1919-built 2-8-0T no. 4270 will be in charge of the GWSR's first trains from April 13th 2021. It is seen here approaching Greet tunnel with a train from Cheltenham in December 2016 (picture: Malcolm Ranieri FRPS)
Building a head of steam for 13th April
Steam train services to resume on GWSR
Covid precautions likely to remain until end of June
Railway reaches its 40th year
WINCHCOMBE, GLOUCESTERSHIRE 24 MARCH 2021: It’s just two weeks before the rusty rails of the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) will once again be shined by the passage of trains – as the railway prepares to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
That’s because on Tuesday 13th April, the first train since Christmas Eve 2020 will steam out of Toddington station and will, for the first time since October 2020, continue beyond Winchcombe as it heads south through Greet Tunnel to Cheltenham Racecourse.
The GWSR was the first heritage railway in the UK to announce a return to regular working following lockdown.
The engine in charge of the first train will be centenarian 2-8-0 tank locomotive no. 4270*, which was built at the Great Western Railway’s Swindon works in 1919. It will be a triumphant moment as the beautifully restored engine – which had been rescued from a scrapyard – heads its train towards the railway’s 40th anniversary and eventual relaxation of Covid restrictions.
The first trains to run will though, be subject to the same Covid precautions that applied when the railway was able to run last year, only offering round trips starting and finishing at Toddington, which should be booked in advance online. All other stations remain closed.
Richard Johnson, the voluntary Chairman of GWSR comments: “Despite continuing restrictions, this will be an exciting day for our volunteers, getting back to doing what we all love – running a popular heritage railway that, over the past 40 years, has become one of the leading attractions in the Cotswolds.
“During lockdown a limited number of volunteers have been undertaking essential work to ensure that the infrastructure, locomotives, rolling stock and stations are safe and ready to operate. I’m deeply grateful to everyone who has gone above and beyond to ensure that we’re ready to welcome back our visitors.
“We expect to operate trains that reflect essential Covid precaution until the end of June – subject of course, to any further guidance from the Government.”
Potential travellers are advised to arrange their trip by visiting www.gwsr.com as soon as they can as early trains are already filling up.
The railway is using trains of six carriages comprising five compartment coaches, each compartment able to accommodate from two to six people in a social bubble and one open coach with limited seating for couples and individuals. Masks must be worn on platforms and in trains except when in a compartment with its sliding door closed. The ‘Flag & Whistle’ tea rooms at Toddington station will be open with a take-away service while picnics and snacks can be pre-booked for delivery by volunteers to compartments.
During its 40th year the railway is planning a major exhibition and award ceremony for the first volunteers who are still with the railway. A display will show the railway’s astonishing progress from a 15-mile strip of derelict land with no track and very few buildings remaining, following 1976 closure of the line and its subsequent demolition by British Railways. The GWSR was formed in 1981 and the following year moved to the abandoned Toddington station yard, purchased the land and started the long, meticulous process of rebuilding the railway.
What has been achieved, an outstandingly attractive steam railway between Broadway and Cheltenham, is a testament to the thousands of volunteers who over the years, have played a part in its development.
*Subject to availability
Ends / more
Copies of the pictures available from the press office, tel: 07775 566555. You will also find high resolution pictures taken under Covid conditions during 2020 on this Dropbox file: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/on2fisq922aiugz/AAB7c7aS_3sadREGgpFOX9qUa?dl=0
Train services from Tuesday 13 April 2021:
One train timetable (steam)
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays to the end of April
Trains depart Toddington at 10.00 and 13.20 (round trip takes approx. 2.5 hours)
Two train timetable (steam)
Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday (2 May) and from 4 May, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays until 30 June (except 25 April, 23 May and 27 June**),
Trains depart Toddington at 10.00; 11.40; 13.20 and 15.00 (round trip takes approx. 2.5 hours)
** Heritage Diesel Days Sundays 25 April, 23 May and 27 June
Trains depart Toddington 10.00, 12.30 and 15.00 using a variety of diesel motive power
Details of train services from the end of June will be published on www.gwsr.com when available.
Ian Crowder, 07775 566555 or email@example.com
Bryony Exton, firstname.lastname@example.org
Catherine Johnson, 07920 406630 or email@example.com
ABOUT GLOUCESTERSHIRE WARWICKSHIRE STEAM RAILWAY
The award-winning Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) 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 when permitted under government guidance only from Toddington station, bookable in advance and that continues from 13 April until the end of June, unless restrictions are eased earlier. Subject to Covid-19 lockdowns. Turn-up-and-go tickets have been available subject to space being available on trains. Services have and continue to reflect prevailing Government guidelines. The GWSR is on part of the former Great Western Railway route between the West Midlands and Bristol, South Wales and the West Country. The line between Cheltenham and Stratford-upon Avon closed in 1976 and the infrastructure was removed in 1979, the formative GWSR beginning to rebuild the line 40 years ago in 1981.
Great Western Railway 2-8-0T no. 4270 stands at Toddington station waiting to depart for Cheltenham. This locomotive will be in charge of the first post-lockdown train from Toddington on Tuesday 13th April (Picture: Ian Crowder)
Locomotive no. 4270 departs Winchcombe in the summer of 2017 with a train for Cheltenham. Round trips of the line starting and finishing from Toddington can now be booked at www.gwsr.com (picture: Malcolm Ranieri FRPS)