Steam and Diesel Driver Experience
Have you ever dreamt about taking to the footplate of a steam or diesel locomotive, feeling the power of the engine as it hauls a train along a full size railway? We can now offer you the opportunity to drive an engine from our home fleet, getting a truly authentic experience as you control the locomotive and train, complete with coaches behind, tackling our challenging gradients, obeying the signals and stopping at platforms.
Diesel Driver Experience
For £375 you'll be able to drive an ex-main line diesel locomotive a total of 16 miles whilst hauling some of our restored carriages. Your day will start at North Weald where you will meet your Driving Instructor and proceed to the locomotive, where you will be shown the controls and be given an explanation of what they do.
You will then first drive the locomotive to Coopersale and back to Ongar, during which you'll initially drive the locomotive light engine (on its own) to get a feel for the loco brake. Upon completion of your first trip you will then hook up to our coaches at North Weald and tackle some of the longest and steepest gradients in preservation as you take the train to Ongar and back. Your experience will last for approximately 3-4hrs after commencing.
Should you choose to bring more than one guest we, can accommodate them in our coaching stock when it is attached to YOUR train. For the duration of your experience, it will be YOUR loco. You will not share this experience with anyone else which means you can have someone of your choosing accompany you in the cab while you drive YOUR loco.
Diesel traction not your preference?
Try one of our steam experience courses instead!
Steam Driver Experience
Costing just £395, you will first be shown around the engine, familiarising yourself with the various components, before bringing her up to pressure and venturing out onto the running line, all whilst under the watchful eye of one our experienced crews.
As part of your experience you will learn the art of 'firing' a steam loco as well as mastering the driving controls. Whilst one participant is firing, the other is driving. Later on you change roles. in this way you take both turns at driving and firing for each other to work as a steam 'crew'.
These courses are limited in availibility; check for dates below; these courses normally sell out well in advance so get your booking in quickly!
What You Get
All participants of our experience courses will not just get to drive a locomotive but will receive the following as well:
- Certificate of completion
- DVD of the railway's history
- Visit to North Weald engine shed
- Visit to North Weald signal box
- EOR Diesel Department Mug
- EOR Pen and Bookmark
- A guaranteed good time
Why not purchase a giftcard for our driver experiences? These make an ideal unusual birthday or christmas present!
Giftcards can be purchased from our online shop.
Dates for 2020
Diesel Driver Experience
- 3 April
- 19 June
- 3 July
- 24 July
- 4 September
- 2 October
- 9 October
- 16 October
- 23 October
These courses are always popular and sell out quickly. We may be able to add additional dates. Why not sign up for our newsletter on the homepage, or follow us on social media to be among the first to hear when dates are announced!
Planned locomotives for each date are to be announced. These are subject to availability and we reserve the right to substitute an alternative locomotive from our fleet should the need arise.
Steam Driver Experience
- 27 April
- 6 July
- 7 September
- 21 September
- 5 October
- 19 October
These courses are always popular and sell out quickly. we may be able to add additional dates. Why not sign up for our newsletter on the homepage, or follow us on social media to be among the first to hear when dates are announced!
It's always worth contacting us to enquire about additional dates or our future programme.
Booking for Driver Experiences
Use the booking menu below. If you'd like pay by cheque or bank transfer then please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you're buying this as a gift can you please provide the participant's name and send a note of your booking to email@example.com and we'll take care of the rest. Online booking closes 7 days before each experience day - please contact Marco directly on firstname.lastname@example.org if you're looking for a last minute booking - we occasionally have spaces available and it's worth trying.
We look forward to seeing you on the footplate!
Course participants must be at least 18 years old and moderately physically fit, as they need to be able to gain access to and work within the confines of a locomotive cab. We do not apply an upper age limit; as long as participants are reasonably fit, agile, mentally capable and able to hear, understand and comply with instructions fully. If you have any concerns about this, we ask that you contact us to discuss prior to booking a course. This is to ensure everyone's safety and prevent possibly damaging our historic locomotives.
Full terms and conditions for our driver experiences can be found here.
Jeremy McCarthy; Diesel Experience:
"I started the engine and we set off, carefully moving out of North Weald on our way to the terminus at Ongar. The route is interesting and there are two footpaths crossing the track, both of which require a sounding of the whistle. There is a constant speed limit; I had to concentrate really hard to keep within this, and my instructor made sure I did so. On reaching Ongar, we moved to the other end of the locomotive, and returned to North Weald.
Next, a new challenge: for my second trip, the locomotive was hitched up to some carriages, and once again we set off for Ongar. Now that the carriages had been coupled up to the engine, it felt a lot heavier, and much more power was needed to negotiate the gradients between North Weald and Ongar, but I still had to keep within the speed limit.
When we returned to North Weald, I was very ready for the tea, which was waiting for me in the Signal Box. Mission completed!"
You can see a video from one of our driver experience participants below.