In Tony Streeter’s regular ‘Down Main’ pages in SR467, he put forward the idea of ‘hard-core’ main line steam aimed purely at gricers who have been put off by the recent changes to railtours.
The idea comes from SR reader Steve Dymond, positing a new type of trip marketed at the heavy-duty enthusiast, separate from those railtours which appeal for to the general public – no frills but ‘nailed on’, capturing old scenarios and giving the enthusiast exactly what they want.
Principles of such tours would include being reserving the first vehicles behind the support coach for those who want to hear/record the engine, with timers “further back, with window seats guaranteed," says Steve.
“If the rake is not being turned at the destination, the ‘listeners’ swap ends, so that they are still at the front on the way back. This is made clear in advertising/booking... Of course, if everyone wants to hear, then no-one moves.”
Key to Steve’s idea is that it “doesn’t run until everything is as advertised, no matter how many postponements are needed. This would be clearly stated in advertising…”
So, what sort of trains would Steve seek to put on? Well, get ready for just how 'hard-core' this could be, because how about the 2.45am Waterloo-Bournemouth ‘papers’?
“Why not?” asks Steve. He suggests running it “in late June for maximum daylight” with a ‘Bulleid’ or ‘Standard Five’, and including stops at major stations as the paper trains did, “for leisurely breaks in the morning light.”
Breakfast in Bournemouth could be followed by shopping, the beach, or a trip to Swanage - before an evening run back to London.
Another suggestion is recreating York-Bournemouth cross-country trains. Yet another a ‘Jubilee’-hauled train each way between Bristol and Leeds/Sheffield and pannier No. 9466 as banker “at you know where”.
Is there a market for such ideas? Steve accepts his suggestions are ‘hard-core’ - but as for how many people might be interested he has a simple suggestion: “Ask them.”
So, what do you think? Would you go for a trip that aimed to be as close as possible to the real thing? And if so, only in daytime, or even if it ran in the middle of the night…?