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Unique chance to travel on “Caroline” in aid of charity!

Our “Sweet Caroline” rail tour is on track for Wednesday 11 May 2022 following inevitable delays due to COVID-19 over the past couple of years.

Image courtesy of Steve Poole

We are delighted to be able to offer one seat on the never to be repeated rail tour to raise funds for charity.  Those of you familiar with the story behind the naming of inspection saloon 975025 as “Caroline” will know that the saloon was named after a member of NR staff who sadly lost their life to cancer – in recognition of that we will be donating all funds raised from the auction to Cancer Research UK.

The experience

975205 “Caroline” is unique in being equipped with a control desk for a pushing locomotive.  This permits guests to ride in a comfortable saloon environment while looking out of the large front-facing windows alongside the driver.  No other vehicle on the network offers this, and the experience of seeing the rail network from such a vantage point is unrivalled for the enthusiast.

Furthermore the saloon is equipped with its own catering facilities – full catering will be provided onboard.

The winner will also receive an exclusive goody bag with a selection of mementoes of the day!

Route and traction

The route and traction have now been approved and we can exclusively reveal that “Caroline” will be propelled by 37418 “An Comunn Gaidhealach”. 

Image by Jeremy Segrott and adapted under a Creative Commons License

The route will see “Caroline” taken through Burton-on-Trent onto the WCML at Lichfield to Crewe before heading along the freight only route through Middlewich to Northwich.  The tour will then head through Hale and Altrincham before heading East towards the Peak District.  We will head across to Edale and the Hope Valley line before coming off down towards Chesterfield. From Chesterfield we will head south passing Toton before arriving back at Derby.

To cap the day off LORAM have very kindly agreed to show guests around their facility at the former Railway Technical Centre in Derby which is the home of “Caroline”.

Timing of the day

The tour will leave Derby station around 0900 and we expect the tour of the RTC to be complete by approx. 1600.

How to enter

We are asking for sealed bids by email by midday (12pm BST) on Wednesday 4 May 2022. Just send us an email with your bid and the highest bid will be selected after the deadline for entries. To enter please send an email with your bid to: charity@revolutiontrains.com (you should receive an automatic reply as confirmation that your bid has been received).

Minimum bid £100 and the amount to be transferred to Revolution Trains by 5 May 2022.

Many thanks to Network Rail and LORAM for all their help in arranging this special day.

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Sweet Caroline…rail tour draw and winners!

We spent some time trying to work out the fairest method for selecting winners for places on our exclusive Sweet Caroline rail tour and the best our boffins could come up with was to use Google’s random number generator. Each purchase of 975025/Caroline was assigned an exclusive number according to the date the order was placed. Google’s number generator did its magic and we cross-referenced the draw numbers with order numbers.

You can watch the video of the draw and a bit more of an explanation below (or you can skip to the end if you prefer to just see the winners rather than listen to me waffle on!).

Sweet Caroline rail tour draw for places

We’ll now make contact with all the winners to check their availability. The tour is provisionally booked for 19 May 2021 (subject to any coronavirus restrictions) starting and finishing at Derby. Thanks to everyone that has purchased a model so far – you can still pre-order a model from our webshop.

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It’s Sweet CaroliNe!

After an enthusiastic response from modellers Revolution is delighted to confirm that we are offering the amazingly versatile former Southern Region General Manager’s Saloon 975025 “Caroline” in N gauge as well as 00.

37421 with Caroline at Lichfield Trent Valley in July 2020. Photo courtesy Simon Cartlidge-Swain.

Caroline was converted from the buffet car of a former Hastings unit in the late 1960s, as a saloon for the General Manager of the Southern Region of BR to entertain VIP guests, but was also used by the engineers for line inspections and assessments. Originally numbered TDB975025 and with a kitchen and catering on board, it rapidly became known as the “gin palace” and an invitation on board became something of a golden ticket.

975025 with a group of County Council officials during the 1980s. Photo Courtesy Gordon Pettit, former Southern Region General Manager.

The secret of the saloon’s success is its versatility; being derived from Hastings line stock – which was built to a tighter loading gauge than most BR vehicles due to clearance issues on that line – it can travel on virtually any part of the network, and with driving controls can be both loco hauled and propelled and – almost uniquely – allows invited guests to see the railway from a driver’s point of view.

975025 at Clapham Junction in Network Southeast livery. Photo courtesy Arran Aird.

In the late 1990s, after the end of BR and the demise of Network Southeast, TDB975025 was purchased by Belmond Pullman but little used, until being acquired by Serco and refurbished, given the name “Caroline” and repainted into dark green with yellow ends. Since then Caroline has been largely associated with DRS traction.

Caroline in present day livery being propelled by DRS’s 37409 in heritage large-logo livery. Photo courtesy Steve Poole.

Caroline now resides at Derby with LORAM/Network Rail and is widely used for track inspections, line repair assessments and still, occasionally, to entertain VIPs. The saloon is about to be fitted with toilet retention tanks, suggesting her future on the mainline is assured for some years to come. Caroline has also been earmarked for the national collection once her service life is over.

Revolution research trip to Derby

Revolution’s N gauge model of Caroline will offer similar specifications as the 00 model, with lots of separate parts, power pick ups, kinematic couplers, directional headlights, search lights and tail lights (or illuminated headcode boxes depending on the era) and interior detailing with working saloon lights. CAD for the 00 model is almost complete and we anticipate CAD for the N version will be shown very soon.

Caroline 00 CAD – still under development

Initially we are offering the same three variants as in 00: BR Blue grey with headcode boxes and 3rd rail power pick-ups, BR Network South East with headcode boxes and 3rd rail power pick ups, and Network Rail green with LED light clusters and high intensity headlight. Please note the graphics below are purely indicative of the livery, and not based on the model CAD designs.

Caroline offers a complete train-in-a-box, and can be both hauled and propelled.

The early-bird price of £115 is available until October 31st, at which time the price will go up to the standard pre-order price of £130. In addition, anyone ordering before September 11th will join our existing 00 customers in being entered into a prize draw to win a place on our ‘Sweet Caroline’ railtour next year (which will be drawn and announced the weekend of 12/13 September)

The model is expected to be ready to ship in early 2021, though as ever delivery schedules can alter due to circumstances outside Revolution’s control.