Friday, 5 August 2016

Report from the Away Day Meeting of the Plc Board

Every year, the board sets aside a whole day for a meeting so that various topics can be discussed at length. Our latest such meeting took place at the beginning of August.

We considered the arrangements for the proposed opening to Broadway It was agreed unanimously that the opening should be a celebration of the achievements of all volunteers in every department throughout the railway, who have worked so hard to make this happen. As such we shall be organising the event around the use of our own in house loco's.

We considered our current organisational structure. In future station groups will be accorded departmental status, and as such will have a clear reporting line to a Plc director. 

Succession planning is obviously important. We do have a number of 'pinch points' in the organisation, and it was felt that the best way to overcome this is to seek to widen responsibilities in all departments and avoid reliance too much on individuals - so far as this can reasonably be done. We also need to develop more signalmen (and women); more Duty Operations Officers; more help with special events and more support to fill vacancies in the OTC management team.

The format of the timetables for when we operate from Broadway is still under discussion, but it appears that it will be on a similar format to present operations. We are anticipating the need for eight coach trains, and it appears that the current policy of having two TTI's on a train works well. Tour groups (and especially cream Teas) are a good source of income, and arrangements for them will be essentially unchanged.

There has been a degree of discussion previously about whether or not it would be an appropriate use of resources to extend our railway south beyond Cheltenham racecourse to Cheltenham Town boundary over the trackbed we currently own. After further discussion, we decided that we would not pursue this option and would instead concentrate upon developing and enhancing our railway between Broadway and CRC. 

Although we are heavily committed financially to the rebuilding and reopening of Broadway, we are still looking to see what can be done to develop and enhance the railway elsewhere. One of the issues we have been considering for some time is a proper workshop for S&T at Winchcombe, to replace the coach they currently work from. With the impending departure of the privately owned stock in the yard, that can be developed further. We decided to commit sufficient funds for a start to be made upon building such a facility.

We are also very conscious of the need to develop and enhance the messing and welfare facilities for our Loco Department. We agreed that this project should also come to the fore, and that sufficient funds be allocated to enable it to move beyond the planning stage.

As was mentioned in the previous blog posting, we are awaiting a further report on the condition of the embankment at Broadway. We have been aware of this for some time, and provision for repairs was included in the Share Appeal budget. As soon as we know what our options are, we can plan with more certainty.

You can see that there is a lot going on, and a great deal more to be done. Our Share Appeal continues to make splendid progress, and we are very grateful to all those who have already contributed. If you have not subscribed so far, you know what to do ................

Richard Johnson
Company secretary


  1. On the extension to Cheltenham, and what you say makes sense, is that a no - never, or not any time soon?

    Likewise, I am guessing that Honeybourne is more likely before Cheltenham.



  2. Thank you to all the Board members for all the work they do. It is appreciated.
    Philip Evans, Worcester (currently an "armchair" supporter)

  3. Very wise to drop Cheltenham idea , so many other priorities after Broadway opens eg. Winchcombe carriage sheds alongside C+W and develop CRC Station facilities with new car park on Bishops Cleeve Road .john M.

  4. My earlier comment about the track bed that GWSR owns south of CRC was , in no way , advocating its use. I was merely trying to find out what potential cost liabilities existed because of its ownership.

  5. Richard Johnson8 August 2016 at 16:04

    We have a continuing obligation to fence and secure all land we own; irrespective of whether or not we operate over it. We also have a continuing obligation to maintain all road over-bridges on the same basis.

  6. Considering the huge cost of getting there and the likely small amount of extra revenue it would create, I can't see a Honeybourne extension ever making sense. Extending south from CRC, however, takes us closer to a major population centre which at present (unlike many other heritage railways) we lack. I hope that idea is revisited once Broadway is done and dusted.

    1. I agree completely. There's even a possibility of a mainline connection at cheltenham too, so no loss there.

      However I agree with the board decision to focus on developing the railway we will have once we reach Broadway rather than pushing straight on.

  7. As a former board member and active volunteer involved with two previous extensions I have to agree with the current boards decision to concentrate on the projects required to cement the railways infrastructure required to operate between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway.

    Further extensions would in my view require 3 service trains at busy periods, the choice of whether to head south or north has always been a contentious and difficult decision.

    A mainline connection is only a significant bonus if the road infrastructure cannot support the weight of bringing in new or hired stock/locos, or, it could significantly increase the traffic to the railway.

    If the opportunity to access honeybourne and the national network arose at a time where our railway could actually run the service required then it would have the potential for genuine commuter traffic from Evesham And Honeybourne to Cheltenham via Diesel or DMU, possible race day excursions from network rail, and potential for offering a safe location for crew training to rail franchise operators.

    In my personal view, none of this is likely to be provided by moving closer to Cheltenham Town Centre and the cost of forging a brand new rail corridor between the track bed we currently own and the existing Cheltenham station would likely be much more expensive than reaching Honeybourne

  8. The only problem I have with not extending south closer to Cheltenham is that as a visitor comming up from Swindon I frequently have problems with the bus service from Cheltenham Spa Station, which frequently do not match up with trains at Racecourse - especially on Sundays and event days. If the railway was a little closer I suspect it would have much better access for people from the town and the national rail network, we could WALK to it from Cheltenham Spa. As it is, it's just a little out of range for anything other than a bus or a rather expensive taxi.