By their very nature, trains, especially steam hauled trains, attract enthusiasts. Our tours will always include a number of photographic opportunities in the form of false starts and run pasts where this is practical and possible. Where possible, we also arrange locomotive footplate rides, museum and depot visits. Many of our customers do not have the same exclusive interest in trains shown by some enthusiasts; therefore, we keep in mind the need to diversify our tour programmes. We do this by including visits to castles and historic houses, and to wildlife parks, using accommodation in resort style hotels, and providing free time for shopping and exploring. Nevertheless the main attraction and therefore the emphasis of our tours is travel by train which includes the nostalgia, the companionship on board, and the passing scenery. We consider that those travelling on our tours will see more scenery and in greater comfort than by road coach or cruise liner.
We arrange and advertise tours in good faith. Many scheduled railway organisations – train operators and track operators – only work two months ahead and therefore cannot confirm final schedules to us until that ‘window’. Likewise we cannot confirm and advise final numbers for a tour until full balances have been received from tour customers. Tours may be subject to occasional rescheduling or re-routing. The nature of steam trains is that breakdowns, delays and substitutions have to be accepted. Every genuine effort will be made to ensure that each of our tours runs as planned and advertised, or as close to it as possible.
In many countries at times of exceptionally dry weather, coal-fired steam locomotives may be banned from operating and diesel or electric traction may have to be substituted. Oil-fired steam locomotives however are normally still allowed to operate. The Railway Touring Company cannot accept any responsibility for steam bans during times of high fire risk.
On some trains seat reservations are by individual seats, on others by block booking or complete carriage. Since the railways concerned make the allocations, we have to accept and be flexible about the seating arrangements. Where overnight travel is necessary we will arrange either to stay in a convenient hotel en route, to use one of the newer ‘hotel trains’, or to book Standard Class twin berth sleeper car trains (First Class is often single berth). These decisions are made on the basis of the length of the journey, the range of scenery likely to be missed by overnight travel, and the accommodation options available.
Some tours include porterage between stations and hotels; some include full luggage transfers between hotels, using either a supplementary road coach or scheduled ‘luggage in advance’ facilities. Porterage, where advertised, is included in the cost. However, there will be occasions when porters are not available or included and it will be each customer’s responsibility to handle their own luggage.
We aim to use 4-star designated hotels throughout our tours as this offers us the standards of hospitality, catering and service that we would wish for our customers. We also seek out establishments which are either conveniently located for the railways in order to minimize transfers, or which afford some unique character. Where we cannot meet either of these criteria we ensure the best and most comfortable accommodation available.
Meals will be taken on trains, boats, planes, in hotels and restaurants and even al fresco, picnic or packed! Mindful of the diversity of our customer’s tastes we try to adopt a ‘middle of the road’ approach when choosing menus. We must also accept the limitations of on-board catering and marvel at the success that chefs regularly achieve in the confines of train kitchens. Hotel and restaurant meals are usually a set menu, with options for special dietary needs. If customers have any special dietary requirements they must please ensure that they let us know them at the time of booking. In this way we can make the necessary arrangements for customers with special requirements. Some of our tours include alcoholic and soft drinks and coffee, in which case this is clearly stated in tour information. Otherwise customers are responsible for their own refreshments.
Customers are responsible for holding the necessary and appropriate travel documentation for their journey. For tours outside the UK, customers must ensure that there is at least six months validity remaining on their passports. We assume our customers are British Citizens whose passport shows they have a right to reside in the UK. If a customer has a passport of another country or state, or one that indicates restrictions on return to their country of origin, then they must please contact us prior to booking and well in advance of intended use. We will advise customers of the requirements and processing arrangements for visas where they are required. We will offer any help we can in arranging your visas. Health advice is dependent upon the destination, medical history and current health of each customer participating in a tour and we cannot assume any responsibility. Customers MUST seek advice from their GP or a travel medical centre.
We will send out information to tour customers for visa and general planning purposes when appropriate, usually at the ‘balance due’ time. If there is nothing significant to communicate then we will simply acknowledge that the customer’s balance of payment has been received. We prepare and send a booklet of information to tour customers for all tours. This includes a passenger list with first or ‘known as’ names, where advised, (check on an old acquaintance, aide-memoir for names during the tour); the latest known itinerary with as much detail as necessary (including meal times/locations); emergency and general contact details; and usually some general and specific information about features of the tour programme. This is intentionally a small part of the information available and tour customers are advised to research and obtain detailed reference material, maps, schedules etc. appropriate to their particular interests. Air travel tickets are usually sent to us for onward despatch less than two weeks before travel – please don’t panic! Rail tickets are often group travel documents held by the Tour Manager. In this case tour customers will be provided with joining instructions, which please observe since the party cannot progress until all members are present. Tickets, vouchers and coupons for onward travel during a tour, are usually held and distributed by the Tour Manager.
Many customers arrange their own travel insurance. THE RAILWAY TOURING COMPANY cannot assume any responsibility relating to travel insurance issues and customers should ensure that they are familiar with procedures should an incident occur. This is especially important with medical cover since we do not undertake to obtain medical attention, but to hand over the customer to an appropriate and suitable authority.
Tour managers are responsible for the general care and well-being of the whole group and are neither available, nor trained or insured for individual ‘personal’ care. Each tour, by way of the trains and terrain being visited, presents its own opportunities and restrictions. Customers should ascertain the suitability of the itinerary and facilities available relevant to their own needs. We shall be pleased to discuss customers concerns with them before they commit to a booking. We will attempt to accommodate and resolve any needs or problems caused by undisclosed mobility/dietary/general health issues but cannot accept responsibilities beyond those stated above. We would especially draw customer’s attention to the tours that visit high-altitude locations and the resulting possibility of cardiovascular and respiratory problems.
Customer’s names and addresses have been obtained as a result of their response to advertisements, having been a previous customer or enquirer, or a referral from some other party. We do not share these details with anyone outside Warren Travel Ltd trading as The Railway Touring Company or The Railway Touring Company Ltd. Customer’s personal details such as credit card numbers, travel arrangements, companions etc. will only be kept to be used within the requirements of tour operating. We are registered under the Data Protection Act. If one customer wishes to communicate with another customer, then please forward the stamped envelope/package to us. We will add the address and post on the mail. We will not divulge any addresses or telephone numbers.
We are licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority and hold ATOL Number T7149. This ensures that in the event of the failure of our Company, customer’s money will be protected. If customers are on holiday at the time of Company failure, arrangements will be made for them to complete their holiday and return home. The flights we provide are supplied by other ATOL holders and are protected by their bonds. For further information, visit the ATOL website at www.atol.org.uk.
The payments that customers make for their flights are held by us in our trust account, on behalf of the ATOL holder who is supplying the flight, until the date that we pass the money to that ATOL holder. The ATOL holder supplying the flight will issue an ATOL confirmation invoice to confirm their contract with the customer. We will forward this to the customer no later than the day after we have received it.