Severn Valley Railway Classic Day

OOF! Deltic ready to roar

OOF! Deltic ready to roar

On Sunday, I drove to the Severn Valley Railway Classic Day – you can read my Classic & Sports Car Report here.

It has to be said, event reports don’t bring in a whole lot of income, so I was determined to have a nice day out above all else. My ‘Freedom of the Line’ ticket certainly helped there, as I rode up and down the line and enjoyed The Engine Room at Highley Station for no extra cost. The cream tea I had there did come at extra cost, but a reasonable one. Impressive.

After sampling the classic delights of the line all the way to Bridgenorth, I hopped on a steam service to return to Kidderminster. Trains pass each other at Hampton Loade and I was amazed by a blue and yellow flash as we did so. A very noisy blue and yellow flash. Was that a Deltic?!

I got off at Bewdley to explore, having bypassed it on the way out. This at least gave me a chance to study the timetable. Sure enough, there was a diesel service and speaking to a guard confirmed it was a Deltic. Wow. However, it was now two hours away. I decided to kill time by riding back towards Bridgenorth, jumping off at Arley where there was a great spread of classics – including a Sunbeam-Talbot 90 and a delicious Jaguar XK120 (see C&SC report). I wanted to get a photo of the Deltic, which was a challenge given I had to catch it. It was running late too so I only just got my picture (which I can’t publish yet) before sprinting for the train. I managed to jump on just after the guard blew his whistle! Phew.

It was noticable that as we approached a tunnel, a row of men suddenly appeared at almost every open window. That definitely included me. I wanted to hear the bellow of those eighteen cylinders, each with two pistons. It’s an absolutely ridiculous powerplant, and the Deltic has two of them! Only one was in use today though. It sounded like this.

Now, I definitely do love steam, but riding a steam train is actually quite boring. All the interesting stuff is best viewed from the side of the railway instead. Where you can see all those magnificent cranks and linkages at work, and enjoy the chuff of the engine.

You can’t appreciate the engineering of a Deltic just from looking at it, because its absurd engine hides all the craziness within. You can’t see the pairs of pistons punching towards each other in those cylinders. You are not witness to the three crankshafts at each corner of the triangle arrangement of those cylinders. All you can do is take in the fantastic noise that this two-stroke, 1650bhp engine makes. You can feel that level of grunt well enough, even when the driver is clearly trying to be smooth. With both engines firing, these trains were able to exceed 100mph quite comfortably. Huge generators are attached to both which power electric motors to provide the actual tractive power. I was almost giddy with excitement.

Not that this was the only highlight of my day – I also clocked up 80 miles in two hours in the XM coming home. In the rain. Obeying all speed limits. It may lack the deranged howl of a Deltic, but I still really do like my Citroen XM.

What do you reckon?

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