West Somerset delays ‘ACE’ event until 2019

The West Somerset Railway has decided to push back its forthcoming week-long ‘Atlantic Coast Express’ event until April next year.

 One of the locomotives originally intended for the West Somerset Railway’s ‘ACE’ event, air-smoothed ‘West Country’ No. 34092  City of Wells  shuts off over the viaduct near Corfe Castle as it rolls into Norden during the Swanage Railway’s ‘Strictly Bulleid’ gala on April 1 2017. THOMAS BRIGHT/SR

One of the locomotives originally intended for the West Somerset Railway’s ‘ACE’ event, air-smoothed ‘West Country’ No. 34092 City of Wells shuts off over the viaduct near Corfe Castle as it rolls into Norden during the Swanage Railway’s ‘Strictly Bulleid’ gala on April 1 2017. THOMAS BRIGHT/SR

It has been intended to run the ‘ACE’ event this September (9-14) with guest Bulleid ‘West Country’ class 4-6-2s Nos. 34046 Braunton and 34092 City of Wells earmarked to attend, but “provision of key locomotives was beginning to look challenging,” said a WSR spokesman.

WSR Vice Chairman, Frank Courtney, said: “We need to get this right and offer as close to an authentic ‘ACE’ express as it is possible to do on a 20-mile West Country branch.

“We think we need at least three Bulleid-designed locomotives, preferably including at least one ‘Merchant Navy’ and two ‘Light Pacifics’. Putting the event back will give us more time to get these in place.”

The WSR was keen to stress that the planned ‘ACE’ event – which is expected to feature non-stop running on the length of the Minehead-Bishops Lydeard line - was not a traditional gala and would run in addition to its normal range of enthusiast events throughout 2019.

WSR General Manager Paul Conibeare said: “We all recognise that Flying Scotsman is an exceptional engine and hopefully she will be able to return before long. The aim with the ‘ACE’ event is to offer a different, but premium day out to many of those people who enjoyed the ‘Scotsman’ event on the railway.

“Many of these people are not traditional railway enthusiasts, but simply those who are seeking an exciting and interesting day out and being treated as special passengers.” 

More information about the event will be released in the Autumn.