Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway Virtual Steam & Diesel Gala

With many enthusiasts looking at galas and railtours they ‘would’ have been on this weekend, the calendar of upcoming events remains bare. One heritage railway is breaking the block of emptiness by bringing you the first ever ‘Virtual Steam & Diesel Gala’, and it is building up to be a wonderful day.

© Steve Town

The Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway Virtual Steam & Diesel Gala takes place on Saturday 16th May on their Facebook page, and features a full day of interactive entertainment for all ages, with the aim of raising much needed funds to help the railway through lockdown and to get up and running again once restrictions are lifted.

Essential to everyone is your Gala e-Guide, which details the events taking place, these can be purchased in advance at along with a number of other ‘virtual’ products that will help out the railway going forward.

During this difficult time the railway’s survival relies on the generous support of our friends. We realise that lots of our regular passengers are missing their train journeys on the RH&DR and are looking for ways to continue to support us.

Supporters Virtual Ticket

  • We’ll send you a printable e-certificate to say thank you – it’s the least we can do! 

Travel and Supporters Ticket

  • An official invitation and ticket to travel on an exclusive train on the first Saturday when we return to service. The invitation will be sent via e-mail so please ensure that your e-mail address is correct
  • A Supporters Virtual Ticket. More information here:
  • This ticket is limited to 100.
  • We’ll send you a printable e-certificate and well as our usual e-ticket to say thank you – it’s the least we can do! 

Virtual Steam & Diesel Gala e-Guide

  • Purchase our e-guide for this event and help to support the railway. (*This e-guide will be e-mailed to the e-mail address used when purchasing.)
  • Visit our Facebook page: to join in the fun and see your favourite locomotives.

Why not add a Virtual Coal Bucket to your e-Guide purchase?

  • In addition to our e-guide this option also includes a Virtual Coal Bucket that’ll be filled and shown on our social media pages. We’ll fill the bucket – label it with your name and fill our locomotive tenders with it LIVE when we can safely return.

How about a Virtual Bacon Roll & a Coffee

  • Get your Gala day off to a traditional start with a virtual bacon roll and a coffee from the Heywood Buffet.
  • Note: you will not receive this virtual bacon roll or coffee – you will be supporting the Railway by purchasing this virtual item.

Virtual Fish & Chips from The End Of The Line Restaurant

  • It’s lunch-time at the Dungeness End of the Line Restaurant and virtual fish and chips are top of the menu choices.
  • Note: you will not receive this virtual bacon roll or coffee – you will be supporting the Railway by purchasing this virtual item.

Virtual Afternoon Tea in Hythe’s Vintage Tea Room

  • Tea for two at the Hythe Vintage Tea Room would bring any visit to the RH&DR to a distinguished close but on Virtual Gala day this will be a special treat.
  • Note: you will not receive this virtual bacon roll or coffee – you will be supporting the Railway by purchasing this virtual item.

All of the above are available to purchase at

© Steve Town

Like many of you, everyone at the RH&DR was looking forward to a busy weekend seeing some of our favourite locomotives travel the line between Hythe and Dungeness.

This year we’re unable to invite you all to visit us so we’ve decided to bring the railway to you.

We’ll be featuring our favourite videos of previous services including parallel runs, multiple headers and visiting locomotives plus live q&a sessions, competitions and more.

Visit our Facebook page: to join in the fun and see your favourite locomotives.

‘Our annual Gala with its unique Romney combination of many locomotives in use on challenging and unusual workings is for me one of the highlights of the railway year. To allow a year to pass without recognising this key weekend in our year is unthinkable. That this year this must be in virtual format is very different and we all understand why. However, I for one am looking forward to it hugely. Danny Martin – General Manager

Look out for a few Railcam Supporters packages on offer to!


East Midlands Railway reminds passengers to only use public transport for essential journeys

  • New social distancing measures being introduced at stations and on trains
  • New timetable will be introduced from Monday 18th May
  • Passengers should continue to follow Government guidance

East Midlands Railway (EMR) passengers are being asked to heed Government advice and only use public transport for essential journeys – ahead of the introduction of additional social distancing measures and a new timetable.  

New social distancing information is being added at all EMR stations and on trains in the coming days and weeks. Passengers will be also asked to maintain a safe and sensible distance from other passengers and staff and follow the guidance provided at all times.  In line with updated Government advice, passengers may also wish to wear face coverings while travelling.

To help support social distancing and ensure the rail industry is doing everything it can to support the UK at this critical time, a new timetable will also be introduced on Monday 18th May.

Overall, it will provide an increase in service level of approximately 20 % – meaning EMR will be operating approximately 80% of its ‘normal’ or ‘full’ timetable.

However, to maintain social distancing the available space for passengers is greatly reduced and it is therefore absolutely vital passengers continue to follow Government travel advice and only travel by public transport if it is absolutely necessary.

Passengers who need to travel by train should check their journey before leaving, leave extra time to pass through the station, use contactless payment and, if at all possible, travel at quieter times of the day.

Will Rogers, Managing Director at East Midlands Railway, said: “I am very grateful for the cooperation of our passengers and the hard work and commitment of our staff right across the country in recent weeks. This has been an unprecedented period for all of us.

“Our new timetable will allow a small increase in the number of passengers we can accommodate. However, we urge everyone to only go by train if it is necessary and keep public transport for key workers and those who must travel.

“To help, we will be providing extra information and guidance at all 91 of our stations and on our trains. I would urge everyone travelling to be mindful of each other and maintain a safe and sensible distance.”

To plan your journey visit

East Midlands Railway timetable summary

EMR Intercity

2 Trains Per Hour to and from Sheffield:

  • 1 Fast Service
  • 1 Semi-Fast Service

2 Trains Per Hour to and from Nottingham

  • 1 Fast Service
  • 1 Semi-Fast Service

An Hourly shuttle service between Corby and Kettering to connect with Midland Main Line services.

Note: Calling patterns may differ during AM and PM peak periods.

EMR Regional

Circa 80 % of services will operate Monday to Saturday, with selected off-peak reductions compared to normal.

Services on all routes will operate throughout the normal hours of operation, with early and late services reinstated on routes where limited opening hours are currently in place.

Liverpool-Norwich services will re-commence operating between Sheffield and Liverpool, with a small number of off-peak cancellations on the route.

Services between Nottingham and Worksop will operate hourly, calling at all intermediate stations.

Sunday services will continue to operate at current reduced levels.

East Midlands Railway donate vital funds to community café

© East Midlands Railway

East Midlands Railways (EMR) has donated crucial funds and food to a community café in Newark, which is helping vulnerable people cope during the Covid-19 pandemic.

EMR has provided Carriages Community Café at Newark Castle station with £2,500 and more than 50 meals, including food from its supplier Rail Gourmet, to support their efforts.

The money will be used to buy a much-needed new oven – allowing the café to produce more than 200 meals each week.

Carriages has operated a Community Cafe at Newark Castle station for nearly three years. During this time, it has been providing a three-course meal for £3 after the regular cafe closed at 5:30pm, every other week.

It has also operated a successful “pay it forward” scheme meaning people can offer to pay for someone else’s meal, who could otherwise go hungry.

Given the unprecedented circumstances, owner Wendy Baird decided to run the cafe as a takeaway every Wednesday to support the vulnerable during these difficult times. The café provides “a meal in a bag” to be collected and taken home to eat for those that can, or delivered by the fire service to those who are isolating. 

The food includes a cooked meal, a pudding and other food that can be used at home, when available.

Wendy Baird thanked EMR for the donation, she said: “Without donations such as this, we simply could not afford to keep this project going and help support some of the most vulnerable people in this area.

“More people than ever need this service and we really appreciate any donation to ensure that we can carry on for as long as possible. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Caring communities are strong communities.”

Kirsty Derry, HR Director of East Midlands Railway, said: “In these uncertain times, projects such as the one run by Wendy are becoming increasingly important to the communities we serve. We are proud to support her work and hope that our donation can make an important impact in helping those people who might be struggling in these difficult times.”

If you would like to help Carriages please visit its Just Giving page at

East Midlands Railway key workers host ‘Grifftonbury’ online concert for key workers

  • Online concert created by Railway key workers for all key workers
  • Cut & Run reunite to perform on Saturday 9th May
  • Money raised goes to Hospice UK, supporting the NHS

Staff at EMR are performing a socially distanced concert to raise money and awareness for Hospice UK. The online concert, ‘Grifftonbury’, will take place on Saturday 9th May.

The idea for ‘Grifftonbury’ was put together back in 2017 by East Midlands Railway (previously East Midlands Trains) and Samaritans staff as a way to raise money for charity.

As a lifelong Glastonbury fan, Paul Griffin (Griff), Head of Drivers for EMR and a keen Bass player, decided to put a band together.

Just over a year later, ‘Cut & Run’ were formed, consisting of Pete Eddy (Driver, Nottingham), Simon Thorpe (Driver, Nottingham) Paul Griffin (Head of Drivers), Jason Ochello (Driver Depot Manager St Pancras & Kettering), Duane Firth (Driver Manager, Nottingham) and Ashley Wynder (Trainee Train Driver).

After months of rehearsals, marketing, planning and even commemorative t-shirts, Cut & Run performed for the first time back in 2018. Encompassing classic tracks covering four decades; from ballads to ‘Pop’ to Rock ‘n’ Roll, Cut & Run performed for their audience who were all on the dance floor ‘strutting their stuff’ and enjoying the party.

Cut & Run have since organised and performed several other charity events and raised thousands of pounds.

After the Covid-19 pandemic sent the UK in to lockdown in March, key workers across the railway and other sectors have been working hard to keep the country moving and what better way for them to enjoy some down time then to tune in to an online concert performed by Cut & Run.

Cut & Run will perform online at 20:00 on Saturday 9th May, if you would like to listen and donate, follow Grifftonbury on Facebook or Twitter for all the details.

Paul Griffin, Head of Drivers for EMR said “With Coronavirus meaning a lockdown in the UK, we wanted to celebrate all the wonderful key workers who are continuing to work every day during this pandemic.

“Cut & Run are going to perform a one off concert, whilst socially distancing of course, to cheer everybody up hopefully raise funds for Hospice UK, who are doing wonderful work in very difficult circumstances.

“We are looking forward to performing again and hope everyone enjoys it”.


Grifftonbury Facebook page –

Grifftonbury Twitter page –

Railcams “Spotting from home campaign” success

When the UK Government issued it’s Corona virus lock-down guidelines in March it affected every person in the UK. While we all had to think about working from home or making essential journeys the new “norm” is likely to have a long influence in what we can and can’t do.

One hobby that has been forced into isolation with us is Train-spotting. Ever since the first Ian Allen books were published it has been a British quest to get each number of a locomotive ticked off of a list. Usually done at railway stations, the train-spotter has been part of the railway family for many generations. The hobby has drawn many into committing their whole career to working on the British Railways whether it be a ticket inspector, Guard, Driver, Station staff or Senior Management.

With the lock-down in full force the traditional spotter has been forced to think out of the box and Railcam Social Media supremo, Jamie Rowley has been the man to lead.

Using the hashtags #spottingfromhome and #spottingfromwork, Jamie led from the front and gave a new dimension to the old hobby. No longer are spotters crossing off numbers and sharing information within small groups. Instead, they have joined in with the Railcam campaign and taken the opportunity to use social media, Sharing many photographs or videos, some from on-board staff, the internet has been awash with rail related content.

Jamie added, “The #SpottingFromHome idea came after I saw a news article circulating in the very early days of lockdown showing 3 young enthusiasts still out by the lineside taking photos. It occurred to me that we already have the cameras there, we have the enthusiast base already aware of what we do, so why not bring trainspotting indoors. Enthusiasts could use our cameras to take screen captures and share them with the wider railway family by simply including the hashtag #SpottingFromHome and tagging @railcamlive, so we could like and share some of our favourite captures throughout the day.”

Jamie continued “I fully expected there to be a moderate amount of interest in this for a week or so, but it has gone from strength to strength, and shows no sign of slowing down! It has been great to see interaction from the TOC’s social media teams, especially Northern, TransPennine Express and Transport for Wales, as well as industry professionals such as the British Transport police.”

“This interaction from within the industry has expanded so quickly that we have had to start including #SpottingFromWork, for key workers to share what they are ‘spotting’ at work. Train drivers, station staff and depot workers are regularly updating us on what they are seeing passing through deserted stations or from the cab window, and also giving us an insight into some of the areas of the railway we wouldn’t usually get to see.”

Tweets surrounding the campaign on Twitter alone have generated 2.7 million impressions over the past 4 weeks. Other social media platforms have seen similar increases due to the hashtag campaign.

Railcam Director Adrian Bradshaw said, “We’re amazed and delighted at the runaway success of the #SpottingFromHome and #SpottingFromWork initiative. It’s great that we have been able to do our bit to keep rail enthusiasts safe and entertained during these strange and difficult times.”

Railcam started broadcasting just over ten years ago and has 49 mainline cameras to view as well as 22 Heritage, 2 guest and 26 International cameras available. The site has over 32,000 registered users and there has been a huge increase on demand since lock-down began.

The campaign has not only been supported by site members but by social media followers and the some of the Train Operating companies themselves. Train spotting has had a tough time over the years with its image. However, nowadays the community is seen as a welcome addition to the railway family with spotters encouraged to share information and safety concerns with rail staff and police, the hobby has become an extra pair of eyes which helps not hinders.

As we do our best to look toward the future, times and the hobby will be very different. Changes will have to be made with the nation accepting that we are a long way away from reinstating the norm from a few months ago. Maybe the new digital way of spotting from home will become the new normal but, maybe not. Whatever happens though, the Railcam campaign has certainly brought a new way of sharing to the forefront and long may it continue.

#SpottingFromHome or #SpottingFromWork – Let’s get involved


Rail companies reduce services due to COVID-19 outbreak

With the ongoing threat from the COVID-19 outbreak, railway companies are taking steps to reduces services over the coming days, Read the latest from each TOC below,

Avanti West Coast –

Caledonian Sleeper –

Cross Country Trains –

East Midlands Railway –

Gatwick Express –

Grand Central –

Great Northern –

Great Western Railway –

Greater Anglia –

Hull Trains –

London North Eastern Railway –

London Northwestern Railway –

Northern –

South Western Railway –

Southern –

ScotRail –

Thameslink –

TransPennine Express –

Trafnidiaeth Cymru/Transport For Wales –

West Midlands Railway –

SWR responds to RMT suspension of strike action

The RMT Union has today announced that the planned strikes on South Western Railway, on Monday 9, Tuesday 10, Thursday 12 & Friday 13 March, have been suspended.

A spokesperson for South Western Railway said, “We are pleased for our customers and colleagues that next week’s strikes have been suspended, we hope that we can now find a solution to bring a permanent end to this dispute for everyone’s sake.

“We are now working hard to reinstate the full timetable for next week.”

Greater Anglia to support accessibility campaign to improve people’s journeys

Greater Anglia today announced its support for a new campaign aimed at helping people with disabilities travel on trains more easily.

The Department for Transport has launched ‘it’s everyone’s journey’ – an advertising campaign to highlight how everyone can play a part in making public transport inclusive.

The campaign uses animation with animal characters as a visual cue to suggest that often unconscious behaviour can affect others and to show what they can do to be more considerate to other passengers, especially those with additional needs.

Greater Anglia, along with other transport providers nationally, will support the campaign on its social media channels and with adverts on trains and at some stations.

Rebecca Richardson, Greater Anglia’s Accessibilty Manager, said, “We’re working hard to ensure that everyone can have an enjoyable journey with us.

“We’re fully committed to making our railway more accessible. We’ve set up a training programme, delivered by wheelchair-users to show our staff how they can improve their service to customers with disabilities.

“We’re introducing all new trains, with improved access and facilities for disabled people.”

“This campaign also reminds us all of the need to be compassionate and courteous and we are very happy to support it.”

Department for Transport research has shown that behaviours that make public transport a daunting place for disabled people are often unconscious, such as not looking out for a fellow passenger who might need a seat or be in distress.

‘it’s everyone’s journey’ will raise awareness about the needs of disabled people when using public transport, particularly people with non-visible impairments, and will also prompt members of the public to think and consider how their behaviour might impact others.

To follow the conversation follow @IEJGov or #ItsEveryonesJourney on Twitter.

Grand Central announces traincrew hub in Blackpool

Cllr Mark Smith and Garry Clark of Grand Central celebrate the lease of the new traincrew hub with Grand Central’s first batch of new recruits for its North West route outside No1 Bickerstaffe Square.
© Grand Central

Grand Central has announced it has signed a lease with Blackpool Council and work has now started on the 2,500sq ft site at No. 1 Bickerstaffe Square. The space will be Grand Central’s flagship traincrew hub to service its new North West to London Euston route.

The ground floor unit, next to Blackpool North railway station, will house 50 Grand Central staff and is part of the 1.1 million sq ft mixed-use flagship Talbot Gateway regeneration development. The first batch of new recruits for the rail operator has already begun training in a temporary space at Bickerstaffe Square.

The traincrew hub, which has been leased until 2026, will be the base for Grand Central employees – including train drivers, senior conductors, customer services assistants and management.

When it opens next month, facilities will include office space, a training room, briefing room, quiet room, booking on point, kitchen, toilets and breakout area. 

There will also be an internal garden with outdoor seating for staff to use and the building also boasts a communal bike park allowing employees to cycle to work, a drying room and shower facilities. 

A number of car parking spaces have also been leased from the Talbot Road car park directly opposite the depot for the use of staff.

Garry Clark, depot manager for  Grand Central, said: “Bickerstaffe Square is a fantastic space and it’s really exciting to see our staff facilities taking shape. We can’t wait to move into our new home and it’s brilliant to know that we are playing a part in regenerating the area around the railway station and Talbot Road.

“We have a track record of supporting local communities in and around our network and we believe the launch of our new route from the North West to London Euston in 2020 will prove to be a major boost to the local economy.”

Cllr Mark Smith, Blackpool Council’s Cabinet Member for Business, Enterprise and Job Creation, said: “We are delighted to welcome Grand Central Rail to Bickerstaffe and wish the team every success in their new hub.

“The Talbot Gateway project represents a wonderful opportunity for businesses to develop and thrive in Blackpool town centre. The new unit, along with Grand Central’s upcoming route from Blackpool North to London Euston, will provide a great boost to the local infrastructure.”

In a move which is expected to bring significant economic benefits to the North West – including a boost to tourism, Grand Central announced a new route from Blackpool North to London Euston last June.

From later in 2020, Grand Central will operate up to five new direct train services to run every day of the week between Blackpool North and London Euston. Blackpool will gain direct services to London on Sundays, as well as later trains to and from the capital Monday to Saturday.

Poulton-le-Fylde and Kirkham & Wesham will each have new direct London services throughout the day, seven days a week. All trains will also call at Preston and Nuneaton, with most also stopping additionally at Milton Keynes, connecting leisure and business travellers to the capital and offering a choice of operator and great value fares.

Grand Central is in the final stages of recruiting the onboard staff it needs for its Blackpool traincrew hub, including drivers and customer service advisors. For more information and to apply visit

More information about the new Blackpool services is available to view at
To find out more about Grand Central, please visit, or follow the railway company on Twitter @GC_Rail, Facebook or LinkedIn.

New MD will lead Northern under public ownership

Northern Trains Limited has today announced that a new Managing Director will be at the helm of the company as it moves into public ownership.

From today, senior rail executive, Nick Donovan, joins Northern Trains as Managing Director. Mr Donovan is the independent Chair of the Network Performance Board and successfully led TransPennine Express from 2011-2015.

For the last two years, Nick has been advising the ScotRail Alliance on train service performance and before that worked on making the case for Northern Powerhouse Rail.  He was interim Engineering Director at Arriva Rail North in 2016.

Robin Gisby, Chairman of Northern Trains and CEO of the public sector operator, DOHL, said: “Nick’s widespread experience, leadership of TPE and his role as Chair of the industry’s National Performance Board has given him a first-class insight into all the issues and challenges we face, not just as Northern but for all operators across the Northern region.

“Given the current circumstances and environment we are operating in, I am very confident that Nick is the right person to lead the business going forward.

“David Brown has faced some very difficult challenges during his time leading the Northern business. I have now asked David to move across to our holding company where we can explore other senior level opportunities and retain his skills and experience. We should all take this opportunity to acknowledge David’s significant contribution to the Northern Franchise over the last two and a half years.

“Our priority over the coming weeks will be to stabilise performance whilst continuing to deliver existing projects including the introduction of new trains. Over the next 100 days, we will push forward with a widespread review of the business and its operations to ensure that we can and will deliver the improvements that Northern’s passengers deserve.”

On 1st March 2020, the government operator took over the running of services across the Northern network. Yesterday it was also announced that a new stakeholder panel will be put in place to provide ongoing strategic advice on the issues that impact on the operator. Political leaders, including Andy Burnham from Manchester and Judith Blake from Leeds, will be joined by regional leaders, passenger representatives and industry leaders on the panel.

Further plans and announcements from the new Managing Director of Northern will be made over the next 100 days as the leadership prepares its ambitious plans to improve the service for passengers of Northern and the North of England.