BREAKDOWNS in steam locomotives at the Severn Valley Railway (SVR) have forced the Worcestershire tourist attraction to temporarily use more historic trains from its heritage diesel fleet.

The railway has had to increase its reliance on diesels to help out with timetabled trains until the steam locomotives are repaired.

SVR has apologised to passengers on its website for the “short-term” shortage of steam trains, which is likely to continue for about two weeks.

David Mee, SVR visitor services manager, explained: “What we’re seeing is a combination of mechanical setbacks coming together at the same time – the Murphy’s Law principle that ‘if something can go wrong, it will’.

“In this instance we have had to withdraw one engine because it had some broken springs and the lead time for delivery of replacements parts, we’re told, could be some weeks.

“We’ve had to remove the wheels of another engine to cure a flat spot, while another GWR loco, No.7812 Erlestoke Manor, was out of traffic for three days for a routine boiler washout and general maintenance.”

Mr Mee added the latest addition to SVR’s trains, the former BR Southern Region Battle of Britain Pacific No 34053 Sir Keith Park, was going through “running-in” trials and could not be put on passenger trains until it had been “properly proven”.

He said two other engines were in the final stages of overhaul repair and a guest steam engine, ‘Pannier tank’ locomotive No. 3650 from Didcot Railway Centre, will be running to help “bolster the steam fleet”.

“With just a little bit of fortune on our side, within two weeks we could have five or six steam locomotives available for a timetable, which actually needs only three to operate but, over the last week, fortune hasn’t been with us,” he added.

“This kind of situation is a very rare occurrence on the SVR but the diesels give us the breathing space to finish the running repairs and overhauls to several steam locomotives. “Everyone in the locomotive department is working very hard to get us back to normal.”