It is with deep regret that we have to cancel our planned diesel gala event planned for January 6th, 2024.

This is due to unprecedented levels of flooding in Downpatrick town and the surrounding countryside, which you may have seen on the TV and online news.

An overview of the station and wider railway area showing the extent of the flooding. [Lecale drone video/photos]

This is the worst flooding the railway and the town has ever experienced, and the damage is significant. All of our diesel locomotives and railcars have been submerged in water for some time. This means water may have entered axleboxes, traction motors and other aspects of the locomotives. It will take us many months to restore the locomotives, and we are braced for very bad news because it is possible that some may be beyond our ability to repair. We will not know until the waters fully subside and full inspections can take place. This all takes time.

Water level on the bogies of diesel loco 146, which rose above the axleboxes and traction motors

146, G617, A39R, 80 class power car 90, and the Wickham railcar have all been in deep water, and it is simply not possible for them to be ready in January. Additionally, power car 69 in the workshop, under restoration, has also been submerged. The steam locos are also partly submerged but are not as complex to recover as more ‘modern’ traction is.

The high water mark on loco G617

450 class railcar 458 has been luckier, and escaped water rising above the axleboxes everywhere except the driving trailer cab end, but we still need to inspect it and dry it out fully to prevent possible major damage.

On top of this, all of the track outside of the station area remains deeply submerged and we are unable to inspect it and ascertain what work is needed, or if any major damage has occurred. 

Tracks outside the station premises under deep floodwater

As if that wasn’t enough, the locomotive sheds, workshop and carriage gallery have also been under deep water, 4-5 feet at times. Spares, tools, and all manner of other things we need for the railway have been damaged or destroyed. Damage will run into tens if not hundreds of thousands of pounds.

With all of the above in mind, we have no other option but to cancel the diesel gala. We are truly very sorry about this.

Please be patient, as the refund process takes time and we are very busy with the clean up and administration at this very difficult time.

Our volunteers are heartbroken at what can only be described as a disaster for the railway, and while we are determined to build back and open again, we have a massive task ahead of us and need all the support and understanding the wider community can offer.

 We have faced major hurdles before and have overcome these. With the hard work of our volunteers, hopefully we can do the same once again and in due course we will see a return to better times.

 Thank you for your understanding and support at this time.

The high water mark on the battery boxes of an 80 class power car