Are heritage lines bracing for impact of rail strikes?

05 October 2022
Railways and tourist sites with main line connections at risk of fewer visitors during crucial post-pandemic recovery.

Heritage sites and heritage railways with connections to the national network might see a decrease in visitors to their sites owing to the rail strikes which have been repeated today, October 5, with further strike action planned for October 8.

The nationwide rail strikes affecting many routes today are a result of members of the rail union ASLEF over a disagreement with rail companies and the government on 'real-term pay' and 'safety'. On October 8, members of union RMT are to strike over similar issues, it has stated, set to cause similar levels of disruption across the network.

For heritage railways such as The Severn Valley Railway, with a connection to the national network, passenger numbers are at risk at an all-important time of post-pandemic recovery. Alongside higher running costs experienced by many heritage railways owing to inflation and the price of coal, the potential impact of strike action on visitor numbers to the sites is likely to make budgeting more challenging, throwing uncertainty on forecasts.

"Fortunately we’re not affected by today’s rail strike as we’re not operating services." said the Severn Valley Railway's Head of Marketing and Communications, Lesley Carr.

The 16 mile-long Shropshire/Worcestershire heritage railway has already felt the impact of the UK's summer heatwave and is to see the return of steam-hauled services to the line after a fourth period of diesel haulage this year owing to the dry weather conditions and increased fire risk. Saturday October 8 will see the return of steam-hauled services to the line after a fourth period of heritage diesel haulage.

"The October 8 rail strike could make it more difficult for people to reach us, if they are planning to come by main line rail. We are contacting everyone who’s pre-booked for Saturday to highlight this and advise that they make alternative travel arrangements, and we’ll be posting on social media as well," she added.

The North Yorkshire Moors railway might also be affected, owing to its connection at Grosmont.

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Meanwhile, other rail-connected heritage sites are likely to be affected on days of strike action, too, however, the National Railway Museum (NRM) suffering a cut to the network with the loss of LNER rail services at York believes that the strikes are unlikely to affect visitor numbers, with an NRM spokesperson commenting, "We have not previously seen any impact on visitor numbers from industrial action and the museum will continue to be open as normal during this period.”


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The strikes affect volunteers as much as visitors. I have had to give up three guards duties on the Mid Hants Railway due to the strikes. I understand why the unions are taking the action but it is still very frustrating not being able to do the duties I want and not being able to visit other lines which I like doing.

Posted by Christopher Jones on Fri 07 Oct 17:16:21