WEST SOMERSET PREPARES FOR ‘A3’ VISIT
A review of the West Somerset Railway’s infrastructure is taking place ahead of visits by Flying Scotsman this year. At 154 tons (including tender) and with a 22‑ton axle loading, No. 60103 is one of the largest locomotives to appear on the 20‑mile Minehead line in recent years. As well as gauging the route for the locomotive, a survey is being undertaken to ascertain the condition of its steel‑decked bridges, and ensure the bullhead rail conforms to Network Rail’s minimum standard depth of 133mm (5.24in). General Manager Paul Conibeare explained: “Our infrastructure manager is happy to run engines up to RA6 ‑ which includes ‘Halls’ ‑ on a regular basis, but for anything above that, we need to do these checks.” With the inspection costing £50,000, any rail replacement or other repairs that arise will be funded from the profits of No. 60103’s appearance. Flying Scotsman will first appear on the line on May 23, at the head of a Steam Dreams ‘Cathedrals Express’ from Bristol, and then spend two days on display at Minehead, before hauling two more ‘Cathedrals Express’ trips to Bristol and Westbury on May 26. Its main visit takes place between September 5‑12, when it will operate two return trips each day, except on September 8.