The Royal Windsor Steam Express has switched stations for this summer’s steam locomotive service.
Last year, its inaugural year, it departed from Waterloo.
This year it will leave London’s Victoria Station every Tuesday between 26 May – 8 Sep, at 08.00, 11.00 and 14.00.
The steam train service offers three classes of travel. A Champagne Brunch or Champagne Cream Tea in elegant Pullman Style Dining carriages, First Class with complimentary tea and coffee or Standard Class with open carriages. Table service for snacks and drinks is available and picnics welcome.
The journey will follow the same historical route of the earlier Royal Trains that would carry the Royal Family from London to their castle in Windsor. First built in the 11th century, Windsor Castle is the largest continuously occupied castle in the world and home to English Kings and Queens from William the Conqueror to the present Elizabeth II.
Tickets start at £39 (approx. US $50/CA $67) up to £89 (approx. US $116/CA $153) per person for the Pullman Style Dining experience with a morning Champagne brunch or afternoon Champagne cream tea. Tickets can be purchased online or at the station on the day, subject to availability.
Sunset Dining – Pullman Style
The operators, Steam Dreams, also launched an evening rail dining experience last year.
Likewise, the Sunset Steam Express will now leave London’s Victoria Station each Tuesday of the summer (26 May – 8 Sep) at 18:00 for a four hour return journey through the Surrey Hills – an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – serving drinks and dinner on the way.
The train will head south across the suburbs of London, pass through the historic Cathedral town of Guildford and take the steep climb through the Surrey Hills before descending the Vale of Holmesdale and back to Victoria via the market towns of Dorking and Reigate.
Prices from £109 (approx. US $141/CA $197) per person in Premier Dining up to £139 (approx. US $180/CA $239) per person travelling Pullman Style Dining. A standard ticket at £49 (approx. US $63/CA $85) offers seating at tables where snacks and drinks can be purchased and picnics are welcome.
Both trains on these experiences will usually be pulled by the B1 Class Locomotive, ‘Mayflower’.
Built for the London & North Eastern Railway in 1948, 61306 Mayflower is one of two surviving B1 Class locomotives.
Designed as mixed traffic steam locomotives capable of hauling express passenger trains as well as freight traffic, the B1s are powerful, go anywhere engines and worked across most of the UK rail network from East Anglia to Scotland.
Mayflower was built by the North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow but was delivered post-nationalisation and acquired the number 61306 by British Railways. She was first allocated to Hull Botanic Gardens Depot followed by a spell at Hull Dairycotes Depot before being finally transferred to Low Moor Depot, Bradford. She was the last B1 in service, her final trip was hauling the ‘Yorkshire Pullman’ from Leeds in September 1967.
Mayflower was immediately purchased for preservation and was initially based at Steamtown in Carnforth. She was fully restored for mainline operation and worked a number of railtours in the 1970’s. Acquired by Steam Dreams owner David Buck in 2014, she returned to the mainline in 2015 before being withdrawn for an extensive overhaul. Resplendent in the early British Railways apple green livery as she was originally given when delivered in 1948 she returned to full mainline operation in early 2019.