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Railway World Magazine, February 1973 Issue

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Contents Listing - Articles & Features in this issue
ews of the month
Recorders' errors or oversights?
The eleventh hour of steam - 1
The preservation bubble
Locomotive portraits - 7. First of the SDJR 2-8-Os
Cornwall to Caithness
Railway Club photographic competition
East European Journey
To Switzerlanda€for steam (and so much else)
The Carmarthen & Cardigan Railway
Liverpool University photographic prizewinners
The railways of Bord na Mona
Annual report on railway accidents
New books
Letters
Motive power miscellany
Club notes
Article Snippets
Article Snippets
WHEN most of one's accounts go obstinately into the red, activities which produce black figures must be viewed with something like affection. British Railways clearly feels this way about the operation of steam excursions over its lines by preservationists, for not only is the much-belaboured "ban" still lifted but a further 460 miles of route are now open to steam-hauled trains. Details are given in our News of the month pages. The pleasure with which this announcement will undoubtedly be greeted should also be combined with more gratitude to British Railways than is sometimes expressed. It is, after all, its own system of which it is opening more mileage to the enthusiast (true, the railways, being nationalised, are now " ours " but so are the coal mines, power stations and gas works and we do not expect to use their premises for our entertainment). The new routes will .allow a bigger sample of the population to see steam locomotives at work and perhaps fall under their spell. It is extremely difficult to gauge the appeal of riding in a steam train as compared with that of seeing it and photographing it from outside, and it is the riders who are needed for the excursions to be successful. One is reminded of Edward Lear's old man in a boat, who said " I'm afloat, I'm afloat", apparently gaining satisfaction from this fact alone. Does the steam train still generate similar emotion among those on board? Certainly it used to be possible to enjoy a pleasant feeling of superiority when travelling in a well-known express, particularly when dining in comfort and looking through the wide restaurant car window at harassed crowds on a station platform waiting to get in. There is no doubt that this unworthy sensation was intensified by the majestic beauty of the splendid machine at the head, which had already stunned the beholders, and prepared them to view with seemly awe the tableaux which succeeded it of diners swapping epigrams over their Sole Meuniere. Some of those who .remember such experiences doubt whether they could recapture them on a Return to Steam journey. Would they not feel less like tycoons enjoying the utmost in comfort and convenience that contemporary technology could afford, and more like participants in a village pageant? The answer can only be found by experiment. Even if some personal expectations are disappointed, there can surely be no disagreement over how much is owed to all those who have devoted so much time and labour to the preservation of sieam locomotives and to keeping them in a fit condition to meet what BR describes as its "stringent mechanical standards". Last year there were misgivings over the conduct of spectators who endanger themselves by trespassing on the track. A problem now to be faced by the enthusiast community is taking care that steam runs planned for 1973 do not poach participants from conventional railtours already organised.
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