The North Yorkshire Moors Railway was the focus of Michael Learmouth’s letter in Platform, issue 223, highlighting the effect late running on heritage lines can have on individuals travelling by public transport. It may surprise you to hear I agree with every word of his email. I also apologise for his long wait following his missed bus.
There are inevitably times when a heritage railway will not run to time. We are, after all, running lines with heritage equipment, often at much greater frequency than they ever did pre-preservation. This inevitably stretches resources and infrastructure. There is therefore, to a certain extent, an excuse for the occasional faux pas.
What there is not an excuse for is continual late running to the point it becomes the accepted norm. I acknowledge that the NYMR has been guilty of this.
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We do, however, appreciate the impact we can have on somebody’s otherwise very enjoyable day when we run late. The good news is we have taken initiatives to improve this in 2016. The improvements range from not only an improved off-peak timetable, but also procedural reviews that look at operational practices that can be simplified without effecting safety.
We will be constantly reviewing this in 2017 and I encourage people to come along and see how we do: be kind, this is work in progress.
I would however add, the beauty of heritage railways is their quirkiness and I doubt we will ever eradicate the occasional late or even cancelled train. Steam engines are fickle things, built at a time when dad had to make sure the car was prepared for a long run.
We are spoilt now with our cars that start on the button and need servicing every 20,000 miles. Maybe this is why we now judge heritage railways by a near 100% standard they were never envisaged to achieve? We can only do our best.
Chris Price, general manager,
North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
Read more letters, opinion, news and views in Issue 225 of Heritage Railway – out now!