Friday, 5 August 2016

Report from the Away Day Meeting of the Plc Board

Every year, the board sets aside a whole day for a meeting so that various topics can be discussed at length. Our latest such meeting took place at the beginning of August.

We considered the arrangements for the proposed opening to Broadway It was agreed unanimously that the opening should be a celebration of the achievements of all volunteers in every department throughout the railway, who have worked so hard to make this happen. As such we shall be organising the event around the use of our own in house loco's.

We considered our current organisational structure. In future station groups will be accorded departmental status, and as such will have a clear reporting line to a Plc director. 

Succession planning is obviously important. We do have a number of 'pinch points' in the organisation, and it was felt that the best way to overcome this is to seek to widen responsibilities in all departments and avoid reliance too much on individuals - so far as this can reasonably be done. We also need to develop more signalmen (and women); more Duty Operations Officers; more help with special events and more support to fill vacancies in the OTC management team.

The format of the timetables for when we operate from Broadway is still under discussion, but it appears that it will be on a similar format to present operations. We are anticipating the need for eight coach trains, and it appears that the current policy of having two TTI's on a train works well. Tour groups (and especially cream Teas) are a good source of income, and arrangements for them will be essentially unchanged.

There has been a degree of discussion previously about whether or not it would be an appropriate use of resources to extend our railway south beyond Cheltenham racecourse to Cheltenham Town boundary over the trackbed we currently own. After further discussion, we decided that we would not pursue this option and would instead concentrate upon developing and enhancing our railway between Broadway and CRC. 

Although we are heavily committed financially to the rebuilding and reopening of Broadway, we are still looking to see what can be done to develop and enhance the railway elsewhere. One of the issues we have been considering for some time is a proper workshop for S&T at Winchcombe, to replace the coach they currently work from. With the impending departure of the privately owned stock in the yard, that can be developed further. We decided to commit sufficient funds for a start to be made upon building such a facility.

We are also very conscious of the need to develop and enhance the messing and welfare facilities for our Loco Department. We agreed that this project should also come to the fore, and that sufficient funds be allocated to enable it to move beyond the planning stage.

As was mentioned in the previous blog posting, we are awaiting a further report on the condition of the embankment at Broadway. We have been aware of this for some time, and provision for repairs was included in the Share Appeal budget. As soon as we know what our options are, we can plan with more certainty.

You can see that there is a lot going on, and a great deal more to be done. Our Share Appeal continues to make splendid progress, and we are very grateful to all those who have already contributed. If you have not subscribed so far, you know what to do ................

Richard Johnson
Company secretary

Friday, 29 July 2016

Plc Board Meetings

There have been a couple of Plc Board Meetings recently, and I need to provide you with an update.

At a meeting in June, we discussed a proposed memorial garden to be located at Toddington. There have been various suggestions about what sort of memorials could be included, but we decided that the memorial garden should be just that; without specific memorials for individuals.

We spent some time discussing and making preparations for the then forthcoming AGM. It is surprising how long it takes to organise and ensure that all aspects are dealt with. This included plans for the question and answer session held afterwards.

A report from our Civil Engineer, included the disappointing news that bridge 45 (on the section to the south of CRC) was in a poor condition, and would require either very substantial funds to repair it, or propping to stabilize at at a cost of about £30k per year. A difficult but necessary decision to be made.

We agreed to fix the formal opening date for the Broadway extension for mid May 2018; shortly after the Bank Holiday. Although we had not yet finished with the Share Issue, we decided that we should make a definite decision to open on that date - come what may. We can now go ahead and plan the opening in detail.

Initial news about our planning application for the proposed car park at Broadway was less encouraging. Initial responses are that the Council will not allow it to be opened in stages, as we had expected. It has to be fully completed and surfaced before it can be opened to the public. As we won't have sufficient funds to do this prior to the opening, it was decided to withdraw the planning application, and reconsider our options. For those of you who are not aware, the £1.25m we are seeking by way of the B-TLM Share Issue, does not include any funds for the proposed car park.

After several months of consideration of all the alternatives, it was decided to abandon plans to build a toilet block on Platform 2 at Winchcombe. None of the alternative proposed locations was really suitable, and drainage would be very difficult and costly. The potential overall cost of the build was far higher than was first anticipated, and it was felt that money could be much better applied elsewhere. For special events, it would be a much cheaper alternative to hire in Porta Loos.

We agreed to place the contract to start construction of the new Elf Centre at Winchcombe, beginning in January 2017. This date is chosen in an attempt to cause minimal disruption to use of the platform.

The potential operational timetable for Broadway is taking shape, and is likely to include a requirement for eight coach rakes - C&W to note.

At a subsequent meeting recently we reviewed proposed plans for Winchcombe yard, which have been drawn up by a working party led by Andy Smith. We agreed to defer decisions until our annual all-day board meeting at the beginning of August.

We were told that after some consideration, there is no need to make any provision for loco watering facilities at Broadway. The cost of the necessary plant would be prohibitive, and there is no operational necessity for it.

We had previously received a report from our Civil Engineer about potential stability problems with the embankment between Broadway Road and Childswickham Road. Trial boreholes have shown that large areas of the embankment are unstable, and we need to establish what our options are. The first report from independent Consulting Engineers proposed a prohibitively expensive solution, so we asked our Civil Engineer to get some alternative quotes and options for rectification. This is very unwelcome news, as the whole embankment appears to be more unstable than was first anticipated.

Better news is that we were told that 56 lengths of new rail are about to be ordered from British Steel, Sunderland for the extension, with more expected in the coming months. Once P/way complete their work in the loco yard, they will be able to concentrate on the extension until they start on the winter programme of work.

The next meeting will be our annual all-day board meeting at the beginning of August.

Richard Johnson
Company Secretary.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Broadway the last mile share issue passes two important milestones!

Broadway the last mile share issue passes two new milestones

Dear GWSR Supporters,

I am pleased to tell you that things are progressing well with the share issue in general and, in particular, we have;

Firstly, cash received from shareholders topped the £700,000 mark this week ending today, Wednesday 27/07, at £710,250. That is good going as today is 16 weeks after our share offer launch with Pete Waterman. Inevitably the rate of increase in funding has slowed down so if you have been holding off investing for just that moment now would be a good time to buy shares and keep the momentum going - only £540,000 to go!

Secondly, I am pleased to tell you today we sent off a Purchase Order to British Steel Limited, Scunthorpe for the first batch of rail we need - delivery scheduled for 2 September! Two more orders will be placed for delivery later in September and, all together, these purchases are enough to take the running line as far as Peasebrook Farm bridge this year.

For those interested in progress with HMRC on their agreement that our share issue under revised legislation is still eligible for the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), I can confirm that our financial advisers have this week submitted to HMRC a statement asserting our belief that our share scheme meets the EIS revised conditions and requesting their confirmation and approval. Fingers crossed!

Thanks for your support!

Chris Bristow
GWSR PLC Finance Director

Monday, 18 July 2016

Father Brown

A full day's filming last week. This photo shows Mark Williams (alias Father Brown) educating Ray O Hara in selfies

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Thomas weekend

Thanks to all who worked so hard this past weekend. A record number of visitors - over 2500 in total and as far as I could tell all enjoyed themselves. And the weather held off - almost.
Colin Fewell


Pleased to announce we have been awarded the 2016 Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence. If you have a look at Tripadvisor you can see why.
Colin Fewell