DEAL OF A DECADE: ‘DUKE’ GROUP AND TYSELEY TEAM UP FOR RAILTOURS
Duke of Gloucester is to be based at Tyseley for its next ten-year ‘ticket’. The unique BR ‘8P’ is to run with the new Vintage Trains Ltd as its “primary operator”, with Tyseley also to be the main promoter of No. 71000’s railtours. Currently under overhaul in the Birmingham centre’s workshops, the Riddles ‘Pacific’ is expected to steam next year. Among other appearances, the 1954-built ‘Duke’ is expected to take a place on VTL’s summer repeat-itinerary ‘Shakespeare Express’ trains from Birmingham to Stratford-upon-Avon. VTL Commercial Manager Ben Mason said that No. 71000 would be used on around 12 Tyseley trains per year, including ‘Welsh Marches’, ‘Cotswold Express’ and ‘Cumbrian Express’ trains. The BR Standard, he said, “will add another dimension and variety to Tyseley’s expanding family” of locomotives, and added: “We look forward to a long and happy partnership.” Trevor Tuckley, chairman of No. 71000’s custodian the BR Class 8 Steam Locomotive Trust, said “there are synergies between the trust and Vintage Trains that can be used to the benefit of both” and that the Crewe-built 4-6-2 “will be best showcased and appreciated as a result of this agreement.” In addition to main line tours, the three-cylinder ‘Duke’ is expected to appear at preserved lines with a connection to the national network, as well as Tyseley’s open days. Duke of Gloucester has not run since August 2012, when it failed and was taken off a Torbay Express Ltd train at Eastleigh (SR406). Tyseley is part-way through a share issue to raise funds to support the new Vintage Trains Ltd, which is intended to be its in-house train operator (see pages 98-99).