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May 2015 Bulletin
SPIRIT OF SPEYSIDE WHISKY FESTIVAL
As part of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival the railway ran scheduled services from Thursday 30th April to Sunday 3rd May inclusive. Free whisky sampling and shortbread were available on all scheduled services. In addition other special events in conjunction with the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival also ran.
The above photos show drams being poured out in the guard’s compartment and the Whisky Stewart dispensing the drams.
On 1st, 2nd and 3rd April passengers were entertained by the group “Footerin Aboot”. Footerin Aboot provided music on the 14:00 ex Dufftown and return on each day and were much appreciated by our passengers.
These two photos show some of our passengers enjoying the drams provided on our Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival Trains. If you want to participate in a Whisky Festival there is still the Autumn Whisky Festival to come, running from 25th to 27th September so mark it in your diary.
SWISS RAILWAYS VISIT
On 13th May a group of Swiss Railway personnel, their family and friends included a visit to the railway in their itinerary. The photo shows the group with the Spirit of Speyside at Keith Town station. The group had previously visited Strathisla Distillery and while at Dufftown would visit the Glenfiddich Distillery. The trip on our railway was something of a busman’s holiday for them.
The train stopped at Drummuir to allow the party to inspect the facilities there. One of our Swiss visitors, Walter Finkboner, discovered some 1940s vintage cases on the luggage rack and tried them out. The driver reassured him that there was no extra fare for luggage.
KUBOTA MINI DIGGER NUMBER 2
The railway has had a Kubota mini digger for several years now and it has proved invaluable in our Permanent Way Department. With the work ongoing at Dufftown in laying new sidings and the loop the Kubota was required in two places at the same time. This meant much time was wasted ferrying the Kubota from Dufftown to a works location on the line. A second Kubota was therefore purchased in late April arriving at Dufftown in early May. Without even pausing for a photo call Kubota No 2 was taken immediately to a works location.
Kubota No 2 was taken to the foot of the Parkmore Bank to be used on drainage work at a wet location. It was employed in digging ditches and pipe laying to drain the foot of Parkmore Bank. The two photos above, taken by the secondman on a service train, show some of the work site and a rear and front view of Kubota No 2.
REFURBISHED POINT BLADE
The point blade leading from the main line into the Keith end of the Dufftown goods loop was badly worn and was removed for repair at the beginning of the year. The point was locked and clamped out of use until the point blade could be repaired.
Above photos show the UDV shunter taking a works train across the refurbished point.
When British Rail reduced the Dufftown branch to an unsignalled siding the signals all along the line were removed. The signals from Dufftown ended up at a local scrap merchant where they languished for many years. In 2014 some of the signals returned to Dufftown where they are being overhauled and returned to working condition. On 16th May 2015 one of the signals was moved from one part of the yard to another, the following photo shows it being lifted on our high lift fork lift truck. The high lift was required for it to clear some of our stores and buildings.
The Board has agreed that the following are the priority projects:
Short Term – To complete the loco shed by laying the floor and installing a second track within the shed.
Medium Term – To provide or reinstate 4 railway halts. One of these halts, Towiemore is now operational, the remaining halts are still under discussion with all interested parties so no further details can be provided at this stage.
Long Term – To re-establish a rail connection at Keith Junction Station.
An appeal was launched in 2010 to move the modern shed then located at Drummuir to Dufftown. The shed was re-erected at Dufftown May 2012 and most of the work is now complete, indeed the shed has already proved its worth by enabling us to repaint and overhaul some stock. Installing the floor and laying a second track into the shed are now the priorities.
The Track Appeal was set up to raise funds for the second track into the engine shed. The appeal took the form of purchasing a sleeper, for £10, for the second track. The names of those purchasing a sleeper are recorded on a chart at Dufftown Station.
Shed Target:- £25,000
Shed Collected:- £25,556 as at 04/02/2015
Track Target:- £3850 (385 sleepers)
Track Collected:- £3850 as at 04/02/2015
A very large and heart felt thank you to all who have contributed to the appeals. The Shed Appeal and Track Appeal are now closed but any donations received will now be directed to the new Floor Appeal.
Having raised funds to dismantle, move, re-erect and improve (end doors, power and light) the shed and to purchase the necessary sleepers for the loop and shed track we now are launching an urgent appeal to raise funds for a concrete floor and service pit in the shed. We have secured a number of quotations for the work involved and estimates for the project are in the region of £25,000. We are launching an appeal for a concrete floor and service pit in the shed to be known as the Shed Floor Appeal.
Shed Floor Appeal Target:- £25,000
Shed Floor Appeal Collected:- £2,180 as at 16/05/15.
For details of the above use Appeals link to the left or click this link: Appeals
From 2015 the Buffer Stop became a franchise operation. The new operation is open for 6 days of the week, Tuesday to Sunday from 9.00am to 5.00pm for traditional home fayre, teas, coffees, cold drinks, all day breakfasts, lunches, home bakes and takeaways. These catering facilities will also be open on any Monday when the railway is operational. The buffer stop opened on Tuesday the 24th March under the new franchise operators, Angie Presly and Russell Stewart. Please note the Buffer Stop is not currently licenced to sell alcohol.
Although the Buffer Stop is under new management from Tuesday the 24th March 2015, the catering we do for our charters is being retained by KDRA and will be done in the Spirit of Dufftown under the name of KDRA Catering.
TUESDAY WORK PARTY
The Tuesday Work Party at Dufftown station historically tended to concentrated on “light work” i.e. smaller tasks that tend to appear further down the list of priorities e.g. painting and keeping the environment tidy etc. However, they are now involved in more major work such as the refurbishment of our rolling stock, Permanent Way and a multitude of other tasks. We can find work suited to everyone’s ability.
Works trains and training runs on our DMU also take place. This is another reason why people should not trespass on the line at any time. We do not just run scheduled services as published in our timetable but works trains on any day of the week and at any time of the day. Many people assume that if there are no scheduled services on a day then there will be no trains but this is very wide of the mark. We can and do run works trains, training runs and line inspections on any day of the week and potentially at any time of the day. Please do not trespass on the line at any time.
Anyone interested in taking part in this group is asked to contact Alistair Coull on 01542 831295. There is always work for any pair of willing hands from weeding, painting, cleaning, joinery, electrical, plumbing, engineering, permanent way, the list is endless. Come along, learn something new or share your skills with others!