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West Coast Railways

West Coast Railways (WCR) is a railway spot-hire company and charter train operator based at Carnforth MPD in Lancashire. Using buildings and other facilities previously owned by the Steamtown Carnforth visitor attraction, in June 1998 the company became the first privately owned company to be given a licence as a train operating company.
After British Rail closed the Lakeside branch to passengers on 6 September 1965, a group of enthusiasts chaired by Dr Peter Beet formed the Lakeside Railway Estates Company, with the idea of preserving both the line and Carnforth MPD, to provide a complete steam operating system. After agreeing to rent out part of the Carnforth MPD site, but with the counter the development of the A590 road meaning that the complete vision was unsuccessful, Beet developed the visitor attraction Steamtown Carnforth, which became a mecca for steam enthusiasts from 1967.
In 1974, Sir Bill McAlpine became a shareholder in the company, with his 4472 Flying Scotsman making Carnforth its home. McAlpine subsequently acquired a controlling interest in the company, in order to fund the purchase of the complete site including the track from British Rail.
In light of McAlpine's declining interest, in 1990 his controlling interest in Steamtown Railway Museum was sold to David Smith, who over the following years has bought out most of the minority shareholders. With increasing Health & Safety Executive regulations, and an increased reliance on revenue from supplying and servicing steam locomotives to power enthusiast trains, the commercial decision was taken not to reopen Carnforth as a museum or visitor attraction for the 1998 season. Steamtown Railway Museum still exists today as the holding company, and operates an extensive railway repair and operating facility on the site.
WCR provides locomotives, stock and crews for railtour organisers. It provides crews to SRPS and Vintage Trains, who own their own stock. 
he company owns and operates a fleet of diesel locomotives, which are primarily used to haul charter trains, but have also been hired to other railway operators. The fleet is mainly composed of Class 37 and Class 47 locomotives, but also includes Class 57 locomotives, including the prototype passenger locomotive 57601.
Several Class 37 locomotives were purchased from Ian Riley Engineering, which ceased its spot-hire operations in mid-2004. In 2005, WCR won the contract to haul The Royal Scotsman luxury train. As a result, its two operational Class 37 locomotives and a Class 47 were repainted into a revised maroon livery, officially known as Royal Scotsman Claret, based on that of the Royal Scotsman carriages. In late 2005, WCR sold its two operational Class 37 locomotives (nos. 37197 and 37261) to Direct Rail Services, and received four Class 33 locomotives in exchange. As of 2011, WCR started investing in more Class 57 locomotives, bought from Advenza Freight, Harry Needle Railroad Company, Freightliner and Porterbrook.
The company's coaching stock consists of vacuum and air plus dual braked Mark 1 and Mark 2 coaches, mostly painted in the British Railways maroon livery, albeit with West Coast Railways branding on the bodyside. Some of these coaches were built as British Railways Pullman coaches.
Steam locomotives
Locomotives are not owned by WCR, but are made available to operate on the mainline by their respective owners (assuming they have the appropriate mainline certification).
Some engines may not now be operated on the mainline because their mainline or boiler ticket has expired or may be on display away from the national network. 5972 Olton Hall was on a 2-year loan agreement from November 2014 to the Warner Bros Studio Tour in Leavesden for their Harry Potter tour.

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West Coast Railways,
Jason Way,
Crag Bank,

+44 1524 732100

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