Full steam ahead for Britain’s biggest railway celebration

The Mallard - one of the attendees confirmed for this year's Railfest event at the National Railway Museum.
The Mallard - one of the attendees confirmed for this year's Railfest event at the National Railway Museum.

britains biggest railway celebration This half term (2 -10 June 2012) a nine day celebration of Britain’s railways will take place at the National Railway Museum in York bringing together the largest gathering of railway record breakers ever in one place.

Britain’s biggest rail celebration - Railfest 2012 - will see an enormous space the size of 11 football pitches bustling with an awe-inspiring line up of more than 50 locomotives including record-breaking historic and modern locomotives from the museum’s collection and visiting locomotives from across the UK. A wide variety of railway-related activities, attractions, sights, sounds and smells will add to the exciting atmosphere with the opportunity to get up close to the exhibits.

The festival will bring together over 30 record-breaking locomotives that have made their mark on rail history for being the fastest, strongest, first, last and oldest. Among the confirmed record-breaking attendees is holder of the record for the word’s fastest steam locomotive at 126mph, Mallard, the newest mainline steam locomotive in operation, Tornado, and the most powerful industrial tank engine built for use in the UK, Mardy Monster. The first steam locomotive to reach 100mph, Flying Scotsman, is also set to attend the event. The locomotive is currently undergoing major restoration work and will be on display to the public during Railfest with further work being carried out on Flying Scotsman after the event. Railfest 2012 will welcome the largest gathering of railway record breakers ever brought together in one place.

With key support from the leading rail magazine titles; RAIL, Steam Railway and Model Rail, the festival is expected to draw railway fans from far and wide.

Steve Davies, Director of the National Railway Museum, said:

“Our previous Railfest in 2004 celebrated the bicentenary of Britain’s railways and proved to be a huge success by attracting over 60,000 visitors. This year we hope to top this by providing an even bigger and better event. We’re certain that rail fans young and old will be well catered for and we look forward to making 2012 a year to remember at the National Railway Museum”

The action-packed event will invite visitors to get-up even closer to the exhibits and locomotives by climbing into the driver’s cab, taking a ride behind working engines of all sizes and speaking to inspiring railway characters. Hundreds of stalls, refreshment areas and live music will also add to the bustling and exciting atmosphere.

A number of special events will take place across the nine days including poetry by Ian McMillan and drawings by cartoonist Tony Husband. Card trickster Ollie Mealing will be working his magic with the Limited Edition Railfest Top Trumps cards which will be available to purchase at the event. Artists David Charlesworth GRA and John Wigston GRA will also be capturing the atmosphere of Railfest on canvas and through detailed pencil sketches.

Two exclusive photography events also take place during Railfest giving railway fans a unique opportunity to get clear shots of their favourite attending locomotives without the hustle and bustle of the crowds. Tickets for the photography sessions are sold separately to the daytime event with only a limited number of places available.

Also joining the impressive locomotive line-up will be a selection of weird and wonderful railway vehicles including a sail powered rail vehicle, track maintenance machines and other rarely seen rolling stock.

The National Railway Museum has compiled its ‘Rail Hall of Fame’ to showcase the top ten of railway record breakers attending Railfest.

1. Fastest Steam Locomotive

A4 Mallard became the world’s fastest steam locomotive in 1938 when it ran (briefly) at 126 mph, a record which has never been beaten.

2. Fastest Ever UK Electric Locomotive

91110 (Being renamed ‘Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’ at Railfest): It achieved a UK record for a British electric locomotive on 17 September 1989 at 162mph. The record still stands.

3. Longest Distance in the Fastest Time

LMSR 4-6-2 8P No. 6201, Princess Elizabeth: Built at Crewe Works in 1933 and named after Queen Elizabeth. It holds the UK steam record for travelling the longest distance in the fastest time without stopping. On 16 and 17 November 1936 No. 6201 travelled 401 miles non-stop from London to Glasgow in 5 hours 53 minutes.

4. Strongest Steam Shunter

Peckett No. 2150 Mardy Monster: Most powerful industrial tank engine built for use in the UK.

5. First

Southern Railway Brighton Belle motor brake car No. 88, Victoria: UK’s first electric inter-city train. Car No. 88 has been restored internally by the 5BEL Trust whose mission is to bring together an entire train set and get the Brighton Belle back on the mainline.

6. Last

4-6-2 Britannia Class No. 70013 Oliver Cromwell: British Rail’s last express passenger locomotive in steam (August 1968). It will arrive at Railfest hauling a rail tour on 5 June.

7. Smallest

Hunslet 0-4-0 DM 1786, Courage or ‘Sweet Pea’: Smallest standard gauge diesel locomotive in the UK. Built in 1935 and named after the brewery where she worked. Nicknamed ‘Sweet Pea’ by the volunteers at the Middleton Railway due to its small size.

8. Oldest

George England 0-4-0STT Palmerston (2ft gauge): Oldest steamable narrow gauge locomotive. From Ffestiniog Railway. The carriage is the oldest operational bogie coach in the world, the great-granddaddy of most railway carriages in use today in the UK.

9. Newest

A1 No. 60163 Tornado: Newest mainline steam locomotive in operation. Tornado may in future gain permission to run at 90 miles per hour making it the fastest steam locomotive on the British main line.

10. Rarest

Spooner’s Boat, Ffestiniog and West Highlands Railway: Only sail powered railway vehicle in the UK. It is a replica of the 1860’s original.

Tickets can be bought by visiting nrm.org.uk/railfest2012* or on the day. Those wishing to attend the event are encouraged to buy their tickets in advance to fast-track their entry and avoid the queues. Ticket prices start at £8 for children aged 2-15 years and £13 for an adult. Family tickets and group offers are available. Railfest will be hosted in an outdoor area at the museum with entry to the rest of the museum remaining free to visitors during the 9 day event. For all the latest updates and announcements, visit nrm.org.uk/railfest2012 or sign-up to receive the museum’s email newsletter.