Steam Driver Experience

Spa Valley Railway

Welcome to our Steam Driver Experience page where you can book to live that childhood dream!

We offer three types of steam driving experience at the Spa Valley Railway, Bronze 'Pilot Valve', Silver 'Second Valve' and Gold 'Pulled Right Up', the titles of our experiences so called after various driving positions on a steam locomotive.

Driver for a Fiver!

Ever fancied just having a little go at the controls of a steam locomotive at the fraction of the price? Well on selected special events we operate 'Driver for a Fiver' and you can have a go at handling a locomotive at Eridge or Tunbridge Wells West stations.

It is, as the name suggests, just a Fiver (£5)!

Bronze Experience - 'Pilot Valve' (2018 onwards)

For just £275* per person we offer you the chance to drive one of our steam locomotives 'Light Engine' (on its own) under the instruction of one of our experienced drivers from Tunbridge Wells West to Eridge and return, a distance of approximately 10 miles.

You will start your visit at Tunbridge Wells West, please arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the time shown on the ticket, your experience will last for approximately 2 hours.

Includes:

  • Drive of the steam locomotive from Tunbridge Wells West to Eridge & return on its own, approx 7 miles driving.
  • Free Spa Valley Railway Guide book
  • Presentation certificate

These experiences usually take place on selected weekends throughout the year, due to the costs involved in using a steam engine a minimum of 4 must be sold to allow the experiences to take place so tell your friends! We reserve the right to cancel or alter the dates listed if we do not receive enough bookings prior to the experience taking place, a full refund will be given. 

Please note that bronze experiences are for one participant only and we cannot accommodate any guests on these days.

*Visiting locomotives may be subject to a higher charge for any driver experience. 


Silver Experience - 'Second Valve'

For just £500 per person we offer you the chance to share the driving of one of our steam locomotives with a rake of carriages from Tunbridge Wells West to Groombridge return, a total of 14 miles on the footplate of which 7 will actually be spent driving. During your silver experience you will also get to undertake the role of guard when on board the train & signalman in Groombridge Signal Box for run-round movements.

Our silver experience is open to four participants per day, commencing at 09:00 from Tunbridge Wells West. Upon arrival at our station you will meet your host for the day in our ticket hall, and after an initial safety briefing is given, there will be a guided tour of our engine shed. As the time draws ever closer you will be taken to the locomotive and split into pairs, one pair going onto the locomotive and the other to the train. 

The first pair will share the driving over two return trips to Groombridge, whilst the second pair will be riding on the train, getting to experience life as a train Guard and as a Signalman, operating Groombridge Signal Box for the run-round movements. 

We break for lunch (not included) for around 1hr, after which the pairs will swap around, the day then finishing at approximately 16:00. 

Includes: 

  • Shared drive of the steam locomotive from Tunbridge Wells West to Groombridge & return with carriages, approx 7 miles driving, 14 miles on the footplate. 
  • Free Spa Valley Railway Guide book 
  • Presentation certificate 
  • Guided tour of our Engine Shed at Tunbridge Wells West 
  • Visit to Groombridge Signal Box 
  • Complementary ticket for one guest to ride on the train.
  • These experiences usually take place on selected weekends throughout the year however due to the costs involved in using a steam engine a minimum of 3 must be sold to allow the experiences to take place so tell your friends! We reserve the right to cancel or alter the dates listed if we do not receive enough bookings prior to the experience taking place, a full refund will be given.

Please note you DO NOT have to complete a bronze driver experience to be able to book on any other type of driving experience at the Spa Valley Railway.


Gold Experience - 'Pulled Right Up'

This is where you take control of the locomotive for the whole day, this is priced at £1,999 and is only available upon request to our General Manager here.

Includes:

  • Driving of the steam locomotive from Tunbridge Wells West to Groombridge & return with carriages, approx 28 miles driving*.
  • Free Spa Valley Railway Guide book
  • Presentation certificate
  • Guided tour of our Engine Shed at Tunbridge Wells West
  • Visit to Groombridge Signal Box
  • Complementary ticket for up to four guests to ride on the train.

*This experience can be shared with up to 8 people, each driving for 3 miles of the line.

Gold experiences can be the ideal team building day or corporate event for your company so contact us today to discuss details and to book, meeting rooms and lunch can be provided if arranged in advance!

Please note you DO NOT have to complete a bronze driver experience to be able to book on any other type of driving experience at the Spa Valley Railway.


Please note the following/terms and conditions applicable to ALL Driver Experiences:

  • Participants must be aged 18 or over and in good health.
  • All steam or diesel locomotives and units are subject to availability.
  • Please note that bronze experiences are for one participant only and we cannot accommodate any guests on these days.
  • You or the participant must be able to climb a 6ft vertical ladder to gain access to the locomotives footplate.
  • You must not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Non-flammable clothing that covers both arms and legs plus strong footwear are required.
  • We recommend a boiler suit and steel toe capped boots.
  • The Spa Valley reserves the right to cancel or suspend a driver experience if the participant is suspected of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs or is seen to be physically not fit enough to undertake the experience.
  • Please do bring a camera if you wish!
  • We reserve the right to alter the contents of a driver experience without prior warning, the haulage of a train is not guaranteed in the event of failures.
  • We reserve the right to change locomotives without prior warning for whatever reason, this may be due to failure. 
  • Please make sure you arrive 15 minutes prior to your experience commencing.
  • Locomotives or units are all subject to availability, they are over 50yrs old and so from time to time suffer failures, we therefore reserve the right to alter the locomotive used on any driver experience be it steam or diesel.
  • We must sell a minimum number of steam driver experiences per time to justify their running so tell your friends, details of numbers above.

Booking information

You MUST bring your physical printed or e-ticket with you on the day to show the locomotive crew, therefore if you select an e-ticket please ensure you print it off and bring it with you on the day, you must also adhere to our terms & conditions and wear the correct clothing/boots for the experience. 

Note that a £10 admin fee applies to all booking alterations.

For our full refund, cancellations and alterations please see here.

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