Tuesday, 3 April 2018

A very successful weekend

After a very exhausting few months, and a particularly exhausting Easter weekend, I can report that our opening to Broadway was a tremendous success. We were very worried about overcrowding on the platforms and on our trains and had numerous meetings to plan for the "worst" where we might even have to close down stations. However the Great British weather intervened and passenger numbers were absolutely at the right level - roughly 1000 people a day. And with trains every hour and one extra carriage on two of our sets, everyone could be seated comfortably. I heard no negative comments from anyone, nothing but praise about our friendliness, the quality of our locos and rolling stock and most importantly the work done to (almost) complete Broadway Station. There is no doubt that  the goodwill generated by everyone, and I do mean everyone,  this weekend will put us in a great position for the future. And if anyone has doubts, have a look on social media!
A great weekend
Colin Fewell
Commercial Director

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Volunteer and major shareholder and donor specials

8 trains , 2 days and about 1750 people! I hope everyone got the same kick out of being on a train arriving at Broadway Station as I did. There were tears in people's eyes and lumps in throats. It just makes the tremendous efforts by everyone over the past few years so worthwhile. And what publicity we got! Although BBC and ITV filmed the event, Midlands Today had a feature on the Wednesday evening of last week and ITV central yesterday on Good Friday. And now lots to see on social media.
Colin Fewell

Good Friday

Just a quick note here as there is still much to do, but Good Friday was absolutely brilliant. Yes the weather was a disappointment but actually it benefited us greatly as it meant we didn't have to restrict entry and everyone got a seat. Over 850 people came to the railway - well over double on the same day in 2017,  and the atmosphere was terrific. Thanks to everyone for making this day extra special. I won't mention names but you only have to go onto youtube to see how successful it was. Now to prepare for the rest of the weekend!
Colin Fewell

Monday, 19 March 2018

Race trains for Cheltenham Festival start the season in fine style!

Dear GWSR supporters,

With volunteer and shareholder trains to Broadway now just over a day away, and the official opening to the public next week on Good Friday, I am pleased to let you know that the race trains kicked of our season in fine style!

It was another record year with, for the first time, all trains sold out and 3000 passengers carried. Revenue reached a new record as did cash profits and this was partly based on the sale of 600 bottles of champagne and 1200 cans of Guinness - race going is thirsty work apparently!

The result was a huge credit to all the volunteers who worked tirelessly and professionally to make this the most enjoyable experience possible for our passengers.

Needless to say the three rostered locomotives looked fantastic; P&O, Foremarke Hall and Dinmore Manor were a great credit to the steam loco department.

On Gold Cup day we welcomed Chris Evans, his wife and the eight winners of his charity auction of a Day at the Races for Children in Need. Also in his party were the two-time Olympic gold medal cyclist, Victoria Pendleton, now a jockey. The attached photo shows Chris and Victoria enjoying a chat with P&O's crew of Andy Beale and Ben Evason.

You probably know that it was Andy who first prompted Chris's interest  in including us in his race package by phoning in last year to the Radio 2 show to talk about his fabulous job of being a steam engine driver - well done Andy!

I think all our guests enjoyed the experience and we hope to welcome them back in the future.

So, for now it's goodbye to the races and hello to Broadway!
  All the best,

Chris Bristow
GWSR PLC Finance Director

Monday, 12 March 2018

Asparagus Express

St George's Day Monday April 23rd is the traditional start to the Evesham asparagus season. This is always celebrated with a special presentation of the first spears to someone well known. This year the GWSR has been chosen by Wychavon District Council as the means of transporting the spears to Cheltenham. Full details are on their website  http://www.britishasparagusfestival.org/
Colin Fewell
Commercial Director

Opening to Broadway

It's a very hectic time for all of us at present so this is a fairly brief update on our plans for the Broadway opening in a few weeks time.

You will have seen that we started selling tickets on line for the 4 days of Easter some while ago. This was done partly to gauge public interest and give us an idea how busy the trains would be and partly to reduce queuing at booking offices. You may also have seen that we have now stopped selling advance tickets for Good Friday due to the exceptional demand. Obviously for safety reasons we have to limit final numbers on trains and although we have stopped selling  in advance, we will be making tickets available  on the day up to the point when trains do become full. We have a plan in place to check numbers at each station and on each train so that if we are in danger of being overcrowded at any time, we will stop selling tickets until that full train has departed.  At present, we anticipate the very first trains out of Broadway and Cheltenham Racecourse (both timed at 09:40) will be the most crowded. It should get easier as the day progresses.

On the very first train from Broadway will be Lord Richard Faulkner (who will unveil a plaque) and a number of local council officials and major supporters. On the 11:00 departure from Toddington will be ex Chairmen of the plc plus a special guest - Peter Taylor who at the age of 94 has expressed a wish to join us. He drove Cadbury no. 1 on the very first day of steam passenger services! We very much look forward to hearing his memories of that famous day. Overall, the celebrations on that day are being kept very low key as we still have a lot of work to do to complete the station at Broadway.

Sales of tickets for the rest of the weekend are going well but there doesn't appear to be the same high demand. We therefore don't at present anticipate overcrowding and hopefully we will be able to continue to sell tickets all the way through.

As an added attraction on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday, there will be an exhibition by loco owners groups in the newly opened Tim Mitchell building at Winchcombe. On the Easter Monday we have our usual Easter eggspress with lots of activities also at Winchcombe.

Once we get past the initial excitement of Easter, we start our regular services and from talking to people, I think these will continue to be very busy!

Colin Fewell
Commercial Director

Monday, 29 January 2018

Broadway Car Park - some answers to your questions

Dear Fellow Supporters of the GWSR,

I am pleased to say that the correspondence I have received, both here on the blog and by email, about the car park is overwhelmingly positive.

Several important points have been raised by a number of you, so here goes with a general reply;

1. The railway's right to vehicular access on the west side of the embankment just south of Broadway Station bridge will be retained and available to the GWSR at all times.
2. The car park will be for 99 cars (2 disabled spaces), the part nearest the station will be tarmac and the further part chippings, like Wychavon's Childswickham Road car park.
3. The council have budgetted £650,000 for the car park's construction and they plan to have it open in August 2018.
4. The contract with Wychavon will require that the use of the land by Wychavon may only be for car parking.

I trust the above covers certain legitimate concerns raised which, for clarity, I had left out of my original post.

Thanks for your comments.


Chris Bristow