We all love a steam train, and while the big beasts make occasional weekend trips though the city, there are a surprisingly large number of miniature steam trains chugging around parts of the city as well.
Operated by local model railway enthusiasts, these miniature railways offer trips for the public for a nominal fee most weekends throughout the summer.
While almost certainly aimed at children, we big people get as much delight from them as the kids, and many parents seem to take their kids along simply as an excuse so they have have a ride themselves.
A lot of them are opening up now for their summer season, and some are open this coming bank holiday.
Most are cash only venues, including those that offer a local tea house.
View London miniature railway clubs in a larger map
Miniature Steam Railways
In alphabetical order
Only open when the London Transport Museum depot has its open weekends.
Trips usually £1 — although you have to have a ticket to the museum depot as well, which if you haven’t been is a very worthwhile place in itself.
Offers a mix of steam and diesel engines – and a miniature tube train.
Current dates are: 13-14th April & 2nd-3rd November.
Opened in 2009, this 7.25 inch gauge railway offers trips of just under 1/4 mile from Park Gates Station to Lakeside Halt.
Still a fairly small service with just a few carriages, they are expanding the network.
Open every weekend from May to October.
Fares are 70p per return trip.
A decent sized 7¼ inch gauge miniature railway offering round trips from Herne Hill Gates to the Brockwell Lido and return.
Opened in 2003 and runs for 240 yards along a single track with loops at either end. The railway has been relaid close to the formation of the original railway which ran between 1951-1961.
A range of diesel effect battery and steam locomotives.
Runs every Sunday from March to October with trips from 11am-4pm and cost £1 each.
One of the best kept secrets in Chingford is the 2 model train tracks at the back of Ridgeway Park. There is a 1000 foot long 5″ raised level track and a 3000 foot long 7¼” ground level track.
Rides are 50p or £1 depending on the trip taken.
Open every Sunday and Bank Holiday April to October in the afternoons.
Only just on the outside of the M25, so included anyway. Two tracks offering trips of 15-20 minutes each on a huge selection of locomotives – they have 25 steam engines plus others.
Open every Sunday from May to November in the afternoons only.
Fares are £3.50 per adult and £3 per child.
Built in what was once a back garden, this decent sized loop railway has several steam and battery locomotives, a single station, and one tunnel to travel through. The tea room also contains a small railway history museum.
Fares are 50p per trip
Open April to November on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month.
80 year old model railway society, offers a range of medium sized locomotives with sit-on carriages and a number of tracks looping around the site. Sometimes known as the Roxbourne Park Miniature Railway.
Fares are £1 per trip.
Open Sunday afternoons from April to late October.
Running since 1950, the live steam section has a continuous raised track suitable for 3½” and 5″ gauge locomotives. It is about 660 feet long and runs around the perimeter of the Community Centre site.
Open on the third Sunday of every month from April to September.
(NB, if traveling by tube, stop off at nearby Greenford to see London Underground’s last remaining wooden escalator)
A big railway for a miniature service – offering sit in carriages rather than the sit-on variety used by smaller model services.
The two and a half mile round trip on the 12-inch gauge service takes about 35 minutes.
Runs every weekend from April-November and during the week during holidays.
Fares are £3 return for adults and £2 for children.
Sizeable railway that is also used as a cargo service for park visitors in addition to being a pleasure service.
The fleet includes a large range of battery electric locomotives and steam engines, and a couple of substantial stations.
Usually open most weekends from April to November, details still to be confirmed at time of writing.
Fares 70p per adult and 60p per child.
A venerable organisation that has been around for nearly 80 years, they operate two independent railways. The ground level railway is for the larger trains the other is an elevated railway for the smaller scale trains, both are used for passenger hauling.
It is I believe the only one with a carriage specially designed to carry a wheelchair passenger.
Open on the first Sunday of every month April to October and also Bank Holiday mondays.
Fares are £2.50 per trip, or £6.50 for unlimited trips.
Roughly 600 yards long, and apparently operational all year round. Has quite large locomotives with sit-in open air carriages.
Fares £1 per return trip.
Open weekends throughout the year in the afternoons only.
Founded in 1945, the society has a 1,268 long minature railway track with 3.5″ and 5″ gauge raised steel track. The track is electronically signalled, and features a full anti-tip rail, level crossing, footbridges, mini-viaduct, signal box and tunnel.
Open on the first Sunday of every month May to October (special date in April) in the afternoons.
More of a fun ride than a proper railway, this is an elevated track that runs in a loop around part of the zoo giving an unusual view of the animals.
Trips are included in the admission to the wider venue.
Not a miniature, but London’s closest full size heritage steam service. Open most weekends with trips between Chipping Ongar and North Weald (bus link from Epping tube station).
Trips are £13 for the bus shuttle, and unlimited trips along the train line. Add in the heritage in Chipping Ongar and the ancient churches, and it is pretty much a whole day out.
Added for completeness, but actually closed until late 2013 for restoration work – this is a light railway that runs along tracks laid for the original coal carrying railway that serviced the steam engines in the pumping station.
This is a newly restored light railway associated with the steam pumping station and should open to the public sometime this spring or early summer.
OK, the “dinky little railway” probably shouldn’t be here, but if you’ve never used it – the fun of sitting right up front is quite memorable.
Tip – for best chances of a “drivers seat” catch the train from Tower Gateway station and wait right at the far end of the platform.
If I’ve missed any off, let me know in the comments below.