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Meet the rail-mad millionaire with Britain’s only privately owned train

British businessman Jeremy Hosking is one such man. His train, The Chairman’s Set, is comprised of repurposed former Caledonian Sleeper coaches – in classic 1950s British Rail “blood and custard” livery – and is, officially, Britain’s only privately owned train (the Royal Family have one, of course, but as theirs is owned by DB Cargo, it’s not technically private). 

“Of course, every British boy growing up dreams of becoming an engine driver,” he explains. “But there are some special factors associated with the UK that I think are not replicated anywhere else.

“The first is that when the railway was modernised in the 1960s, British Rail sent all the retired steam engines to scrap merchants around the country. Several went to a scrap yard in south Wales.

“A gentleman by the name of Dai Woodham declined to scrap them. Over the following 20 years, some 200 steam locomotives left the scrap yard and were restored to working condition by amateurs and philanthropists – an incredible preservation miracle. And that’s where I came in.”

“When I had some spare money, I identified a group that was trying to restore a steam locomotive from scrap-yard condition: I said, ‘If you sell me the locomotive, I will fund the restoration’, and so they did, and I did.”