and they provided directions on how to get to the station.
Also here was the first of my NHS COVID Track and Trace QR Codes, these are all around the place for you to scan, helping keep track of where you have visited on the railway.
Down the wheelchair friendly path, we arrive at the station, and right next to the entrance is hand sanitiser and another QR code, as well as signs reminding visitors of what we need to do to keep safe (mask to be worn, social distancing etc). These were clear to see and often enough that we weren’t crowding around a sign.
Our locomotive for our trip to Whitby was LMS Black 5 No. 44871, which had recently arrived on loan from Riley and Son in Bury.
It was nice to see that everyone on the station and on trains we wearing masks, it’s rare to see everyone wearing masks when they need to, but it was great to see.
Moving over to the train platform, photos were being taken by visitors, and more QR codes were put on the walls to make sure everyone can scan in.
Sanitisation points dotted around the station meant they were plenty to go around.
It was great to also see all staff following the same procedures. All had masks on, all kept their distance, making sure everyone is safe.
Onto the heritage carriage, tickets at the ready, a toot from the guard, and a whistle from the engine, and we were off. Each passenger is pre-assigned seats when booking, so you can be sure everyone has seat.
Each train is wheelchair friendly, with ramps available. There’s space to park the wheelchairs, allowing you to take them to Whitby for a look around the town.
Steaming through the North York Moors, we passed through Levisham. Once again, the station, regardless of its size, has plenty of QR codes. What’s great about these QR Codes, is they are individual to the station, so you can check in to them all.
Departing Levisham, the buffet trolley trundled its way down the carriage. Again, masks were worn to make sure everyone is safe. A hot chocolate for us as the rain began to pour down (oh and a KitKat too!).
What we must add also, is that dogs are made very welcome aboard the trains, with plenty of space under the tables for them to get comfy and have a snooze whilst they head to the seaside.
Goathland is the next station, where we pass BR 9F No. 92134 on the Diner, which is now operating again, we pull alongside and can see the passengers tucking into tasty food and drink – what’s better than great food, stunning views and steam passing the window.
Goathland was made famous for being Hogsmeade station in the Harry Potter films, as well as being Aidensfield Station in the Heartbeat series.
The cafe here is now reopened but wasn’t serving a full menu at the time of our visit the following day, but the sausage rolls and cake were very nice!
Just like Levisham and Pickering, Goathland has boards and QR codes to make sure everyone knows how to keep staff and visitors safe. We also found the QR codes to be big and clear, making them easy to scan, not tiny pixelated ones like some places we have visited.
Down the steep gradient into Grosmont, passing the locomotive sheds, plenty to feast your eyes on here, with work progressing on a number of projects. Into the tunnel and out into the station.
SR 825 is standing awaiting its next departure to Pickering as the rain continues to fall.
A swap of driver and fireman as well as guard, a toot of the whistle, and we move onto the mainline network to Whitby.
We stop briefly at Sleights and go non-stop through Ruswarp. They don’t have any NYMR QR codes as they do not board here, but if you do visit, there are plenty of COVID signs by operator Northern, who run trains to Whitby also.
With the rain bouncing down, we arrive into Whitby. A quick change of the points and we steam into the platform.
At Whitby, Northern and the North Yorkshire Moors Railway has separate platforms. Both sides have signs reminding people to wear masks and sanitise hands.
The station master for the NYMR has had people queuing down the platform with space for those leaving the train to come past with social distancing in place. Again every follows the rules and wears a mask. Great to see.
Whitby is a seaside town with numerous shops and fish and chip takeaways. There is plenty to see and do, but I would definitely recommend planning your day in advance so you know what you are doing whilst waiting for your train, if you are in Whitby for a few hours.
Keeping in line with all stations, Whitby has a Keep Left procedure in place, and everyone again followed this.
Our return trip arrived into a wet Whitby with D7628 Sybilla at the helm. A quick run around, we departed for Pickering and soon arrive at Grosmont.
Here, the locomotives are swapped, and to Pickering, we have SR 825, 3 locomotives in one day is not bad at all!
With the rain continuing to fall, we tuck into a hot chocolate and a KitKat for the return trip. The dog was soaked but sleeping as the steam passed the window and the locomotive working hard towards the summit and down back into Pickering.
In conclusion, then, we found the North Yorkshire Moors Railway to really work hard to keep passengers and staff safe. The addition of QR codes at every station is refreshing to see, staff are friendly and helpful and made for a superb day out.
A big thank you to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway for inviting us along for a trip to Whitby and we would really recommend a trip during half or any time this summer.
If you would like to book a ticket on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, please visit their website here. Tickets start from £40 for an adult, or £110 for a compartment of 6.