South Devon Railway
"Thomas" Success!
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The recent "Day Out with Thomas" event on the South Devon Railway over the early May Bank Holiday weekend proved to be the busiest three day period in the line's history! Passenger numbers exceeded all previous records with a massive 5491 passengers carried over the three day event. The busiest day was the Bank Holiday Monday with 2173 passengers. The railway was operating at maximum capacity with the first train of the day made up to eight carriages and departing almost full! Whilst 5786 (alias Duck), 5526 (alias Julian) and D8110 (alias BoBo) took it in turns to take the main train to Totnes, 'Thomas' and 1420 (aka Oliver the Western Engine) did two return trips to 'Sodor' - somewhere about two miles out of Buckfastleigh - with their 4 coach train. Passenger numbers were a massive 1010 more than the previous best for a Thomas event.

The SDR will be looking at how it organises the 'Thomas' phenomenon as any further increase in the numbers would be difficult to cope with under the present system.
Poor weather made car parking very difficult and it was only by pre-planning a park and ride system using the local Buckfast Spinning Mill factory car park and by filling the local town car parks that problems were avoided. The vintage bus service with Bertie and Bulgy and another one named Bernard for the day carried over 4000 passengers around the town whilst carrying out the park & ride function at the same time. TV coverage may have been responsible for the big Monday turnout - the BBC's Sunday lunchtime Politics Show included 12 minutes of live broadcast from Buckfastleigh where political candidates standing locally were interviewed in the comfort of one of the line's Super Saloon carriages whilst the Thomas event could be seen happening in the background. The local TV newscasts then showed scenes from the event five times during the rest of the day and early next morning.

"Bertie, Bulgy & Bernard" at the start of a very busy day.
Thomas with his shuttle train to "Sodor"
"Sir Topham Hatt" on parade
"Oliver" with the shuttle train to "Sodor"
"How would you like your fish cooked, Sir"
"Thomas" delights the crowd
"Julian" a friend of "Thomas" returns with more visitors from Totnes
Chasing the train after the Guard has missed it

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 © South Devon Railway Trust 2005