Coronavirus stops trains on the GWSR
Train services suspended until further notice
Special events either cancelled or postponed
16 March 2020: The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) has suspended its steam and heritage diesel train services with immediate effect, over its 14-mile line between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway.
The railway carried 125,000 passengers last year, making it one of the most popular attractions in the Cotswolds.
A special board meeting of the volunteer-run organisation – which has over 950 volunteers and just seven employees – reluctantly reached the unavoidable conclusion that the Government’s definition of ‘unnecessary travel’ in the light of the Coronavirus pandemic included its trains, which are run for the enjoyment of visiting families and enthusiasts.
Richard Johnson, voluntary Chairman of GWSR Plc says: “We are facing an extraordinary and fast-changing situation and a severe threat to public health.
“These are unprecedented circumstances and sadly we feel we have little option but to suspend train services.
“Our next two major events are affected: ‘Wartime in the Cotswolds’ (27th and 28th April) has been cancelled while the ‘Cotswold Festival of Steam’ (23rd -25th May), which would have featured up to four visiting locomotives, has been postponed.
“If the situation eases, we will instead run all available locomotives from our home steam locomotive fleet over the late May Bank Holiday weekend but of course nothing is certain.
“Other planned special events will be kept under close review as events unfold.”
Mr Johnson also points out that volunteering on the GWSR is a popular occupation for many retired people.
“Over half of our volunteers fall into the Government’s ‘at risk’ category as they are retired and if they are obliged to self-isolate, then it would seriously affect our ability to run the trains that everyone so enjoys doing,” he added.
In an announcement to volunteers, Mr. Johnson confirmed that the railway is taking the situation and the safety of both its volunteers and potential visitors seriously and said: “I am sure that with your support we shall soon be doing what we do best: running trains.”
More information will be provided on www.gwsr.com as well as on social media – however, Mr. Johnson warned that there is much misinformed comment circulating and that the railway’s official sources should be checked for latest information.
Media contact: Ian Crowder, 07775 566 555 or firstname.lastname@example.org