Monday 29 February 2016

Heritage Railway Enthusiasts turfed out of Heritage Railway

The Scotsman Circus certainly knows how to keep rolling. After scenes of anarchy on the Down Fast of the East Coast Main Line last week, it seems the waves of sweat are starting to build on the foreheads of those who are hosting the Flying Scotsman Circus next.

First to blink was The Severn Valley Railway today, in an announcement that was subtly drifted out this Lunchtime by way of a change of title for their star 'Autumn Steam Gala' event.

The Gala is no more. It has been dropped. In it's place is 'Pacific Power' starring 'Tornado'.

And the other guest, well you guessed it, 'Flying Scotsman'.

Thats it. There is the guest list. Scotsman has now officially reached the point of holding its very own Gala in the primetime position of Autumn Steam Gala weekend on the Severn Valley Railway. Its back at the top of the ratings.

But wait.

What about those who had already seen the advertisements for the Autumn Steam Fest? Those that had booked Bed & Breakfast, Flights, Hotels, Thermos Covers, Step Ladders etc. The enthusiasts.

Now for argument sake we are going to put Enthusiasts into a Group. We will then douse the Group in Lynx and show them just how bloody expensive this 'hobby' is. To enter this group you need to visit a Steam Railway once a year and grumble over the editorial direction of 'Steam Railway'. If you tick these boxes you are a Steam Enthusiast. Sorry to break it to you, but it is true.

Is 'Pacific Power' an event for the Steam Enthusiast? No. We could list lots of reasons but those enthusiasts know that this event will be on the scale of a pink pig called Peppa visiting the Railway. Queuing systems, mass transport on a scale that would make Hull Trains wet themselves and run towards Withernsea. It will be awash with people, awash with iPads held by those stood over the yellow line. You know it, we know it. 

When you break it down, Kidderminster HQ has indeed decided to go fully commercial here. They have decided a pure people power event is more important than an Enthusiast gathering with all the added interests that come with a Severn Valley Autumn Steam Gala - Goods Trains, Night time Steam and any sense of authenticity.

For balance, some enthusiasts are filling the internet with reasoning behind this decision. Seeing an A1 and A3 together is much more important than just annoying an employee of Staples. It is a big deal, unprecedented. 

Well it happened last week in London, but we agree that you didn't have a view behind a family from Wolverhampton explaining it is 'Gordon' and 'Henry'.

But wait.

Is this big deal a big enough deal to remove an Enthusiast Driven Gala from the schedule? Well the Severn Valley have six months to mull this over. Will those threatening to change plans and visit other places stand by their threat. Will the Severn Valley even care once they receive the bumper tickets from Pacific Power?

We shouldn't underestimate this decision. A Heritage Railway has decided to cancel an Enthusiast Gala for a purely profit mass public appeal event. 

We can argue around whether those that visit 60103 will indeed return for another weekend behind a GWR 2-8-0 in 2017. We can almost guarantee that enthusiasts would return for a trip behind a 2-8-0. They have done for 50 years.

Brave decision Kidderminster. Now wipe your foreheads and wait until September ends.

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