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Vintage Trains and Locomotive Services Ltd. Apply for Operating Licence (19.11.16)

For the first time in British history, a charitable trust, Vintage Trains, is promoting an application to the Office of Rail & Road for a licence to operate passenger charter trains on the national network. Our charity’s founding, second and third generation teams have been involved with heritage railway preservation continuously since its inception in 1950. Our team was also amongst the pioneers promoting heritage steam trains on the national railway network from 1964 and played a key role in the return of steam to British Railways in 1972 and since privatisation in 1993. Our team has continued to innovate and be at the forefront of developments.

Operation of heritage steam express trains on the national network is our charity’s reason for being.During the 1970s and 80s heritage charter trains were operated under the control of British Railways and with the co-operation of the Steam Locomotive Operators’ Association. Since railway privatisation in 1993 there have been a number of commercial Train Operating Companies licensed to run steam on the mainline, several of which Vintage Trains have worked with as we promoted our own trains and developed The Shakespeare Express. We originally worked with English Welsh & Scottish Railways and our current operator is West Coast Railways, with whom we are continuing to plan future train operations. However, as a charity, we consider we have a duty to prepare for the long-term to ensure heritage steam locomotives continue to operate on the national railway network. This is because our charitable objectives require us to develop sustainable outcomes for public benefit irrespective of personal aspirations.

So, for the first time in British history, a charitable trust is promoting an application to the Office of Rail & Road for a licence to operate passenger charter trains on the national network. We are doing this so we can play a significant role and be an important national voice ensuring the future running of steam locomotives on the national railway network as the modern railway continues to develop. We know this is a long and complex process and we cannot yet say when we will be able to start to run trains of our own or what the exact arrangements will be, but we believe the time is now right to take steps to secure our long term legacy and purpose. This will provide our charity with ownership of all the elements required: steam locomotives, carriages, a workshop, a depot, a tour promoter and a licence to operate. Only by proceeding in this way do we believe we can create a sustainable future for public benefit. We will take these steps in conjunction with our plans to develop our historic locomotive depot at Tyseley, within the City of Birmingham, as our base for train operations. These ambitions will facilitate securing engineering, operating and business skills for the future. We will also engage with the public in ways we have never done before to ensure they can participate in and derive satisfaction from their involvement with the heritage of steam locomotion, particularly its pivotal role and importance in the development of Birmingham as the “Workshop of the World” which fundamentally changed the world and sowed the seeds for modern civilisation.

We seek to enable the steam locomotive to continue to fulfil its design purpose by running express trains in the 21st Century to create economic and social improvement, public benefit and enjoyment in the development of a tourist business run by a heritage railway company open to all. In doing so, we will create a firm foundation for our next generation to continue to innovate.

Michael Whitehouse Chairman, Vintage Trains

Locomotive Services Ltd. have also applied for an operating licence. This comes as little surprise after the acquistion of several Mark 1 and 2 coaches, several of which have been refurbished for mainline running. A rake of 10 carmine and cream coaches is being formed. These are based at the former Crewe Diesel Depot which was refurbished after the purchase of L.N.W.R Heritage Ltd. from Pete Waterman in 2014. Locomotive Services Ltd. have also acquired ex DRS class 47s and already run a fleet of steam locomotives on the mainline owned by Jeremy Hosking and the Royal Scot Locomotive and General Trust.