Coronavirus update, January 2021

This article was published on 13 January 2021

We had very much hoped that by now we would be able to announce that we were re-starting our programme of railtours early in 2021. Sadly, the coronavirus pandemic has compelled us to be patient for a while longer. We have to give first priority to the safety of our customers and volunteer staff, and we have taken the view that this really means we must wait until the pandemic is over — probably when a very significant proportion of the population has been vaccinated — before we can once again invite customers to join us on trips in our train. We have given careful thought to whether we could put social distancing measures in place, but this is really not viable on a narrow-bodied train on which we need to fill the majority of the seats in order to cover our operating costs. On-board catering and sales facilities, and the natural wish of many of our customers to mingle with others in the train during the trips, adds to the challenge involved in keeping everyone safe.

With all of this in mind, we are hoping and planning that we might be able to re-start our railtours programme, based on part of what we had planned previously for 2020, with effect from early summer 2021. This is entirely subject to the public health situation, and to our operating company partner GB Railfreight being in a position to provide us with traincrew. Rest assured that we will make further announcements as soon as we are confident that we can publicise the first outing(s) and open bookings.

In the meantime, we continue to make progress with the restoration of power car 60019 and trailer coaches 60528 and 60502.

Our programme of work to convert our train to Controlled Emission Toilets is well under way, but this is a complex and very costly project, involving regulatory approval of the changes to the vehicles and input from specialist contractors. The initial survey and design work have now been completed, and we have costings for the work itself. We have submitted these details to Network Rail, via our operating partner GB Railfreight, and we are awaiting their approval and also confirmation that NR is able to assist us with the conversion costs. We would very much welcome donations from shareholders and friends of HDL towards the substantial costs of this essential work. We will have more to tell on this in due course, no doubt.

Thank you all for your patience during this difficult year. We have missed seeing you on our tours, and look forward to welcoming you again, all being well, towards the middle of 2021. In the meantime, we extend our best wishes to our shareholders, customers and friends — stay safe.

Hastings Diesels Ltd
January 2021

See also our October 2020 Coronavirus update.