BY TOBY PORTER
Don’t expect Camberwell actress Jenny Agutter to be waving around her red pantaloons.
But the age of steam returns to Waterloo this summer and there should be plenty of Railway Children who fancy a go.
The sound of pistons and hissing vapour will herald the arrival of four-hour locomotive trips through the Surrey Hills or around Windsor, though perhaps without a Fat Controller or Troublesome Trucks to spoil the trip.
There will be a tootin’of the whistle and some steamin’ and a-rollin’ even if Casey Jones won’t beat the throttle and the train will definitely not be the Cannon ball Express.
Instead it will take a more leisurely journey through some of the south-east’s most verdant scenery.
The price-tag of £49 for an adult and £35 for a child are not much different to the cost of similar rail journeys – and with the added benefit that Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has no hand in drawing up the timetable.
The romance of steam returns to Waterloo today with two new services every Tuesday, with journeys to Windsor–the Royal Windsor Steam Express – or the Sunset Steam Express – Through the Surrey Hills.
The first Royal Windsor Steam Express will leave at 8.02am from Platform 19, London Waterloo.
A Champagne brunch will be offered on this service and an open return ticket by regular diesel train will be provided for the return journey. Later departures at 11.10am and 2.10pm are also available.
The Sunset Steam Express will leave at 6pm from Platform 19, London Waterloo, for a four hour journey through Surrey. Drinks and a three-course dinner will be served on the way.
The services are run by The Steam Dreams Rail Co,which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
It has 19,000 passengers on board each year on more than 50 trips and stops at 100 stations across the UK.
Owner David Buck has spent more than three years restoring locomotive the B1 Mayflower but also has old favourites in his fleet such as the Black Fives and Jubilee Class engines – as well as Flying Scotsman.
And the firm has somehow managed to make all its services carbon neutral.
The trips will bring back a bygone era when Britain had an empire and politicians who believe it can be revived weren’t even in short trousers yet.