We Are Railfans Podcast: That first time on the footplate!



August 26th, 2021

Throughout this series of the We Are Railfans Podcast we have largely spoken to professional drivers of a number of distinctly different locomotives. These drivers will have spent many months, possibly years, learning the theory and developing the practical skills needed to operate such complex machinery. So what is driving or operating a locomotive like for a complete novice? Someone who has never driven anything before nor learned the theory? Fortunately we knew just the person to find out. Web Editor of the We Are Railfans website Joe Rogers stepped onto the footplate of a steam locomotive on an active heritage railway for the first this month and has been speaking to Sam about that experience for this latest edition of the podcast.

(Feature image credit: Bill Nicholls / Standing on the footplate / CC BY-SA 2.0 cropped to 16:9 format)

You can listen to the latest We Are Railfans Podcast here:

Or via a number of outlets here: https://pod.fo/e/e2c24

Joe explains his railfan origins in North Wales, how operating a miniature locomotive helped understand some of the processes, before then getting the chance to operate a small industrial locomotive on a closed section of track and then, earlier this year, a GWR Large Prarie on a short stretch of active heritage railway.

Sammy-Teifi-Valley-Joe-Rogers Joe's mother holds him up against 'Sammy', a 1951 Simplex Diesel locomotive on the Teifi Valley Railway (Rheilffordd Dyffryn Teifi) in Wales. Photo: Rogers Family Collection. Dickie-BHLR-Joe-Rogers Dickie, a 7 1/4 inch gauge 0-4-2 tender locomotive on the Beer Heights Light Railway in Devon. Photo: Joe Rogers' Collection. Lady-Nan-ESR-Joe-Rogers Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST Locomotive 'Lady Nan' on the East Somerset Railway. Photo: Joe Rogers 5199-Footplate-Joe-Rogers The view from the footplate - GWR Large Prarie no.5199. Photo: Joe Rogers.

To find out more about whether your local heritage railway offers driving courses to members of the public, go to their website. Some examples are listed below. Most UK heritage railways offer courses or footplate experiences in some form - some have temporary stopped them due to COVID-19 but plan to reinstate them in the future.

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