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Thread: Gt Britain rail heritage standing out?

  1. #1
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    Default Gt Britain rail heritage standing out?

    The other night towards the tail end of a rail documentary the voice commentary said that Britain had a hundred railway preservation lines. Rail programmes do pop up on different channels from time to time I am glad to see and if the figure is near factual we are really doing well and might be some who wish they were like that?!

  2. #2

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    It depends on how/what you count, but the total including narrow gauge, museum demonstration lines etc is probably closer to 200. The Heritage Railway Association has 169 locations on the map of its members.

    The UK has always fared well with having a high population density, the fluke that was Barry scrapyard, and railway mileage, much of which was available for preservation after the good Doctors ministrations. As a result I think we had a unique set of circumstances, and I for one am very grateful to the individuals who had the vision and determination to set so many of the early lines up.

    The problem now may be that we have perhaps too many though spreading resources (especially) volunteer labour too thinly.

  3. #3

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    In Ireland, I'd put the figure at around a hundred active volunteers running RPSI trains on the mainline, DCDR, Stradbally, Waterford and Suir Valley. Equally grim are the number of enthusiasts who are very vocal about what should be done, yet have a myriad of excuses as to why they can't help do it. The Irish Traction Group, which preserves and operates a number of diesels, was started by some English enthusiasts, such was the lack of interest locally. Any time one of our volunteers (we have 200 members and 26 active volunteers) visits an English heritage railway, they always return envious; some of the larger outfits have close on 1000 volunteers and numerous paid staff.

    Mods, perhaps this thread should be moved to Prototype Talk?
    Last edited by pfx; February 22nd, 2018 at 12:18 PM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by pfx View Post
    Any time one of our volunteers (we have 200 members and 26 active volunteers) visits an English heritage railway, they always return envious; some of the larger outfits have close on 1000 volunteers and numerous paid staff.
    We have a similar situation here in AUS. Each year there seems to be fewer operating preservation groups and fewer working preserved lines. Here in Sydney the well known Zig Zag railway was firstly burnt out by a major bush fire and then, when it finally reopened, was closed due to safety violations. I believe that it is slowly overcoming those issues and may be back some time in the immediate (??) future. Other preserved and heritage line operators have been forced to close due to increased costs, regulations and/or inability to find sufficient volunteers. It does not help when most of these preserved railways are many hours drive from the major population centres.

    Mainline operations have been severely restricted by increased demands for access by commercial (freight and passenger) operations. One well known heritage fleet mainline operator, 3801 Limited, has ceased all operations because the State Government wants to redevelop its storage and maintenance base and, as a result, has been forced to relocate.

    On my visit to the UK a few years ago, I was greatly impressed by the number and variety of preserved and operating railways. I also returned envious.
    A member of the "Party Machine". Now if only I could remember where they are holding the party!

  5. #5
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    The heritage line pfx is with over in Northern Ireland is a place I keep having meant to try and visit when occasionally get oer there so maybe might catch up on that. Maybe the challenge of getting members and activists is maybe loosely connected with what is left of the routine railway system. It was perhaps the worst of the 4 areas in Gt Britain for overall railway destruction. The greatest part of there is rail empty and generations growing up nowhere near trains or lines so I feel might have a background to things. On the mainland even allowing for what happened long ago with Beeching the general situation is well, trains! Over the Irish Sea that is now a very small part of what once was and wide areas with nothing.

    Wherever a heritage railway exists is still a good thing and I did my NIR project because of the sad rail history so hope you continue to get progress and the same over here too.

  6. #6
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    I was looking the other day at the main line steam situation in the US. I was astonished to see that for the whole of 2018, the number of planned tours could be counted on one hand. Yet in the UK we get about three mainline tours every day during the summer.

    Then add the hundreds of heritage railways and museums including gems like the Welsh Highland Railway which is 25 miles long with two different trains running nearly every day from March to October. The WHR is run alongside the Ffestiniog Railway which adds another 13.5 miles, running every single day from March to October with up to three locomotives in steam (plus footplate rides at Porthmadog). I challenge people to come up with a heritage railway which comes close.

  7. #7

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    Comparing the UK with the US isn't really any measure of success or otherwise. A more realistic comparison would be slightly closer to home on mainland Europe.

  8. #8
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    Well that would be easy stance because of the great difference in the size of the two countries but I still view that GB is doing well (and still in front!) and no doubt helped having been the founders or rail and the concentrated population on not too big an island.

    On a more passing note many years ago whilst in charge of a large boys camp in a great centre on the Antrim coast the Irish Rail Preservation folk had their annual steam train run to the village where they stopped for a while then reversed back to Belfast. Our lads all up to 17 and 18 made me smile as they stood at the level crossing a minute from where we stayed gawking like speechless people at a steam train!

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