Posts Tagged ‘Michael Binyon’

The magic of steam

Saturday, 4 April 2009

60163_310109_newcastle

2008 built, Peppercorn A1 pacific, 60163 approaches Newcastle on Saturday 31 January 2009, hauling her first main line train carrying passengers, The Peppercorn Pioneer. Photo Wikipedia Commons.

(Click to see original high resolution photograph and details of licensing.)

There is a great article in today’s Times by Michael Binyon which nicely captures the magic of steam. It is steam that draws people to ride on heritage railways. It is steam that brings tens of thousands to Wielkopolska to photograph Europe’s last scheduled main line steam service and it is steam that could yet come to the rescue of Poland’s crumbling heritage railways.

All aboard for the new age of steam

Tornado, the engine that has brought back the romance of rail travel, is a hit across the length and breadth of Britain

Wherever it has ventured, it has attracted crowds of people. As it raced up to the North or cruised down to Southampton, thousands turned out to wave and cheer. Children were hoisted aloft. Men hung from bridges and stood on car roofs.

Enthusiasts waited hours in muddy fields for a fleeting view. At King’s Cross throngs blocked the platforms and when it blew a cloud of steam over the Duchess of Cornwall in York, the Prince of Wales burst out laughing.

Indeed, in its six short months of life, Tornado, the first mainline steam engine built in Britain for almost 50 years, has been a film star, splashed across newspaper pages and filmed in action by the thousands who contributed to its £3 million cost and waited 18 years to see an A1 Pacific locomotive running on Britain’s main lines again.

Click here, for the rest of the article.

Alas, too many of Poland’s historic steam engines are not chuffing along the lines to which they belong. Instead they are ‘plinthed’ outside railway stations, or locked up in skansens, or stored in sidings known only to scrap thieves. Open air storage, particularly in Poland’s extreme weather conditions, means slow death to a complex iron and steel machine.

Binyon’s article should be translated into Polish and be sent to all Polish local authorities that own narrow gauge railways that are operated by Romanian diesel locomotives. It makes my blood boil that the Mayor of Rewal who has launched a 34 million PLN EU assisted project to restore his fragment of the Pomeranian narrow gauge railways is spending most of the money on buildings and not a single zloty is earmarked for acquiring a steam engine or rolling stock restoration.

Meanwhile a few people have seen the light. The Mayor of Smigiel is meeting Howard Jones on Monday to discuss the possible restoration of Px48 1765 to working order. The Mayor of Krasne, the custodian of the Mlawa Railway, would love to hear from a ‘well off Englishman’ or a consortium of Brits who would wish to become a ‘godfather’  to his derelict Px48 1758 and help him restore the locomotive to working order. Favourable terms available. He would even consider alternate years working on the Mlawa Railway and the narrow gauge railway of the benefactor’s choice. I guess that depending on how much work was actually carried out by consortium members, such a project would cost some 200,000 – 250.000 PLN, approximately 41 – 50,000 GBP.

So how about it BTWT readers? We can’t all build a main line pacific, but we could restore a narrow gauge Px48 to active life!

Mława Railway videos: