‘SCOTS­MAN’ GAUG­ING FI HAS DONE US ALL A FAV

Steam Railway (UK) - - Down Main -

The de­ba­cle of Fly­ing Scots­man’s Forth Bridge and Bor­ders trips be­ing ‘off’ then ‘on’ again in un­der 24 hours is prob­a­bly one of the best things that could have hap­pened to main line steam. For Net­work Rail Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Mark Carne ad­mit­ted in a let­ter to Scot­tish min­is­ters Derek Mackay and Humza Yousaf on May 27 that a “lack of data and nec­es­sary re­sources” con­trib­uted to what turned into a highly pub­lic em­bar­rass­ment for the in­fra­struc­ture owner - and said he had “asked for a thor­ough re­view of the whole char­ter process”. The trips in ques­tion were for Steam Dreams on May 15 - see story on page 12. How­ever Mr Carne’s ut­ter­ance will be wel­come to steam fans and char­ter pro­mot­ers alike; be­cause this is not a new prob­lem. In 2010, when tim­ings were be­ing is­sued just a cou­ple of days be­fore trains were due to run (at that time af­ter a new plan­ning sys­tem was in­tro­duced) NR told me then that such late de­liv­ery was “un­ac­cept­able” (SR377). That’s a word that comes up again in Mark Carne’s let­ter. So readers will recog­nise the pic­ture drawn by Steam Dreams boss Mar­cus Robert­son in our sis­ter mag­a­zine RAIL (R801), of “a very reg­u­lar pat­tern of late times, gaug­ing is­sues, route changes, pick­ups be­ing missed and var­i­ous other glitches which should not hap­pen, par­tic­u­larly at the last minute.” Of course, it is Fly­ing Scots­man that’s brought this to the at­ten­tion of politi­cians, me­dia and the pub­lic. Aside from a lack of re­source, Mark Carne says the ‘spec’ for the trains came in late - but he also says NR “should have been able to recog­nise the im­por­tance of these tours and taken steps much ear­lier to en­able them to run smoothly.” Yet it’s not only these char­ters that should run smoothly. Af­ter all, the place for spe­cial trains on the net­work is en­shrined in open ac­cess - re­gard­less of whether No. 60103 is on the front. True, there are plenty of spe­cific ques­tions for NR’s re­view - why did it take un­til 4.40pm on the last work­ing day be­fore the trains were due to run to an­nounce they couldn’t? Or why, if the bid for the trains was ini­tially “re­jected by both Net­work Rail and ScotRail”, was it later ac­cepted - un­less NR was con­fi­dent it could han­dle the work? An even more per­ti­nent ques­tion is, per­haps, why did NR have “in­suf­fi­cient in­for­ma­tion for some of the key struc­tures on the route”? Mar­cus sug­gested in his RAIL piece that solv­ing this might need not only a bit of ex­tra re­source, but re­cruit­ing “some­one who is more of an equiv­a­lent of a non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor June 15 June 18 June 23 June 25 July 1 July 2 July 10 July 17 Au­gust 7 Au­gust 14 Au­gust 21 Sept 4 Sept 11

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