22 January 2019
‘Astonishing’ success for GWSR with passenger numbers up by over 42%
Year ends with over 144,000 passengers carried
‘Broadway effect’ packs trains on the heritage railway
Records tumble one after the other
The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) has enjoyed its best year ever by a considerable margin.
It has been a year that has seen records tumble one after the other, after its Broadway station opened in March 2018, increasing the railway’s length to just over 14 miles. Since then, many of the delightful Cotswolds railway’s trains have been filled to capacity.
Altogether, the railway’s steam and heritage diesel trains carried over 144,000 passengers – compared with 101,000 last year – an increase of 42.5%. Tickets sold at the booking offices and online, (as opposed to party bookings, fire and drive, fish and chip specials, race trains) were up an astonishing 49% to just over 125,300).
The railway is now closed for essential maintenance including replacing some worn track that has been in place since the 1980s, while the steelwork for the Broadway footbridge steps has been manufactured and will be installed. The break is also an opportunity for volunteers to smarten up stations and undertake maintenance of the line’s impressive carriages and locomotives.
The GWSR’s volunteer commercial director, Colin Fewell, says: “This success is astonishing and it has exceeded all of our expectations – we thought we might see a 20% increase in passenger numbers this year. Almost every aspect of the railway’s operation has seen significant growth – whether ordinary operating days or special events.
“Opening Broadway station was a very special occasion and it has changed the dynamics of the railway. All ticket offices have seen big increases in sales but before Broadway, less than a third of were sold at Cheltenham Racecourse. Now its 35%, accounting for some 40,000 tickets sold compared with 26,000 last year. Toddington still sells most tickets (43%) while Broadway accounted for 16%.
“We often see the first train out of Cheltenham filled to capacity as people head to Broadway for the day.
“Anecdotally, those running shops, pubs, restaurants and tea shops in this delightful village tell us the railway has made a noticeable difference to their takings. It’s clear that the railway is bringing people to Broadway without their cars and struggling to find a parking space.”
For the 2019 season – public trains start running again on 9th March – the pay and display car park at Broadway station will be open and those travelling will get part of their parking cost discounted with purchase of a train ticket.
Adds Colin Fewell: “It will be interesting to see what effect the car park has on ticket sales at Broadway.
“And do we expect to see a repeat of those numbers this year? I really don’t know. The novelty of Broadway station opening – which on some days saw passenger numbers almost double the previous year – won’t be repeated. But as the news spreads that the railway is now over 14 miles long and goes from somewhere to somewhere, we will certainly still be regarded as one of the leading tourist attractions in the Cotswolds.”
Media contact: Ian Crowder, 07775 566 555 or firstname.lastname@example.org