7812 “Erlestoke Manor” on the Severn Valley Railway // Credit Erlestoke Manor Fund website
The Severn Valley Railway have confirmed that they will not be handing out any new lineside passes and will also not be offering privately run photo charters. According to the SVR, a ‘considerable’ amount of speculation has been going around regarding lineside passes and photo charters. Lineside passes in 2020 were suspended and no photo charters took place.
The Severn Valley Railway has now clarified its position for the future. No new lineside passes or any privately-run photo charters will be made available says the railway.
Helen Smith, the general manager explained: “I know that this news will disappoint some people. However, I ask you to step back and understand the extremely difficult position the railway faces. The income we receive from lineside passes and privately-run photo charters is insignificant when compared to the potential risk these activities naturally contain. This means that to continue them makes little financial sense. As the landowner, train operating company and infrastructure provider, if SVR Holdings continues to permit such activities we also hold liability for any accidents or injuries that the participants have. The Office of Road and Rail has ceased its ‘light touch’ approach to heritage rail and is beginning to apply more rigorous standards to all heritage operations. The SVR is of particular interest to the ORR because of the two fall from height incidents that have happened in less than a year. Put these factors together and you will see why it would not be in the SVR’s interests to allow these high risk activities to continue. Only a handful of heritage railways currently do so, and I expect that soon there will not be any.”
Holders of any existing lineside passes will be able to use them until they expire, and the temporary ban will be lifted for this to happen. The Severn Valley Railway says that it plans to find a small group of volunteer photographers who will have lineside access but will have regular safety training.