Maybe steam will return to the Woodhead route

Flying Scotsman, one of the Gresley Pacifics that worked on the Woodhead Route.
Flying Scotsman, one of the Gresley Pacifics that worked on the Woodhead Route.
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My colleagues and I have read with interest your article entitled “Forgotten Sheffield railway line could be revived with steam and commuter trains”, by Robert Cumber and dated July 26, 2018.

We applaud Mr Breen’s efforts for heritage rail and steam locomotives but do wonder if he has done his homework on what is involved in running a “decent” heritage railway.

Elsecar Heritage Railway is South Yorkshire’s only and decent heritage railway.

The railway is community owned, run entirely by volunteers, (including from Sheffield), for the community.

Our railway has ambitious sustainability and growth plans that we are working hard on and has excellent feedback from our visitors, especially our footplate courses which attract people from all over the world.

In opening the Woodhead line as a heritage and commuter attraction, Mr Breen will be faced with complex legislation and regulation, stringent safety requirements, protracted planning negotiations with authorities, sourcing heritage vehicles in a market that has short supply and seeking staff or volunteers with skills that are extremely challenging to find. The costs are frightening and the heritage rail movement has to fight hard for revenue in a fiercely competitive visitor attraction market.

With the resources available to us, Elsecar is a success story and we are proud of what we achieve.

Rather than knocking us, Mr Breen can learn from us and I would welcome a discussion with him.

To the people of South Yorkshire who make Elsecar Heritage Railway a great success I send my congratulations and to our visitors from all over the county and much further afield I give my thanks and look forward to welcoming you back to our very decent railway again.

Maybe, with the vision of Mr Breen and/or Don Valley Railway, we will see steam return to the Woodhead route and what a wonderful sight it will be to see a steam express on the Wicker Arches!

Andy Earl

Chairman Elsecar Heritage Railway