Bio: More than ten years’ involvement at the sharp end of railway publishing has brought Nick to the editor’s chair of Britain’s biggest steam magazine. A lifelong passion for the hobby takes him around British and world railways; as a journalist, photographer and volunteer. He enjoys getting out and about, and meeting readers at the eclectic range of steam events happening around the country.
Q: What’s your favourite steam ‘hot spot’?
A: Outside of the UK, it has to be the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway in northern India. The ever-changing scenery, from dusty plains, through remote jungle, to spectacular mountain tops is quite remarkable. This combined with beautifully engineered loops and zig-zags makes it a special railway in itself, but its charm is only completed by the cheeky ‘B’ class 0-4-0ST/WTs that scurry between Darjeeling and Gum on a daily basis.
Bio: My previous boss (in the model railway business) used to introduce me to everyone by saying: "This is Toby, and he was born 50 years too late". He wasn't joking - had I been born at the right time (and given better eyesight) I'd have been genuinely happy to join the railways and spend my life working on the footplate.
Q. What was the first preserved railway you visited?
A. The first steam event I went to was the Yeovil Railway Festival in 1994 aged 9, which involved the 'M7' renumbered as No. 30129, followed by the MHR with 'Standard Five' No. 73096 running as Merlin - so right from the start I was pleased to be copping 'recreated' locomotives from the steam era that I don't remember...but wish I did.
Bio: There are two things that have been important parts of Tom's life ever since he was in short trousers - steam and telling stories, although his first encounter with a steam locomotive terrified him! He didn't let that experience put him off and today there's nowhere Tom would rather be than sampling the delights of Britain's railway preservation scene. With a background in film and TV, Tom will be bringing Steam Railway into the 21st century.
q. what is your favourite class of locomotive?
A. I've always had a soft spot for the 'Princess Coronations' ('Duchess' to you and I!) and my ambition would be to see a streamlined No. 6229 tackling the S&C once again. The Bulleid 'Light Pacifics' also have a hold over me - one of my first footplate rides was on No. 34028 Eddystone at Swanage. However, ask me again tomorrow as I might have changed my mind!
Bio: Still Steam Railway's longest serving editor, Tony has written non-stop since 1999. During his time editing what was then Britain's biggest-selling railway magazine (2001-2006), he oversaw projects including resurrecting Oliver Cromwell and City of Truro, and streamlining Duchess of Hamilton. Now largely occupied by modern rail, he still covers steam through Down Main.
Q. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BEST MAIN LINE EXPERIENCE?
A. There have been too many! Bittern's 90mph runs...City of Truro back at Whiteball...'Cromwell' ending 160 years of Folkestone Harbour history...Tyseley's non-stop 'Bristolian'...London-Edinburgh, Tornado all the way...taking the first preserved 'Spam Can' from Waterloo...Then there was a very different main line experience: Jingpeng with Steam Railway's China trips.
Bio: When he joined BR from university in 1964 his father described it as turning professional! In those days it was necessary to keep under wraps any overt 'railway enthusiasm' (and especially interest in steam) in order to advance career-wise. After 47 years as a transport professional he enjoys the freedom in retirement to be able to concentrate on the hobby, which still retains the capacity to surprise and excite.
Q. What were the highlights?
A. It is fantastic that so much good performance still happens on the main line with dedicated and enthusiastic train crews. Limiting myself to this century, highlights include 60163's initial night test run from York to Newcastle and back, in striking grey livery, in November 2008; Bittern's 90 mph test run in May 2013 from Southall to Didcot and back in the early hours, and of course the 90 mph runs on the ECML the following month. Also, my own French and Swiss steam-hauled multi-day charters which I began in 2000 and which culminated in my 'Mistral' tour in 2007 which was the first to use newly restored 241P 17.
Bio: Steam Railway’s longest-serving continuous contributor, recording narrow gauge railway news in more than 250 issues to date. I was never more than a token train spotter as a lad, making occasional forays to Abbey Lane Sidings (GC) and Leicester Midland with pals. On the bus home from school I occasionally saw the cut-down Midland Railway locos on the West Bridge branch and once saw GT3 at West Bridge. I went to Teddy Boston’s Cadeby Light Railway soon after it was opened in the 1960s and got seriously interested in the preservation scene from the 1970s.
Q. SO WHAT IS IT ABOUT the NARROW GAUGE FOR YOU?
A. The railways are all different, with their own distinctive characters, from the shortest to the longest, and most of the locos, too.
Bio: Mark's been writing for Steam Railway over a decade now, and been involved in hands on railway preservation for much longer than that. Industrial railways and locomotives are his passion. He delights in the unusual, the obscure and the untold...if you ever want to talk about rare National Coal Board wagons, Mark is your man!
Q. WHAT'S THE BEST SOUND IN RAILWAY PRESERVATION?
A. I think you'd have to go a long way to beat an 'Austerity' at full cry on an unfitted mineral train...the clanging buffers and squealing of flanges just audible over the raucous exhaust. And of course it sounds even better from the footplate or van.
Bio: Professional journalist, retired from Belfast Telegraph in 2009, founding member in 1964 of Railway Preservation Society of Ireland, still involved at Whitehead where he volunteers in the track squad. A board member of the NI Museums Council, and a keen member of the Spartan Red Sox walking club.
q. what is your favourite line?
A. The Great Northern Railway (Ireland) main line from Belfast to Dublin. Every section offers interest. As a timer, I love the challenges this 115-mile line involves in terms of locomotive performance. The highlight is always the Wellington Bank (10-mile climbs in each direction), and then there is Kellystown (five mile climbs in each direction). Scenery wise, take your pick from magnificent views of the South Armagh hills and the coastal section between Drogheda and Dublin with its spectacular views across the Irish Sea. And when No.85 Merlin, the 1932-built GNR (I) Compound, is in full cry on her home line with an RPSI special, there's nowhere I would prefer to be.