Sunday, 4 June 2017

GWSR hosts visit from NRM leaders on Friday 2 June

Dear GWSR Supporters,

I am pleased to advise you that the NRM's Director, Paul Kirkman, and the Head Curator, Andrew McLean, visited our railway on Friday.

Ably assisted by Glyn Cornish and Maxine Barton-Hawkins and volunteers at each station, I escorted them from Cheltenham CRC via Winchcombe, where they could admire Foremarke Hall on the Fire and Drive experience day, through Hayles Abbey to Toddington and finally on to Broadway.

I think we all explained our railway's values and objectives and I believe they were impressed by what a largely volunteer run railway can achieve.

The photos speak for themselves! Thanks to all the volunteers who helped to make this day a success.





Saturday, 6 May 2017

GWSR ‘Broadway the last mile’ share issue closes with great success on 30 April 2017!

GWSR ‘Broadway the last mile’ share issue closes with great success on 30 April 2017!

Dear Supporters of the GWSR,

I am delighted to be able to tell you that, with the final share applications counted and the last donations to the Trust (GWRT) banked, the share issue closed at £1,330,000!

Yes! That’s £80,000 over the £1,250,000 we were seeking!

A huge THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO SUPPORTED US!

This extra cash will be very welcome because, as you are aware, the Broadway embankment is going to cost about 4 times what we estimated when publishing the Share Issue Document. But with this extra money and the normal generous support from the Trust we are in good shape to keep our commitment to all our supporters to open to Broadway on 30 March 2018!

You will doubtless be pleased to know that the Broadway embankment remedial work is now in process and likely to last 12 weeks. The successful contractor in our bidding process was George Law Limited who, as you will remember, was the prime contractor for the bridges in 2014 – that seems a very long time ago, so much positive has happened since then!

Meanwhile the Permanent Way team are busy laying track northwards, and the Station group are busy with the many tasks needed to be completed before opening. The heritage station roof being constructed by our own Steam Loco department is nearly completed and ready for trial assembly at Toddington, after which it will be shipped to Broadway where the station building is almost ready to accept it.

These are exciting times and there is no slack in our volunteers’ construction timetables but thanks to your generous support they have the means to get the job done.

Do please use your shareholder ticket vouchers and visit the railway soon.

Finally, we will now go back to HMRC and seek their confirmation that our share issue is, as they advised us at the outset and then rescinded, acceptable for Enterprise Investment Scheme tax relief – watch this space! I am not giving up on this.

All good wishes,

Chris
Chris Bristow

GWSR PLC Finance Director

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Numbers

It's always difficult to compare visitor numbers at this time of year as Easter can have a marked effect. We have found in the past that we benefit from an early Easter as presumably the public is at last glad to get out of the house. Easter in April however seems to have the opposite effect.

So, looking at our visitor numbers, on our "normal days" we are ever so slightly down on last year. However the Wartime weekend was a tremendous success. Over last weekend we saw 1600 paying visitors on the Saturday and 1400 on the Sunday. When you add to that the 250 re-enactors (who also pay but at a lower rate) then the final total is on a day to day basis in excess of our traditionally biggest special event - the steam gala. And from all I heard at the weekend it is set to grow again next year with lots of positive comments. Thanks to the organising group for all their hard work - it was well worth while.
Colin Fewell

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Broadway - the last mile share issue exceeds £1,250,000 target on 4th April 2017

Broadway – the last mile share issue reaches £1,250,000 target on Tuesday 4th April 2017!

Dear supporters of the GWSR,

I am delighted to tell you all that, including donations to the GWRT, the share issue has today exceeded our target  of £1,250,000 with 25 days to go before the offer closes on 30 April 2017.

A huge THANK YOU to everybody who has subscribed for shares or made a donation to the Trust (or both!). Without your support reaching Broadway would still be a dream.

If you are still thinking about buying shares or making a donation then I would encourage you to do so, as the embankment repair in Broadway is going to cost at least £300,000 and we had only estimated £80,000 at the time of preparing the share issue document .

We have to make up this shortfall from somewhere.

Anyway, get ready for that opening on 30 March 2018!

Thanks again,

Chris

Chris Bristow


GWSR PLC Finance Director

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Broadway share issue passes the £1,150,000 mark on 10 March!

Dear supporters of the GWSR,

I am delighted to be able to tell you that the railway's share issue reached £1,158,000 on Friday 10/03.

That's about £150,000 more than my last Blog posting  just over a month ago, and is directly related to the terrific response we have received to my letter to shareholders and the recent Broadway edition of The Cornishman, our members and volunteers magazine.

The only 'fly in the ointment' is the potential cost of rebuilding the embankment between the two bridges in Broadway. At the time of writing the share issue document (late 2015) I had used an estimate of £80,000 for this but our design consultants have recently indicated £400,000 is more realistic.

So, we shall need every penny of the £1,250,000 requested and for anyone still considering buying shares, the share offer remains open until 30 April 2017. The share issue document and application form are available on the website, GWSR.com, from the development office at Toddington 01242 621405 or email: development@gwsr.com.

If you wish to make a donation to the GWRT please send a cheque payable to the GWRT to;
GWRT Chairman, The Railway Station, Toddington, GL54 5DT and if you wish to claim gift aid request a form with your donation. Alternatively call 01242 621405.

Please make a contribution now and be part of this great project to restore trains to Broadway for the first time since 1960!

All good wishes,

Chris

Chris Bristow

GWSR PLC Finance Director

Friday, 3 February 2017

'Broadway - the last mile' share offer passes the £1,000,000 point!

Dear GWSR supporter,
  
I am delighted to be able to tell you that today we passed the £1,000,000 mark on our 'Broadway - the last mile' share appeal thanks to the generous support of our shareholders, members, volunteers and the public at large.
  
I feel very confident now we have broken through the psychologically important £1 million barrier that the balance of the funds we need, now only £230,000, will flow in during the next 90 days before the share offer closes on 30 April 2017.
  
We do absolutely need this cash as you've probably heard the embankment between the 2 bridges in Broadway needs more substantial remedial work than previously estimated but, with your continued financial support, I remain confident that we will be welcoming our first passengers to Broadway on 30 March 2018 (Good Friday).
  
If you had been planning to contribute to the share appeal then, with the end, in sight, I would like to suggest now would be a good time.

Thanks again to everyone who has already contributed,
  
Chris
  
Chris Bristow

GWSR PLC Finance Director
  

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Board Update


FROM THE BOARDROOM

There have been another couple of board meetings recently; one in December and one in January. There are a whole range of issues which continue to arise which need to be dealt with to support our future plans and progress.

In December, as is normal we received written reports from all directors about matters they had been individually dealing with. Safety plays a big part in all we do. We had a report from Chris Webb our Safety Director summarising some recent - relatively minor - accidents, and we also had to review and approve the new Safety Management System (SMS) document which had been re-written by Neil Carr.

A further safety issue to be considered was the proposal to acquire a number of new portable ramps for accessing our carriages by disabled passengers. The existing ramps are very heavy and awkward to use. We need to have ramps which can accommodate both un-powered and powered wheelchairs, and mobility scooters. Again, this is not so straightforward as might be thought. Where they are used has safety implications, as there needs to be enough clearance at the end of the ramp for wheelchairs and scooters to avoid conflict with station furniture. That in turn impacts upon where our accessible carriages stop.

One of the major aspects of the meeting was considering a further report from  Alan Bielby about the problems with the embankment between Broadway Evesham Road bridge, and Childswickham bridge. At that stage, efforts were still on-going to establish both what the extent of the problems were, and what could be done to remedy it (and the cost!). We were promised more information after Christmas - see below.

We also debated what to do about the current position regarding the proposed car park at Broadway. It appeared that it could become much more of a challenge and much more expensive to create a car park than was first expected. Arrangements were made for a small delegation to meet with local councillors and council officials as soon as possible to see how best this could be progressed.

Following on from this, Lee Alibone reported to us that whilst all was going very well with building the extension, there was no slack in the programme if we were to meet the anticipated opening date in spring 2018.

We considered and approved the arrangements for demolition of the Elf Centre after Christmas. The contract for the new building has been let and work should start in mid-January.

In early January, we settled down for another meeting after the excitement and exertion of Christmas and the New Year. We were very pleased to be told that our passenger figures had exceeded 100,000 for the first time ever - just. Very well done to everybody.

The start of the meeting was delayed for a very good reason, as a team from Aviva arrived unexpectedly to tell us that we had been successful in our bid for £25,000 for the new Tim Mitchell Centre (the Elf Centre). It was a pure coincidence that they arrived just as the board meeting was about to start. If only all board meetings started like that!

There were two main issues we had to deal with. Firstly, Alan Bielby reported that the on-going deliberations about the above mentioned embankment had reached a conclusion. We were advised that there was no alternative but that the embankment had to be stabilised and made safe before trains could run over it. The best and most cost effective option was to reduce the profile of the embankment by narrowing it at the top, and then soil nailing it. That would inevitably reduce the width so that only a single line could be laid. We were told that that option would cost an estimated £387,000.

If we decided to keep the double track option, the cost would increase by at least a further £200,000. As a decision was required so that a contract could be let, we accepted the first option. The intention is that the work will run for 12 weeks from April-June.

That impacts on the originally expected P/way track laying programme. So, the programme has been revised with track laying ceasing at Childswickham in the Spring. P/way will then move to the north end of Broadway, and begin laying track through the station heading south. That way hopefully, the target date will still be met.

Secondly, Chris Bristow presented us with a draft budget for 2018. It is a sign of the size of our expanded business that the income targets, and expenditure expectations get ever larger. As matters stand, with just over three months to go, our share appeal is still about £250,000 short of target. We have received nearly £1m which is amazing, but we need still more if we are going to meet the cost of building to Broadway.

There was a long debate over how we balance income with expenditure. Understandably, some were keen to retain our traditional model of not seeking any external funding, whilst others felt that that was the only realistic alternative. We are very fortunate to have the unremitting support of GWRT, and as they have a planned board meeting later in January at which their ability to assist financially will be discussed, it was decided to adjourn this matter to a special board meeting at the end of the month, for a decision to be made.

Whilst every possible effort is made to keep costs to a minimum, we have no control over the cost of most capital items. If we want it, we  have to find a way of paying for it.

After this fairly lengthy debate about matters financial, the rest of the meeting passed without any great controversy. Chris Sparks explained the plans he had made for a special meeting between directors & Head of departments in late January. This will enable HOD's to tell us what they think about the various currently live topics.

We were also told that the anticipated timetable for 2018 onwards will potentially require more signalmen (and women) than we currently have available, so initially at least the new signal box at Broadway will not be opened, and working will be by way of a ground frame worked by loco crews. Efforts are being made to recruit and train more signalmen, and the position should begin to ease in subsequent years.

Perhaps I can end by asking that if you have not yet contributed to our share appeal and are thinking of doing so, now is an ideal time. Let's try and get to the £1.25m that we set out to achieve.

Richard Johnson
Company secretary
15th January 2017