Letter: Millions who enjoy steam trains

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The Independent Online
Sir: I was saddened to read Christian Wolmar's article 'On the wrong track' (30 July), attacking the efforts of those of us who struggle to restore and preserve the steam trains that run on our 80 or so private railways - although I am not sure that I understand why he hates our activities so.

Last year, an estimated eight million passengers travelled on our preserved lines, paying higher mileage rates than on British Rail because, one assumes, they enjoyed the experience and considered it good value. We are not concerned whether they travel for the pure pleasure of it; to go shopping, as many campers do at Sheringham in north Norfolk; to go to work, as some local residents do on the West Somerset Railway; or to go to school, as do more than 200 children each day on the Romney Hythe & Dymchurch Railway during term time.

Speed is not everything, as I found when I travelled on the same line as Mr Wolmar at an average rate of 15mph in Sardinia, but we have no wish to take over the national network any more than those who enjoy driving a coach-and-four wish to replace the motor car on our motorways. We give our time freely and we enjoy what we do.

I like to think that we give a lot of people - especially children - a lot of pleasure, and we do generate extra business for BR, on whom, despite misleading press reports to the contrary, we have no designs.

So don't sneer at us, Mr Wolmar; we're really on the same side.

Yours faithfully,


Association of Railway

Preservation Societies

London, SW3

31 July