Heritage railway

From Academic Kids

Missing image
A scene on a heritage railway. An ex-British Railways 4MT 2-6-4T tank engine takes on water at Bishops Lydeard station on the West Somerset Railway, Somerset, England.

A heritage railway or a preserved railway is a term used, especially in Great Britain, for a railway which is run as a tourist attraction and is usually but not always run by volunteers, and seeks to re-create railway scenes of the past. They may be operated in concert with area museums (particularly transport museums).


Historic heavy rail

Heritage railways are usually railway lines which were once run as proper commercial railways, but were later no longer needed, or were closed down, and were taken over or re-opened by volunteers.

Typically a heritage railway will use steam locomotives and old-fashioned rolling stock to create a period atmosphere.

There are a large number of heritage railways in the United Kingdom due to the closure of lines in the 1960s under the Beeching Axe, and British people's liking for railways.

Heritage railways often have limited service, only operating at times when volunteers are available to run the trains. However, some lines operate in regular service and provide a valuable transportation option to the community while also attracting tourists.

Heritage streetcars

A related development that is becoming popular in the United States is the heritage streetcar. In many cities, historic streetcar (tram) lines are being put in place alongside modern light rail systems. Proponents claim that using a simple, reliable form of transit from 50 or 100 years ago can bring history to life for 21st century Americans. Additionally, many heritage streetcar lines turn out to be much more economical than their modern counterparts, often with installations that go in at a fraction of the cost of newer lines. However, there are trade-offs: such systems often lack handicapped access, for example.

Systems are operating successfully in over 20 U.S. cities, and are in planning or construction stages in 40 more. Heritage streetcar systems currently operating in Memphis, Tennessee, Tampa, Florida and New Orleans, Louisiana are among the larger; a heritage line was recently completed in Charlotte, North Carolina and will become an integral part of the city's new transit system.

In 1947, playwright Tennessee Williams brought long-term fame to the streetcars of New Orleans when A Streetcar Named Desire opened on Broadway. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the play in 1948. A Streetcar Named Desire was made into a movie starring Marlon Brando in 1951.

Over 50 years later, the revival of streetcar operations in New Orleans is credited by many to the worldwide fame gained by its streetcars made by the Perley A. Thomas Car Works. These cars were operating on the system's Desire route in the 1947 play and later movie of the same name. Some of the original Perley Thomas cars have been carefully restored locally and continue to operate in 2004. New Orleans' St. Charles streetcar line is a National Historic Landmark.

In San Francisco, parts of the cable car and streetcar system are heritage lines, although they are also functioning parts of the city's transit system. The cable cars are a National Historic Landmark - with the New Orleans streetcars, the only such landmarks that move.

The Hong Kong Tramways in Hong Kong is also considered a heritage of Hong Kong.

See also

External links

nl:Toeristische spoorweg sv:Museijärnväg


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