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STATEMENT - Lineside passes and photo charters at the Severn Valley Railway

Updated: Mar 17, 2021

There has been considerable speculation recently about the SVR’s stance on lineside passes for photographers and photo charters. The railway suspended passes last year because of Covid, no photo charters took place last season or have been planned for the 2021 season.

The railway has now clarified its long-term position on both these issues. In the future it will not issue any new lineside passes, or accommodate any privately-run photo charters.

Helen Smith, the general manager explained:

“I know that this news will disappoint some people. However, I ask you to step back and understand the extremely difficult position the railway faces.

“The income we receive from lineside passes and privately-run photo charters is insignificant when compared to the potential risk these activities naturally contain. This means that to continue them makes little financial sense. As the landowner, train operating company and infrastructure provider, if SVR Holdings continues to permit such activities we also hold liability for any accidents or injuries that the participants have.

“The Office of Road and Rail has ceased its ‘light touch’ approach to heritage rail and is beginning to apply more rigorous standards to all heritage operations. The SVR is of particular interest to the ORR because of the two fall from height incidents that have happened in less than a year.

“Put these factors together and you will see why it would not be in the SVR’s interests to allow these high risk activities to continue. Only a handful of heritage railways currently do so, and I expect that soon there will not be any.”

Holders of existing SVR lineside passes will be able to use them until they expire, and the railway will remove the temporary ban that was put in place because of Covid. Once expired, lineside passes will will not be renewed. The railway has asked anyone with a valid pass to use it responsibly in the meantime.

The SVR acknowledges that it needs high quality images of rolling stock, both for its own use and for publication in the heritage and general press. It plans to establish a small group of official volunteer SVR photographers who will have lineside access, and who will undertake rigorous and regular safety training. In return, they will be asked to give the railway full and free access to their work.

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Apr 21, 2022

More H&S killjoys at work. The preserved railways seemed to have forgotten their enthusiast roots. What next, no leaning out of windows and central door locking on coaches?


Andrew Royle
Aug 13, 2021

Would you care to explain how you have reached the conclusion that lineside photography is 'high risk'? There are many activities on the SVR which carry risk! Will you be sealing up carriage windows and fitting central door locks to stop people from leaning out or falling out of carriages? How about keeping passengers off platforms until their trains have arrived? Please try to keep things in perspective and remember why preserved railways were established in the first place. You seem to have picked on a small group of enthusiasts, just to give the impression you are doing something about safety. If you had consulted with them first, you may have found that most would be happy to undertake full…


Stephen Thomas
Mar 14, 2021

I am very sorry that SVR have taken this approach but fully understand the legal position and Risks. However I have a photographic permit that finishes in 2023 and due to covid conditions I was unable to use this pass during the year. Could SVR extend my pass until 2024 or reimburse me for one year.

Also as a keen photographer and a member of Bridgnorth Photographic club is it possible that I could enlist or join your photographic team ( I am willing to undertake safety training on an annual basis) I am Ceng MIOSH professional and I am willing to provide photographs to SVR for their sole use.

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