8 April 2018

Broadway effect doubles passenger numbers on GWR

 

  • Ticket sales almost exactly 100% up compared with Easter holiday 2017 

 

Records are tumbling on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway as trains connect Broadway with Cheltenham for the first time in 58 years, passenger numbers having DOUBLED compared with the Easter holiday last year.

 

The Cotswolds heritage railway opened its brand new Broadway station on Good Friday 30 March with crowds of well-wishers both watching and travelling on the 09.40 departure for Cheltenham, the first public train from the village since 6 March 1960, when the station was closed by British Railways.  Since then, most trains have been very busy.

 

A delighted Colin Fewell, the railway’s voluntary commercial director confirmed that almost 6,300 fare-paying passengers travelled on the extended, nearly 15-mile line over the Easter weekend and the following week – compared with just over 3,100 during the Easter period last year.

 

“Despite the cold and wet, as was Easter last year, our trains have been filled with happy people enjoying the novelty of being among the first people this century, to travel on a public train service to or from Broadway.

 

“Passenger numbers are double what they were last Easter,” he said. “Thanks to huge volunteer effort in rebuilding the railway and constructing a brand new station on the site of the original, which was demolished way back in 1963, we have enormously expanded the scope of our railway.

 

“Enthusiasm for seeing the track reach Broadway once again was amply demonstrated by the fact that our two share issues to pay for repair of bridges and complete the last mile of line to Broadway station were substantially over-subscribed.

 

‘Wychavon District Council has also strongly supported our growth because they can see the economic benefits the railway will bring to Broadway and the wider community.”

 

The railway’s officials have been inundated with comments of congratulation from thousands of people – not just rail enthusiasts but local people excited at seeing ‘their’ station opening once again. 

 

But much work remains – not least completing Broadway station including the signalling, the footbridge and a building on the second platform. Elsewhere on the popular Cotswolds tourist line, new staff facilities are needed for the locomotive department and a building to house the railway’s venerable fleet of 60-year-old railway carriages.

 

Several of the century-old steel bridges on the line also need remedial work.

 

“We will be concentrating on this over the immediate future and improving the experience and enjoyment for our ever-increasing number of visitors,” added Colin Fewell.

 

“Lots of people are asking when we are going to extend our line further – for example, to Honeybourne, or south towards Cheltenham.

 

“But while these aspirations are certainly not ruled out, they aren’t going to happen any time soon – we have plenty to concentrate with on the 15 miles of line we now have!”

 

ENDS / MORE

Media contact: Ian Crowder, 07775 566 555 or ian.crowder@gwsr.com

Pictures can be found of the pre-Easter Shareholder and Volunteer specials and the first day of operation at Broadway here: 

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/z70vc31dgzqwau6/AACvcIYSkJ_NfrSTB0UHZQu0a?dl=0 (Good Friday, 30 March) 

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/9gjocjvpuiowdy5/AACDsb6goOOyUodVDQdNTKhMa?dl=0 (21 and 22 March) 

A wide range of pictures taken on the railway can also be found here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/kbyihxdgvk6wrke/AAA346j0IAEdWGy7eUGhFMZTa?dl=0 (various dates) 

 

ABOUT THE GWSR

The GWSR is a heritage railway operating trains hauled by steam and heritage diesel locomotives and multiple-units, over part of the former Great Western Railway route between Stratford upon Avon and Cheltenham. It opened throughout in 1906 with several stations on its route via Honeybourne, Broadway and Toddington.  Most of the intermediate stations closed in March 1960.  The last scheduled (non-stop) passenger services over the line ceased in 1968 after which it was used by freight and occasional passenger trains diverted from the surviving former Midland line  between the West Midlands, Cheltenham and Bristol.  The line was closed in 1976 following the derailment of a freight train at Winchcombe in 1976 and the track and infrastructure removed by the end of 1979.  The GWSR took up residence in the derelict station yard at Toddington in 1981 and ran its first train over a short stretch of track at Toddington, in 1984.  By 2003 the railway had reached Cheltenham Racecourse.  It has now reached Broadway providing a round trip of over 28 miles, making it one of the top five heritage railways, in terms of length, in the UK.  Last year the railway carried over 100,000 passengers for the second year running, its all-time record. https://www.gwsr.com 

ABOUT BROADWAY STATION

Broadway station was constructed by the Great Western Railway and opened initially as a terminus for trains from the north, in August 1904, until the line was completed towards the south.  The station site was bisected by the Evesham Road which is crossed by a steel bridge that has been subject to considerable repair following corrosion and bridge strikes by over-height lorries.  The Caravan Club now occupies the site of the former goods yard on the south side of the road.  The station closed to passengers on 7 March 1960.  With the present GWSR’s ambition to reach Broadway, the Broadway Area Group of volunteers was formed and began work in 2009 clearing the station site, finding the foundations of the original buildings and platforms.  The platforms (longer than the originals) were built largely using recovered railway bricks and other materials from several locations.  The design of the new building closely follows that of the original, using similar new bricks including decorative brickwork, for example along the eaves and window surrounds.  The new building is longer than the original, in order to accommodate toilets and other facilities expected by modern visitors.  The roof and platform canopy is supported by a steel framework built at the railway’s steam locomotive department at Toddington, using traditional riveting.  The footbridge came from Henly-in-Arden and the signalbox on Platform 2 is a brand new replica of the one that once stood at Shirley.  The station’s original signalbox was on the south side of the road.  The new structure will eventually be open for visitors to view.  The entire construction has been completed by volunteers.  In January, Wychavon District Council announced its support for the railway by agreeing to fund the £560,000 cost of constructing a new 99-vehicle car park at the foot of the railway’s embankment between Evesham Road and Childswickham Road.  This is expected to open some time during or after August 2018 – meanwile, there is no car parking at Broadway station. http://broadwaystationgroup.blogspot.co.uk 

 

ENDS ALL