The Severn Railway Steam and Diesel Heritage Railway, Kidderminster Station, Worcestershire, England

Severn Valley Railway to use diesel-hauled trains to reduce fire risks during heat wave

Due to the extreme spike in temperatures across the UK, the Severn Valley Railway has confirmed that it will be using diesel-hauled trains throughout this week, in an attempt to avoid potential lineside fires.

The extremely high forecasted temperatures for the next week are accompanied by little to no rain, which will see the vegetation surrounding the line to dry out, becoming tinder waiting to combust. There are fears that steam locomotives will produce sparks and cinders which will ignite the dried-out vegetation, which will in turn create fires. These fears are predicated on prior experiences, as this has happened on a number of occasions recently, leading the SVR to take action and maintain line safety for passengers and rail workers alike.

There is set to be an influx of rainfall next Wednesday, which in turn will lead to a review from Severn on the Tuesday prior as to whether to continue with the diesel-powered rolling stock.

Managing director Helen Smith said:

“Our senior management team took this decision after very careful consideration. The weather forecast for the coming week shows extremely high temperatures, and most importantly for us no rain. Our lineside vegetation has become tinder-dry because of the prolonged lack of rain, and our concern is that sparks or cinders that escape from steam locos may start fires.

“We’ve had several incidences when this has happened in recent weeks, and the time has come for us to take this action.

“Our announcement yesterday evening on social media and on our website has been received very positively, and we are grateful for the understanding that people are showing towards the dilemma we face.

“Rain is currently being forecast for next Wednesday, 20th July, and we will review the situation on Tuesday. I want to stress that this is a temporary measure, and we very much hope to be able to return to using steam engines as soon as possible.”

As compensation, Freedom-of-the-Line ticket holders can have a footplate ride within Bridgnorth station. The Severn Valley Railway says it has risk-assessed this and says that it will be safe to use a steam locomotive in this limited capacity.

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