Friday, 17 August 2012

Cumbrian volunteers revamp historic 1930s carriage

Cumbrian volunteers revamp historic 1930s carriage

The heritage railways of the Kirkby Stephen Stainmore Railway Company and the Kent & East Sussex Railway form the backdrop for these two news items relating to the recent restoration of vintage rolling stock.

The first article is the standard story of a worn out railway carriage being returned to its original 1930s glory by a group of dedicated volunteers, but no less worthy for that.  The coach in this particular case is not quite finished - more funds are needed apparently - but I have little doubt that it soon will be and that it will be a welcome addition to the Stainmore Railway Company's stock.  The group should also be commended for its attempts to restore and reopen the Kirkby Stephen East railway station and so become part of the larger neighbouring Eden Valley Railway, itself aiming to become one of the country's newest heritage lines - I wish them both success.

I came across this second item quite by accident but it more than deserves its inclusion here, dealing as it does with a vintage vehicle reworked for modern - and noble - use.

Disabled access has long been something of a problem for older transportation systems, which in some cases have not and cannot be updated (witness the withdrawal of the tradition London Routemaster bus, due in part to its inability to meet the Disability Discrimination Act).  While it is only right and proper that less able-bodied people should be able to fully enjoy museum exhibits, heritage railways and the like the difficulty of providing full accessibility often still remains simply by dint of the historic construction of buildings and/or machinery (and in some cases, the impossibility of successfully converting them).

This is not the case on the Kent & East Sussex Railway though, I'm pleased to see.  9254 Petros was the first railway carriage to be fully converted for disabled use, following its decommissioning from mainline service in 1981 after twenty-five years of use.  A year later it was updated and delivered to the KESR and two years ago it began undergoing a complete refurbishment, the results of which you can see in the above news report that I stumbled across.

Now Petros is back in service on the Kent & East Sussex line, offering remarkably simple but effective access (and with it, greater enjoyment) for disabled passengers.  Approbation is in order for the railway, for having such a splendid carriage as part of their stock and for providing a valuable and much-appreciated service.  A service that should be the envy of many a heritage - and indeed many a modern - railway and another sterling example of traditional transport updated for the 21st century. 

1 comment:

  1. Trains are very exciting! I wonder when peak oil is finally reached (or when gas prices catch up to peak oil) here in America if we will be going back to trains as a cheaper form of transportation and if sea voyages will come back en vogue rather than planes. Rather interesting to think about!


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