Buckinghamshire Railway Centre Review

I haven’t been to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre for nearly 30 years so I thought it was absolutely time to go and do a review with the kids! Smallest Child really likes looking at the trains when we go up town, so I thought she would particularly like it. The Bucks Railway Centre is near Quainton, a few miles from Aylesbury.

They have various different types of days. There’s special events such as the Day out with Thomas, Halloween train rides, Santa train etc. On static viewing days only the museum is open but you can still look at the trains. These are about half price to reflect the reduced facilities. There’s also steaming days when all of the site is open.

Steaming days

We went on a steam day which is when the resident steam train is running throughout the day. The train ride itself is only about 10 minutes long – you go up and down a small section of track, but it’s not really about the scenery. It’s about the experience of riding on a steam train. Oh, and from the inside it looks like you’re on the Hogwarts Express!!!

Buckinghamshire Railway Centre review | Free Time with the Kids | Family days out in Buckinghamshire
Buckinghamshire Railway Centre review | Free Time with the Kids | Family days out in Buckinghamshire

It’s free to go on the steam train and you can go as many times as you like, you just have to queue up. We were on the train for a total of about 20/25 minutes including the time they’re loading etc.

The miniature railway

Under normal circumstances you can also take a ride on the miniature railway for £1 per person (under 3’s are free). Because of covid this is currently closed, but I hope they reopen it soon. You can see the track from the stream train and it looks really cute! I’ll update this review of Buckinghamshire Railway Centre once the miniature trains have started running again.

Miniature Railway train rides | Free Time with the Kids | Family days out in Buckinghamshire

The mobile sorting office

This is fun! They’ve got a mobile sorting office on site. I’m sure I remember watching this in action on Blue Peter a million years ago. Basically this train used to run from London to Penzance every day and the crew would have to sort the mail on the way. Talking to the volunteer, apparently the people sorting the mail would have to work at about twice the rate of a “normal” sorting clerk! When covid restrictions aren’t in place you can go into the carriage and the kids can even sort the mail themselves.

Buckinghamshire Railway Centre review | Free Time with the Kids | Family days out in Buckinghamshire

The railway museum

Buckinghamshire Railway Centre review | Free Time with the Kids | Family days out in Buckinghamshire

The railway museum is towards the back of the Bucks Railway Museum. It’s full of loads of different types of train carriages and engines. I should point out here that I’ve got pretty much zero knowledge of trains, so I’m probably using all the wrong terminology. One thing I do know now that I didn’t know before is that it’s not called a train track – it’s a permanent way! Anyway, back to the museum. They’ve got first and third class carriages, like you’d expect to see. Why not second class though? I’m assuming second class is a thing!?

They’ve also got a horse box carriage and some really old carriages that are in a terrible state awaiting restoration. Towards the end there’s an old ticket office and WHSmith. There’s also a slightly freaky looking boy stood on one of the platforms. Looking in his box (he’s got a gas mask) I assume he’s supposed to be an evacuee but I didn’t see any information about them, which seemed a shame. We just told the boys about what happened to evacuees during the war.

There’s also an underground mail train. I had no idea these even existed but they carried up to 30% of London’s mail. They had no passengers, no drivers and no guards! One thing that is quite handy is on their website. If there’s something you want to know a bit more about, but the kids rush past, all the details of their stock are actually on their website as part of the stock book.

Certain parts of the museum made me nervous. Smallest Child is a bit of a Calamity Jane at times and there’s gaps between the trains and the edge of the platform. She’s only dinky and I was genuinely concerned at times that she’d fall down it.

Buckinghamshire Railway Centre review | Free Time with the Kids | Family days out in Buckinghamshire

The rest of the site

There’s the Brill platform (as in Brill Common, not brill “great”) with some interesting toilet signage. I assumed I was ok to go in! I think this station only gets used for special event days.

Buckinghamshire Railway Centre review | Free Time with the Kids | Family days out in Buckinghamshire

There’s also a restoration shed, a signal box, various trains dotted all over the place and a nice circular walk with views of Waddesdon Manor peeking through on the hill. As I mentioned, we don’t really know that much about trains so they were all nice to look at, but we didn’t really know what they are.

The visitor centre is well worth a look at though. They’ve got a couple of trains in there, including one used by Churchill and Eisenhower during the war. There’s really good signage in here telling you all about this history of the railway. The kids were particularly fascinated by all the luggage trunks lying around. Smallest Child found some (fake) chickens in a cage which she thought was hilarious!! After that she had to check every pile of luggage trunks to see if there were any other animals hidden in them. There were!

Locals Pass and Bicester Pass

When we went down yesterday to do this review of Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, we decided to get a locals pass rather than a single day ticket. A family ticket for a steam day is £32. If you live within 8 miles, as the crow flies, of Quainton then you can get an annual pass for just £42. BARGAIN. 8 miles covers Aylesbury, Haddenham, Winslow, Waddesdon etc.

If you live in Bicester (OX24, 25 & 26) you can still get discounted entry. A Bicester Pass is £65 for a family of up to 6.

Our Buckinghamshire Railway Centre Review

I really enjoyed our visit to Bucks Railway Centre. So did the kids. The steam train ride was lovely – I would have quite happily gone on several times. It’s a shame the miniature railway was closed though. Given how much the kids enjoyed visiting the High Wycombe Model Engineering Club they (and I) would have loved it! I think Hubby was less enthralled with it than we were, but even he says he’d go again. It will be nice to go to one of the events when they’re back on. We were there for a couple of hours, but you could bulk that out my taking food with you and having multiple train rides.

We’ll be back, but that’s why we got the locals pass!

Admission Cost

The price depends on the type of day you’re visiting. A family ticket for a steam day is £32. As I mentioned, if you’re local and think you’ll visit more than once it’s worth getting a locals or Bicester pass. Click here for more details of the different passes.

Parking / How to get there

There’s a free car park on-site

Address – Station Road, Quainton, Aylesbury, Bucks HP22 4BY


There are several ones on-site at the various stations.


There’s a cafe on-site. Picnics are welcome and there’s lots of benches where you can sit and watch the trains whilst having lunch.

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Hi, I’m Vicky. My husband and I live in Aylesbury with our three children; a 10 year old son, an 8 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. I (mostly) love spending time together as a family. We visit all kinds of places and we’re quite happy to drive a fair distance for a decent day out. A few years ago I decided to set up Free Time with the Kids as a way to share our experiences of these family days out. You know, the essential information you need to know before your visit that can be surprisingly hard to find out. Where do I park? How much will it cost me to get in? Are there any discounts available? Are there loos? Can I take a picnic or get food? My aim is to be your go-to guide for all your free and cheap family days out across Bucks, Beds, Oxon, Herts & slightly beyond. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch contact@freetimewiththekids.com or get in touch via Facebook

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