Vintage rail experience with Whitehead locomotive

Whitehead Excursion Station.
Whitehead Excursion Station.

Fans of vintage rail travel will be taking to the tracks this summer in a locomotive which was restored in Whitehead.

The Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s Portrush Flyer steam train will be running excursions to the seaside town on three Sundays in July and August.

Passengers will travel in vintage carriages from the 1960s and 1970s behind the beautifully restored, 103-ton, blue locomotive, Merlin.

Merlin was re-launched last year at the end of a 10-year engineering overhaul carried out at the workshops of the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland in Whitehead.

A lot of the work was carried out by volunteers, earning the Society a coveted Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service earlier this year.

RPSI operations officer Mervyn Darragh said: “We are pleased to be able to share our wonderful steam train the Portrush Flyer again. These annual trains are the high point of a great year for our Society.

“The Flyer will start from the RPSI depot at Whitehead Excursion Station, picking up at Carrickfergus and Belfast Central en-route to Portrush and we love to see the passengers on the train waving at the holidaymakers on the beach as we weave along the coast for our arrival at Portrush.

“Each train will offer passengers travel in lovingly restored carriages, the opportunity for children to get close to the steam engine and talk to the driver and fireman, and a relaxing journey through city suburbs, leafy countryside and North Atlantic seascapes to Portrush and back.

“We’ll be operating this train on July 26, August 9 and a final time on August 23.”

The Portrush Flyer departs Belfast Central at 11.30am sharp on July 26, August 9 and August 23 with pre-pickups at Whitehead Excursion Station (9:35am) and Carrickfergus (9:50am).

Return tickets to Portrush cost £22 adult, £15 child and £66 family (two adults and two children). Tickets can be purchased in advance by telephone or call-and-collect from Belfast Welcome Centre on 028 9024 6609 or online from www.steamtrainsireland.com