Steam Railway (UK) - - Kwvr 50 -

If Ben Mason has his way, the cur­rent drought of Western steam on the net­work will end on Au­gust 26.

You’d have had to be look­ing closely, but sharp ob­servers may just have spot­ted that the Of­fice of Rail and Road de­clared on June 29 that it pro­poses to give Ty­se­ley’s new op­er­at­ing arm Vin­tage Trains Ltd both a pas­sen­ger and a non-pas­sen­ger li­cence. Clos­ing date for com­ments in the manda­tory con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod is July 27. Achiev­ing the run­ning of a pub­lic char­ter within a month of that date might seem like break­neck speed. But, says Ben, other es­sen­tial pa­per­work, such as the Track Ac­cess agree­ment with Net­work Rail, is wait­ing to be signed, and trial runs are “booked in”. As we said last time, those are planned to take place us­ing ‘Shake­speare Ex­press’ paths that al­ready sit within the timetable.

If it does hap­pen then, the last Sun­day in Au­gust will bring to an end an eight-month pe­riod in which no en­gines be­long­ing to Ty­se­ley, or any other GWR-de­sign lo­co­mo­tives, have run on the main line. The last pub­lic trip was a tra­di­tional VT Ty­se­ley-York pre-Christ­mas day out, on De­cem­ber 16. That used Earl of Mount Edgcumbe and was also the last Ty­se­ley train run un­der VT’s pre­vi­ous op­er­a­tor, West Coast Rail­ways.

“My tar­get is to run a ‘Shake­speare Ex­press’ on Au­gust 26 if ev­ery­thing goes to plan,” VTL com­mer­cial di­rec­tor Ben Mason told Down Main on July 5.

“If not, it’ll go back a cou­ple of weeks.”

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