From Birmingham to Long Marston in style with Vintage TrainsBack
Nigel Harris, Managing Editor, RAIL:
We have always operated a two-mile Rail Live shuttle to Honeybourne, always featuring a cutting-edge train, so the journey serves as a demonstration too in its own right - to make sure visitors can come to the show by train.
We regard rail’s sustainability as a key strength of the sector, and we have always wanted to expand rail links to make it progressively easier to visit Rail Live by train - and thereby reduce the need to arrive by road.
This new venture with Vintage Trains has massively increased our catchment by rail to the northern reaches of the West Coast Main Line, plus all points south to London. Plus, of course, anywhere within a couple of hours’ rail journey from Birmingham New Street in any direction.
Meanwhile, the Chiltern Trains battery shuttle to Honeybourne makes it easy to reach Rail Live from significant chunks of the GWR network. We are looking forward to welcoming many more Rail Live visitors by rail this year. By bearing down on car travel to the show, we can also be better neighbours to those who live around Long Marston, by hopefully reducing car-borne visitors.
It’s been a pleasure dealing with Michael Whitehouse and his team at Vintage Trains. And clearly, if this initiative is successful, both Michael and I are keen to repeat and expand it in the future. It’s only right that Britain’s biggest and most successful rail industry show should welcome its visitors by rail if at all possible.
Thanks also to Chiltern MD Richard Allan and his team for making their already-in-service HybridFLEX battery train available for the two-mile shuttle to Honeybourne, and thanks also to Network Rail for its engagement.
More about Vintage Trains:
Based at Tyseley Locomotive Works in Birmingham, Vintage Trains received its passenger operating licence in June 2018 to run steam and diesel locomotive-hauled charters and rail tours across the UK rail network.
It followed a successful share issue by the Vintage Trains Community Benefit Society, which was formed in 2017 following the end of an arrangement with West Coast Railways to provide crews to operate trains based at Tyseley. It meant that VT became the first train operating company in the UK to be owned by the public and charitably controlled.
Dedicated to preserving and running heritage locomotives and coaching stock on the network, VT’s main line fleet includes three Great Western Railway Castle class locomotives (7029 Clun Castle, 5043 Earl of Edgcumbe and 5080 Defiant) and three ex-GWR pannier tank engines (7752, 7760 and 9600). Meanwhile, its diesel fleet comprises 47773 The Queen Mother and (on hire) 50033 Glorious, 20142 Sir John Betjeman and 20189.
Railtours offered by VT include the regular summer Sunday series of ‘Shakespeare Express’ trips that run between Birmingham and Stratford-upon-Avon. Initially led by Adrian Shooter as chairman and Cath Bellamy as managing director, VT’s business plan originally targeted other revenue streams including the offer of non-passenger services to the rail industry. This included the testing, mileage accumulation and delivery of Class 230s on behalf of Vivarail.