Monday, 4 September 2017

GWSR Financial results for the half year to 31 July 2017

Dear supporters of the GWSR,

It was in early May that I last wrote to you following the successful conclusion of the 'Broadway the last mile' share issue which generated £80,000 more than our original target to end at £1,330,000.

This coming week I am pleased to update you with the railway's commercial results for the first half year which, I am pleased to say,  have been good!

Overall passenger numbers at 46550 were up very slightly on 2016 with a measurable change towards more passengers on normal running days and away from special events. This is a good thing as the railway is, on some special event days, beginning to be constrained by capacity.

With generally good weather up until June all our special events did well, the race trains and the wartime weekend achieving new records, but our railway has now become a firm favourite with tour operators and this is a major driver of the move to busier ordinary running days.

For the first 6 months, turnover was nearly £1 million and like gross profit was almost exactly on budget. With some cost reductions in our overheads our operating profit (which to all intents and purposes is our cash flow) came in at a healthy £225,000.

I like to say that 5 paid staff and 900 volunteers came together and in 6 months generated nearly a quarter of a million pounds in cash!

Receipts for the Santa trains have already started to come in, so I forecast our railway will have  another excellent year, our last in the current format before the opening to Broadway.

Finally, on operations, there was the no small matter of opening Hayles Abbey Halt which was a huge credit to the Heritage Group and, in particular, Jim Graham who lead the project.

Turning now to capital works, I can confirm all is on target to open Broadway station to the public on Good Friday, 30 March 2018. Although much remains to be done the embankment repairs at Broadway were completed in July and the heritage roof for the station, made by our steam loco department, was craned into position in May - see photo. In addition, good progress has been made with developing relationships with businesses and the community in Broadway which I am sure will be mutually beneficial.

At Winchcombe. the new visitor centre, for which we won the Aviva Community award, is nearing completion and will be first used for the Santa trains. See second photo. 

All in all, everything moves along at our railway very smoothly.
Kind regards,
Chris Bristow
GWSR Finance Director


Friday, 25 August 2017

Update on commercial activities

Passenger numbers to the end of July were just a little up on 2016 which was to be expected following last year's big increase and the odd weather we had this July. August is looking good with record Saturdays. The real ale weekend achieved such a record of over 1000 visitors on the Saturday.

Planning for 2018 continues of course with lots of positive discussions taking place with businesses in Broadway

The 2018 timetable is now at the second proof stage. This has been a major exercise taking into account Hayles Abbey Halt and Broadway and of course the complete change in train times. We all recognise that next year's timetable isn't going to be perfect as we have to consider not just the anticipated growth in passenger numbers but also limitations imposed upon us by the length of the line and working day, the need for lunch breaks, the demands being imposed on each operating department etc. etc. It will probably take about 3 years to get the ideal timetable in place. The detailed timetables are on HOPS and hopefully the printed timetable will be available in November.

And if you get a chance, have a look at Tripadvisor

Colin Fewell

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Diesel gala

An excellent weekend marred a little by the weather. Visitor numbers were down on last year's record number but still up quite a lot on 2015. Talking to people, they all seemed to be enjoying it and several blogs have commented on this being the best diesel gala around. Congratulations to all who were involved in the organisation.
Colin Fewell

Friday, 21 July 2017

Visitor numbers

After last year's  13% increase in passengers, we are assuming in all our planning that this year, numbers will not increase any further  before the expected surge in 2018. In actual fact, numbers are continuing to rise  although at a much slower pace. For instance in June we were 3% up and for the year so far about 2%.

One area where growth seems to continue unabated is in our group bookings which so far this year are about 15% up.

The classic vehicle day attracted almost 1000 people some of which just came to admire the cars.
Colin Fewell

Tour of Britain cycle race

 On Saturday September 9th, cyclists will be racing past our railway resulting in road closures etc.
 The information I have is as follows:
At about 13:45 the Stow Road from the Toddington roundabout will be closed so there will be no entry or exit from the station.
Cyclists will ride though from 14:18 until about 15:00 when the road will be re-opened.
At about 14:00 the road outside the station entrance will be closed so there will be no entry or exit from the station entrance.
Cyclists will ride through from 14:31 until about 15:10 and the road will be re-opened about 5 minutes later
At about 14:20 the A 435 will be closed into town and there will be no entry or exit from the racecourse roundabout

Cyclists will ride through from 14:51 until 15:32 when progressively the road will be re-opened.

Colin Fewell

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Bus Rally

Another successful event with a record number of over 700 visitors. Thanks to all who were involved in the tremendous organisation
Colin Fewell

Friday, 7 July 2017


I realise nor everyone loves Thomas the Tank Engine, but his popularity seems to remain at a high level amongst young families. The event a couple of weeks ago was as successful as in the past with almost 2500 paying visitors. The actual number was only a few  down on the 2016 record. Interestingly about 70% of these bought tickets in advance on line through the Thomas website. Everyone seemed to have a great time and apart from a minor problem with the loco on Sunday morning, it all went well. Thanks as always to all who participated.
Colin Fewell