By Cedric Johns and Brian Sharpe
Saturday, April 14, was a big day in the history of main line steam preservation, as Saphos Trains’ first steam railtour, the ‘North Wales Coast Express’ made its historic journey from Crewe to Holyhead hauled by LMS 4-6-0 No. 46100 Royal Scot.
This was the first time for many years that a new Train Operating Company had run a steam-hauled passenger train on the main line, an achievement that should not be underestimated.
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When British Railways was privatised in 1994, main line steam operations were exclusively handled by EWS (English Welsh & Scottish Railways) and this monopoly was only broken by David Smith’s Carnforth-based West Coast Railways which made a successful bid to become a TOC which specialised in steam.
Many TOCs have come and gone but West Coast has tended to be the dominant force in main line steam while the successor to EWS, DB Cargo, continues to handle the remaining part of the steam market.
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