The 18th October came and went and with it we celebrated the 50th birthdays of 37215 and D6948 with 215 operating 77 miles over the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway by working 3 return trips between Laverton and Cheltenham Racecourse (with an extra 5 mile return trip to Laverton at the end of the day to facilitate shunting and stock positioning for the following day).
37215 looked great with its special Golden Jubilee headboard, while back on the train, the coaches has each been labelled with traditional style Golden Jubilee destination labels, party balloons and free cakes were on offer from the buffet car.
On the 1st January, 37215 passed a significant milestone for it was exactly 50 years since it entered service on the 1st January 1964 at Landore depot, Swansea. The Group will be commemorating 215’s 50th anniversary during 2014…..so stay tuned!
37215 ran 1541 miles in service in 2013 , its second highest mileage since it was preserved in 1994. Only the exceptional ‘Year of the Gotherington Landslip’ in 2010 when it worked 1678 miles (although half of which were being dragged as a tail locomotive) in which all GWR services had to be tailed by a diesel locomotive, was higher. This reflects the increase in diesel running in 2013 with 3 round trips between Toddington and Cheltenham being operated Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between May and September.
37215 played a leading role in the GWR’s ‘Christmas Cracker’ gala on the 29th and 30th December covering 72 miles over the two days between Laverton and Cheltenham Racecourse. This year’s Christmas Diesel Day had been replaced by a two day mixed traction event featuring both steam and diesel, due to the lack of steam heat fitted diesels. This was the first time a mixed traction gala has been held on the GWR and was an undoubted success, with many passengers commenting on the relaxed nature of the event and the toasting warm trains in the middle of winter. 37215 covered 55 miles on the front with the added bonus of some extra weight at the back when top and tailing with a steam locomotive giving some extra ‘thrash’ from the front!