I'd seen a hint of this in the last BLS email, but had confirmation letter from John Farrow today:
THE MIDLAND MEDLEY RAILTOUR - 31 MAY 2012
I am really sorry to advise you that insurmountable issues have arisen with this tour and we have found ourselves with no alternative but to cancel it.
At a meeting at Old Dalby in January attended by ourselves DB Schenker Serco (operators of the Test Track) and London Underground the tour was agreed even down to the precise route the train would take once it reached the Old Dalby site and which individual tracks would be traversed.
A cloud appeared on the horizon earlier this month when HMRI raised doubts as to whether the operation complied with the line/s scope of certification under the provisions of ROGS (the Railways and Other Guided Transport Systems Safety Regulations 2006)1 but Serco responded to them by pointing out that this was a DBS operation with appropriate controls, plans and safeguards which ought to be adequate.
However the correspondence clearly caused alarm bells to ring. A few days ago LU instructed Serco to cease all work on the trip and therefore to cancel it, on the basis that it had now become a much more complex task and it was distracting staff from the day-to-day operation of the Test Track (for which LU is paying).
It is not difficult to read between the lines here. Day-to-day performance issues with new LU rolling stock are making headlines, with the London mayoral elections on a knife-edge. Add to that the pressure the Olympics will place on LU to get new stock in service fast and you get the picture. This is high power stuff and the knives are out. A wise man it is said bows to the inevitable.
The line's ROGS certification is soon due for renewal and Serco tells us that an attempt is to be made to build in provision for incoming charter trains. If and when this happens they will advise us and we will hopefully revive the tour, but it is not possible to say when this will be.
We are sorry for the disappointment this cancellation will cause. As you know we never cancel tours through lack of support and up until now we had gone 15 months without cancelling or postponing a tour for reason -an enviable record! We hate cancelling our trips, and I'm really sorry we have had to do it this time.
John Farrow UK Railtours