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Dean Forest Railway

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Location: (Norchard)
51 44N 2 32W; UK National Grid Ref: SO 628044

Location: (Lydney Junction)
51 42N 2 23W; UK National Grid Ref: SO 634020

Dean Forest Railway, Forest Road, Lydney, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom. GL15 4ET

General Enquiry Line +44 (0)1594 845840
24-hour Information  +44 01594 843423

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History........The line today........Locomotives and rolling stock .......Days, times and fares
The Branchline Experience........How to get there

Although the Dean Forest Railway (DFR) does not really belong in a survey of Welsh railways, its proximity to the Wales border, and its similarity with the Gwili warrants inclusion. Like the Gwili, it operates in a wooded valley, and offers the opportunity of sampling some of the charm of a rural railway of a bye-gone era. With the DFR in the east and the Gwili at the westernmost limit, the two railways effectively put the South Wales railways in parentheses, providing a delightful start and finish for the enthusiast who may decide to 'take in' all the preserved railways in the area during a few days' holiday.

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The DFR operates over a two-mile section of the former Severn and Wye Railway. Passenger services ceased in 1929, and the line from Lydney Junction to Berkeley Road in Avon closed in 1960 after the central span of the Severn Bridge was brought down after being struck by barges on the river. The section Lydney Junction to Parkend remained open for coal traffic until 1976, when it was closed by British Rail. When rumours of closure first began to circulate in 1970, the Dean Forest Railway Society was formed with the aim of preserving the line, and began to amass a collection of artefacts associated with the route at its base at Norchard. Since closure of the freight line, the DFR has built a reputation as one of the most professionally run of all the small railways in the country and in 2001, was voted Independent Railway of the Year by Railway World magazine.

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The railway today

From its operational base at Norchard (pictured left as a train prepares to leave the Low Level station) the railway has steadily extended southward, first to the town of Lydney, then to St Mary's Halt, and finally, to Lydney Junction itself, a total running distance of two miles.
Lydney Junction, with its replica Severn and Wye station building, was reopened in 1995, 35 years after it was last used.
A second face to this platform has been constructed by the Friends of Severn and Wye Group, which provides a platform to receive mainline trains from the Gloucester/Chepstow direction. Over 520 feet long, it is one of the longest platforms constructed on a private railway line.
Further extension south was not possible, so the DFR  turned its sights on the northern terminus of Parkend.
On February 12 1997, the DFR announced that it has secured funding from the English Rural Development Commission to proceed immediately with the two mile extension to Parkend. This 12-month project saw the track reballasted and relaid, and two level crossings upgraded: leaving the footbridge, platform and goods shed at Parkend to be renovated.
In January 1999 a further grant from the Rural Development Commission matched by similar bank borrowing enabled the DFR to complete the renovations at Parkend, and a ceremony to mark the start of work took place on June 2nd 2000. The DFR extended its operation as far as Tufts Junction during the 2001 season, which remained the terminus until the extension to Parkend was completed.

The Stations

At Norchard, trains between Lydney and Parkend leave from the High Level station. Norchard Low Level is normally used for morning and evening services and on Gala and Day out with Thomas days. The High Level and Low Level lines join at Middle Forge Junction, south of Norchard. There is a museum and souvenir shop which is open most days from Easter to Christmas.  On operating days, there is a cafeteria and snack bar housed in air-conditioned coaches at Norchard siding. For walkers there is a riverside walk to a picnic area, or a Forest Trail to Primrose Hill which gives extensive views over Lydney.
Parkend was opened by HRH Anne, Princess Royal in 2006, bringing visitors right into the Forest of Dean, and the DFR's DMU Group has produced a guide to local walks and nearby real ale pubs.
The station is within walking distance of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds' Nagshead reserve.
Lydney Town
station gives access to shops and to Bathurst Park, a mecca for local children. Two kilometres westward is Lydney Park gardens with the remains of a Roman temple. A less-classical location is the library, home of Lydney Twonkers, Western Area Scrabble Champions in 2001 and 2005.
At St Mary's Halt there are parks and a boating lake, as well as the parish church of St Mary itself, in the churchyard of which is buried William Keeling, the chief engineer of the Severn and Wye Railway.
Lydney Junction is within a ten-minute walk of the network station, and has two platforms serving Norchard or Parkend, where trains may be stabled on display. A walk to the harbour gives fine views of the River Severn. A leaflet gives details.

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Locos and rolling stock

The DFR has an extensive collection of steam and diesel locomotives and rolling stock, including operational diesel multiple units. Most of the collection is stabled at the Norchard terminus, though there are also a number of examples at the Lydney Junction end of the line. The collection is too numerous to include at this stage, but perhaps will be included in a later update.

A major restoration project at the DFR is that of Taff Vale Railway locomotive No 28, on behalf of the National Railway Museum. The loco dates from 1897.
There is an appeal for donations, and offers to help with the restoration. Donations in excess of 25 will entitle the donor to a seat on the first passenger train hauled by TVR 28. Further details can be obtained from the TVR 28 Restoration Fund, 59 Claverham Road, Yatton, BRISTOL. BS49 4LD; while offers of assistance to carry out work on the restoration should be made to the project engineer, Geoff  Phelps on (01594) 832702.

The Branchline Experience

Through the Branchline Experience the DFR gives the opportunity of learning to drive one of its steam or diesel locomotives, act as guard or operate the signal box.

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2013 Days, times and fares


Adult 11.00
(5 to 16) 5.00
Family (2 Adults and 2 Children) 30.00
Children under 5 travel free
On Bygone Branch Days and Great Western Branchline Day there are supplements of 1 to ordinary fares and 4 to Family tickets.
On non-passenger train days, admission to the station area is free, but donations are welcomed.

Special Events

Special fares and timetables apply for special events. Contact the DFR for details.
Pre-booking is essential for the Santa Specials. Write or telephone for a brochure from mid-August.

Royal Forester Dining Service

Enjoy a three-course meal in a First Class Dining Car.
Details of dates and times from the DFR (+44) (0)1594 845840

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How to get there

The railway is approached from the town of Lydney which is on the A48 between Gloucester and Newport. Norchard is about a half-mile from the level crossing by which the DFR crosses the old A48. Stagecoach buses also serve Lydney Town station with an hourly weekday service (a limited service on Sundays) from Gloucester, Chepstow and Newport. (Timetable enquiries: +44 (0)1452 425453.)
A hundred metres from Lydney Junction station is the main line station of Lydney, served by trains operated by Arriva Trains Wales trains between South Wales and Gloucester. These operate on a roughly two-hour frequency throughout the day. Allow a few minutes connection time to transfer between the main railway station and Lydney Junction or vice versa.
For details of connecting services, including travel planner and timetables, visit the Traveline Cymru website.

Click here for the DFR's official Website

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Copyright 1996/7/8/9/2000/1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11/12 by Deryck Lewis. All rights reserved.
Page created July 14 1996; Redesigned March 29 1999; Updated March 17th 2013
If you have any suggestions, comments, or glitches to report, please contact the author at WalesRails