Step aboard the footplate for a fantastic day of diesel train driving. Learn about railway operations and take the controls as you journey through Ecclesbourne Valley.
- Matlock (Derbyshire)
- Gift Voucher valid for 1 Participant
As is often the case with trains, if you know someone who's into them, they're most likely really into them. When trainspotting is just not enough any more, give the gift of a lifetime and treat a lucky loved one to the Diesel Train Driving Experience in Derbyshire, guaranteed to be a truly unforgettable day.
Located at the heritage Wirksworth railway station, you'll join an expert train driver aboard the lovingly restored diesel railcar, ready for a full day of locomotive action. The instructor has a wealth of knowledge, and is on hand to answer any questions you may have about the history, function and controls of the train - so be sure to test their expertise! You'll spend the morning learning how to operate a heritage diesel railcar and have a go at driving, before breaking for a delicious lunch in the Pullman Buffet Car. The afternoon consists of further tuition and driving, this time in a heritage main line diesel locomotive - make sure you take a moment to admire the stunning Ecclesbourne Valley scenery as you chug through the countryside - bliss!
The Full Day Diesel Train Driving in Derbyshire is a hugely enjoyable day out and makes a fabulously unique experience gift for train enthusiasts, or those who just love trying new things. Treat a loved one to an experience day they'll remember for years to come!
The Diesel Train Driving Experience in Derbyshire is available on weekdays throughout the year.
Friday 20th April
Friday 11th May
Friday 22nd June
Friday 7th September
Please enquire with our customer service team with dates that you would like to go and we can check if there is availability.
All participants must be aged 18 or over.
You must be physically able to climb into a train from ground level, unassisted.
Please indicate any food allergies upon booking a date with the centre.
Experience Duration: 06:00
Time at Venue: 06:30
This is a full day train driving experience, lasting approximately 6 hours in total.
You will need to arrive by 9:30 for a 10:00 start, and can expect to return for 16:00.
Participants: The Diesel Train Driving Experience - Derbyshire is for 1 participant.
Max Group Size: 4
Spectators Allowed on Site: Yes
The diesel train driving experiences will be run in groups of 4 - the driving time will be shared between each of the participants.
Each participant may choose to bring 1 spectator along with them, if they so wish.
Spectators are able to ride on the train and purchase food from the buffet menu.
Please dress according to the weather. You'll need comfortable, sturdy footwear and old clothes that you don't mind getting dirty.
This experience is able to go ahead in all weather conditions, other than heave snow.
There's something truly extraordinary about driving a train and - if you haven't done so yet - you'll definitely want to after reading our interview with Ecclesbourne Valley Railway. Not only will you be driving a giant diesel train, you'll also travel through picturesque countryside and enjoy a delicious lunch on board. Keep reading to find out more about this truly exceptional experience.
Q1: Firstly, to really understand the success behind Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, we’d love to hear the history and how you’ve grown into a Heritage Diesel Railcar Centre of Excellence?
We’re proud to be a Heritage Railway Centre of Excellence. The railway is host to one of the largest collections of 1950s diesel railcars in the country with a variety of unusual and interesting railcars for the public to enjoy. Our first railcar arrived when the railway was only just beginning, back in 2004 and since then we have built up our collection to include rare and unique trains such as the Derby Lightweight single car called “Iris” and the special Class 119 W51073. “Iris” and the two classmates which are being restored by our volunteers at Wirksworth are the sole surviving of their type now and are locally significant as they were built just down the road in Derby during the 1950s. The Class 119 was also restored by volunteers and is special, as it is also one of only three surviving coaches of that class and features a rather luxurious First Class area. The young volunteers who worked tirelessly on the project were rewarded with a visit from HRH Prince Charles in October 2015 who met them whilst riding on the train they had restored.
Q2: For anyone who’s never driven a diesel train before, why would you recommend this experience?
I think it is every boy’s dream to drive a train! They’re big, heavy and exciting machines to be around. Diesel trains of this age evoke memories of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s when many people travelled to school on them. It is all about the nostalgia.
Q3: From feedback of customers, what is the highlight of this train driving experience?
Customers have said that the initial excitement of getting in the driving cab for the first time is fantastic. There’s a real sense of anticipation, as you wait to board and an even greater feeling of power when you start to move.
Q4: During the journey, what are the most attractive viewpoints you’d expect to witness?
The Ecclesbourne Valley features beautiful views as you make your way down the valley. After leaving Wirksworth there are open fields, the river and not forgetting the wildlife. Watch those pheasants! My favourite point is near to the former Hazelwood Station site where the river runs adjacent to the track on one side and you have stunning views of the rolling hills on the other. It is important to watch where you’re going though if you’re driving!
Q5: We’ve heard you serve a delicious lunch in the Pullman Buffet Car, but can you tell us a bit more about what to expect and why the food is such a hit with your customers?
The Buffet Car at Wirksworth is a set of converted railway carriages themselves so you really get an unusual experience whilst you’re having your lunch. There’s no getting away from the railway during the day!
Q6: What is your most memorable moment, on one of your train driving experiences?
We have had all sorts of people try their hand on one of our experiences including Sir Patrick McLoughlin who was Secretary of State for Transport at the time and senior management at a local bus company. Teaching somebody important to drive a train is always satisfying!
Thank you very much to Leigh Gration from Ecclesbourne Valley Railway for answering our questions about your wonderful Diesel Train Driving Experience. It's amazing to hear that you're ensuring memories of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s remain active throughout today's world.
During the Diesel Train Driving Experience in Derbyshire, each participant will get approximately 2 hours driving. The times which the are not driving, they will still be in the front with the driver, watching what is going on.