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
© South Devon Railway