Less than £100k to go:
green all the way for railway share offer!
- Last chance to invest in special ‘Broadway: the Last mIle’ share offer - must close 30 April!
- Broadway embankment works will cost over £400,000
- Expanded railway will need more volunteers: volunteer Fair 1st and 2nd April
A boost in share applications is helping the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) head to the finishing post in its £1.25 million share offer, called ‘Broadway: The Last Mile’.
The share offer must end at the end of April, just over a year after it was launched by the railway’s president, pop and TV impresario Pete Waterman.
But just one week into the railway’s 2017 operating season, there is now less than £100,000 to go with more than £1,160,000 raised.
The money is being used to extend the popular heritage railway’s line to the delightful Cotswold town of Broadway.
Chris Bristow, the railway’s volunteer finance director, says: “I can with confidence say that we will open our railway’s brand new Broadway station - built on the site of the original which closed in 1960 - in March 2018, linking the town by rail with Cheltenham for the first time since 1960.
“With the money raised so far we have repaired the original trackbed, put in new drainage systems, bought brand new rail from British Steel at Scunthorpe for the track, dropped thousands of tons of ballast and now the line has extended from Laverton, which has been our northern extreme for five years, to within sight of Broadway station.
“But between there and the station itself is one of the highest embankments on our line - and it is unstable.
“It needs around £400,000 alone to repair it - much more than expected - and that must be done before we can lay the last few hundred yards of line into the station itself. Over history, British Railways ‘patched up’ the embankment using ash and other unsuitable materials to the point that the whole structure needs considerable remedial work and re-grading, using ‘soil nails’ to stabilise it for future generations.
“So we need every penny we can get to enable that work to be completed on time.”
Meanwhile the station building itself is progressing using heritage bricks similar to those used by the Great Western Railway for the original building, completed in 1903. The appearance of the building will be very similar to the original, albeit longer to accommodate visitor facilities and modern toilets. The roof, which includes the station canopy, is being built by the railway’s steam locomotive department at Toddington to a similar design specification, including riveting of the steelwork, as the original.
Following winter maintenance on the main running line, which included moving pointwork and renewing track at Winchcombe to accommodate longer trains, the railway’s volunteer track gang is turning its attention to the new extension once again.
“Frankly, I’m humbled by the success of this share issue. It underlines the strong desire that local people - not just railway enthusiasts - have for the former Honeybourne Line, which many thought had closed for good in 1979 when all the track was ripped up.
“Well we have proved them wrong.
"The people have voted with their share purchases and are cementing the long-term future of the railway. People have invested anything upwards from £100 and every share purchase is a special co-owner of the railway. And they’re paving the way for future expansion.
“Because we don’t have a huge salary bill to pay, every spare penny goes into maintaining and extending our growing railway and this share offer underlines our commitment to creating one of the biggest and best visitor attractions in the Cotswolds.”
Last year the railway carried over 100,000 passengers for the first time. When trains reach Broadway, passenger numbers can be expected to rise significantly.
Chris Bristow points out: “When we opened Cheltenham Racecourse station in 2003, our passenger numbers jumped by over 25%. I expect the same to happen when Broadway station opens.
"More visitors means more trains. And it means more volunteers to look after travellers and keep the railway running.
“We’re extremely proud of our volunteer status - every other major heritage railway has a significant number of paid staff and we’re keen to ensure that continues. We offer a fulfilling and exciting way for hundreds of people to spend their spare time doing something really worthwhile."
Over the weekend of 1st and 2nd April the railway is running its second recruitment fair for anyone who would like to get involved with the railway in a practical way. Currently, the railway has 870 active volunteers but most departments could do with more to enable the line to be fully staffed on every operating day.
Full information of the recruitment day; how to participate in the Share Offer before it closes on 30 April and for information about trains and events go to www.gwsr.com
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Media contact: Ian Crowder, 07775 566 555 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictures available - please ask
About the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway: One of the UK's leading heritage railways, almost entirely run by volunteers. Its 13-mile route runs from Cheltenham Racecourse, through Gotherington, Winchcombe, Hayles Abbey (opening during 2017), Toddington and Laverton (due to be extended to Little Buckland during the season). It operates steam and heritage diesel train services on what was once the 'Honeybourne Line' which was opened by the Great Western Railway from Stratford upon Avon to Cheltenham in 1906. Local passenger trains and stations closed in 1960 and the line closed completely in 1976 with track lifted by British Railways in 1979, before plans to restore the line had got under way. The present-day movement to rebuild the line effectively began in 1981 when the formative Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway occupied the derelict Toddington station yard. During 2016 the railway enjoyed its most successful year, carrying over 100,000 passengers.
Track work: The railway's volunteer track gang has resumed work on the Broadway extension and were laying sleepers on 9 March 2017 at Peasebrook Farm underbridge. Freshly laid ballast stretches away into the distance.
Building work: Broadway station building taking shape on 1 march 2017 - it is of a similar design as the original. The steelwork for the roof and platform canopy are being manufactured by the railway's steam locomotive department. (Picture: Jo Rosen)
First train of 2017 season: 2-8-0 no 2807, built in 1905, was in charge of the first train of the 2017 season from Cheltenham Racecourse for Toddington on March 4th 2017. It's seen heading away from Gotherington into Dixton cutting (Photo: Malcolm Ranieri)
High resolution versions of these and other images available from the Press Office. Please acknowledge photographers if using.