The operation of the passenger train on the Apedale Valley Light Railway can seem deceptively simple, especially on a diesel day. After all, one turns up, turns the key and away, right? Wrong. The day starts with unlocking the site and extracting the passenger train from the shed. This usually involves moving the current yard pilot engine which normally sits in front of the passenger train. The passenger loco needs to be checked for oil, fuel, water and missing bits, and then started. The time taken to build the air up for the brake system is dependent on the loco. If it’s No.13, a few minutes. If it’s the Baguley Drewry – well, let’s say there’s time to grab a drink and maybe complete a 1000 piece jigsaw. The train is then extracted from the shed, and the driver will carry out a Fitness to Run check on the whole train. Hopefully, the Guard has then arrived. Even more hopefully, he is carrying tea and biscuits. If he is indeed carrying tea, the Guard and Driver work together as a well-oiled team to carry out the brake test. If he’s forgotten the tea, the Guard’s on his own. If using loco No.13, one man can do the brake test alone (provided he likes long walks), whereas the BD needs someone in the cab throughout. Then, it’s up to the station to greet the thronging mass of potential passengers. The loco will normally be detached, and used to carry out a track inspection. The driver also unlocks the gate at Apedale Road station, and locks the access road gates to prevent a re-run of the Great Heck accident. Back onto the train, by which time the Guard has hopefully locked all the facing points. Signatures in the necessary places on the railway log, a brake continuity test and we’re away for the day. Trundling up and down all day brings the fare revenue in, not forgetting to wave at the kids, suggest that they come and visit Santa, and arrange shed visits for the older, camera & notebook carrying, kids. The procedure at close of the day is a bit simpler; the train is driven into the shed, and the next loco to be used on the passenger service is attached at the Door end. Drain down the air tanks (to remove condensate which will rot the tanks), search the train for lost passengers and put the keys away. The van has a battery which runs the compressor for the brakes when steam is used. If it’s steam next time, we need to remember to put the battery on charge, and put a Not to be Moved sign on the van. This avoids the Battery Charger Steeplechase, which will bring back memories for those who have worked at BR depots. So, Simples? Not really, but all part of the job to deliver train rides in a safe manner to the public. As ever, get in touch here.