You will I am sure be interested to know that as at the end of July, we saw almost 72,000 passengers (not including the race trains, fire and drive and evening specials.) This compares with just over 46,500 at the same point last year. So, we are up 54% year on year.
Looking at our special weekends, all have been extremely successful with significant increases on previous years. As reported earlier, the wartime weekend was up 11%, the steam gala 66%, real ale weekend 69%, the bus rally 10% and so it goes on. The recent diesel gala was amazingly successful at a 28% increase when one considers the unbelievable weather that weekend! (One day I burnt and the next got soaked!)
The one event that has bucked the trend this year was "Day out with Thomas" where visitor numbers were down. No one knows the reason for this but it seems families are less excited by Thomas than they were. Our final visit from Thomas will be in September so it will be interesting to see how numbers stack up that weekend.
That's the good news! It means we are able to rebuild our reserves that were seriously depleted by our opening to Broadway at Easter and look at a number of important maintenance and development projects.
However along with the good news I want to remind everyone that this is a mostly volunteer run railway - something a large number of our passengers don't realise. It can only be successful if we continue to provide a rewarding hobby for our 950 volunteers - we must all want to come to the railway! As we start to plan next year's timetable we will be taking account the many concerns volunteers are now expressing so that we can continue to be the "Friendly Line." Please don't expect any increase in services!