True stories from the Great Railway Disaster

A weekly chronicle of the absurdities caused by the Government's privatisation programme; No 44: so they want to tax toys?
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The Independent Online
EVER since the days of Hornby tinplate trains in the Thirties, rail companies have allowed model-railway makers free use of their logos. No longer. Toy trains are not immune from the effects of rail privatisation.

Hornby, the country's largest train-set manufacturer, has had to pay a fee of a few hundred pounds to two of the soon-to-be-privatised freight companies for using logos on train sets.

Mainline Freight has been making what it calls a small one-off charge for "administrative costs". A spokeswoman said that this was because of the expense in providing information and artwork. Transrail Freight also charges, but the innocence of a former age still lives on in the third of the freight companies which have been hived off from BR. Richard Holmes of Loadhaul, said: "We would never dream of charging. We think it's a real compliment that the model manufacturers want to use our logo. It gives us excellent free publicity."

Not only logos are seen as a potential source of income for the privatised companies. According to the letters columns of Rail magazine, a railwaywoman recently warned a passenger at Barking that he was not allowed to photograph trains "unless the photographs are for your own personal use". Cameras were banned on a trip by enthusiasts to the Cambridge depot of Res, which runs the mail trains. As one reader pointed out, they can hardly stop people taking photographs of trains from bridges and other vantage points.