August started with various maintenance days, consisting of light track work, rolling stock maintenance and fence cleaning. Amongst all of this, some modifications were made to the carriage shed internal layout to provide more storage space and some of our unused picket fences were repositioned along the Depot Approach queue line, including a new entrance gate.
In mid August we had a private running day, allowing us to enjoy the railway in a relaxed environment. This is also the perfect time for testing the railway fully and most importantly this year, we used the day to trial running under social distancing measures.
This brings us to the end of August. For the first time this year, the LTMR was in operation alongside the museum depots open days. This time, attendance per day was limited and staggered, with groups arriving every hour. The LTMR carried 3033 people over the 10 days which is over 50% of depot visitors.
We ran all of our home fleet over the two weeks, including our newest locomotive, a class 20 in London Underground livery. We also had a guest in the form of an 08 shunter which pulled a good number of trains. We mostly ran a two train service, occasionally dropping down to one when volunteer numbers were low and rising up to our usual 3 train service when demand required (and volunteers were available).
Overall the railway ran well. Weekdays were a struggle as many of our volunteers couldn’t attend due to work, but the small number that could make it pulled together fantastically, using new techniques to provide the most efficient service they could.
There were a small number of emergency fixes between days, including the replacement of a rotten point sleeper and the changing of a locomotive direction selector switch. When dry, the signals functioned well with our new Depot Approach installation providing an interesting spectacle for onlookers as well as very useful information to drivers, showing if the train had cleared the pointwork. During the many periods of rain, the single line struggled to detect properly and a signaller was allocated to help it along. This also allowed us to alternate the passing location dependant on when trains were ready, which provided interest and reduced waiting times for those on board.
Finally, for the first time in 10 years we saw an increase to our ticket price to £2 per person or £5 for up to 5 people which was driven by the current COVID situation. We know this was not very welcome and are sorry if you decided not to ride because of this. We have seen feedback about the event (including our railway and its price) and are talking with the museum about any changes that can be made.
Thank you for visiting the LTMR, your support will help us to expand and improve your experience with us and we hope to see you again soon