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Star of the Sixties rolls into station

PUBLISHED: 14:38 23 December 2008 | UPDATED: 12:38 03 July 2010

UNDER the constant glare of cameras and eager waiting fans, passers-by could be forgiven for thinking a star had rolled into Great Yarmouth by train on Saturday .

UNDER the constant glare of cameras and eager waiting fans, passers-by could be forgiven for thinking a star had rolled into Great Yarmouth by train on Saturday .

Hundreds of people packed onto the platform at the railway station to catch a glimpse of the rarely seen star - a 1960s diesel locomotive train.

The Great Western Eastern locomotive, the only one of its kind left in the UK still operating on the railways, rolled into Yarmouth just after 1.30pm.

Operated by Pathfinder Tours the Great Eastern Western tends to operate in London, the West Country and south Wales however, as part of only six trips held annually. the tour operators extended the route to include East Anglia.

Pathfinder Tours manager Peter Watts said the locomotive was extremely popular and said it had been built in Swindon in 1962 at the same time as the last steam locomotive was being built.

The train is maintained by a group of volunteers who collectively have spent around £150,000 restoring the train and ensuring it can operate on the modern railways.

Thousands of man hours have also been put in by the volunteers who ensure the rare locomotive does not go off the rails.

The two engines which power the train can reach speeds of up to 95mph - modern electric trains reach speeds of 100mph. It also carries modern features such as a black box and systems to ensure it does not pass through red light, necessary in order to operate on the railways.

The locomotive operated as a passenger train from London to the West Country for almost 15 years and its final day of service was in February 1977.

On Saturday it was carrying a wreath in honour of Christ Broadhurst - one of the volunteers who ensured the locomotive did not go to scrap. Mr Broadhurst came from Witham, in Essex, and Mr Watts explained that on the journey home the train stopped at Witham station as a “poignant tribute for a model engineer”.

After spending just over an hour in Yarmouth the Great Eastern Western travelled to Norwich where it stopped for two hours and then made its way back to Swindon.

Picture: Laura Bagshaw


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