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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Epping Ongar Steam Railway Service to be Resumed from May 2012

It's been 150 years since the Great Eastern Railway formed the
Epping Ongar Railway. Now the longest heritage railway in Essex, will be resuming steam and heritage diesel hauled passenger trains on the branch. Volunteers have been working towards restoring on the track, signals, buildings and rolling stock on the former end of the London Underground Central Line. Starting with a special weekend from Friday 25th May 2012 the railway will be running services again.

The main locomotive
The main locomotive by IanVisits
Then, regular services will run from every weekend and Bank Holidays (including the Jubilee bank holidays) until the summer, then daily during the Olympics at nearby Stratford.

They were indeed running today
Photo by IanVisits

The railway intends to operate steam hauled passenger services between Ongar and North Weald, a diesel shuttle from North Weald into Epping Forest, and a heritage bus service connecting to Epping LUL Station and High Street.

Poster showing Epping Ongar Line by Alan Perryman

The last Epping-Ongar service ran in 1994.  At the time when passenger services were suspended, the line was only carrying a mere 80 passengers a day. The train that ran the final London Underground service on the line, a three-car unit of 1960 stock, has been preserved by Cravens Heritage Trains.  After a variety of special opening days, at the end of 2007, the railway was sold to a new private owner who was committed to bring steam back to the line.  Thanks to the owner the hard work of volunteers this will now be taking place.

London Transport - Central line extension leaflet - 21 November 1948
London Transport - Central line extension leaflet - 21 November 1948 by mikeyashworth

The photo above shows a leaflet issued by London Transport for when the Underground was originally extended on the Central line - west to West Ruislip and eastwards to Loughton on the way to Epping & Ongar.

Further details of timetables and gala opening weekend fares will be released. Tickets will be available shortly on this website or follow @eorailway on Twitter to keep up to date. Advanced booking for the first weekend is strongly recommended. Many thanks to Shell for telling me about this.

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