BRITISH ‘PlandamPf’: noT juST foR gRIceRS
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.