Rail-Blue Charters hits the buffers

Published: 10:35AM Nov 17th, 2011
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Cargo-D collapse causes Rail-Blue Charters to cease trading.

Rail-Blue Charters hits the buffers

AYR APPARENT: The Stratford 47 Group’s 47580 County of Essex continues to find gainful employment with West Coast Railways. Here, the large logo-liveried Type 4 passes Ribblehead with Compass Tours’ 1Z47 07.26 Ayr-York charter on October 22. West Coast’s No. 57601 was on the rear of the rake, which had earlier traversed the Glasgow & South Western route. The chocolate and cream liveried carriage near the back is Mk2f RFO No. 1201 owned by Nick Dodson. David Dockray

THE announcement that Cargo-D had been placed in administration on October 12, came as little surprise to many people. The company’s charter train arm, Rail-Blue Charters, had failed to operate all but one of its trips since early August, citing the non-availability of its kitchen car as the reason.

Having initially been told that the trains had been postponed, passengers who had booked on the trains which did not run were sent a ‘Customer Refund Form for Cancelled Trains’ to fill in, but despite returning these, monies were not returned and emails/phone calls were not responded to.

The company dealing with Cargo-D’s affairs, RSM Tenon, says that any claims against the company will be treated as unsecured claims, and is unable at present to comment on the likelihood of any potential dividends/payouts. A review of the business is taking place with a view to selling company assets, such as the coaches, for the benefit of creditors.

A number of people have been critical at the way the company handled the cancellation of its ‘Mark Honey Memorial’ tour, which was the first train to be cancelled at short notice after problems developed with Mk1 RK 80042. Mark had been Cargo-D’s commercial director until he lost his battle with cancer in December 2010, and profits from the train were due to be split between two charities – the Sarcoma Trust and Macmillan Cancer Support. Refunds were not forthcoming prior to the company entering administration and, unfortunately, there is no preference for charities within the Insolvency Act. Those who paid to travel on this or other trains which failed to run and paid by credit card may be able to obtain a refund from their card provider through the Consumer Credit Act.

The Rail-Blue Charters name had been in regular use since August 2008, when Cargo-D started promoting its own charter trains using vehicles from its fleet of coaching stock. The inaugural trip saw ‘Deltic’ 55022 Royal Scots Grey haul the ‘Hope Valley Executive’ on a circular lunch trip from Crewe to Sheffield on August 9, that year. At that time, the company’s coaches were being used on scheduled passenger services by a number of TOCs, namely First Great Western, Wrexham & Shropshire and First ScotRail. Since this work ceased, Cargo-D has had to rely more on charter train work, either through its Rail-Blue arm or third parties.

Retro to use Riviera

One third party promoter which has used Cargo-D as its train facilitator and rolling stock provider in recent years is Retro Railtours. It last used Cargo-D back in May, on a trip taking a pair of Class 31s from Leeds to Southend. A proposed trip from Yorkshire and the North West to Glasgow with 55022 Royal Scots Grey failed to make it off the drawing board. Retro’s James Palmer told RE: “After our Southend trip, we were unable to reach agreement with Cargo-D concerning the running of a further train, and were concerned about the company’s financial stability given that it had received two County Court Judgements earlier in the year. Consequently, we took the decision back in July not to use Cargo-D for our future tours. We have a proud 100% record of running every train we have advertised to date, and had we gone ahead with promoting the September train, we would no doubt have lost this’.

Following discussions to find an alternative supplier, Retro says it will be using Riviera Trains rolling stock for its trains in 2012. Three trips are planned, the first of which is expected to run in April. Full details should be available in the next month.

In the past few years, a number of railtour operators have fallen by the wayside, leaving customers and other companies out of pocket or having to battle for their money. It is to be hoped that recent events will not put people, in particular daytrippers who may not understand the structure of the charter train industry, off making bookings with other established promoters.

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