At the start of 2008, the Bluebell was host to Great Western Railway locomotive number 1450 and the Auto Coach Trailer number 178. The operation of the pair spanned the month of February, concluding with Branch Line Weekend.
The photo above shows the Auto-train on what had been planned as its first day in service - 2nd February 2008 (David Haggar). However, its debut actually happened on 19th January, when it was in steam for driver training (photo below, Keith Duke). When Loco No.32473 partially failed on one of the service trains, the Auto-train substituted for it on one journey, and for a second journey No.1450 double-headed with 32473 (Nick Talbot's photo below).
The loco and carriage had arrived on the Bluebell on 3rd January.
Prior to entry into service, the loco was prepared at Sheffield Park (Jon Bowers - 12 January),
and the carriage, over the maintenance pit at Horsted Keynes (Richard Salmon - 5 January)
Two photos showing the superbly restored interior of the carriage (both photos - Dave Clarke).
Two photos from Saturday 2nd February (Andrew Strongitharm, left, and Paul Pettitt, right).
Another two from Saturday 2nd February (Richard Salmon, left, and Paul Pettitt, right).
The following weeknd was also a fantastic one for photos. (Derek Hayward - Saturday 9 February, Brian Easter - Sunday 10 February)
Friday 15th February saw the Autotrain being used for a photo charter (Above: two photos from Dave Clarke and one from Ken Upton).
The photo on the right is from Jon Bowers, who organised the charter.
Whilst the Branch Line weekend (23-24 February) again saw the Auto-tank loco paired with the Auto-coach for most of the time, here we see, in Paul Pettitt's photo, the "Dukedog" paired with the carriage, and in Tom James' photo, No.1450 with the LNWR Observation saloon and the four Metropolitan Railway carriages.
Other photos covering the visit:
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