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Essential Information

Find out when the activity sessions are, how much it will costs, what equipment you will need before taking part, and learning progression.
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Who are we?

The Downs Light Railway is owned and operated by the Downs Light Railway Trust. We are a registered charity organisation. We work in partnership with The Downs Malvern who are our landowner. Our heritage was born from the The Downs School in the 1920s and our activities continue to involve their pupils from their extra-curricular activities.
The Downs Light Railway is staffed by the Downs Light Railway Trust's trustees and volunteers.

What is the Downs Light Railway?

A unique learning experience for young people through doing, interacting with adults and other children who are younger or older, developing essential life skills that will better prepare them for meaningful and fulfilling careers, while building a knowledge about a cornerstone of national identity and heritage.

The Downs Light Railway means many things to different people. For some it provides the steppingstones towards careers in the science, technology, and engineering industries. For those who thrive on a practical learning, it opens new doors to personal development. To others it is simply a fun and challenging environment to explore new skills and develop railway related interests.

Children aged 7 to 17 can take part on the Downs Light Railway through our out-of-school holiday activity programmes. Pupils from The Downs Malvern can take part through their extra-curricular activity programme. All these activities are open to young people regardless of their ability, gender, or background. It is the taking part that counts!

When are the activity sessions?

Activity Sessions & Courses

Activity sessions are usually between 10:30am to 5pm. During the winter months, the finishing time is brought forwards due to the lack of daylight. These sessions are open to all youth members.
Courses are usually spread across several days or part days for driver training. These sessions are open to all youth members, but are restricted to the individual's skill level and progression status.
The activities list for 2022 can be viewed here.

The Downs Malvern - Saturday Morning Hobbies

The Downs Malvern hobbies are split into two sessions. The first session is between 09:20am and 10:40am. The second session is between 11:10am and 12:30pm.
These sessions are open to pupils of The Downs Malvern only. Hobby sessions are published in the term calendar by The Downs Malvern available from the Parent Hub.

Community Events

Running events are organised ad-hoc. The operating session starts approximately two hours before the event starts and ends one hour after the event finishes. Youth members and adult volunteers are expected to work as a unitary team. Ensuring the railway is setup and closed at the end of the day is an important discipline.

What are the costs?

The Downs Light Railway is an expensive facility to keep running. The Downs Light Railway Trust is not fully funded activity. To cover the railway's entire operating and educational activity costs, the Downs Light Railway Trust balances its expenditure from grant applications, fundraising, donations, and activity fees. The Downs Light Railway Trust aims to keep the activity fees as low as possible and comparable to other youth organisations.

Youth Members

All children involved in the Downs Light Railway are regarded as youth members while participating in our activities. There is currently no annual subscription for youth membership - this is being considered for 2023. Costs and associated membership are charged for each individual session or community event.
The following sessions are open to all children aged between 7 years and 17 years. Children must have completed an induction before taking part. This is essential to ensure that they have the correct protective personal equipment.
General Activities (Per Session)
General Activities (Per Session)£10
Participation on a full day general activity session on the Downs Light Railway.
Driver Training Course | 1 | Blue Necker (Per Session)
Driver Training Course | 1 | Blue Necker (Per Session)£10
Petrol hydraulic locomotive driver training for a half day training session on the Downs Light Railway.
Driver Training Course | 2 | Red Necker (Per Session)
Driver Training Course | 2 | Red Necker (Per Session)£20
Steam locomotive driver training for a full day training session on the Downs Light Railway.
Driver Training Course | 3 | Green Necker (Per Session)
Driver Training Course | 3 | Green Necker (Per Session)£10
Supporting a full day driver training session on the Downs Light Railway. For this course progression, participants will be supporting Stage 2 training session. Imparting their own skills and knowledge through training aims to build up their experience and advanced knowledge in locomotive and railway operations.

The Downs Malvern Pupils

Parents are charged a single fee for hobby participation on a termly basis. This is automatically charged to the children's bill by The Downs Malvern. Cost is based on £5 for a single hobby session, or £7.50 for a double hobby session.

General youth member activities are not part of The Downs Malvern's hobbies and are charged seperately.

External Visits by Schools and Youth Groups

Please contact us for more information.

What equipment is needed?

Everyone involved in the maintenance and operation of the Downs Light Railway must wear a basic level of personal protective equipment (PPE). A common baseline of PPE is essential to ensure that our activities are inclusive to all. This is also essential for our duty of care to ensure risks are as low as reasonably practicable to protect everyone involved.

What do I need to buy?

The following three items of PPE are essential for each individual. These must have the correct safety ratings. Please visit our safety page for the correct ratings.
  • Safety Coveralls - can only be bought from the Downs Light Railway Trust for children.
  • Safety Shoes
  • Safety Rigging Gloves

What if my child does not have the required PPE?

Simply, your child cannot participate in the operation and maintenance activities of the railway.

Shoes are often the most difficult item to source for smaller children. If suitable items cannot be found that fit, then your child will unfortunately have to forfeit taking part until they have grown sufficiently.

What will the DLR provide?

We will provide the specialist and consumable PPE for specific tasks.

Will my child get to drive the trains?

Before hauling a train, every individual needs to undergo training. Our locomotives are complex machines and need an acceptable level of competence to operate them safely. For this reason, we put everyone through a driver training scheme with three stages.

Progression

Learning progression is based on individual ability to absorb and retain information, multi-task and respond timely to evolving situations. Our locomotives are not toys and for some individuals it will take longer to progress than others.

Sometimes our locomotives require servicing or maintenance. This can often take the locomotive out of service for an undetermined period, stopping driver training. For the most part, young people learn how to fix or repair these locomotives. So the lack of operation does not diminish the learning opportunities available.

Stage 1

Stage 1 teaches individuals about railway operation to a basic level, petrol hydraulic locomotive servicing, and driving our petrol hydraulic locomotive. This results in a full pass on petrol hydraulic locomotives and freedom to operate them without close supervision.
Duration - Typically 8 sessions across 3 to 12 months for the average skill level.
Minimum Starting Age - From 7 years old.
Award - Certificate and Blue Neckerchief.

Stage 2

Stage 2 further teaches individuals about railway operation to a more advanced level, steam locomotive servicing, and driving our steam locomotives. This results in a basic pass on steam locomotives and freedom to operate them under close supervision.
Duration - Typically between 12 to 24 months for the average skill level.
Minimum Starting Age - From 9 years old.
Award - Certificate and Red Neckerchief.

Stage 3

Stage 3 is the most advanced level. It builds on experience, knowledge, competence, and discipline. This results in a full pass on steam locomotives and the ability to operate steam locomotives without close supervision.
Duration - Typically between 2 to 3 years for the average skill level.
Minimum Starting Age - From 13 years old.
Award - Certificate and Green Neckerchief.

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