June 17, 2010

"In defense of...a new build Gresley P2"

"You won't be able to start it".

"You won't get the money for it".

"You won't be able to build that part".

"You'll never finish the damn thing".

These, and many more, were comments aimed at the A1 Trust over the years - not by the railway press, who have been dignified and supportive throughout the building of Tornado, but by disgruntled armchair enthusiasts and keyboard warriors over the years.

I have no time for these sort of negative opinions, very few of which are based in fact, and it seems from the result of the A1 Trust's first meeting, eighteen years ago - neither did they, and no bad thing either!

I have to ask why the world of railway preservation and mainline steam railtours invites these sort of thoughts and feelings sometimes.

Every single project I can think of - from steaming the Duke, to King Edward I (soon to be operational), to a new build broad gauge locomotive (let alone two! Iron Duke AND Firefly) and Tornado, when first mooted they have all been dismissed by certain people of that mindset as "impossible" or a "pipe dream" or the latest jibe, "white elephant".

That is before we get onto the really impossible tasks, like rebuilding the length and breadth of the Welsh Highland Railway or the reinstatement of the Corris railway, or even trains back to Fort William in the modern day!

Forgive me for being smug, but the fact that so many volunteers in railway preservation are proving the nay sayers wrong on a daily basis only serves to confirm to me that we have a hobby whose majority is made up of "can-do" people as opposed to "can't-do" people.

There's a strange, nostalgic Britishness to railway preservation in general: people refusing to give up, in spite of overwhelming odds. Long may it continue.

As for a Gresley P2 - if it is announced, I know where my money is going. Into a covenant for the A1 Trust and towards the new build, numbered 2007. If they decide to go ahead, they will build it and operate it. That much is certain. How can I be so certain?

The naysayers said that you couldn't build a new Peppercorn A1, after all...

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