Don’t use a Heritage line for your daily commute!
When you go on a Heritage railway line you don’t go simply to get from A to B. You go for an “experience”, as people might say. You bathe in a bit of nostalgia, you marvel that old steam engines, rolling stock and stations could be restored and preserved, you show appreciation for the achievements of those who originally built the railways (often suffering injury or even death in the process) and the efforts of the enthusiasts who have done the restoration and continue to keep the show on the road (or rail!).
In the good old days, that is BC (Before Covid), Gail and I have on a number of occasions travelled on 3 heritage lines not too far away: the Churnet Valley line in rural Staffordshire, Severn Valley between Bridgnorth and Kidderminster, and the Llangollen Railway. The trains rumble along at about 20 miles per hour taking about an hour in each case, including station stops, to reach the end of the line.
Some trains offer refreshments – even proper meals on special pre-booked occasions. All boast unspoilt countryside with river or canal views. (But one complaint! Sometimes the windows need a wash.) Some days are “themed” days: Thomas the Tank Engine or a WW2 day, for example.
Each station is full of Victorian charm. Some stations have traditional tearooms. Some have shops selling books and railway memorabilia. Some have museum exhibits. They all have at least basic toilets!
Maybe we head for a heritage line to remind ourselves of simpler times? We imagine an era when a train journey would have taken you on your annual holiday to the seaside. When life was lived at a more leisurely slower pace (no HS2 train on a heritage line!). Of course, steam trains in their day were considered avant garde and speedy. So all things are relative. But we yearn for something that seems to speak of stability and endurance – and heritage lines do that.
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalm 18:2).