Driver experience on 427

427 The Buffs Driver Experience

You can learn how to drive our 36ton vintage ex-army diesel shunter ‘427 The Buffs’ via our driver experience programme! The cost is 199 pounds for a half day of 1 to 1 instruction. After expenses, proceeds go to the maintenance of 427. To discuss the possibility of a driver experience, telephone

Jill Norris on 01227 371140 or email

This unedited letter from a previous client explains the day’s activities:-

My Big Day Out

I am going to do a very strange thing and share my exhilarating BDO with the community as it is something on our doorstep that many have possibly never considered.

On Tuesday 14 August I arrived at East Kent Railway Trust (EKRT) for my Railway Experience Day. It began at 9.00 with a filling cooked breakfast at Colonel’s Cafe. I then began my induction to the protocols and health and safety requirements of track, trackside and trains. I was able to change the points to ensure the train would run in the right direction and had a detailed explanation of how the system works. Then it was prep-my-engine time.

I was given the task of doing all the usual things you would expect to do to your car except this does not happen at ground level. (I must have climbed up and down that engine multiple times during the day). I was amazed to be told that the engine of the No 427 East Kent Buffs Ruston and Hornby locomotive was a mega 275bhp, with 6 valves and held 130 gallons of diesel. Imagine taking that to Morrisons! So many safety checks take place they are too numerous to mention but finally there I was in the cab, points in the right direction and hands on the levers ready to rock and roll.

What an experience! Off we went to the first level crossing gate which I was able to open keeping traffic at bay — what power! I then took my engine to Eythorne whilst learning the meaning of signs, speed restrictions and when to blow the whistle. I took this engine all the way to the end of Wigmore Lane (remember where the bridge used to be). Going back was even more exciting as I could ‘rev’ it up to 20 mph. The brakes were a challenge but I finally got the hang of not shooting my cabin crew into a big heap in the corner.

I was given dinner in the Colonel’s Cafe before family and friends arrived. They were escorted to a carriage in the diesel electric with me driving the 427 up to the buffers to be coupled to the carriages ready to pull my guests to Eythorne. They thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience saying they were treated like royalty by the volunteers of EKRT. Having dropped my guests off it was time for me to return to lock gates and do all the closing down duties.

I ended my day absolutely whacked but elated. Every minute of it was fantastic, exciting, informative and rewarding. Yes I had to pay for it; they are a charity; but every penny was worthwhile. The volunteers who made this possible even took a massive amount of photos for me to commemorate my day. I would recommend this to anyone who loves engines, mechanics, trains or just having a completely different experience.

I am completely hooked and hope this will stir your interest too.

Tizzy (aged between 18 -100).