Memorandum submitted by Heritage Railway
The Heritage Railway Association (HRA) is the
co-ordinating body for heritage railways and tramways, railway
museums and steam centres in the United Kingdom and Eire and has
245 member organisations. In 2004, our members in the UK attracted
almost six million visitors who spent around £50 million.
Heritage railways have over 400 miles of track with 302 stations
and operated around 4.2 million passenger train miles. HRA members
directly employed 1,330 staff and engaged the efforts of over
HRA actively encourages the attainment of high
standards across the sector through the publication of "Standards
and Guidance Notes", the holding of seminars and the organisation
of competitions and award schemes to promote excellence in all
areas of the sector. HRA is a founder member of Fedecrail (The
European Federation of Museum and Tourist Railways) which has
members in 25 countries in Europe. Fedecrail, at its 2005 conference
at Lyon, France, in May adopted the Riga Charter (copy attached
as an Appendix to this submission) which seeks to encourage high
standards of preservation, conservation and operation of Heritage
Railways. HRA encourages its members to sign up to the Riga Charter
and incorporate its standards into their operations.
HRA is a Company Limited by Guarantee and is
staffed entirely by volunteers. This response has been prepared
by HRA Heritage Committee.
1. What the Department for Culture, Media
and Sport should identify as priorities in the forthcoming Heritage
The fundamental needs are:
1.1 Better and more widespread recognition
across government of the value of heritage.
1.2 Better recognition of the voluntary
1.3 Proper funding of English Heritage and
local authorities to allow the successful delivery of their new
1.4 Effective financial support for and
liaison with Museums Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) especially
in enhancing the effectiveness of MLA's Renaissance in the Regions
1.5 To be alert to unexpected consequences
in the Heritage sector arising from legislation targeted elsewhere.
2. The remit and effectiveness of DCMS, English
Heritage and other relevant organisations in representing heritage
interests inside and outside Government
2.1 DCMS effectiveness: DCMS should raise
the profile of heritage and its contribution to national life
across Government. It should also ensure that the heritage policy
and policies which affect the heritage are co-ordinated across
Government departments. (See paragraph 1.5 above)
2.2 Role of English Heritage: Several HRA
member railways are responsible for Listed structures and welcome
the continuing support of EH Field Officers to ensure that such
structures are properly maintained and, where work is necessary,
can be grant-aided by EH.
3. The balance between heritage and development
needs in planning policy
3.1 "Heritage proofing" is needed
in policy development and decisions over land use planning, new
development, regeneration, and transport infrastructure. Ministers
in each Department should report regularly, and at least annually,
4. Access to heritage and the position of
heritage as a cultural asset in the community
4.1 Continue to emphasise the economic,
social, educative, community and regenerative impacts which heritage
projects can deliver.
4.2 Facilitate the recruitment and engagement
of volunteers in the sector. HRA members make extensive use of
volunteers, from a wide range of social groupings, to operate
their Railways, to welcome and care for visitors, and to engage
with the communities in which the Railways are located. Heritage
Railways are text book examples of voluntary community activity,
providing learning and development opportunities which increase
quality of life for the volunteers themselves and the public who
enjoy the heritage opportunities they create and operate. Cost
analysis, using for instance the HLF formula for calculating the
value of volunteer input as partnership funding, shows that volunteers
contribute many £ thousands to the local economy within
which a Heritage Railway operates.
4.3 Emphasise the importance of local significance.
Items may have a particular local significance or prominence that
should allow them to "punch above their weight" when
5. Funding, with particular reference to the
adequacy of the budget for English Heritage and for museums and
galleries, the impact of the London 2012 Olympics on Lottery funding
for heritage projects, and forthcoming decisions on the sharing
of funds from Lottery sources between good causes
5.1 It has become blatantly obvious that
English Heritage is grossly under funded, particularly in the
light of its recently increased responsibilities and nil budget
5.2 The restriction on available funding
for heritage because of money being transferred to Olympics 2012
is also alarming particularly since the Government's statement
on the "important place of culture in the whole Olympic 2012
project" was made at a meeting at which heritage representation
was notable by its absence. Not for the first time DCMS and the
government seem to have interpreted Culture to virtually exclude
heritage. It seems to be accepted that the Heritage of Great Britain
and Ireland is one of the main attractions for inbound tourism
and it is likely that this will apply even more so to visitors
around 2012, yet the Government reduces support for heritage whilst
at the same time increasing massively its support for Sport.
5.3 The role of HLF is now fundamental,
particularly to the Industrial & Transport Heritage sector.
The National Lottery Consultation and the HLF consultation on
the 3rd Strategic Plan are therefore critical.
5.4 It appears that the principle of additionality
is compromised by HLF augmenting funds which should properly resourced
by central Government.
5.5 VAT on repair and restoration as against
new build distorts choice and increases the threats to heritage.
5.6 The funding of Government-managed National
Museums is directly from DCMS. It is over-stretched and should
be strengthened to help those museums and, particularly, to encourage
the National Museums to support museums, galleries and heritage
suppliers in the Regions more effectively than their present funding
5.7 Accredited National Museums which are
independent of Government funding (such as National Tramway Museum,
National Motor Museum) and all other recognised heritage providers
can be supported from DCMS via MLA and the Regional MLAs through
Renaissance in the Regions. DCMS should ensure that this initiative
spreads resources beyond the Hub museums to really benefit non-Hub
museums, including the large numbers of Accredited independent
museums/galleries and heritage providers like HRA members.
5.8 MLA Partnership is a forum bringing
together all the Regional MLACsincluding SMC, CyMal and
Northern Irelandand this forum and the MLAfunded
Special Subject Networks must support the independent, charitable
and volunteer run heritage providers like HRA Members to ensure
equitable funding, a coherent vision and consistency.
6. What the roles and responsibilities should
be for English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund, local authorities,
museums and galleries, charitable and other non-Governmental organisations
in maintaining the nation's heritage
6.1 The main role of government, in all
its forms, should be to support the efforts of its citizens to
improve their heritage. This means removing unnecessary restrictions,
paperwork and "red tape" as well as providing support
and funds for heritage projects that enhance the overall public
6.2 Many heritage projects involve the use
of "vintage" machinery and otherwise outdated skills.
Encouragement to train in such skills and for the few existing
practitioners to pass on their knowledge should be encouraged.
Whilst regulatory powers need to be controlled and related to
the risks peculiar to an individual heritage sector it is suggested
that there needs to be more recognition and acceptance of the
fact that old does not automatically mean unsafe and that use
of heritage skills and equipment is not automatically dangerous
to both practitioner and the public at large. A good example of
such an acceptance of the use of old machinery and equipment is
contained within Section H of the Railway Safety Principles and
Guidance series which deals with heritage railways.
6.3 Like all worthwhile interests, preserving
and restoring heritage involves a certain amount of risk. An assessment
of such risks is plain common sense but official guidance on making
risk assessments should, when they are considered necessary, be
prepared by persons who have a good knowledge of the heritage
sector involved and who are prepared to seek advice where necessary.
Procedures should be in place to ensure that those responsible
for policing a particular heritage sector are trained to have
a good understanding of what is involved.
7. Whether there is an adequate supply of
professionals with conservation skills; the priority placed by
planning authorities on conservation; and means of making conservation
expertise more accessible to planning officers, councilors and
the general public
7.1 The general level of skills in conservation
and heritage in planning departments. and local councillors appears
to be low. Expertise within the general public is more widely
spread but is often concentrated in the older sectors. There is
still a greater need for training and skills development. Most
heritage railways have training programmes although these are
often informal and driven by the needs of the particular railway.
Several railways have taken on apprentices in an effort to pass
on special skills to a younger generation however there is still
a danger that specific skills may be losteg boiler work.
HRA is working towards more consistent training standards but
there is still a considerable way to go and problems to be solved,
particularly where railways are operated either entirely or mainly
12 January 2006