• The ultimate footplate experience
• Drive a steam loco with carriages all day long for four round trips, totalling around 64 miles
• Welcome briefing and introductory video with refreshments
• Guided our of the loco works
• Visit to the signal box
• Lunch is included for the driver
• Personalised souvenir certificate
• 'Through the Window' guide book
• 12 months free membership of Friends of the Great Central Mainline membership to their supporting organisation
• You may share the driving with up to 7 of your friends (lunches not included but can be purchased on the day)
• Free train tickets for an additional 4 guests to ride in the carriages
What Can I Expect
Pull on your blue locomotive driver’s coat and flat cap - this is the ultimate train driving day for any railway fan! This is real train driving with you at the helm of a beautifully restored steam loco on a mainline heritage railway pulling a train of passenger carriages. This really is the ultimate gift for train lovers who want to spend the whole day as part of the crew.
This steam gift voucher allows to access places not normally open to member of the public, as you integrate into the team running the railway on the day of your experience and be a thoroughly hands-on member too. What’s more, given the extensive amount of driving that’s included in these ultimate footplate experiences, you can make it a private group event by inviting up to seven friends or family to join you and share the driving duties.
On arrival you’ll be introduced to your colleagues for the day, watch an induction DVD and, of course, start the day off as any respectable locomotive driver does, with a large mug of tea and a bacon butty. But there’s a timetable to respect, with eager passengers to transport along this wonderful heritage mainline, so it’s time to climb aboard the footplate for your first of four epic return journeys along the full Great Central mainline.
You’ll soon discover that being a railway driver on these magnificent steam trains is pretty physical stuff, with driving and optional fire-stoking duties to cover as you trundle through the Charnwood countryside from Loughborough to the Leicester North terminus station. An absolute highlight has to be rumbling gently over the tranquil Swithland Reservoir, a lovely spot in the Leicestershire countryside - and you’ll get the ultimate view of it all from the footplate of your steam train.
And although you’ll be busy driving the passenger train on those four return journeys, it’d be a shame if you didn’t take time to see all the superbly restored infrastructure at this heritage railway, so your itinerary includes a guided tour of the loco shed and visit to the signal box. The loco shed at Loughborough Central is where the restoration, maintenance and repair of the locomotives is carried out by the most passionate, dedicated and highly skilled volunteers you could ever meet. It’s fascinating here and you’ll discover a lot about the history and the vision for the future for this railway line.
There’s also time to visit one of the signal boxes on the line. The 50-lever box in Loughborough is the only original signal box one the line and it’s Grade II listed. You should also make time to visit the on-platform museums (we love the parcel office at Rothley station!), the emporium, shops and even the ladies and gents toilets, all restored to their Victorian glory!
Indeed, it might sound like a cliche that we spout all the time, but this really is the ultimate train driving day. Being the sole double track mainline heritage railway in the UK, this is the only place your can be the locomotive driver of steam trains that pass each on the line. And remember, this is real train driving with your loco hauling carriages.
• Weekdays throughout the year, on a mutually arranged date
• Experiences start at 8.45am, concluding at around 4.40pm
• Due to the popularity of these experiences, we recommend booking well in advance
• Participants must be over 18 years of age
• You must be physically fit and be able to mount and dismount the vertical steps of the engine unassisted
• No previous experience is necessary
• Drivers overalls are provided
• Customers are advised to wear stout footwear
• Experiences include four guest platform access and may ride in carriages being driven by the participant
• Lunch is not included for spectators
• Other guests are welcome but must purchase a travel ticket at the concessionary fare (currently £14)
• The station has a museum open to guests
• Guests may join in the tours and briefing
Anything Else I Need To Know?
• Great Central Railway, Loughborough