Heritage railway

Heritage railway

Overview

A heritage railway preserved railway (United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

), tourist railway (Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

), or tourist railroad (United States) is a railway that is run as a tourist attraction
Tourist attraction
A tourist attraction is a place of interest where tourists visit, typically for its inherent or exhibited cultural value, historical significance, natural or built beauty, or amusement opportunities....

, in some cases by volunteers, and which typically seeks to re-create or preserve railway scenes of the past (though not all tourist railways are heritage railways). See List of heritage railways.

Heritage railways are usually railway lines which were once run as commercial railways, but were later no longer needed or were closed down, and were taken over or re-opened by volunteers or for-profit organisations.
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A heritage railway preserved railway (United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

), tourist railway (Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

), or tourist railroad (United States) is a railway that is run as a tourist attraction
Tourist attraction
A tourist attraction is a place of interest where tourists visit, typically for its inherent or exhibited cultural value, historical significance, natural or built beauty, or amusement opportunities....

, in some cases by volunteers, and which typically seeks to re-create or preserve railway scenes of the past (though not all tourist railways are heritage railways). See List of heritage railways.

Historic heavy and light rail


Heritage railways are usually railway lines which were once run as commercial railways, but were later no longer needed or were closed down, and were taken over or re-opened by volunteers or for-profit organisations. Many run on partial routes unconnected to the commercial railway network, run only seasonally, and charge high "entertainment" fares. For example the return fare from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog on the 13 mile Festiniog railway is some £
Pound sterling
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...

17.95 and between Caernarfon to Beddgelert £22.00 on the Welsh Highland Railway. As a result they are primarily, indeed exclusively, focused on serving the tourist and leisure markets, not local transportation needs. However in the 1990s and 2000s some heritage railways have professed to provide local transportation and to extend their running seasons to cater for commercial passenger traffic. In the United Kingdom, however, no heritage railways offer a year round daily or commuter service.

Typically a heritage railway will use steam locomotive
Locomotive
A locomotive is a railway vehicle that provides the motive power for a train. The word originates from the Latin loco – "from a place", ablative of locus, "place" + Medieval Latin motivus, "causing motion", and is a shortened form of the term locomotive engine, first used in the early 19th...

s and original rolling stock
Rolling stock
Rolling stock comprises all the vehicles that move on a railway. It usually includes both powered and unpowered vehicles, for example locomotives, railroad cars, coaches and wagons...

 to create a supposed "period atmosphere", although some are now concentrating on more recent "modern image" diesel and electric traction supposedly to re-create the post-steam railway era.

The first heritage railway to be rescued and run entirely by volunteers was the Talyllyn Railway
Talyllyn Railway
The Talyllyn Railway is a narrow-gauge preserved railway in Wales running for from Tywyn on the Mid-Wales coast to Nant Gwernol near the village of Abergynolwyn. The line was opened in 1866 to carry slate from the quarries at Bryn Eglwys to Tywyn, and was the first narrow gauge railway in Britain...

 in Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

. This narrow gauge
Narrow gauge
A narrow gauge railway is a railway that has a track gauge narrower than the of standard gauge railways. Most existing narrow gauge railways have gauges of between and .- Overview :...

 line, taken over by a group of enthusiasts in 1950, is recognised as the start of the preservation movement. There are now several hundred heritage railways in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

. This large number is due in part to the closure of many minor lines in the 1960s under the Beeching Axe
Beeching Axe
The Beeching Axe or the Beeching Cuts are informal names for the British Government's attempt in the 1960s to reduce the cost of running British Railways, the nationalised railway system in the United Kingdom. The name is that of the main author of The Reshaping of British Railways, Dr Richard...

. These were relatively easy to revive. The first such standard gauge line to be preserved was the Bluebell Railway
Bluebell Railway
The Bluebell Railway is a heritage line running for nine miles along the border between East and West Sussex, England. Steam trains are operated between and , with an intermediate station at .The railway is managed and run largely by volunteers...

, though the Middleton Railway
Middleton Railway
The Middleton Railway is the world's oldest continuously working railway. It was founded in 1758 and is now a heritage railway run by volunteers from The Middleton Railway Trust Ltd...

 (which was not a victim of Beeching) had been preserved prior to this. The world's second preserved railway, and the first outside the United Kingdom, was the Puffing Billy Railway
Puffing Billy Railway, Melbourne
The Puffing Billy Railway is a narrow gauge gauge heritage railway in the Dandenong Ranges near Melbourne, Australia. The primary starting point, operations and administration centre, main refreshment room and ticket purchasing are located at Belgrave station...

 in Australia. This railway operates 24 km of track with much of the original rolling stock built as early as 1898.

Heritage railways differ in the intensity of the service that can be offered. Some of the more successful British heritage railways, such as the Severn Valley Railway
Severn Valley Railway
The Severn Valley Railway is a heritage railway in Shropshire and Worcestershire, England. The line runs along the Severn Valley from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster, following the course of the River Severn for much of its route...

 and the North Yorkshire Moors Railway
North Yorkshire Moors Railway
The North Yorkshire Moors Railway is a heritage railway in North Yorkshire, England. First opened in 1836 as the Whitby and Pickering Railway, the railway was planned in 1831 by George Stephenson as a means of opening up trade routes inland from the then important seaport of Whitby. The line...

, may have up to five or six steam engines working, operating a four-train service daily. The Great Central Railway
Great Central Railway (preserved)
The Great Central Railway is a heritage railway split into two adjacent sections, one in Leicestershire and the other Nottinghamshire.The Leicestershire section is currently Britain's only double track mainline heritage railway, with of working double track, period signalling, locomotives and...

 is the only example of a preserved British main line that operates with a double track, and can operate over 50 trains on a busy gala timetable. Other smaller railways may run for seven-days-a-week throughout the summer with only one steam engine. However, following the privatisation of Britain's main-line railways, the line between not-for-profit heritage railways and for-profit branch line
Branch line
A branch line is a secondary railway line which branches off a more important through route, usually a main line. A very short branch line may be called a spur line...

s may appear to have blurred. The Wensleydale Railway
Wensleydale Railway
The Wensleydale Railway is a railway line in Wensleydale and Lower Swaledale in North Yorkshire, England and the name of the company that operates services on the line....

 is an example of a commercial line run partly as a heritage operation and partly (at least in intent, if not in reality) to provide local transportation. The Weardale Railway
Weardale Railway
The Weardale Railway is a British single-track branch line railway providing regular daily passenger service between Bishop Auckland , Wolsingham, Frosterley and Stanhope. Services began on 23 May 2010 after a lapse of almost sixty years. The railway originally ran from Bishop Auckland to...

 is a similar attempt to provide a commercial heritage line, so far with mixed success. The Severn Valley Railway has even operated a few goods trains on a commercial basis. In addition, a number of heritage lines now see regular freight operations. The Puffing Billy Railway operates a busier service than it regularly did in its pre-preservation working life.

In the 50 years since the Bluebell Railway
Bluebell Railway
The Bluebell Railway is a heritage line running for nine miles along the border between East and West Sussex, England. Steam trains are operated between and , with an intermediate station at .The railway is managed and run largely by volunteers...

 reopened to traffic, the definition of private standard gauge
Standard gauge
The standard gauge is a widely-used track gauge . Approximately 60% of the world's existing railway lines are built to this gauge...

 railways in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 as preserved railways has changed and evolved as the number of projects, length, operating days and function has altered. The 1970s distinction between narrow gauge
Narrow gauge
A narrow gauge railway is a railway that has a track gauge narrower than the of standard gauge railways. Most existing narrow gauge railways have gauges of between and .- Overview :...

, standard gauge
Standard gauge
The standard gauge is a widely-used track gauge . Approximately 60% of the world's existing railway lines are built to this gauge...

 and steam centres alone is no longer necessarily fit for purpose. The situation is further muddied by the huge variation in company structure of the ownership of the railway, its rolling stock and other assets. Unlike community rail
Community rail
In the United Kingdom, a community rail line is a local railway which is specially supported by local organisations. This support is usually through a Community Rail Partnerships – comprising both the railway operator, local councils and other community organisations – or sometimes by...

ways the tourist railways in the UK are vertically integrated, although those operating in the main as charities have their charitable
Charitable organization
A charitable organization is a type of non-profit organization . It differs from other types of NPOs in that it centers on philanthropic goals A charitable organization is a type of non-profit organization (NPO). It differs from other types of NPOs in that it centers on philanthropic goals A...

 and non-charitable activities essentially separated for accounts purposes.

Distinction should be made heritage railways and preserved railways in C21st. A preserved railway should be defined as any railway that is not on a single recognised site; having perhaps more than 0.625miles/1 km, that runs from A to B, having one or more stations and the railway itself is generally accepted as the main attraction. The term heritage railway should reserved for lines that are at least 5miles/8 km in length with a minimum of three stations and the railway provides a recognisable transport function, albeit almost exclusively for tourists and enthusiasts.

The Dartmouth Steam Railway and Riverboat Company
Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway
The Paignton & Dartmouth Steam Railway is a heritage railway on the former Kingswear branch line between Paignton and Kingswear in Torbay, Devon, England....

 is the best example of a fully commercial heritage railway in the UK, whilst the self-contained Keighley & Worth Valley Railway is both a heritage railway and an out-and-out preserved railway. The Swindon & Cricklade Railway and The Battlefield Line Railway remain as archetypal short preserved railways, so typical of the 1960s and 1970s whilst the Kent & East Sussex Railway transformed in April 2000 from a preserved to heritage railway with the extension of the line to Bodiam
Bodiam
Bodiam is a small village and civil parish in East Sussex, England, in the valley of the River Rother near to the villages of Sandhurst and Ewhurst Green. It is home to Bodiam Castle, a small range of houses, a pub opposite Bodiam Castle, and a restaurant...

. Many tourists and day-trippers now use the railway as an entertaining and attractive mode of transport to travel from Tenterden
Tenterden
Tenterden is a Cinque Port town in the Ashford District of Kent, England. It stands on the edge of the Weald, overlooking the valley of the River Rother....

 in order to visit the National Trust
National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty
The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, usually known as the National Trust, is a conservation organisation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland...

 Castle.

In the Americas


In the United States, heritage railways are known variously as tourist, historic, or scenic railroads. Most are remnants of original railroads, such as the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad (Colorado & New Mexico) or the Heber Valley Railroad (Utah). Others are reconstructed railroads, having been scrapped at one point and then rebuilt with tourism in mind, like the Sumpter Valley Railroad (Oregon) and the Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington Railway
Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington Railway
The Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington Railway is a gauge railway which operated from Wiscasset, Maine to Albion and Winslow, Maine. It was operated as a for-profit company from 1895 until 1933...

 (Maine), or can be entire railroads, preserved in their original state using original structures, track, and motive power, like the Nevada Northern Railway
Nevada Northern Railway
The Nevada Northern Railway was a railroad in the U.S. state of Nevada, built primarily to provide rail access to a major copper producing area in White Pine County, Nevada...

 (Nevada).

Some do not fit in the above categories, like Rio Grande Scenic Railroad
Rio Grande Scenic Railroad
The Rio Grande Scenic Railroad of Colorado, a heritage railway, began operations in 2006, operating both steam and diesel locomotives in the San Luis Valley. Located south of Denver, Colorado, the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad operates out of Alamosa, Monte Vista and La Veta...

, which is a sub-operation of the San Luis & Rio Grande Railroad. The SL&RG is primarily a freight operation, on former Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad track, but owns and operates a steam locomotive and a fleet of passenger cars, most of which are painted in D&RGW colors.

The Train of the End of the World in southern Argentina is a (narrow-gauge) steam railway
Steam locomotive
A steam locomotive is a railway locomotive that produces its power through a steam engine. These locomotives are fueled by burning some combustible material, usually coal, wood or oil, to produce steam in a boiler, which drives the steam engine...

 in Tierra del Fuego Province
Tierra del Fuego Province (Argentina)
Tierra del Fuego is an Argentine province entirely separated from mainland Argentina by the Strait of Magellan. It includes:* The eastern part of the Isla Grande of Tierra del Fuego archipelago and the Staten Island.* Argentina's claims to the Falkland Islands and to...

 in operation since 1994.

La Trochita
La Trochita
La Trochita, , in English known as the Old Patagonian Express, is a narrow gauge railway in Patagonia, Argentina using steam locomotives. The nickname La Trochita means literally "The Little Narrow Gauge" in Spanish...

 (El Viejo Expreso Patagónico), in English known as the Old Patagonian Express, is a 750 mm (2 ft 5 1⁄2 in) narrow gauge railway in Patagonia
Patagonia
Patagonia is a region located in Argentina and Chile, integrating the southernmost section of the Andes mountains to the southwest towards the Pacific ocean and from the east of the cordillera to the valleys it follows south through Colorado River towards Carmen de Patagones in the Atlantic Ocean...

, Argentina using steam locomotives. It is 402 km in length and runs through the foothills of the Andes
Andes
The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

 between Esquel
Esquel
According to the , the Esquel district had about 28,000 inhabitants, with one of the highest rates of growth in the province, mainly as result of the immigration of people from Buenos Aires, but also from other provinces. It has wide cement streets with sidewalks, and is clean and well maintained...

 and El Maitén
El Maitén
El Maitén is a town in Argentina in Cushamen Department on the margins of the Chubut River, on the northwest of Chubut Province, in Patagonia. In older times it was the intermediate point in the railroad tracks of the Old Patagonian Express between the towns of Ingeniero Jacobacci and Esquel.-...

 in Chubut Province
Chubut Province
Chubut a province in the southern part of Argentina situated between the 42nd parallel south and the 46th parallel south , the Andes range separating Argentina from Chile, and the Atlantic ocean...

 and Ingeniero Jacobacci
Ingeniero Jacobacci
Ingeniero Jacobacci is a city in Río Negro Province, Argentina. It has a population of 5,719 inhabitants and was named in honor of Guido Jacobacci, the director of the railway opened in 1916 between San Antonio Oeste, on the Atlantic Ocean coast, and San Carlos de Bariloche, in the Andes...

 in Río Negro Province
Río Negro Province
Río Negro is a province of Argentina, located at the northern edge of Patagonia. Neighboring provinces are from the south clockwise Chubut, Neuquén, Mendoza, La Pampa and Buenos Aires. To the east lies the Atlantic Ocean.Its capital is Viedma...

.

Many heritage railways in the United States also function as living history museums, hosting annual reenactments of historic activities. In addition, they may feature an archive or library of railroad-related materials.

See also

  • Heritage railways in Britain
  • Heritage streetcar
    Heritage streetcar
    Heritage streetcars or heritage trams are a development of the heritage railways that are becoming popular across the world. As with modern streetcar systems, the vehicles are referred to as trams or tramcars in the United Kingdom, Australasia and certain other places , but as streetcars or...

  • List of heritage railways
  • Mountain railways of India
    Mountain railways of India
    The Mountain Railways of India refer to the five railway lines built in the mountains of India in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, during the British Raj, which are run even today by the Indian Railways...

  • Restored trains
    Restored trains
    Restored trains are historic trains that have been removed from service and later restored to their past condition, as opposed to having never been removed from service, like UP 844, the only U.S. steam locomotive to never be retired. They are operated in present day service as moving examples of...

  • Gandy dancer
    Gandy dancer
    Gandy dancer is a slang term used for early railroad workers who laid and maintained railroad tracks in the years before the work was done by machines....


External links