“Heritage Railways are worth £250m to the UK economy”, says Michael Fabricant following a report just issued by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Heritage Rail. “Over 100 heritage railways attract tourists and provide local employment as well as valuable skills training and apprenticeships.
“I am pleased to see that heritage railways have attracted the attention of Parliament. Heritage railways, such as that of the Chasewater Light Railway near Burntwood in the Lichfield constituency, are significant contributors to their communities adding twice their annual turnover back to the local economy.
“Heritage railways are a phenomenon which was pioneered in Britain at Tal-y-Llyn in west Wales and at which our country excels. The report shows that heritage railways in Britain are going to face at least as many challenges in the future, as they have faced in the last 60 years. However, I am certain that with the enthusiasm of our volunteers and visitors, as well as a little help from the Government, steam trains at Chasewater will continue to grow and develop.”
The Minister for Transport, Simon Burns said: “Britain has a great rail heritage and as well as preserving an important aspect of the nation’s history, heritage railways also make an important contribution in supporting tourism and local economies. We are looking closely at the report and will consider its findings.”
Michael Fabricant quipped “Perhaps we could invest in steam railways using existing tracks instead of HS2. It certainly would cause less disruption to people’s lives”.
The key recommendations in the report of the All Party Group on Heritage Rail are designed to simplify the planning requirements for extending heritage railways and for the Department for Transport to take the lead on policy on heritage railways. They also encourage the use of heritage lines for public transport, suggest improved marketing and the development of National Vocational Qualifications for some of the traditional skills used by heritage railways.
Photo shows Michael at the Chasewater Light Railway.