Heritage railway events cancelled to avoid lineside fire risk

14 July 2022
The East Anglian Traction Engine Route 66 Road Run has had to be cancelled on the advice of the Norfolk Fire Service, who have cautioned against the event due to the continued heat wave and subsequent dry condition of Thetford Forest.

Due to take place on Monday, the team had been keeping the situation under close review and will now look to a return of the event in 2023.

The Severn Valley Railway (SVR) has also confirmed it will run only diesel-hauled passenger services for the coming week, in order to avoid the risk of lineside fires.

“Our senior management team took this decision after very careful consideration,” said managing director Helen Smith. “The weather forecast for the coming week shows extremely high temperatures, and, most importantly for us, no rain. Our lineside vegetation has become tinder-dry because of the prolonged lack of rain, and our concern is that sparks or cinders that escape from steam locomotives may start fires.”

“We’ve had several incidences when this has happened in recent weeks, and the time has come for us to take this action.”

“Rain is currently being forecast for next Wednesday, 20th July, and we will review the situation on Tuesday. I want to stress that this is a temporary measure, and we very much hope to be able to return to using steam engines as soon as possible."

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As a compensatory offer for those keen to get their fill of steam, the SVR is putting on short footplate rides for Freedom-of-the-Line ticket holders in the confines of Bridgnorth station, subject to availability. It has risk-assessed the use of a steam locomotive in this limited capacity and is confident that it can operate this safely.

Many other heritage groups around the UK are currently monitoring the situation and, If you’re booked to attend an event in the coming weeks, make sure you check with organisers ahead of time to make sure it is still taking place.

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