Wednesday 5 October 2016

The Day that Onboard Wifi became 'Heritage'

We'll own up.

The Annual Convention of the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust did look from the outside a collection of lucky, lucky people with flexible friends that were always contactless just by the smell of the huge available funds that wreaked from them. Spar would roll out the red carpet and push Jeremy Corbyn to one side to kneel before them as they headed straight towards the premium Baked Beans. Each one of them on average handed over almost £200 each in one weekend.

Despite peace breaking out from Shropshire over the past 36 Hours, we were reluctant to bite the hand that will never feed us by taking the piss out of people filthier richer than us. So we didn't.


The announcement that followed was quite extraordinary and unexpected. 

The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust (A1SLT) ran one Railtour in 2015. They went and ran one more in 2016. The prolificness of their railtour operation wouldn't lead people to believe they need to take over a Steamtown and turn the place into a Mk1 / Class 47 Graveyard just yet.

So what would this Trust need with a rake of ex-Anglia Mk3 sheds coaches?

Well the big announcement from A1SLT is that they are buying a rake of the things from Anglia, doing them up to a top standard and building a brand new Train for the A1 and the P2 to pull all of their tours. A large rush of blood for a train a year you would think.

Not for this new breed of railtour. 'Engineering activity' is now focused on making Tornado run at 90mph and for 200 miles so it can fit in with Class 158s bumbling towards Scarborough. This will make Tornado agile and ready to keep the Clarksons of the world happy again as they steam past Doncaster locating houses where he had a shag in the past.

Sounds fantastic to us, and sounds a real leap forward for steam on the mainline - fast steam on the mainline at that.

It all looks to be paid for by those premium Beans fed supporters and the 'Heritage Lottery Fund'.


Here is where we are stuck. And we will elaborate further with the details from Darlington. The new exuberant Anglia Mk3s will have the luxury of Air Conditioning and Power at Seat (to check the bank balances after buying the ticket) and controlled emission toilets. When you check that bank balance and drop the almightiest of frightening 'Bank Balance Nervous Turd' just South of Banbury, the smell of your nervousness is spread across Oxfordshire in a controlled manner. Phew.

Oh, and the coaches may likely have Wifi.

Now I don't know what image you have of the 'Age of Steam', but controlled turd emissions and Wifi is not on the list. This is not what impressed Cuneo as he sat at the end of the Forth Bridge. Where does this high class plan fit into 'Heritage'?

With the world and excitement of New Builds, have we now lost what Heritage is?

Is this Heritage?
This is about to be Heritage
We are fearful of what this step entails. Heritage becomes a luxurious train that only a few Baked Bean eaters will benefit from. 

The masses will see Tornado and revel in it, the masses will see Prince of Wales and laugh at those ears. Will they experience the world of Steam from those clapped out Mk1s? Or should they experience the world of Steam from a renovated Mk3?

The A1SLT pleaded their case for disposing of these clapped out Mk1 carriages. The railtour market is 'dominated by difficult to maintain 60 years or older vehicles'. Either Heritage has moved ever closer to us or we are getting older.

More New Builds

The New Build 'fad' is here to stay. It is staying in the form of many 'new build projects' scattered around the sheds of the UK. The impending V4 and V3 locomotives that the A1SLT will be providing once they send a Prince out at 90mph to Scarborough are now on the list.

Great News. Who wouldn't want to see all of these locomotives at a Premium Priced Gala with onboard Wifi? We would admit we would. We know the 'masses' would too.

Who wouldn't want to see another completely unsuitable 9F in Black, or another GWR 2-8-0 storming to Minehead? We would admit we would. We're not too sure about those 'masses'. Unless it has a Peppa Pig on the running board or a face hanging from that smokebox, every day, it's a tough sell.

This announcement from A1SLT is big. A seismic shift from an organisation that less than 12 months ago cancelled a Railtour because of lack of sales.

They see the future as onboard Wifi and carefully emissed shite. We are worried that everyone else may see that as the future too.

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