Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway has record year in 2017 – the fifth in a row!
Dear fellow GWSR Supporters,
Our railway had another record year in 2017 carrying slightly more passengers, 101,000, and earning more revenue, £1.7 million, than the previous records set in 2016. Passenger numbers would have been higher but for the loss of 3 operating days due to snow and ice over the Christmas period – the first operating days lost to wintry weather since 2010.
In fact, since the line was rejoined in 2012 after the landslips at Winchcombe, the railway has enjoyed 5 seasons of steadily increasing passenger numbers, revenue and operating profit. During this time volunteer numbers have grown to around 950 while salaried staff numbers have remained at 5. This year, as always, the 5 resident steam and 7 diesel locos performed excellently.
Some highlights of the year for me were the ‘Broadway – the last mile’ share issue which closed in April with share purchases and donations topping £1,330,000 about £80,000 more than our target amount. Great progress was made in the extension of the railway to Broadway in order to meet the scheduled opening to the public on Good Friday, 30 March. Tracks were completed and the first train ran into Broadway station on 23 December 2017 an event much covered in the media – see photo. In addition, huge progress was made on the station site, including a new steel riveted roof structure replicating that at Toddington and fabricated in our steam loco department.
Equally exciting events occurred on the running line during the year, with the opening of the beautiful Hayles Abbey Halt in June, for which the railway was highly commended at the National Railway Heritage Awards. In October, the all new visitor centre, named the Tim Mitchell Building, in Winchcombe was opened in time for the Santa season. The building, which won an AVIVA community award in 2016, is designed in the style of the GWR goods shed at Ashburton and looks very much in place at Winchcombe.
Finally, the railway was delighted that Wychavon District Council have approved a new car park on railway land at Broadway, thus showing their support for the tourism the railway brings and easing the parking pressure in ‘the jewel of the Cotswolds’.
Turning to 2018, there is much to look forward to! With Broadway opening on Good Friday, the railway will be operating over a 15 mile route and on many days will operate 3 rakes of 8 coaches to meet anticipated demand.
As you know, all of the railways profits are ploughed back into the infrastructure and, with the current phase of Broadway capital expenditure drawing to a close, the emphasis this year will be on the existing running line. Highlights of the major investment program are a new steam loco facility at Toddington, a Signal and Telegraph workshop and a carriage shed both at Winchcombe!
It promises to be a very exciting year on the GWSR, ‘the friendly line in the Cotswolds’, and I look forward with my fellow volunteers to welcoming you to the railway in 2018!
GWSR PLC Finance Director