This experience allows you to join the driver in the cab of a DMMU (Diesel Mechanical Multiple Unit) and observe the operation of the train over a 21 mile round trip. The journey lasts just under two hours and whilst you don't actually drive the train you will gain a unique insight into the operation of a diesel locomotive with plenty of time for questions about the train, signals and controls. The train will be carrying passengers. IntotheBlue also offers '
drive a train
' days, please see our main trains section for more information.
Enjoy a diesel train driving experience that'll see you riding up front with the driver on one of Britain's finest light railways through the historic countryside of Kent. You will be a very privileged passenger on a Diesel Mechanical Multiple Unit, with the rare chance to see everything on the railway from the driver's perspective.
Learning all about the heritage of this lovely little light railway as you go, you'll leave the main station at Tenterden and head through Northiam to the present terminus at Bodiam (right next to the stunning castle!). What we love about this diesel train experience is that whilst being driven along the 21 mile long round trip, you will spend the entire time alongside the driver of this vintage diesel train in the cab. We think this is one very special ride.
Of course, the DMMUs that take part in these experiences are nothing like the diesel trains you see driving the length and breadth of Britain today. We're talking the first wave of diesel power, introduced when the Kent and East Sussex Railway was taken over by British Railways in 1948 and traction by internal combustion was becoming more common. In the post-war era, early railcars and diesel locos where in active use on this very line, including a twice-daily 'hop picker's' freight service.
Today the heritage railway uses diesels for shunting, engineers' trains, off peak passenger train services and emergency assistance too. The line is steeped in history and this experience gives you time to ask the driver all the questions you want, whether it's about how the diesel trains are used here, or the technical aspects of restoration. Maybe you want to know how signal boxes work or you're curious as to what freight was carried on this line. All your queries will be deftly answered by the knowledgeable staff here in Kent.
To cover the return journey you should allow just shy of two hours, giving you plenty of time to get to know and understand how a DMMU works. Being a classic diesel train, you'll have a great 'driver's eye view' from the panoramic window of the cab and you'll get a real insight into diesel train driving operations and techniques. This is a truly memorable day out that doesn't end at the train terminus, as you have all day to take in the Colonel Stephens Museum and general goings on at the Kent and East Sussex Railway all included as part of your diesel train driving experience.
Journeys take place on selected weekends and weekdays, regularly each month from March to October. Morning and afternoon departures are usually available.
The trains run from Tenterden Town Station in Kent, out to Bodiam Castle and then back again. The venue is around halfway between Hastings and Ashford.
You need to be over 18 and be agile enough to climb a few steps into the cab.
Why not make a family day out of your experience. Tenterden Station has a railway museum and display wagons, 36 seat restaurant, picnic area, gift shop and play area for the kids. There is free car parking and all facilities have been designed with disabled and elderly passengers in mind. Visitors can purchase a ticket giving them transport on the diesel and steam trains as they travel along the 10.5 mile line, you can hop on and off the train at any station to explore (tickets from £12.50 per adult). A small fee applies for museum admission.