The preserved ‘Hastings diesel’ train took passengers from Hastings to Gloucestershire last Saturday (6th July) for a trip on the Dean Forest Railway.
This was just a fortnight after a ‘Black 5’ steam engine visited Hastings.
The diesel train, which is maintained by volunteers at West Marina depot in St Leonards, makes a small number of trips each year, and brings back a touch of nostalgia to today’s railway.
Although still looking modern, the ‘Hastings diesel’ has now spent more time in preservation than working for British Railways. It was introduced in 1957 and was withdrawn in 1986 when the Hastings line was electrified.
The Hastings diesels were specially built for the Hastings line, with narrow bodies so that they could fit through the narrow tunnels between Hastings and Tonbridge. The Victorian builders skimped on the tunnels, lining them with only four bricks, rather than the required six.
The tunnels then started to collapse, and had to be strengthened with extra layers of bricks, so making them narrower. When the Hastings line was electrified in the early 1980s the expense of building special trains could not be justified, so the tunnels were reduced to single track, which they remain to this day.
The image here shows Hastings diesel 1001 leaving Hastings for the Forest of Dean on Saturday 6th July, with its distinctive diesel exhaust clearly visible.