We live in interesting times. As I write the global spread of Coronavirus Covid-19 is leading to travel restrictions, bans on large gatherings, and (in some countries) the enforced closures of businesses.
How will this affect preserved railways?
Tourist numbers are plummeting, people are travelling less in their own countries (even over short distances) and they don’t want to visit places where there are large groups of people. This situation will not change quickly. If the current UK government predictions are accurate the peak of infections in the UK will be at the end of May or early June.
Many preserved railways rely on a busy summer season to boost their fragile finances. Even if they stop running trains because of the virus outbreak there are costs they just can’t avoid: staff salaries, maintaining lines and buildings.
Perhaps the Covid-19 situation may cause our preserved railways financial hardship. I would hate them to face financial difficulties or even close because this situation made their long-term finances or short-term cash flow unmanagable.
What can we do?
If you feel fit and well, and don’t have any underlying health conditions, perhaps now is a good time to vist a preserved line while you still can. Take a ride, spend some cash, enjoy yourself. It’s just about possible in the UK at the moment (although I appreciate it could be difficult elsewhere and this is very likely to change in the UK too).
Maybe you aren’t healthy enough to visit or you just dont want to at the moment. Why not see if you favourite preserved railway has an online shop and support them by spending some money online. You’ll get the pleasure of opening the packet when it arrives by post.
Or consider making a donation to the line or it’s preservation trust. This will definitely give you a warm feeling.
If we really love preserved railways, now’s the time to help them.
Image created by NIAID and used, after slight cropping, under a Creative Commons License (CC by 2.0)