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My idea to bring together all of the UK heritage railways

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Master Cutler

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With all of the financial and operational issues we face post COVID I can see the day, in the not too distant future, when there will be an opportunity for a suitable charitable body to be created, such as The National Trust, to bring together all of the UK heritage railways.
Complicated as it may be, it would mean that centralised funds were available to help the unforeseen events that cause many lines to face financial difficulty.
It could be initiated as a progressive acquisition of lines, much the same as The National Trust/English Heritage acquired many of their properties.
 
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JonathanH

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With all of the financial and operational issues we face post COVID I can see the day, in the not too distant future, when there will be an opportunity for a suitable charitable body to be created, such as The National Trust, to bring together all of the UK heritage railways.
Complicated as it may be, it would mean that centralised funds were available to help the unforeseen events that cause many lines to face financial difficulty.
It could be initiated as a progressive acquisition of lines, much the same as The National Trust/English Heritage acquired many of their properties.
There is clearly a Heritage Railway Association to which all of the railways associate themselves for good reason. However, the fact is that the railways have disparate aims, existing revenues and supporters. It would seem rather difficult to bring them together to operate as one entity given this. Provisions for centralised funds have to take into account the realistic viability of each railway.

Even the National Trust has to decide which of its operations get funding and no doubt for each property / venue to cover its costs.
 

LSWR Cavalier

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@Master Cutler
A sort of nationalisation, +1!

All sorts of trades and industries have such umbrella bodies to represent competing organisations, an interesting dilemma?
 
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Master Cutler

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There is clearly a Heritage Railway Association to which all of the railways associate themselves for good reason. However, the fact is that the railways have disparate aims, existing revenues and supporters. It would seem rather difficult to bring them together to operate as one entity given this. Provisions for centralised funds have to take into account the realistic viability of each railway.

Even the National Trust has to decide which of its operations get funding and no doubt for each property / venue to cover its costs.
The idea is a bit "pie in the sky" and I understand the need for each heritage railway to retain their individual character, but in terms of maintaining permanent way and infrastructure operations, perhaps a body such as a Quango could be set up.
Then, with a secondary source of funds, unforeseen track bed events such as land slips or structural deterioration would not have such an impact on heritage operating funds.
With the now prominent position heritage rail has in generating tourist revenue for many areas as well as other allied industries, it's the next 50 years and beyond that needs some form of stability to reward the efforts of the army of volunteers and devoted individuals who have got us this far.

Quango is an acronym used especially in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. Quangos are arms-length bodies funded by government departments but not run by them. They are given power and paid for by government departments. They were invented because most government departments do two rather different jobs.
 

Llandudno

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On the face of it seems like a good idea, but can you imagine the infighting!

I would like the idea of Heritage Rail Membership card, that for an annual fee, say £30 you get a one third discount off heritage rail fares, not sure how you would divvy up all the membership fees though!

Alternatively all the subscriptions go into a marketing fund to promote heritage railways on social media and maybe submit travel blogs/vlogs/YouTube videos etc..
 

JonathanH

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I would like the idea of Heritage Rail Membership card, that for an annual fee, say £30 you get a one third discount off heritage rail fares, not sure how you would divvy up all the membership fees though!
I think each railway would need to put their fares up to compensate for that. They already rely heavily on donations on top of the fares they can charge commercially, not to mention volunteer labour.
 

70014IronDuke

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@Master Cutler
A sort of nationalisation, +1!

Indeed! And 25 years after combining all Heritage Lines under one big umbrella, you could privatise them all off by keeping the infrastructure(s) as one - we could call it "HeritageTrack" - flog the rolling stock off to banks, and make TOCs bid for the franchise to operate the lines :)

And any delay over 15 minutes would mean the punters could get a ticket refund :)
 

busmanaams

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This stinks of back door Socialist-dogma nationalisation.

Nationalisation means bureaucracy and layer upon layer of "management".

Most heritage railways are low-cost bodies because of their dependence on willing, volunteer labour. Would this continue as part of a nationwide set-up? Of course not!
 

Master Cutler

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The Canal and River Trust business model translated into heritage railways may be a way to make finances available during times of financial crisis.
 

6Gman

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The idea is a bit "pie in the sky" and I understand the need for each heritage railway to retain their individual character, but in terms of maintaining permanent way and infrastructure operations, perhaps a body such as a Quango could be set up.
Then, with a secondary source of funds, unforeseen track bed events such as land slips or structural deterioration would not have such an impact on heritage operating funds.
With the now prominent position heritage rail has in generating tourist revenue for many areas as well as other allied industries, it's the next 50 years and beyond that needs some form of stability to reward the efforts of the army of volunteers and devoted individuals who have got us this far.
A "secondary source of funds" from where?
 

option

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National Trust & CaRT are single organisations because they started off as single organisations.

Heritage railways have all started as separate organisations, some as separations from others.
The Heritage Railway Association already does a lot of what a single body would do, & is developing further, eg. they are setting up a new Heritage Rail Safety and Standards Board.

I do expect there to be some rationalisation though. There is a limited amount of engines/locos, carriage stock & volunteers, & if the successful lines continue to grow, then they'll require more of everything.
 
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