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“Good afternoon out but .....” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Spa Valley Railway

Spa Valley Railway
West Station, Royal Tunbridge Wells TN2 5QY, England
01892 537715
Website
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Type: Scenic Railroads, Landmarks
Attraction details
Croydon, United Kingdom
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
“Good afternoon out but .....”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 7, 2014

I had a good afternoon's visit to the railway using their relatively recent connection with the national railway network at Eridge. The trains were to their usual high standard. The staff were friendly and helpful. The afternoon weather was much better than the miserable morning. But ....

The weekend (green) timetable has a 10 minute connection at Eridge from the last train of the day (1640 arrival) to the 1650 departure to London. If the Spa Valley Railway train is delayed and you miss this, you have to wait an hour for the next train to London. Guess what happened today - the 10 minute connection missed by 1 minute. A 10 minute connection at the end of the day when people will be going home really isn't good enough. This should not be taken as criticism of the staff on duty today but as criticism of the timetable.

Visited June 2014
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Paul M, Website manager at Spa Valley Railway, responded to this review, June 11, 2014
Hello John,
Thank you very much for your kind words and observations, and also for taking the time to write a review.
On Saturday we were unfortunately a bit hamstrung by operational problems at Forge Farm level crossing, resulting in a 15min late arrival at Tunbridge Wells on the preceding train. The train crew did their best to recover what time they could, but as you say they only made up 4 of the 15, resulting in a missed connection by a minute. With both our trains and those on the mainline running at necessarily sparse intervals, we have to strike a balance between an acceptable dwell time at Eridge and building in such a margin that people are left waiting too long.
In the great majority of instances, 10 minutes is plenty of time, but on this occasion it wasn't enough and we apologise for that. We will have a look at the timetable for next year and see if there's any opportunity to gain a few extra minutes somewhere.
Although the litigious culture of modern Britain means that the Big Railway can't be expected - or afford - to wait for our trains (due to the hideous sounding idea of "delay minutes" attracting a financial penalty, particularly if the knock-on effect extends to other routes and trains when the Uckfield train finally worms its way into the seething metropolis...), like all self-respecting branch lines we will always hold our trains to connect with a delayed mainline train!
Thanks again for coming to see us, and I hope if you come again we will be able to honour our commitment to the timetable a bit better.
Kind regards, Paul
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English first
Brentwood, Essex
Top Contributor
137 reviews 137 reviews
72 attraction reviews
Reviews in 47 cities Reviews in 47 cities
107 helpful votes 107 helpful votes
“A pleasant way to spend an hour or two”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 26, 2014

The Spa Valley Railway is a heritage steam railway run by willing volunteers. We have travelled on this line a few times before and have always enjoyed our trips. If you are a railway enthusiast I suspect you will find much to interest you but it's still worth visiting even if you only have a slight interest in steam trains - for example, if you are in Tunbridge Wells and are thinking of having a leisurely coffee with friends you could have it on the train and see a little of the surrounding countryside in the process. Bar car 'Kate' is now back in action - a comfortable, attractive carriage that serves snacks, alcoholic drinks, soft drinks and tea or coffee in proper china cups with saucers (not paper cups). Of course there are other carriages of the more usual commuter kind for a more authentic 'historic train' experience.
The journey from Tunbridge Wells to Eridge is not a long one (about 5 miles I believe), once the train has driven past the outskirts of Tunbridge Wells the scenery becomes pleasant with views over open countryside, whilst it is not dramatic in any way it's certainly nice enough to see.
At Tunbridge Wells station there are toilets, a small gift shop and a fixed café in an old railway carriage.
Like many steam railways, it has special event days and opportunities to drive the trains but I have never attended any of these and so cannot comment upon them.
There is a 'Pay & Display' car park about 5 minutes walk away from the station (near the far end of the Pantiles and Sainsbury's supermarket).

Visited May 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vale of Glamorgan
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
“Lovely day out”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 25, 2014

We visited the railway on a day when they were doing the Thomas event and even though there were four of us at the more senior end of the age scale we had a lovely time.The staff were absolutely lovely- very friendly and patient and clearly enjoying themselves Lovely old carriages and stations and wonderful old penny games which we really enjoyed playing. Thank you everyone-thoroughly recommend.

Visited May 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chichester, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Exceptionally poor service from Booking Off Staff has put me off of returning”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed May 23, 2014

I've visited the railway several times before and by and large had a really decent day out. However my last experience at the Spa Valley has put me off of going there.

I was told that disabled travellers get a discounted ticket. I showed my Disabled Rail Card, Disabled Bus Pass, etc to be told by the Booking office staff that 'i don't see why I should have it'. OK, I'm not in a wheelchair but I can talk but if you saw the state of my legs underneath my clothes you'd know why I'm disabled and believe me I wish I wasn't. I have never come across such ignorance.

To top it off one of the passengers who is a member of your railway was being loud mouthed, racist and sexist and being highly offensive to other passengers. By no means am I a prude but his behaviour was shocking.

I love the railway but based on my last experience I'd think twice before I visited again.

Visited August 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Paul M, Website manager at Spa Valley Railway, responded to this review, May 25, 2014
Dear Neil,
Thank you for taking the time to write about your experience last year. Unfortunately the time elapsed since the incident you allege makes it quite difficult to ascertain who was involved. However, if you are able to give me an exact date, we can work out who was on duty that day and issue some appropriate training. You have exposed a flaw in our pricing structure, and the management committee is reviewing our fares policy for reduced-mobility visitors. Currently (and largely due to no-one having flagged it up before), we have offered free travel to visitors assisted by carers, but it would appear this needs its scope widening. At the very least a bit more sensitivity and understanding from the ticket clerk would not go amiss.

Frankly I am appalled at the behaviour of whoever was "mouthing off", and reading between the lines I suspect you might be able to identify them. If you can, we would be very grateful, and can then deal with them appropriately. However, membership of our supporting society is open to everyone, and they could conceivably be a member of the public taking advantage of the numerous benefits membership offers. This, though, is pure conjecture on my part and hopefully our in-house detective work will establish what actually happened here.

All that aside, please accept our unreserved apologies, and I hope very much that given swift and appropriate action on our part to resolve the issues you've raised, you will feel able to visit again and experience the enjoyment of your previous visits.

Please could you drop me an email at paulatalpinehideout.co.uk (replacing "at" with "@", in a desperate attempt to dodge spam), so that I might get the ball rolling?

Thanks, Paul
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Kent, UK
Top Contributor
52 reviews 52 reviews
21 attraction reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
“A grandchild's dream day”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 20, 2014 via mobile

What a great day ! Read a lot of the other reviews & wonder what some people expected from a collection of vintage steam trains maintained by volunteers / enthusiasts, (with the explicit exception of the wedding couple who should get a full refund for breach of contract ! )
We - 4 grandparents with our son/daughter & 2 grandchildren spent an interesting & entertaining couple of hours here. No, it's Not Disney World, but if you like steam engines and you have young children who love Thomas & his ilk - then you should have a whale of a time. Will go again when our youngest is a little older & can appreciate it more.

Visited May 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Paul M, Website manager at Spa Valley Railway, responded to this review, May 21, 2014
Dear Bob,
Thank you very much for your kind words and support. I'm pleased you had a good day, as it's the principal reason we do what we do.
You're quite right about the wedding party - once the couple whose carriage went missing brought their plight to our attention (via the Trip Advisor review you can see, because unfortunately the email address they had been corresponding with was blocked shortly before they tried to contact us and we had no idea they were trying to get hold of us), we immediately issued a full refund with our apologies, albeit much later than anyone would have liked. They are charming people, incidentally, and accepted our grovelling apologies with the utmost grace, which given the time that elapsed they didn't need to do.
We certainly look forward to seeing you again, and thank you for taking the time to write a positive review.
Kind regards, Paul
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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