Who couldn’t fail to be pleased and impressed about the content of the BBC programme ‘Return of the Flying Scotsman’ shown this week. The ELR were very proud to be part of that momentous week-end which was brilliantly captured for posterity.
I was pleased for all our staff and volunteers who worked tirelessly make it all happen despite the technical problems, large crowds, poor weather and long long hours.
I was also particularly pleased to see Ian Riley and his team recognised for their engineering genius behind the restoration to give us back the most famous loco in the world.
I am sure Heritage railways across the UK will welcome, with open arms, our ‘cheerleader’ back after 10 years being locked away. The unprecedented media and social media feeding frenzy will, I believe, give the whole Heritage movement a real and lasting bounce and is richly deserved recognition for the 20,000 plus volunteers nationally. Heritage railways are also important to local communities where over 8m people travelled on Heritage railways last year. For me the return of Scotsman tells us something else, it tells us the importance of heritage railways to local and national economies which contributes £250m to the UK leisure economy. It also tells us the that collectively Heritage have a powerful influence on the health and wellbeing of our communities because we offer a unique opportunity to experience railways from a bygone era and most of all we offer lots and lots of fun, excitement and pleasure.
Tourism Funding – And so was it coincidence that this week our national government offered Heritage and Community railways the chance to submit bids from a fund of £1m for successful bids (around 20) funds of up to £75,000 to promote tourism. We will of course be making a submission. My only criticism is that it’s all rushed, given bids have to be submitted by early April and projects to start by June.
Flying Scotsman’s return creates great optimism for its and our future where Heritage railways remain an enduring legacy for future generations to come and enjoy its many facets.