For the first time since the Victorian era, the British public is being given the opportunity to buy shares in a British main line train operating company. The offer is part of a fundraising exercise by Vintage Trains, the West Midlands’ premier steam train operator, to ensure our iconic British steam trains continue to run epic journeys throughout the UK and tell the stories of how the British rail industry changed the world.
For the past 50 years, Vintage Trains has built a strong reputation for its preservation of traditional railway skills and for its historic fleet of gleaming steam locomotives which see regular use on main line charter trains throughout the UK, serving tourist hotspots of York, Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon and the Cotswolds.
The company is now looking to the future, and its innovative £3 million share scheme will ensure this vital part of Britain’s history can be enjoyed for generations to come. The additional funding will also help deliver an increased programme of train trips, boosting the tourism economy by encouraging people to visit British attractions by travelling there on one and will promote the very best of Britain’s heritage in the wake of Brexit.
Adrian Shooter, the former Chairman of Chiltern Railways who has over 40 years experience will be the chair of the Vintage Trains operating company and said: “The railways – and the steam engine in particular - were key to Britain’s success on the world stage. In our increasingly technological age, it’s easy to lose touch with our industrial past which is why Vintage Trains is helping to preserve the golden age of steam, and make it even more accessible to future generations and tourists alike.
“This unique opportunity to buy shares in a steam train operating company, will enable anyone to own a piece of history, whilst helping us to train young engineers and continue the investment in our fleet of locomotives and carriages.”
Michael Whitehouse, Chairman of both Vintage Trains Charitable Trust and Vintage Trains Community Benefit Society. said: “This offer is for everyone who believes there is magic in the sight, sound and smell of a steam locomotive pulling out of a station or hurtling across the countryside and for everyone who wants to experience the thrill. Together, we will create a new golden age, for new generations.
“We’re really proud of our steam heritage, and you’re going to help make sure that the skills of the steam age, which were invented in Britain and exported to change the world, live on for generations to come.”
The new company will create up to 11 full-time roles and will be promoting traditional engineering expertise before they disappear forever so that future generations can enjoy this experience.
In owning shares, which start from £500, Community Share Members will not only have the pride in knowing that they own part of a British steam operated main line railway company, they will also have voting rights, travel benefits on the company’s services and, after six years, Members may also have the opportunity to receive interest payments on their shares and to withdraw their share capital.