Vintage Trains granted TOC status to operate steam locomotives on the national network

7029 Clun Castle vintage trains
Credit: Vintage Trains

Vintage Trains Limited has announced that they have been granted its passenger charter licence by the Office of Rail and Road.

This means that they have become the first ever Train Operating Company to be owned by the public and charitably controlled.

Back in June, Vintage Trains Community Benefit Society had raised £850,000. This allowed Vintage Trains Limited to be launched.

Securing its operating licence now means that Vintage Trains Limited can now operate steam trains on the national network, including luxury Pullman dining trains.

New facilities

In their business plan, Vintage Trains wants to upgrade the standard of their fleet of carriages as well as building a new engine shed to house their locomotive fleet. The share issue has been extended until 31st December 2018 with the hope of raising £2.2 million.

World-class leadership

On top of all this, Vintage Trains Limited is led by stalwarts in the rail industry – Adrian Shooter as chairman and Cath Bellamy as Managing Director. Mr. Shooter joined British Rail in the 1970s before heading up the M40 Trains Management, which would become today’s Chiltern Railways. He is currently at the head of Vivarail, who are bringing groundbreaking Class 230 trains to Britain.

Miss Bellamy was Managing Director of Chiltern Railways until 2007 where she went on to run open access operator, Hull Trains.

Apprenticeship programme

At the heart of the operations is to keep skills alive. Over the years, Tyseley has collected a large amount of machinery to keep the wheels turning and the pistons pumping. To help keep the trains moving, Vintage Trains Limited will create a new apprentice training programme.

Other operators and awards

Vintage Trains has a good relationship with train operating companies that operate in the West Midlands, they are also looking integrating ticketing for the wider network.

Tyseley Locomotive Works has also been presented with an Engineering Heritage Award by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. They have become the 121st winner of the award, with previous winners including the E-Type Jaguar and the Concorde airliner.

Steam locomotives and carriages

Vintage Trains has a range of steam locomotives in their fleet:

  • ‘Castle’ No. 7029 ‘Clun Castle’ – fresh from overhaul
  • ‘Castle’ No.5043 ‘Earl of Mount Edgcumbe’ – approaching a light overhaul
  • ‘Castle’ No.5080 ‘Defiant’ – awaiting its turn in the overhaul queue
  • ‘Hall’ No.4965 ‘Rood Ashton Hall’
  • GWR ‘Pannier’ No.7752
  • ‘Pannier’ No.7760
  • ‘Pannier’ No.9600
  • ‘Hall’ No.4936 ‘Kinlet Hall’ – privately owned  – currently undergoing an overhaul
  • BR Class 8 No.71000 ‘Duke of Gloucester’ – privately owned – currently undergoing an overhaul
  • LMS ‘Jubilee’ No.5593 ‘Kolhapur’

Both 4936 ‘Kinlet Hall’ and 71000 ‘Duke of Gloucester’ will both be on the roster soon. Their owners have agreed to base them at Tyseley.

Vintage Trains Limited also has a range of heritage carriage stock. This includes full dining facilities with a health and safety regime for running on the mainline.

What did the officials say?
Chairman

Michael Whitehouse, Chairman of Vintage Trains Community Benefit Society said:

 ‘The successful share issue that has enabled our TOC status is the start of a very exciting journey to develop Tyseley into a global centre of excellence in the running and ongoing preservation of steam on the main line and in turn, maintain the heritage skills required to do so. And of course our very first engine returns from overhaul to lead the charge – 7029 Clun Castle.’

‘The romance of steam hauled travel is in high demand from the public and we know that businesses are looking for innovative opportunities for corporate hospitality so we believe that a managed and above all, accessible programme to appealing destinations in Pullman comfort will have wide appeal’.

Managing Director

Cath Bellamy said:

“I am absolutely delighted that we have now been awarded our licence, which represents a major achievement.  Without fail, steam travel brings a smile to people’s faces and I really can’t wait to introduce it to new passengers of all ages and backgrounds throughout the country.  But we also need to ensure it has a future for many years to come.  Vintage Trains intends to lead the field in developing a pipeline of new and younger steam drivers, footplate crew and engineers, supporting training and apprenticeships and building on the award winning record of Tyseley Locomotive Works.  Express Steam travel should be the pride of our industry.  We intend to step up to the plate in playing our part and call on volunteers, investors and industry partners to help us in that goal.”

President

Mr Tony Roche, the President of the Institution, said:

“2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Tyseley Depot opening its doors to the public for the first time with its incredible display of steam locomotives, so I am delighted to present this award in such a significant year for the Locomotive Works. This plaque recognises both the importance of the engineering and the educational aspect of the steam railway depot, which gives visitors a taste of the thrill of seeing a live steam locomotive.”

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Michael Holden avatar
I have had an interest in Railways for as long as I can remember. I am a member of a number of heritage railways and actively volunteer at 2 of them. I enjoy all types of railways, real life, model and simulations. I started RailAdvent in 2014 and am the main editor of the site.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I remember the steam trains in the 1960s and I go on them when I can. I am now a Paraplegic so I have a wheelchair
    Which slows me down a bit, but I enjoy the guards van experience. I really like the GWR engines and live near Ipswich
    and am thrilled about the new developments

  2. […] In their business plan, Vintage Trains wants to upgrade the standard of their fleet of carriages as well as building a new engine shed to house their locomotive fleet. The share issue has been extended until 31st December 2018 with the hope of raising £2.2 million. Vintage Trains granted TOC status to operate steam locomotives on the national network […]

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