Happier times as 7903 Foremarke Hall heads over the fields towards Broadway (pic Ian Crowder)
The train not departing…
Steam runs out again for GWSR
Latest lockdown stops trains on Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway
GWSR volunteers still plan to run ‘Santa Experience’ trains
Winchcombe, 03 November 2020: The latest government Covid-19 lockdown has also stopped the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway’s (GWSR) trains in their tracks once again.
With immediate effect, no trains are running over the 14-mile Cotswolds railway until further notice.
Graham Radband, the railway’s volunteer commercial director says: “This is a real blow and the worst possible news for the railway, for our 950 volunteers and for the public who enjoy travelling through the Cotswolds with us.
“On Sunday night (1 November) our steam locomotives were once again put away in the locomotive depot at Toddington and left to go cold for at least another month.
“Our planned services for the weekends of November will not be taking place and we will be in touch with the hundreds who have booked tickets.”
The railway’s Santa Experience trains announced last month are planned to take place once the lockdown ends.
Striking an optimistic note, Graham Radband said: “We are hopeful that we can operate special trains from Toddington to Winchcombe for families to see Santa in person – although social distancing means that they can’t get up as close and personal as in the past.
“Our volunteer Santa team has been working flat out to ensure that Winchcombe station is transformed to ‘North Pole’ station in time for Santa Experience trains to run. The gifts, for which our railway is justifiably famous, are ready and we look forward to seeing Santa giving them to deserving children!”
Tickets will soon be available on www.gwsr.com but if lockdown is extended the planned operating days could be cancelled too. But, comments Graham Radband: “We have to expect that lockdown will end as the government plans so that we are ready to run trains again as soon as we are able.”
The first lockdown saw the railway’s trains stop on 15 March, not resuming until 15 August but with much reduced capacity, taking into account the need for social distancing. The service has been a success and has covered operational costs, but the railway will have lost a full six months of its operating season.
Last month, the railway benefited from a grant of up to £318,000 under the government’s Culture Recovery Fund. Adds Graham Radband: “This is a real lifeline for the railway. Whatever happens it will help us to pay the bills, continue vital maintenance and be ready next year when, hopefully, restrictions will have eased and we can welcome the public back to enjoy the ‘Friendly Line in the Cotswolds’.”
ABOUT THE GWSR
The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway operates over 14 miles through the Cotswolds between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway. Because of Covid-19 restrictions, the railway has, since 15th August operated round trips only from Toddington station, bookable in advance. The railway has now entered a further period of lockdown and is closed until further notice. The Santa Experience service described reflects current Government guidelines and is not the same as previous years’ Santa Specials – however the railway is keen to ensure that young visitors and families have as enjoyable experience as possible at a time when many Santa events are not taking place. The £20 ticket price includes return train trip between Toddington and Winchcombe (aka ‘North Pole’); refreshments for children and adults, children’s gifts and goody bags. The Flag & Whistle Tea Room at Toddington station will be open. Location of Toddington Station is off the B4077 Stow Road close to the roundabout with the B4632 Winchcombe-Broadway road at GL54 5DT or What3Words trials.composers.turntable
Santa Experience trains planned (subject to further lockdown restrictions) Saturdays and Sundays:
19/20 December; and
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 22-24 December.
Post-Christmas trains (two train timetable, round trips from Toddington) operate daily from Sunday 27th December 2020 – Sunday 3rd January 2021