• Drive a steam train experience in Staffordshire
  • At the controls of steam train
  • Learn to drive a steam train
  • train driving experience in the Churnet Valley


Make the dream come true by driving a gorgeous steam locomotive in Staffordshire with our friends at the Churnet Valley Railway. With three course options to choose from, you are right on track to find the perfect railway experience day for you!

From: £299.00

What are my 3 experience day options?

Steam Engine Regulator Course: £299.00

– Personalised 1:1 tuition on board the locomotive
– 23 miles of unforgettable train driving
– A total footplate experience of between one and two hours
– Personalised certificate
– Commemorative polo shirt

Steam Engine Top Link Course: £499.00

– Expert 1:1 tuition alternating between driving and firing
– 23 miles of memory making locomotive glory
– Bring up to six guests who may ride in the carriages whilst you drive
– A total time of between two to three hours
– Personalised certificate
– Commemorative polo shirt
– Membership of the North Staffordshire Railway Company

Steam Engine Cauldon Lowe Course: £999.00

– Immersive 1:1 tuition alternating between driving and firing duties
– 41 miles of peerless locomotive memories
– Breakfast and lunch will be provided
– Bring up to six guests who may ride in the carriages whilst you drive
– A total experience time of around six hours
– Personalised certificate
– Commemorative polo shirt
– Membership of the North Staffordshire Railway Company

What can I expect on the day?

Be prepared to take some stunning scenery from a perspective few get to enjoy – from the cab of a vintage steam locomotive!

Depending on your choice of course (we have three to choose from), you will either drive a loco or drive a loco whilst pulling carriages. Each experience starts with a safety briefing and then it’s time to climb the ladder up into the cab where your dreams are about to come true.

On the Regulator Course, you’ll receive 1:1 instruction from our expert staff as you enjoy the thrill of being at the controls of 135 tons of steam engine for around 12 miles of track. If you opt for the Toplink Course, not only do you get an additional 11 miles of railway glory, but you can invite six guests along for a ride in the carriages with you as their driver! And for those who go for the Cauldon and Lowe Course, well you’ll be in for an unforgettable six hours stoking and driving an impressive 41 miles of track, including some of the steepest gradients on our track. You too can have six guests enjoy the gorgeous countryside rolls by.

Once back at the station, you will:

  • Explore the railway museum
  • Visit the loco yard
  • Be awarded your commemorative Certificate
  • Receive your Churnet Valley Railway polo shirt
  • Be granted membership to the North Staffordshire Railway Company (Toplink & Cauldon and Lowe participants)

When and where is it available?

These driving experiences are available on selected weekdays and weekends right through the year.

They all depart and finish at Cheddleton Station in Staffordshire, which is located between Stoke-On-Trent and Ashbourne on the A52 (see map lower down on the page).

Churnet Valley Railway

How do I make a booking?

Once you’ve decided that our Staffordshire location is the perfect choice for your steam train adventure, simply hit the ‘Make A Booking’ button which will take you to our booking partner.

When you make a booking you will receive a voucher for your train driving day, which you will have a full 12 months to use – particularly handy if you’re buying this as a gift for someone else.

You can choose to either have the voucher delivered online as an eVoucher, or if you prefer a free luxury gift box can be sent under plain packaging (you can personalise both). Whichever method you prefer, you’ll find booking your train driving day with us is fast, easy and painless.

Who is it suitable for?

Our steam engine driving days are suitable for anyone over the age of 18. The only physical requirement is the agility to be able to climb up into the cab via the ladder.

With regards to clothing, we strongly recommend some sturdy footwear, long sleeves and trousers and preferably something you don’t mind getting a little dirty as this very much a hands on experience!

Can anyone come along to watch?

Your friends and family are welcome to join you on your visit. If you are completing the Regulator course they will be able to visit the museum and treat themselves to refreshments or a meal in our award winning tearooms.

If you are undertaking either the Toplinks or Cauldon and Lowe courses, you may invite up to six guests to enjoy your special day with you by riding in the carriages with you as their driver.

Further Information

Capture the Golden Age of Rail!

Climb aboard a trip of pure nostalgia, utter romance and sheer beauty on a heritage steam locomotive as it winds and climbs through the Churnet Valley. Even better is that on this journey of a lifetime, you’re not going to be just a passenger, you’re going to be the driver!

With three options to choose from, we are confident that our train driving experiences in Staffordshire will reward your senses in a way that only the charm of a bygone era can.

The Regulator Course:

This engine only option will see you getting right into the thick of the action with professional one-on-one tuition from our expert staff. First things first, you’ll get acquainted with the loco of the day, take in her striking lines and glorious paint work. Once you’ve been briefed on the safety and protocols of working on a loco, it’s time to hop up into the cab where the real fun begins.

Learn how to ease a loco into motion before leaving the station for an unforgettable 12 mile journey into the stunning Staffordshire countryside.

The Toplink Course:

If you opt for this experience day your locomotive will be even more authentic as you will have a rake of carriages behind you! Again, expert tuition will reward you with comprehensive training that will see you taking the role of both driver and fireman – so be prepared to stoke them coals!

Given that this will be such a memorable day, why not invite some family and friends along for a complimentary ride too? Not only will get to savour the gorgeous views and relish the opportunity to step back in time, they’ll also have you as their driver!

As you will be undertaking dual duties on this trip, the journey covered is extended up to a wonderful 23 miles of locomotive heaven as you cruise the rails of the Churnet Valley.

The Cauldon Lowe Course:

As far as train driving experiences go, this really is the ultimate indulgence – a treat that will never be forgotten – but often relived, regaled and retold.

Come prepared for an immersive day that includes at least six hours in the cab of one of our handsome locomotives. After your briefings, it’s time to climb aboard. You’ll be fulfilling dual roles of stoking and driving as you face up to the challenges that lay ahead: 41 miles of open track that include some of the steepest gradients we have here on our Valley and Lowe lines, all reaching a dizzying summit at Ipstones.

As this course option also has carriages along for the ride, you are more than welcome to invite up to six guests to share in your special day and take in the highs and lows of the surrounding Staffordshire scenery.

Back At The Station:

Time now to return to Cheddleton station and explore the loco sheds and museum. Once back from your driving you will be presented with your Churnet Valley Railway polo shirt and commemorative certificate. If you’ve completed the Toplinks or Cauldon Lowe courses you will also be awarded membership to the North Staffordshire Railway Company.

This truly is one of the great steam engine days out – a must for anyone with a love of the elegance of yesteryear’s travel or unbridled enthusiasm for all things heritage rail.


Meet Our Locos!

Drive the gorgeous No. 5197 with us at Churnet Valley RailwayTalking about having a life story, No. 5197 certainly has a tale to tell. Born of the Lima Locomotive Company in June 1945 in Ohio in the United States as works number 8856, she weighed in at 135 tons of utterly gorgeous locomotive glory!

At six months old she undertook her first overseas adventure to China where she worked for the Chinese State Railways. Originally classified as a Type S160, she was rebranded as a KD6 by her new Chinese owners and awarded the working number 463.

As KD6 463 she spent the majority of her far eastern life working for the Chinese Coal Industry around Fushun in North Eastern China. As times moved on, No 5197 was withdrawn from service and earmarked for scrap. Fortune however favoured her and she was saved from a rather undignified demise by UK preservationist Derek Foster in 1995. And with that she undertook the journey from China to North Wales and her new abode at the Llangollen Railway.

Six years later she was once again on the move having been put for sale in 2001 and catching the eye of Greg Wilson, she made the move across the border into England and her current loving home of the Churnet Valley Railway.

No. 5197 spent three years working at the railway including guest visits to other railways such as the Great Central Railway and Peak Rail. Having a starring role at the GCR’s Wartime Events, she could be seen sporting an unusual maroon livery for a short time.

Following a overhaul in 2004 she returned to service in her traditional USA Transportation Corps black colour. For the next four and half years she enjoyed a new lease of life working Churnet Valley and making numerous guest visits to other preserved railways around the UK.

In December 2009 No. 5197 once again bowed out of service for a comprehensive overhaul, but now back in service, you too can now experience the joys of driving this remarkable steam locomotive!

No. 6046 that you can drive at the Churnet Valley Railway with usIf you’re looking to drive a train that has heritage and a story to tell, No. 6046 will not disappoint! She was built as a Type S160 (Works Number 70280) by the Baldwin Locomotive Company in Pennsylvania in 1945 and exported straight to France to help with the Allied efforts in World War II.

Having survived the war and the mass locomotive scrapping that happened soon after, she found herself in civilian operations in Hungary. Now classified as a MAV 411 Class by the Hungarian State Railways rather than her previous Type S160, she would earn her keep working industrial lines as No. 411.144. Eventually she was withdrawn from service and retired to the Hungarian National Collection. However, her story doesn’t end there.

No. 6046 having survived the war and a lifetime of industrial labour, almost faced an untimely and unfortunate demise on the scrap heap due to an administrative mistake! By good fortune, word of her downfall reached the attention of Martin Haines, a pilot from the UK, who brought her to Tyseley in Birmingham where her restoration began.

In 2006 with restorations only partial complete, she was sold to Greg Wilson who relocated her to the Churnet Valley Railway where she would be given a new lease of life on the 29th June 2012. Having never worked on UK railways before, this proud locomotive now calls Staffordshire home and it is here in Kingsley that you can drive No. 6046 Steam Locomotive and become part of her history too!