Severn Valley Railway making changes to conserve coal supply as price rockets

The rise in prices of coal has left heritage railways in the region looking at home to keep their trains running.

Services on the Severn Valley Railway are being changed due to the price of goal
Services on the Severn Valley Railway are being changed due to the price of goal

Severn Valley Railway (SVR) has had to look at changes to its services as the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and an exponential rise in coal prices by 148 per cent has caused issues with its supply.

The railway had to cancel footplate experiences, where people get to fire up and drive one of the steam-powered locomotives, in May until further notice as it looked to conserve its stocks.

SVR head of communications Lesley Carr said the heritage railway was being very careful to ensure it could run a service while also conserving its current stocks of coal ahead of later in the year.

She said: "At the moment, getting new supplies of coal is just not possible, and while we have a stockpile of coal, we have to be very careful about how we eke that out.

"What is important is being able to cover ourselves for the Christmas period as we need to have steam locomotives as the diesel ones do not heat the carriages, because the heating system is steam-driven.

"It's very important for us that we have enough coal to be able to prepare for this and preserve what we have as best as we can."

Ms Carr said the railway was taking three steps to ensure it could still run during the summer and preserve what it had in terms of coal supplies.

She said: "Firstly, we are running less steam engines during the day and while we will endeavour to run one steam engine a day, we will be making more use of our diesel heritage locomotive fleet.

"We've also taken the decision to not run on Mondays and Tuesdays, as these are the least popular days and it makes sense not to run on these days as people will just be able to come the rest of the week.

"Finally, we have had a delivery of ovoids, manufactured coal substitutes, which are the sort of things you would use at home, and we are trialling them as a mixture with our existing supply."

The comments come after another railway, the Churnet Valley Railway in Staffordshire, also announced changes.

A spokesman for the Railway said: "As many of you will be aware, the supply of coal has become an increasingly complex matter in the United Kingdom.

"There are Government policies which are pushing for a complete ban on coal, whilst another part of Government is keen to see tourism return to pre Covid levels.

"Clearly, for a Heritage Railway which operates steam locomotive, this causes problems."

The railway said the supply of coal had been an increasing complex matter, noting that Government policies were conflicting on coal use, although it also noted the last operational coal mine was due to stay open, which would help the service in the future.

All other events at the Severn Valley Railway will currently proceed as planned.

Tickets can be booked at svr.co.uk or by calling the team on 01562 757900.

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