Railbiking on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway
While many on the Isle of Wight were enjoying the annual music festival, the Isle of Wight Steam Railway was host to a most unusual railway vehicle. A four-seat railbike owned by Bruce Dunton could be seen travelling the line.
The activity of railbiking is very popular across Europe and is promoted as a commercial activity on a number of heritage and disused railway lines.
Bruce who with others has successfully cycled this machine on a number of heritage railway lines both in the UK and on the continent had long held the ambition of pedalling the 10-mile round trip on the Island.
As would be expected, on the chosen day the line was taken under an “absolute possession” by engineers giving the railbike freedom of the line. With the railbike team was Stuart Calvert who was recently appointed Network Rail’s Head of Digital Rail.
The Steam Railway’s General Manager, Peter Vail said
“Whilst it was a bit of fun, we were keen to see how this worked. On arrival it was evident that the contraption was cleverly constructed from scaffolding poles and bits of old mountain bikes. The four-seat machine, with two pedalling, was a rather odd sight.”
The vacant fourth seat was offered to the Steam Railway’s Commercial Manager, Richard Hale. Richard commented
“This was an opportunity not to be missed and having initially occupied one of the passenger seats I was soon persuaded to take to the pedals. There is no denying it was hard work, especially on the inclines which most of our passengers would never notice. The downhill sections were a little more spirited though. The whole experience was great fun and a unique view of our line.”
Would the Isle of Wight Steam Railway ever consider acquiring a fleet of railbikes for general commercial use?
Richard said “never say never!”