Records Tumble At GWR
01 January 2004
Volunteer staff at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway are celebrating their most successful year ever, with nearly 65,000 passengers carried during 2003.
This was a year that saw completion of the three-mile extension from Gotherington to Cheltenham Race Course station, followed by the first Cheltenham Festival race trains for over quarter of a century.
Then Royalty visited the GWR in April, when HRH The Princess Royal travelled by train from Winchcombe to officially open Cheltenham Race Course station. For many GWR volunteers, this underlined the remarkable achievement of hundreds of people who, since 1981, have rebuilt the railway from almost nothing to become one of Gloucestershire’s most successful tourist attractions.
And as the season drew to a close, with happy youngsters (and adults!) meeting Father Christmas at Winchcombe station, the efforts of everyone on the GWR were recognised by presentation of the Ian Allan ‘Independent Railway of the Year’ award. The judges praised the whole visitor experience, particularly the friendliness of volunteer staff.
The last day of the season was 1 January 2004 when over 600 visitors travelled on the GWR’s trains - bringing the total for the year to just under 65,000.
Comments Ian Crowder, the GWR’s Commercial Director: “This is a massive 25 per cent increase over 2002 and we are thrilled that so many people have enjoyed the special experience of travelling by steam train through our beautiful Cotswold countryside.
“Since 2000, our increase in passenger numbers has been around 10 per cent year on year. We carried 22,000 more passengers in 2003 than we did in 2000”.
Adds Crowder: “The season may have ended, but there will be no rest for us. Our shop at Toddington will be open as usual, there is rolling stock and locomotives to maintain, the locomotive workshops at Toddington to finish and countless other tasks before we’re ready to welcome visitors again in March.
“Not only that, but more than half a mile of track will be replaced between Toddington and Winchcombe over the next 10 weeks and this work has started already.”
The GWR starts its 2004 season on Friday 12 March with a Heritage Diesel Gala, immediately followed by special trains for the Cheltenham Festival. Steam services begin on Saturday 20 March.