This whole idea of SLOA2- comrades of engine drivers, union of socialist firemen, water tower dwelling hippies, Greek artisans of time tabling, harp playing mark 1 coach restorers and coal miners of Barnsley all humming cross legged on a cloud to plan a railtour. It sounds like a Beatles Video but in reality is at worst embarrassing, at best already in existence. You could just buy your own engine, run your own coaches, sell your own tickets and arrange it with network rail. and to hell with everyone else... example.. Its called a TOC. WCRC don't need a DEmocratic People's Republic of SLOA to operate trains. WCRC don't need anyone to market, schedule, prepare and operate their trains either. be thankful they cater for most people who make an effort to lay on tours as they do and that WCRC go out of there way to make it happen. We have RTC and others thinking of the unusual, undone and impossible and try to find ways to make them happen... That's what makes it so exciting. they certainly don't need a yellow submarine full of ageing luddites bubbling up in morecombe bay telling them how to plan a railtour Marxist style. Mainline steam will eventually enter a decline, whether it's good service or bad, expensive or cheap, It will eventually become a smaller niche than it is now. A collective bunch of prawn butty suit munchers meeting monthly at NR's offices demanding turntables, water towers, coaling towers, GWGauge nationwide, 2-10-0's at 90mph etc across the network wont make any difference and will be a laughing stock not a serious entity. Network Rails job is to run for the future, not cater for the past. Railtours need to fit in the gaps, not widen the gaps so that it fits. Eventually routes will have to be limited to what fits, unless you've got £bns to make it fit. When an engine fails.. It fails. End of. It happens. Unless your paying for standby, and crews, and paths, your accepting the risk. A nice product will always command a premium, and the dust has only just settled at the £10 premium for table cloths on steam dreams. This propsed Mainline steam "nirvana" will cost you £500 + a ticket.. Just as it it in the US. You'll get great service, but not 7 times a day all over the country, and your pool of locos will be small... Just look at mainline steam in South Africa for the idea. Be thankful companies like RTC and WCRC make the efforts they do in envelope pushing, if they give up, we're all back to OO gauge and 60's videos at worst...or the early 1980's steam scene at best ( oh wasnt that the happy days of sloa, limited locos, restricted routes, controlled dates, choreographed mileage, knackered stock, failures, late running and last minute diversions, fire bans and diesel substitutes). For now I sit back and await the drain cocks of Epimetheus to puff another cloud in the sky, Hopefully someone on the train can garnish us with the reality of what happened today and give the philosophers /RTC snipers a break.