Quick News Update – April 2020
Covid-19: Main-line Train Operating Companies have been hit hard by massive declines in passenger usage as a result of the Government’s movement restrictions to reduce the spread of the virus causing Covid-19. On March 23, Transport Minister Grant Shapps temporarily suspended all franchises for at least 6 months. Franchisees will be paid a management fee to operate a greatly-reduced service for key workers during the crisis. Heritage railways and museums are facing catastrophic reductions in vital operating revenue during the summer season – thought by some to pose an ‘existential threat’ to many railways.
Locomotion: Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reported to have supported Darlington’s campaign to retain the iconic locomotive in the town. During Prime Minister’s Questions on March 11, he pledged to “Do what I can” to prevent Darlington from losing the locomotive.
Weardale Railway: The Auckland Project, the new owners of the Weardale Railway, have “impressive plans” for the future of the line, according to Kevin Richardson of the Weardale Railway Trust, the volunteer group supporting the railway. The Project hopes eventually to run through trains between Stanhope and Darlington. However, it is intended that heritage train operations and events will be retained.