Many thanks to those of you who provided your thoughts on the options we have for Sunday. Almost everyone has responded, which means I have as good a cross-section of opinion as I could have expected. My apologies if you have not yet had the chance to reply, but I have had to make a decision; similarly, my apologies if you’re not reading this until after you return from Belgium and you were not aware of any changes ahead of time.
Interestingly, not one person has expressed a preference to just proceed with just the four ‘core’ locos at €25. Everyone seems prepared to pay €5 extra per ‘additional’ shunter given the circumstances, and I am grateful for your understanding and support with that.
Unfortunately, I have since been informed that despite all efforts one of the ‘extras’ – 7349 – will most likely not be ready in time for Sunday. With a favourable wind, however, 8320 is more likely to. Objectively 7349 is the ‘best’ of the two to miss out on, if we must lose one of them, as it worked a Mercia Charter in 2002 and some of our participants will have already ridden behind it.
6106 has predictably been a more contentious matter, being ‘dud’ for haulage for more participants, and has been the only source of negative comment – with a significant number of people not wishing to pay extra for this loco’s participation. At the same time, there is a greater number of people telling me that it would be the loco they’d be most looking forward to.
I am all too aware that it is impossible to please everyone in this scenario, but I have tried my best to come up with a straightforward plan that will tick most people’s boxes and is agreeable to the PFT-TSP.
The fare for the event, on the basis of five shunters being available, will be €30. I will collect this at a ‘barrier’ upon entry to our carriage at the start of the event. (If 8320 is not ready, this will be €25 – we will know by then).
During the visit, I will ask everybody to leave the carriage and 6106 will be attached. I will then make another ‘barrier’ at the entrance to the carriage and charge a further €5 for those who wish to get back on to travel behind this loco. Those who do not wish to pay this do not have to, but will not be able to travel behind 6106 – the bar will be open so this could be visited instead. After 6106 has been detached, the event will continue. Please note that some work remains ongoing with 6106 too; so it is a possibility that it too may not be ready for use and this may all be academic.
I hope that this is an acceptable solution to most – if you have any further thoughts on this, please do get in touch. Regretfully I will not be able to offer this ‘opt-in’ facility for any of the other locos and the basic fare will remain so.
Many thanks once again for your understanding with this eleventh hour amendment – I really hope it will give us as good a day out as possible. As ever, please do bear in mind that the availability of any of the locos is subject to the usual caveats that you would apply to machines that are up to 64 years old, but be assured that our Belgian friends are really pulling out all the stops for us.
With best wishes,