Dear GWSR Supporters,
I am posting the following on the blog to update you on the excellent results of both the current operating season and our on-going share issue ‘Broadway – the last mile’ .
The financial year which ended on 31 January 2016 was a record for the railway in terms of passenger numbers, turnover, operating profit and volunteer numbers; the key parameters of a successful heritage railway.
This year all those records look like being exceeded! Passenger numbers so far are up and, as a result, so too is turnover and operating profit. Volunteer numbers have also increased. All our special events have had record attendances and, in addition, fire and drive is sold out as are the fish and chip trains with orders for the Santa trains now coming in strongly.
All this is a result of an increasingly widespread public seeing what a super railway we operate and wanting to be part of it! I think people are strongly attracted by our unique position in being the only major heritage railway run by volunteers, which means that the income I’m talking about above doesn’t get used up in wages but goes directly into maintaining the railway’s 110 year old operating infrastructure.
Turning now to ‘Broadway – the last mile’, the share issue has gone extremely well so far. At the end of the third week in September the inflow of funds had just exceeded £810,000 which is a terrific achievement only 24 weeks after the share issue launch led by our President, Pete Waterman. We are particularly delighted by the large number of new shareholders from all parts of the country validating, if validation was needed, the important work we are doing bringing a railway link from Cheltenham to Broadway for the first time since 1960!
On 2nd September a milestone was achieved when we took delivery of the first batch of rail for the extension from the newly named British Steel Ltd. It’s great to be buying British! Two more batches will be received this month giving the Permanent Way gangs enough rail to reach Peasebrook Farm Bridge, which you can see from the share issue document photographs is getting on for half of the one mile of track needed to reach Broadway.
I would urge all shareholders within striking distance of Broadway to visit the station site, where from the viewing platform you can see the station building proceeding apace, the footbridge erected and the internals of the signal box being fitted. For those further afield, you can keep up with this and all the railway’s other endeavours by accessing the blogs on our website, GWSR.com.
Figure 1 Rail delivery, Toddington 2 September 2016
So, it is all good news at your railway, with the only disappointment being the HMRC Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) where it now looks unlikely that our share issue will qualify. This seems manifestly unfair as we received advanced assurance (HMRC language for approval) in December 2014 and a further confirmation in January 2016. However, they now state the law has changed and we must abide by the new (EU inspired) rules which require a successful proposal to link different countries or people who speak different languages. They believe linking Gloucestershire with Worcestershire does not meet these new border or linguistic criteria! Although we have not entirely given up on persuading them otherwise, investors should plan on no EIS tax relief being available. Higher rate tax payers, particularly those who already hold shares and have enough travel tickets, should now consider supporting the Broadway appeal by a tax-efficient donation to the GWRT rather than buying more shares. If you have any concerns or comments about this please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With more than 60% of the funds in, we have enough money to fund the project this year but we definitely need at least the other £470,000. If you are an existing shareholder who has been waiting for the initial excitement of the share issue to die down or for the summer holiday season to be over, may I please suggest that now would be a great time to buy shares or make a donation to the GWRT and maintain our momentum in the drive to reach Broadway?
Give our volunteers the funds and they will finish the job!
Thanks for your support,
GWSR PLC Finance Director
p.s. PLC share application forms and GWRT donation forms are available by emailing email@example.com or calling 01242 621405.