Manor class no. 7820 'Dinmore Manor' powers away from Toddington - trains will resume on 15 August after the long Covid-19 enforced break (Pic: Andrew Bell)
Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway to resume train services in August
Limited train services resume on 15 August
Pre-bookable round trips from Toddington - details on www.gwsr.com soon
Trains expected to operate just three days per week initially
Winchcombe Station, 16 June 2020: The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR), which operates steam and heritage diesel train services between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway, has announced that it will resume some operations from 15 August.
The service will comprise pre-bookable trains on some days from Toddington station (GL54 5DT, https://what3words.com/kinder.fizzy.happening) which will operate a round trip with stops at Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway. Passengers will not be able to join or leave trains at any station other than Toddington.
Richard Johnson, the volunteer chairman of GWSR explains: “We are planning to re-start services cautiously at a time when Covid-19 restrictions are progressively being lifted.
“However, we are very conscious that we will still need to maintain self-distancing and great care will be taken to ensure the safety of our visitors and volunteers.
“We will be using coaches that have an old-fashioned side corridor with compartments that have sliding doors. The idea is that visitors will be able to book a compartment for a minimum of two people and for family groups of up to six.
“The trains will be thoroughly cleaned after every day.
“It’s a really exciting step towards resumption of services on our delightful railway. As one of over 950 volunteers, I must say that I can’t wait to see trains running through the Cotswolds on our railway once again!”
After the longest shut down in the railway’s 36-year operational history, many volunteers in operational roles, such as signalling, guards, train drivers and station staff will need to re-qualify for their certificates of competency. The GWSR is therefore planning to operate some ‘ghost trains’ in advance to ensure that when public services resume, they do so with the utmost safety in mind.
Volunteer staff are being invited back under controlled conditions to ensure their safety and the safety of visitors. They will initially be returning to ensure that locomotives, rolling stock, signalling and track are in tip-top condition ahead of resumption of services.
Meanwhile, the recent appeal to raise £250,000 to pay for urgent repairs to a landslip south of Gotherington, was closed at the end of May following its success in passing the target figure. As a result, repair work has now been completed.
Richard Johnson said: “Our charitable organisation, the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Trust, did an extraordinary job in publicising the appeal and I’m truly grateful to every one of the more than 1,300 people who contributed to help ensure the future of our railway.”
Full information, fares, dates and online booking details for resumed train services from 15th August will shortly be on the railway’s website at www.gwsr.com
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ABOUT THE GWSR
The GWSR is almost entirely restored and operated by volunteers and has won several awards since it first started running a simple steam train service over a few hundred yards of track at Toddington, in 1984. It has since steadily grown and now operates main-line steam and diesel trains over the 14 miles between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway. Broadway station, entirely built by volunteers, opened on Good Friday, 2018, scooping a major Award at the annual Heritage Railway Awards that year.
The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Trust (GWRT) is the charitable supporting body, which attracts members and volunteers who offer their time in a wide range of roles on the railway. The Trust makes grants to the GWSR aimed at enriching the experience for volunteers and visitors within the historic context of the line. It was able to launch an emergency appeal in order to help the GWSR meet the cost of the recent embankment repair at a time when there is no income from normal train revenues. The appeal raised over £255,000 and donations attracted HM Revenue & Customs support through Gift Aid and the totals quoted include that. For continued donations go to https://www.gwrt.org.uk/Make_a_Donation.html