Clun Castle’s debut postponed as Vintage Trains placed on hold

By Robin Jones and Cedric Johns

Having failed to make any progress following West Coast Railways’ advice that it would not operate any trains on its behalf after the end of 2017, Vintage Trains has announced that it will not be promoting any railtours in the first half of 2018.

In a news release that was addressed to Passengers and Friends, the Tyseley-based company said: “As many of you will know, we have aspirations to become our own operating company and take full control of our destiny for several years. We are well on our way to achieving this goal but there are no shortcuts.

LMS Jubilee 4-6-0 No. 45699 Galatea rounds the curve at Armathwaite with the Railway Touring Company’s ‘Winter Cumbrian Mountain Express’ returning from Carlisle on January 27. TREVOR GREGG

“The first passenger steam trains we anticipate being able to offer for sale to the public will be the ‘Shakespeare Express’ season starting in early July. It will be fitting that we will be able to celebrate the 20th year of promoting the ‘Express’ with our own operating company.”

The statement added that passengers may have read in the railway press that its train operator, West Coast Railways, had announced that, due to a shortage of footplate crews, that it would not be able to provide operations for Vintage Trains in 2018 and beyond.

Despite the announcement, VT had been in dialogue with West Coast and continued to promote its early 2018 plans, although having had no confirmation of any change of West Coast’s position by January, felt it unfair to keep their passengers waiting for news any longer.

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