Steam Train Driver for a Day FAQs
Steam Train Driver for a Day is subject to several operational restrictions. It is the purchaser’s responsibility to check these before purchasing and to ensure that the participant is fully aware. Pregnant women and those who have given birth within the previous six months will not be able to partake in Steam Train Driver for a Day.
- Participants must be over 18 years of age and be physically and mentally fit with reasonable hearing and vision. In particular, participants must be capable of climbing up and descending the vertical steps between the footplate of the locomotive and ground level (at least 6 inches / 15cm). There is no upper age limit, although participants will need a reasonable level of fitness to take part in the activities.
- Whilst every effort will be made to accommodate those with a disability or learning difficulty, due to the risks involved in the experience there are many circumstances where this cannot be achieved; please contact ZSL for advice before purchasing. In most cases, ZSL would expect a carer to accompany the participant, though there would be no extra charge. Due to capacity, participants with learning difficulties or disabilities can only ride in Superior loco if deemed operationally viable and reasonably practicable.
- ZSL will always try to have Superior available, however if this is not possible regrettably the participant will be unable to partake in the day and a refund will not be issued. The place can however be transferred to another individual. ZSL will endeavour to ensure that all participants have as full an experience as possible.
- ZSL reserves the right to refuse access onto locomotives to anyone who appears to be unfit to operate them. This includes anyone who appears to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Applicants need not have any previous locomotive driving experience.
The train driving experience, lunch and refreshments are included in the price. Entry to the zoo is also included so you are free to have a look around afterwards. Please check Opening times as they vary throughout the year.
By purchasing a Steam Train Driver for a Day experience, you will be helping us to protect endangered species, conserve natural habitats and bring learning to life for all ages.
The experience does not include admission to the zoo for spectators, although a discounted rate is available if booked online at least 24 hours in advance. Alternatively, tickets are available for purchase on the day in the normal way. Please note that the zoo does not open for guests until 10.00am.
In the afternoon, your friends and family can ride in the carriages as you drive them on a trip around the zoo; a meeting time and point will be given in your booking confirmation. If your family spend the morning in the zoo they may also see you aboard the train although we cannot give exact locations and times. A map of the zoo is available to download on our website or can be picked up on arrival.
The day starts at 9.00am and finishes at approximately 3.30pm.
This will depend on current maintenance work on engines and the track. We normally don’t know ourselves until a few weeks before. You can phone in advance to check but please be aware that it could change.
There is a maximum of two participants per day.
You will be provided with Great Whipsnade Railway overalls to protect your clothing, special gloves and if needed, goggles, waterproofs and a high visibility jacket. You will need to bring your own steel toe capped safety boots (to BS EN ISO 20345:2004 - Code: SB). Regrettably, if you fail to bring along appropriate footwear you will not be allowed to do the experience for your own safety. We also recommend you bring warm layers as Whipsnade may be cooler than you anticipate, as it is up on the Downs.
Because you will be wearing overalls and gloves you are unlikely to get very dirty. However there are shower facilities available if you would like to use them afterwards, just remember to bring your own towel and soap.
The weather should not affect the experience, although the itinerary may be changed if conditions are unsuitable for any aspect of the day.
You will receive a complimentary lunch and we will supply bottomless teas and coffees throughout the day.
You can store your belongings in the signal box in the Railway Yard which will be your first stop of the day
We recommend that you bring your camera, to capture memories of your special day.
There will be two experienced members of our railway team with you for the duration of the experience.
Working with a steam train carries a degree of risk, but you will be fully briefed on what you should and should not do in any situation and you will be fully supervised at all times. ZSL will take all necessary precautions and as long as participants do as they are instructed by railway staff, then there should not be any particular danger in the activities.