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Can leaves on the track really stop winter steam train rides?

Winter -steam -train -ridesThere’s nothing quite like a winter steam train ride to get you feeling seasonal so throughout the winter train rides at Bressingham are very popular.

People come from Halloween and a half term week onwards to enjoy being whisked along the tracks with the lovely autumnal countryside to look at.

As long as you’re prepared to wrap up warm and brave the elements you just might find a winter train ride is just the way to get geared up for Christmas.

Are there any special maintenance issues that occur during winter?

Being diligently loved and cared for our steam trains don’t have any particular problems operating in winter although too many leaves on the line can be a slippy issue!

If you image a car tyre has rubber on the road to provide grip - Steam train tyres are made of metal, which is  attached to metal wheels which run along metal rails.

As a result they can suffer from some adhesion problems if there is a lot of mushy leaves on the track. Freezing fog can also cause the same problem.

We get around this by sanding the line (literally blowing sand on the tracks) which gives us better friction between the train wheels and rails.

Steam trains are fitted with “Sanders” - a box of sand which, when a valve is opened, has steam blown through it which then blows the sand under the train wheel, giving it more grip.

What happens after the last winter train ride?

After the rush of Christmas the hard work only really begins for our engineers - When Bressingham closes for its Christmas break and before February half term week we embark on an extensive maintenance programme.

We dig up track panels and lay about 500 new sleepers on the lines to keep everything operating as it should.

We basically spend the time taking the railway apart and put it it back together again - which is some people’s dream job and other people’s worst nightmare!

A last word of advice...

If you’re contemplating getting out and enjoying a train ride this winter try not to let the weather put you off.

As the Danish are fond of saying “There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing!”

Just remember to wrap up warm and be prepared to have a good hot chocolate afterwards!

Is there anything we should’ve mentioned?

Do you have any thoughts, comments or experience of Steam train maintenance?

Is there anything you think we should have mentioned?

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By Alastair Baker at 18 Dec 2014, 18:30 PM