AIM TO END ‘WESTERN DROUGHT’ AS ORR PROPOSES LICENCE
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.”