Rail sale leaves Hornby unchuffed

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The Independent Online
CHRISTIAN WOLMAR

Transport Correspondent

Even toy trains are not immune from rail privatisation. In future, model train enthusiasts will find that they have to pay a bit extra for their chuffas because privatised firms are now seeking to cash in on the miniature market by charging fees for the use of their logos.

Hornby, the country's largest train-set maker, has had to pay a "registration fee" of a few hundred pounds to the soon-to-be privatised freight companies for the use of their logos. According to Simon Kohler, marketing manager of Hornby, it is part of a growing commercialisation of the industry: "We're finding more and more companies are charging us for using their logos."

British Rail used to allow firms to use their logos free, but some of the new freight companies feel they must charge. A spokeswoman for Mainline Freight said: "We want to control how our logo is being used and so we have started charging for people to use it. After all, these companies are in the business to make money and do so by selling locomotives with our logo on it, so why shouldn't we charge?" She stressed that it was only a small one-off charge for "administrative costs".

Mr Kohler said he was now worried that the passenger services, some of which are due to be sold off next year, will also start charging for the logos. But the innocence of a former age lives on. Richard Holmes, head of communications for another freight company, Loadhaul, said: "We would never dream of charging. We think its a real compliment that the model manufacturers want to use our logo."

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