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

Saturday, 20 January 2018

GWSR has another record year in 2017!

Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway has record year in 2017 – the fifth in a row!

Dear fellow GWSR Supporters,
Our railway had another record year in 2017 carrying slightly more passengers, 101,000, and earning more revenue, £1.7 million, than the previous records set in 2016. Passenger numbers would have been higher but for the loss of 3 operating days due to snow and ice over the Christmas period – the first operating days lost to wintry weather since 2010.
In fact, since the line was rejoined in 2012 after the landslips at Winchcombe, the railway has enjoyed 5 seasons of steadily increasing passenger numbers, revenue and operating profit. During this time volunteer numbers have grown to around 950 while salaried staff numbers have remained at 5. This year, as always, the  5 resident steam and 7 diesel locos performed excellently.
Some highlights of the year for me were the ‘Broadway – the last mile’ share issue which closed in April with share purchases and donations topping £1,330,000 about £80,000 more than our target amount. Great progress was made in the extension of the railway to Broadway  in order to meet the scheduled opening to the public on Good Friday, 30 March. Tracks were completed and the first train ran into Broadway station on 23 December 2017 an event much covered in the media – see photo. In addition, huge progress was made on the station site, including a new steel riveted roof structure replicating that at Toddington and fabricated in our steam loco department.

Equally exciting events occurred on the running line during the year, with the opening of the beautiful Hayles Abbey Halt in June, for which the railway was highly commended at the National Railway Heritage Awards. In October, the all new visitor centre, named the Tim Mitchell Building, in Winchcombe was opened in time for the Santa season. The building, which won an AVIVA community award in 2016, is designed in the style of the GWR goods shed at Ashburton and looks very much in place at Winchcombe.
Finally, the railway was delighted that Wychavon District Council have approved a new car park on railway land at Broadway, thus showing their support for the tourism the railway brings and easing the parking pressure in ‘the jewel of the Cotswolds’.
Turning to 2018, there is much to look forward to! With Broadway opening on Good Friday, the railway will be operating over a 15 mile route and on many days will operate 3 rakes of 8 coaches to meet anticipated demand.
As you know, all of the railways profits are ploughed back into the infrastructure and, with the current phase of Broadway capital expenditure drawing to a close, the emphasis this year will be on the existing running line. Highlights of the major investment program are a new steam loco facility at Toddington, a Signal and Telegraph workshop and a carriage shed both at Winchcombe!
It promises to be a very exciting year on the GWSR, ‘the friendly line in the Cotswolds’, and I look forward with my fellow volunteers to welcoming you to the railway in 2018!


Chris Bristow
GWSR PLC Finance Director

Friday, 12 January 2018

Wychavon District Council to build car park at Broadway

Wychavon District Council to build car park at Broadway
Dear supporters of the GWSR,

I am delighted to be able to tell you that Wychavon District Council (Wychavon) approved the construction of a car park at Broadway at their executive meeting on Wednesday 10 January 2018. The funds were allocated to the project and the chief executive was given authority to acquire the land from us and build the car park. Privately I have been advised that it should be open by August 2018.
The details of the deal we have done with them are straightforward; we transfer the ownership of the land on the west side of the railway between Broadway Road and Childswickham Road to Wychavon and they build a car park for which they receive the income from parking fees. The board has agreed that part of the cost of parking will be refunded to our passengers who commence their journey at Broadway.
Although I realize that giving up assets, land in this case, can be controversial, the GWSR board felt that, as the railway have neither the funds to build a car park nor the expertise to manage the planning and highways approval processes, it was therefore decided that this was the pragmatic way to proceed with this part of the Broadway extension project – I do hope you all agree.

You may well be interested to view the Wychavon meeting and, in particular, car park decision by clicking on The session relevant to us starts at the 27th minute. What I think you will find remarkable and gratifying is the overwhelming support the various Wychavon council members give to the railway, their recognition of our contribution to tourism and their desire to work with us in the future. To my mind the support of local authorities and communities is vital to our railway’s long term success.

Best wishes for 2018!
Chris Bristow

GWSR Finance Director

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Some figures to make this a Happy new Year

In my November report to the Board,  I said  “Unless things go awry between now and the end of the year, we should at least match  our record final total of passenger numbers in 2016.

Well, we all know what happened weatherwise! The bad news is that things did go awry with a cancelled santa day due to snow (resulting in losing over 1000 passengers and income at £16 per person) and two cancelled days after Christmas due to localised snow and ice and atrocious weather for the remainder of the season. However the good news is  that even allowing for this, the final number of visitors  to the railway during the 2017 season was 100,619 which beats last years total of 100,020.

This is a tremendous result - one every volunteer should be proud of. And if any of us have any doubts, take a look at Tripadvisor.  ok we get occasional negative comments as does every heritage railway and tourist attraction,  but the picture is clearly of a strong well run railway.

Happy new year to everyone - roll on March!

Colin Fewell
Commercial Director

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Thank You from the Chairman and Board of the GWSR

Thank You from the Chairman and Board of the GWSR 

2017 has been another very productive year for the Railway and that is down to efforts of all our supporters, volunteers and staff throughout the year. The Board wish everyone a Happy Christmas and are looking forward to another record year in 2018. You can see Richard's message here:  

Santa Special Messages 
Here's just a couple examples of the messages we are getting about the Santa Specials: 

We had an amazing morning out on The Santa Special. My two little girls had great fun! We love the trains and the chance to admire the beautiful countryside that we live in but to do it whilst singing carols, hearing Christmas jokes and meeting Santa was just fabulous. The mince pies were the best I've ever had, the highlight for me was the team of volunteers who welcomed us, entertained us, gave us refreshments, cracked jokes, made a special effort with the children and beamed with happiness the entire time- it was infectious!! You are all truly fantastic people! Thank you. X

Truly magical day today! The Santa Steam Train was lovely, all the staff were so friendly and talkative it made the day complete. We thought Santa was great, he really engaged with the children and the gifts were the best they've had from any grotto. The complimentary mince pies/biscuits and hot/cold drinks were a nice touch..... Maybe add hot chocolate next year too;  
Well Done all Volunteers and supporters -  have a very Merry Christmas 

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Chris Evans to visit the GWSR on Cheltenham Festival Gold Cup Day 16 March 2018

Dear Supporters of the GWSR,

This post is to confirm that our railway is supporting one of the charity auctions recently organized by Chris Evans on his Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2.

Each year Chris successfully raises funds for charity, and one of his auctions this year was entitled The Cheltenham Gold Cup Package which raised a whopping £149,549 for Children in Need.

Gold Cup Day at the Cheltenham Festival is on 16 March next year (2 weeks before the Broadway opening!) and the 8 lucky winners will board train 2 at Toddington with Chris and his team for an all expenses paid day at the races.

Classic Hospitality has graciously agreed to provide the necessary seats although the trains on Gold Cup Day are almost fully booked already. Our own GWSR staff will be on hand to ensure Chris and his guests get the very best of service on this very special day.

Briefly the 8 winners start of by attending Chris's show live on Thursday in London before transfer by helicopter to the Lygon Arms, Broadway for dinner and over-night stay. In the morning it's breakfast at Jackdaws Castle, the racing stable of JonJo O'Neil, before transfer to Toddington and our own steam train to the races. After a day at the sport of kings there is a helicopter ride back to London. Let's hope the generosity of the lucky participants is rewarded by good luck in choosing winners on the day!

For those who want the full itinerary please click on the link below

All good wishes,


Chris Bristow
GWSR Finance Director

Monday, 27 November 2017

It's November so it must be santa time

As is now becoming a "tradition", we held a special santa special for local charities this past Sunday. Chris Blake from the steam department did a great job in arranging a train full of people of all ages who wanted to see santa. This year we supported Acorns Hospice, Riding for the Disabled and Winston's Wish. Everyone had a great time and I would like to thank the organisers and all the volunteers who came along on the day to ensure everything ran smoothly.
Those who were at Winchcombe will I am sure have been mightily impressed by the transformation of the brand new and bare Tim Mitchell building into the "elf centre". Led by John Appleton, there was a highly dedicated team of volunteers who worked ceaselessly to make this happen - and we shouldn't forget members of carriage and wagon and everything they did including of course the new "sleigh".
Tickets for the santa specials which start next weekend are selling well with most days now sold out. With over 100 volunteers - and that is before you factor in those on operational duties each day - this is the biggest event of our year.
Colin Fewell