BRI­TISH ‘PlandamPf’: noT juST foR gRIceRS

Steam Railway (UK) - - Down Main -

Who­ever thought ‘Plandampf’ was just for gricers? If you did, then early in­di­ca­tions about Tor­nado and its real pas­sen­ger trains over the Set­tle-Carlisle - un­der way as this is­sue of SR went to the print­ers should dis­abuse you of that thought. Within days of break­ing the story, the so­cial me­dia pages of our sis­ter ti­tle RAIL had served over 24,000 hits; there’s been huge in­ter­est from me­dia in­clud­ing TV, ra­dio and pa­pers; and tele­phones have been red hot. For sure, real trains should light the hearts of true-born en­thu­si­asts. But the re­ac­tion is proof that all sorts of peo­ple and me­dia are fas­ci­nated by the con­cept of steam haul­ing proper, or­di­nary ser­vice trains. It’s fu­elled by a de­light that it’s still pos­si­ble, and recog­ni­tion that it’s been half a cen­tury since this sort of thing was nor­mal. More than half our pop­u­la­tion wasn’t even alive back then. In a world that thrives on the un­usual, it’s the his­toric, ex­tra­or­di­nary as­pect of this that’s gen­er­at­ing that up-swell in in­ter­est… but more than any­thing, let’s not for­get that it is be­cause it’s a steam train. Al­though I’m writ­ing this be­fore the ‘Plandampf’ is over, it was look­ing as if ser­vices that, since the land­slip at Eden Brows, have car­ried per­haps hand­fuls of pas­sen­gers would in­stead con­vey thou­sands. That level of in­ter­est has to be good news for the com­mu­ni­ties along the still partly closed S&C - and it has to be a ter­rific way of pub­li­cis­ing the line for when it re­opens through­out, in March. Yet more than any­thing, it once again demon­strates the old say­ing from for­mer BR chair­man Sir Peter Parker about steam ‘warm­ing the mar­ket for rail­ways’. That’s likely to be shown again at the end of March when Fly­ing Scotsman re­turns (SR463). Ar­guably, noth­ing but steam could do that for the S&C. Quite pos­si­bly, steam could do it for other strug­gling parts of the net­work too… for if it all works out, surely this con­cept could be re­peated? That’s worth re­mem­ber­ing, re­it­er­at­ing, scor­ing on your heart. For the po­ten­tial for pos­i­tive PR from steam is un­ri­valled. Run­ning steam can be a chal­lenge - but do it right, and the ben­e­fits are huge. The mod­ern rail­way part­ners that put them­selves be­hind ‘I LOVE S&C’ un­der­stand that - and their ef­forts de­serve to be a huge suc­cess.

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