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March 2019

March 2019 issue of The Railway Magazine OUT NOW!

This month’s issue of The RM is packed with some great features, the latest news and some fantastic photographs of both heritage and the main line railway. 

If you’d like to read this edition of The RM, then you can cut to the chase and download the digital version, order the print magazine, or better yet save those pennies and subscribe to The Railway Magazine

Here’s what you will find in the March issue:


After a 25-year absence, No. 7029 Clun Castle returns to the main line as the new flagship engine for Vintage Trains


The Government is providing £80million towards improving the resilience of the sea wall at Dawlish to damage and flooded tracks


Plans to develop a railway preservation scheme at Connemara, in the west of Ireland, are exclusively previewed


The scenic railway across the heart of England is put under the microscope. 

PLUS a free 32-page A5 supplement with 101 unusual facts about railways you may not have known.

The Railway Magazine is on sale in UK newsagents and supermarkets, and you can buy the current issue in digital and paper formats here!

You can also buy stacks of back issues of The RM but it’s cheaper to subscribe. Subscribers save money, get their copies delivered to their doorstep and never miss an issue!

Headline News

TfN confirms £39bn Northern Powerhouse Rail scheme, HS2 Old Oak Common designs revealed, Rail industry task force backs electrification, NR unveils Dawlish sea wall plans, HNRC expands with new Worksop depot, electrification complete on Manchester-Preston and Shotts routes.

Track Record The Railway Magazine’s monthly news digest

70 Steam & Heritage

WSR sells ‘Large Prairie’ to Dartmouth, ‘Sir Nigel’ joins Hosking main line fleet, Severn Valley ‘4MT’ 4-6-0 returns after overhaul, Calbourne to join BR black Adams ‘Radial’ at Bluebell gala, Southall GWR group disbands, £40k target for ‘County’ 4-4-0 wheel appeal. 

76 Industrial

78 Steam Portfolio

80 Irish

82 Narrow Gauge

84 Miniature

86 Network

90 Classic Traction

94 World

98 Railtours

102 Metro

104 Traction & Stock

Vivarail reveals hydrogen ‘D-Train’ concept, daylight testing underway with new TransPennine fleets, 50% of ScotRail Class 385 fleet now in service, Hull Trains gets ready for HST operation, May start for ex-Goblin ‘172s’ in West Midlands.

107 Stock Update

108 Traction Portfolio 

110 Freight

111 Operations


46 Reviews

54 Subscription Offer

Subscribe today to receive your monthly copies of The Railway Magazine from only £20.

56 Railways in Parliament

56 Readers’ Letters

60 Meetings

62 From The RMArchives

64 Panorama

Our regular gallery of the best railway photography from around the world.

116 Heritage Diary

Details of when Britain’s unique collection of heritage railways and railway museums are open.

129 Reader Services

130 Crossword and Where Is It?


16 Thames Valley Transformation

Keith Farr concludes his study of the transition from steam to electric traction on the Great Western Main Line from London Paddington over the last few decades. 

23 A Phoenix from the Ashes

Nicola Fox tells the fascinating story of Sierra Leone’s National Railway Museum, whose collection was saved from scrap in 2004 by a last minute intervention led by British army officer and former NRM chief Steve Davies. 

28 All Change on the Great Northern

Peter Brown takes a trip on the new Great Northern Class 717s, which will shortly replace the 43-year-old Class 313s – the oldest passenger trains still earning a living on the UK network.

35 Maam Cross: Ireland’s Quiet Railway Revival 

Deep in the heart of Connemara, a project to bring 5ft 3in-gauge steam back to County Galway is gathering pace. Gary Boyd-Hope meets Jim Deegan, the man behind this ambitious scheme.

40 Industrial Memories

A pictorial tribute to the atmospheric, but often little-known, steam-worked railways that served British industries long after main line steam had been consigned to history. 

48 The Cotswold Line 

Running east to west across some of England’s most attractive landscapes, this important route features an interesting mix of old and new, as Stephen Roberts discovers. 

On the cover

MAIN IMAGE: After many years out of action, Tyseley’s record-breaking ‘Castle’ 4-6-0 No. 7029 Clun Castle finally returned to the main line in February and was due to haul its first railtours as
The RM went to press. It is seen passing Stratford Parkway on test on February 21.

INSET 1: Old and new on the Cotswold Line. 

INSET 2: Rail revival plans in Connemara. 

INSET 3: All change on the Great Northern.


Can this rail fare mess ever be resolved?

PROPOSALS by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) to embark on a ‘once-in-a-generation reform’ to an archaic and over complex ticketing system are welcome and very much overdue. (See p6).

The plans from RDG are part of its contribution to the Williams Rail Review.

More than 20 years after the first franchise was awarded, and despite many previous promises by successive Governments to revise a structure with 55 million fare combinations covering 2,560 stations,  nothing has been done. It is still a confused – and confusing – mess.

A cursory check of fares between Edinburgh and Newcastle revealed 19 differently priced options, which is utterly ridiculous. 

Readers may recall a proposal three years ago for a trial of single-leg pricing on selected routes, partly to combat split ticketing, but also to offer a realistic price for a journey. 

You won’t be surprised to hear it was quietly dropped, because it would have involved some level of fare abstraction for the train operators involved, plus, I suspect, there was a lack of financial assistance from Department for Transport (DfT).

Under the present structure, one franchise needs approval from other franchises which may have an interest in the ‘passenger flow’ – no matter how small that interest is – before they can make changes. Above all, the DfT still has the controlling hand.

With the latest proposal, train operators insist fare changes must be ‘revenue neutral’, so some ticket prices will fall, others will rise in order to maintain the balance, with the end result aimed at not undermining the financial predictions on which the current franchises were won. 

In short, there will be some winners, some losers, but I can’t help thinking it will end up being another fudged opportunity where passengers still don’t get a good deal.  

Part of the RDG’s proposals is the ‘unbundling’ of fares to create a single fare as the basic unit of all pricing under the new system. However, the RDG says train companies will be able to create ‘discounted, premium, train-specific and personalised variations’ of these fares. 

Isn’t that how we got into this mess in the first place?

There’s never been a better time to give a helping hand

VOLUNTEERS are the lifeblood of heritage railway movement.

However, the future of this key part of the tourism and leisure sector is at increasing risk.

The challenge facing heritage railways is not one of money (though that is vital) – it is a shortage of regular volunteers. 

The heritage business model very much hinges around volunteer labour, who often supplement paid staff. 

Quite rightly, visitors expect staff to greet and assist them, sell tickets, souvenirs or refreshments, answer questions, crew the trains or work in some of the unsung roles learning locomotive, carriage or wagon restoration and conservation. 

Many volunteers have been working at a railway or attraction for a long time – such as the Talyllyn’s John Bate who, after 68 years volunteering, still passes on his knowledge and expertise to younger volunteers. 

One of the problems is the age profile of many volunteers is upwards of 40 – and that’s not meant in a derogatory way. 

Speaking at the Heritage Railway Association (HRA) dinner and awards, Peter Waterman OBE,
called the future for the heritage industry ‘worrying’, adding young people have a far greater range of distractions than volunteers did 20, 30 or 40 years ago. 

With online gaming, social media pressures, long working hours, lengthy commutes, a pressure to keep fit, other hobbies and interests, or the lure of travel, it’s no surprise heritage organisations are finding it tough to attract new recruits. 

Each railway appears to have its own volunteer programme, fine-tuned for specific age ranges, but are they sharing best practice with other railways? Should there be courses which lead to NVQs, which would open the door to a rewarding career with one of the train operating companies?

While the HRA is now recognising the important work of young volunteers with an annual award – and indeed The RM is highlighting the work of young apprentices at the Severn Valley Railway – if you have a family member who you think would benefit from working at a heritage railway, contact them and speak to their volunteer liaison officer as a first step.

Maybe you’ve recently retired, have time on your hands and are looking to fill a few hours. 

Make that call to a railway which interests you –
it could be one of most rewarding calls you ever make.


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