A new report from Historic England (November 2021) reviews the impact of COVID-19 on heritage railways and some of the valuable lessons learned which are relevant to the rest of the heritage sector.
Heritage railways experienced wide-ranging challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021. However, some have demonstrated notable resilience in face of these difficulties, benefiting from strategies that they have employed themselves or that have been implemented by the heritage railway sector at large.
The study draws upon primary evidence generated by interviews with seven representatives of heritage railways across England and a set of contextual secondary sources. The report highlights a selection of the approaches adopted during the pandemic in order to support individual railways and the sector as whole, from accessing public funds, fundraising through online donations, and philanthropy, to investment in IT infrastructure, outdoor opportunities and developing flexible revenue streams, effective crisis management, and engaging with supporters and volunteers.
Finally, the study discusses the wider applicability of these approaches across the heritage sector to support better resilience to known and unexpected challenges in the future.
The full report can be downloaded here: https://historicengland.org.uk/research/results/reports/8449/HeritageRailwaysandCovid-19_GettingBackonTrack