SUCCESS! Express Steam Trains in the 21st Century




Vintage Trains Community Benefit Society (VT CBS) are delighted to announce that we are now firmly on our journey to operate express steam trains on the main line in Britain.

VT CBS have surpassed the minimum shareholdings and have formed our publicly owned Train Operating Company, Vintage Trains Limited.

The board met on Friday, 1st June to confirm the over £800,000 in subscriptions and approve the share certificates to be sent to the shareholders. We made funds available to Vintage Trains Limited to secure its passenger charter licence from the ORR and establish its mobilisation plan. We authorised Tyseley Locomotive Works (TLW) to begin the carriage restoration plan which will start with undertaking safety & maintenance checks, ensuring we have a train fit to run on the Shakespeare Express, Cotswold Express and similar services.

TLW has completed fitting Clun Castle with all the electronic apparatus required to comply with Network Rail’s regulations and, as soon as VTL receives its steam safety certificate and licence, we will begin main line trials. It is wholly appropriate that we begin our steam services with Clun Castle as she inaugurated the Tyseley Collection. Clun was one of the first privately owned steam locomotives to see service on excursion trains on British Railways and the first to begin the services subsequently authorised by BR after the end of regular main line steam.

We are delighted that VT CBS will be run and managed by shareholders as a true co-operative. Whilst Vintage Trains Charitable Trust will be the Parent, all the CBS Directors and initial officers are shareholders. The CBS board currently comprises Adrian Shooter, Michael Gilbert, Robin Coombes (also company secretary) and Michael Whitehouse.

Friday's board meeting also saw the appointment of Professor Paul Salveson to the board, a co-founder with Michael Whitehouse of the Community Railways concept many years ago, now the Association of Community Railways. Our finance officer will be Jim Kirkman, our registrar Peter Jordan and our assistant secretary Mary McCullough.
The managment team has already been established for Vintage Trains Limited. This will be led by Cath Bellamy, Managing Director, working with Ben Mason, Commercial Director and Ian Lake, Operations & Safety Director, all under the guidance of its Chairman, Adrian Shooter. Most of this team has already worked together to deliver outstanding customer service and safe operation at Chiltern Railways. Team building, a core requirement of success, is already done.

We will also be progressing with our Community Plan based initially at our Tyseley depot which, this year, celebrates 110 years of continuous service as a steam locomotive depot. We intend to further develop Tyseley Locomotive Works by adding new and upgrading existing buildings, inaugurate Metropolitan Railway Carriage & Wagon Co. Ltd and develop community space for various functions, training and other activities.

We invite everyone to join us for our annual summer ‘at home’ open event at Tyseley Locomotive Works over the weekend of Saturday 30th June and Sunday 1st July. Clun Castle and other home locomotives will be in steam together with full supporting cast, free depot train rides and the workshop gallery open for viewing. Details can be found at www.VintageTrains.co.uk.

Full details of the extended share offer will be released shortly.

Michael Whitehouse, Chairman Vintage Trains CBS said:
We have achieved our first target and raised over £850,000 so far. This means that we can now keep the share offer open until the end of the year to raise further funds to improve our carriages and develop the Tyseley Locomotive Works site.
We wish to thank the shareholders for their help and support in subscribing for shares. We are delighted to welcome them as Founder Shareholders in our co-operative.

Cath Bellamy, Managing Director, Vintage Trains Ltd said:

My team and I are excited to embark on this new journey. Our goal will be to bring safe, reliable steam travel to many more people and deliver every passenger an enjoyable experience married with outstanding customer service!