Great Western Railway
First Great Western
The Torbay Express name is also used by First Great Western for its 10:00 service from London Paddington to Paignton (via Bristol), and the 14:15 return (via Castle Cary and the Berks and Hants line).
Summer steam excursion
From 2003, Past-Time Rail revived the Torbay Express as a passenger charter steam locomotive service, to run on certain summer Sundays and some Saturdays, from: Bristol Temple Meads via stops at Weston-Super-Mare and Taunton; to Paignton and onwards vis the Dartmouth Steam Railway to Kingswear.
After Past-Time Rail went bankrupt in June 2009, the service obligation has been taken over by Torbay Express Ltd. This company was formed as a subsidiary of booking agent Pathfinder Tours, itself a subsidiary of Riviera Trains. As well as taking direct bookings, the company also takes bookings through Pathfinder Tours, who advertise the service as part of their tour programme, and also supply their own volunteers to steward the trains.
Presently operating on selected Sundays between July and September, the original direct route is still operated, varied with an alternate route heading initial east from Bristol to Bath Spa, and then via Westbury to Taunton and onwards to Dartmouth.
Since being taken over by Pathfinder Tours/Riviera Trains, the British Railways Mark 1 coaching stock has been supplied in historic cream/brown by Riviera, and staffed by Pathfinder. The back-up diesel locomotive is supplied and operated by DB Schenker Rail (UK), sourced from a varying number of spot-hire companies, mainly West Coast Railways. During the operating season, the coaching stock is stabled in a spare covered road under the engine shed of Bristol Temple Meads, whilst the steam locomotive is stabled at a temporary operating base at Bristol Barton Hill MPD.
Initial steam power was supplied by GWR 7800 Class 7802 Bradley Manor and GWR 4073 Class 5051 Earl Bathurst, but has varied since by season, latterly supplied from the Jeremy Hosking-backed Locomotive Services Ltd. Motive power has included: GWR 6000 Class 6024 'King Edward I'; LNER Class A4 60009 'Union of South Africa'; LNER Class A1 60163 'Tornado'; SR Battle of Britain Class 34067 'Tangmere'; BR Class 8P 71000 'Duke of Gloucester'; BR Britannia Class 7MT 70000 'Britannia'; LNER Class A4 4464 'Bittern'; SR West Country Class 34046 Braunton; GWR 4073 Class 5029 Nunney Castle.
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