Could the Williams Review put main line heritage and charter operations at risk?

Andy Castledine highlights potential impact of network changes

THE Williams Review – the remit of which is “to look at the structure of the whole rail industry” – was announced by Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling to much industry fanfare.

Headed by former British Airways chief executiveKeith Williams, the review, launched on October 11, will examine the structureof the industry “including increasing integration between track and train,regional partnerships and improving value for money for passengers and taxpayers”.

Some in the heritage sector may be forgiven forthinking this doesn’t apply to them, or the consequences of this review will beinconsequential to heritage operations. On the contrary, there are a number of risks.

The ‘right to roam’ on the network granted sincePrivatisation may be lost entirely or the ‘roaming rights’ severely curtailed to a number of heritage-approved routes. It must be remembered the heritage operations enjoyed by so many are in fact ‘guests’ on the network, fitting around the timetabled services.

Heritage operations sometimes have incompatible braking systems – thankfully vacuum braking is on the wane; do not have compatible coupling systems with modern multiple units; and almost always do not perform like modern rolling stock, with longer acceleration and braking times.

Therefore, the heritage operations do use more network capacity than equivalent modern services.

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