Relaxed planning rules and a simplified procedure for modest extensions to heritage lines are among the supportive recommendations proposed by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Heritage Rail.
Another success story in Britain’s rail industry is the upsurge of interest in traditional railways. Heritage lines are growing in popularity and are now worth £250m to the economy, according to a report by the All Party Parliamentary Group.
Over 100 heritage railways and tramways attract tourists and provide local employment as well as valuable skills training and apprenticeships. Heritage railways provide employment for over 3,700 staff nationally and a productive outlet for 18,500 loyal volunteers.
45 years after the end of steam on BR, over 750 steam locomotives remain hard at work on heritage railways. More surprisingly, a total of 520 steam charter trains – more than one a day – ran on the national rail network last year in addition to the heritage lines.
Says Mark Garnier, MP for Wyre Forest and Chairman of the Group, ‘Britain pioneered heritage railways and is unique in the extent and richness of its railway heritage. This report is the first time the extent and success of the heritage railway movement has been fully assessed and the results are impressive.
‘What has been achieved has been remarkable and with a few recommendations to Government and the continuing enthusiasm of the army of railway volunteers and the loyal staff, we believe a lot more can be achieved in the future.’
Emboldened by his recent interview in RailStaff, transport minister Simon Burns MP, said, ‘Britain has a great rail heritage and as well as preserving an important aspect of the nation’s history, heritage railways also make an important contribution in supporting tourism and local economies. We are looking closely at the report and will consider its findings.’