DRIVER and signal box experiences
booking now open for 2017
Have you ever dreamed about taking to the footplate of a steam or diesel locomotive, feeling the power of the engine as it hauls a train along a full size railway? We can now offer you the opportunity to drive an engine from our home fleet, getting a truly authentic experience as you control the locomotive and train, complete with coaches behind, tackling our challenging gradients, obeying the signals and stopping at platforms.
For £375 you'll be able to drive an ex-main line diesel locomotive a total of 16 miles whilst hauling some of our restored carriages. Your day will start at North Weald where you will meet your Driving Instructor and proceed to the locomotive, where you will be shown the controls and be given an explanation of what they do.
You will then first drive the locomotive to Coopersale and back to Ongar, during which you'll initially drive the locomotive light engine (on its own) to get a feel for the loco brake. Upon completion of your first trip you will then hook up to our coaches at North Weald and tackle some of the longest and steepest gradients in preservation as you take the train to Ongar and back. Your experience will last for approximately 3-4hrs after commencing.
Should you choose to bring more than one guest we, can accommodate them in our coaching stock when it is attached to YOUR train. For the duration of your experience, it will be YOUR loco. You will not share this experience with anyone else which means you can have someone of your choosing accompany you in the cab while you drive YOUR loco.
Diesel traction not your preference?
Try one of our steam experience courses instead!
Costing just £395, you will first be shown around the engine, familiarising yourself with the various components, before bringing her up to pressure and venturing out onto the running line, all whilst under the watchful eye of one our experienced crews.
As part of your experience you will learn the art of 'firing' a steam loco as well as mastering the driving controls. The steam driving experience is a SHARED day and you both take turns at driving and firing for each other to work as a steam 'crew'.
These courses are limited in availibility; check for dates below and be sure to book quick!
What You Get
All participants of our experience courses will not just get to drive a locomotive but will receive the following as well:
- 1 Year Membership to Epping Ongar Railway Volunteer Society (EORVS,) with up to four editions of the society Journal - Mixed Traffic - delivered to you per annum
- Certificate of completion
- DVD of the railway's history
- Visit to North Weald engine shed
- Visit to North Weald signal box
- EOR Diesel Department Mug
- EOR Pen and Bookmark
- A guaranteed good time
Diesel Driver Experience
Take control of the railway in North Weald Signal Box alongside one of our trained volunteers.
Have you ever wondered how the movement of trains is controlled on a busy railway such that trains, locomotives and rolling stock are in the right place at the right time? Unlike signalling simulators, if the sequence of signalling is wrong our trains really can get stuck in the wrong place causing genuine inconvenience to real people. So, why not come and learn for yourself how it's done at one of our signalbox experience days.
You will have the chance to work in the hub of our operational railway and control trains for just £150!
We include two All Day Rover tickets (worth £13 each) and a return cab ride in the diesel locomotive so you can see the signals and points that you have used in the box. This experience day is an ideal choice for a birthday gift or special treat just for yourself - and remember to bring your camera.
Available on selected standard operating days you will start at 09:30 at North Weald where you will meet the duty signaller. After a brief introduction to the signal box the first train will depart to Ongar at 10:10. You will be shown the token procedure and how to set a route allowing the train to depart for Ongar, this includes the all important liaison using bell codes with Ongar Signal Box and allowing the token to be released.
Throughout the day you will operate mechanical and electrical points, signals and exchange tokens, during which you will gain an understanding of how a signal box operates and familiarise yourself with the different levers and their meanings. The day will end at approximately 16:30 after the last train has arrived at North Weald.
To summarise your day includes:
- Operation of the North Weald Signal Box
- Epping Ongar Railway DVD
- Return journey to Ongar in the cab of the rostered diesel locomotive or unit
- Two free adult All Day Rovers for your friends or family to use
Signal Box Experience
Booking for this experience is not available online, please send an email to email@example.com for more details and to book your place.
Booking for Driver Experiences
Use the booking menu below. If you'd like pay by cheque or bank transfer then please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you're buying this as a gift can you please provide the participant's name and send a note of your booking to email@example.com and we'll take care of the rest. Online booking closes 7 days before each experience day - please contact Marco directly on firstname.lastname@example.org if you're looking for a last minute booking - we occasionally have spaces available and it's worth trying.
We look forward to seeing you on the footplate!
Course participants must be at least 18 years old and moderately physically fit, as they need to be able to gain access to and work within the confines of a locomotive cab. We do not apply an upper age limit; as long as participants are reasonably fit, agile, mentally capable and able to hear, understand and comply with instructions fully. If you have any concerns about this, we ask that you contact us to discuss prior to booking a course. This is to ensure everyone's safety and prevent possibly damaging our historic locomotives.
Jeremy McCarthy; Diesel Experience:
"I started the engine and we set off, carefully moving out of North Weald on our way to the terminus at Ongar. The route is interesting and there are two footpaths crossing the track, both of which require a sounding of the whistle. There is a constant speed limit; I had to concentrate really hard to keep within this, and my instructor made sure I did so. On reaching Ongar, we moved to the other end of the locomotive, and returned to North Weald.