Diesel tours take to the tracks
IT STARTED as a childhood hobby that grew into obsession, and then finally, the dream job. Two Liverpool brothers at the helm of a unique Merseyside travel company are enjoying watching their efforts go from strength to strength.
Former Liverpool College student Kevin Melia first had the idea to charter his own train journey in 2003.
Rallying a group of like-minded friends to help, he had little further ambition at the time than to see if it would work just the once.
The trip was a such a success that from such humble beginnings, more were planned and Compass Tours was born.
As the company expanded, Mr Melia’s older brother John, 29, joined last year.
Now running the business from the south Liverpool family home, together the two have become the youngest tour operators of their kind in the UK’s small independent industry, as well as the only one operating out of the North West.
John Melia said: “At first, it was just an idea of Kevin’s to use otherwise redundant carriages and see if they could fill a train, and it snowballed from there.
“In 2004 he had four trains, in 2005 he ran five and in 2006 ran 10. This year we’re doing 23.”
The ethos of Compass Tours is that of a friendly, family-run business assisted by a number of volunteers, serving smaller stations, travelling scenic routes, and taking passengers straight to the kind of destinations not usually reached by a direct train.
The region’s rail enthusiasts make up a proportion of the company’s regular customers, as Compass Tours tend to use classic diesel locomotives.