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

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/1YCySpM59WRJ1RjRGgTCGB2/the-cheltenham-gold-cup-package-at-the-races

All good wishes,

Chris

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

Thursday, 23 November 2017

A post from the Chairman

I was very honoured and a little apprehensive to be elected chairman of GWSR Plc last week. For those of you I don’t yet know, I have been a working member on the railway for 35 years since 1982, and have been head of C&W for eighteen years since 1999. In that period, our volunteer railway has grown from modest beginnings to the almost unimaginable size and complexity it is now.

In little more than seventeen short weeks, it is going to grow even more as we open our long anticipated extension to Broadway. A huge effort is going on at the moment to prepare for that opening; both on site itself as the building work progresses, and behind the scenes as all the numerous administrative issues are dealt with. That so much has been achieved to date, and that we remain on course to open on time is to the great credit of every single working volunteer; whichever department you work in.

I am fully aware of all the work that is undertaken on a daily basis, both at numerous sites on our railway and in countless homes as various departments work through all that is necessary to keep the railway functioning. That so much has been able to be achieved over the years with virtually all volunteer labour and support is truly amazing. Thank you all for all your efforts to date.

My job as chairman is to chair and co-ordinate the efforts of your directors, and all those engaged in working upon and continuing to build our railway. I am determined to ensure that we have an established vision for the future which we can all agree with and work towards, and that we deliver upon that vision.

With your help, we will.

Richard G.Johnson
Chairman
Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway Plc

Thursday, 16 November 2017

From the GWRT Chairman

The latest edition of our house magazine, The Cornishman, is out today and GWRT members should receive their copy by early next week, apart from our furthest-flung overseas members who may have to wait a little longer! It's another cracking read so I hope that you will enjoy it. 

If you're not already a member, why not join GWRT? For your subscription, you will receive the quarterly magazine and one voucher per year for a day's free travel on GWR, excluding Santas, Special Events and Dining trains. Go to the GWSR Home page, click on Supporting the Railway, Membership and follow the links. 

A subscription also makes an ideal Christmas present for a friend or family member; if you enter their details online but wish to give them the membership pack yourself, e-mail me via the website with your name and address so that I can send the membership pack to you. Alternatively, you can print the form and send it to me at Toddington with your cheque and your details.

Glyn Cornish

Chairman, GWRT

Tuesday, 14 November 2017


Broadway Station

At a Plc board meeting on Monday afternoon, we discussed recent events and correspondence surrounding our earlier decision to site a shop at Broadway. Having looked back through everything, it was difficult to understand how that decision did not apparently reach those of the Broadway group who are actually building the station, as it was clearly raised and mentioned on a number of occasions at various planning meetings with representatives of the Broadway team.

We also looked at the commercial considerations surrounding the potential alternative uses of this part the building, and felt clear that our original decision had been correct and remained fully justifiable based upon the facts as we have them. That decision was based in part on the potential unsuitability of this particular space for a café in that it is quite small.

Having made those points, we are also aware that we are dealing here not just with commercial reality, but also with nostalgia and emotion. It is clear from many of the emails received in the last week that many of our volunteers and supporters arriving at the station, would welcome the opportunity for coffee and refreshments from a small café and were expecting that.

We were encouraged by the fact that we have been assured by a large number of the Broadway volunteers, that they feel that there are sufficient numbers of them to be able to staff and resource a small café on all operating days.

With all that in mind we agreed to change our original decision, and accept a café being sited at Broadway station, with the following caveats.

Firstly, it would be necessary for the Broadway volunteers to convince us that they had a viable business plan, and that there were sufficient of them willing to staff it regularly to make it work. Secondly, if it turned out not to be viable after a couple of years, we would have to reserve the right to change the use of that particular space to a different use. Finally of course, the café would be operated under the auspices of our Railway Catering Services, and all new volunteers would need to be suitably trained, and qualified in food handling techniques.

We hope that this is a decision which will be generally welcomed. There has been a large outpouring of emotion over the last couple of weeks. Whilst we all welcome honest debate, some of the emails which have been sent to us have been objectionable; some have been unacceptably abusive.

We hope that on the basis of this decision, we can all move forward together and accept and understand what it is we are trying to achieve at Broadway.

Richard Johnson

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Broadway update

Further to the posting to this blog yesterday, a number of different and sometimes conflicting issues have been raised by various parties.

I can advise you that all the issues will be considered at the next Plc board meeting on Monday 13th November.

In view of the current position with the building works at Broadway, there is ample time to consider matters calmly, and reach a considered view.

As soon as there is something further to report, one of the directors will do so. Until we have had an opportunity to meet together and discuss things, it would be impractical for any one of us to comment further.

Richard Johnson
Company Secretary

Monday, 6 November 2017

Broadway Station

There appears to be a lot of interest in a comment made on one of our blogs recently, about the proposed facilities at Broadway Station.

More than two years ago, the board agreed that the retail space there would be more advantageously used as a shop, rather than a cafe. There has been no sudden change of plan as has been erroneously reported. All that happened was that a couple of weeks ago, a meeting was held at the station to determine the final positioning of electrical sockets, lights and radiators before the rooms were plastered.

The reasons for the decision more than two years ago, are as valid now as they were then. We want to increase the size of our retail estate, as both the shops at Toddington and Cheltenham are too small. We see great potential for expanding our retail sales, and overall retail profitability. Having a busy and vibrant shop at Broadway, will be  a very good attraction for all our future customers there.

There has been some negative comment about the proposed installation of a coffee machine. That was seen as being potentially beneficial, as at Cheltenham. It was not expected to be in any way controversial, but can always be reconsidered if it is seen as unnecessary.

We already have catering outlets at Toddington with the Flag & Whistle Cafe, and at Winchcombe with the Coffee Pot Cafe. We also have catering facilities on all our trains, and next year plan to include catering on the DMU. Plans for that have already been drawn up. With the growth in this aspect of our business this year, and anticipated further growth next year we believe that all passengers will be fully provided for.

It is a part of our business strategy for next year that we want our passengers to spend time with us, and not just travel from Broadway to Cheltenham and back. We want them to get of and sample the Flag & Whistle, or the Coffee Pot. That is one of the reasons why the new timetable has been structured as it has.

With the potential growth in all aspects of our Railway Catering Services, we shall need up to ten volunteer members of staff on each red timetabled day next year. Were we to build a cafe at Broadway, it would not only further increase the number of volunteer staff required on each operating day, but would have the potential to detrimentally dilute our overall catering services. We want people to arrive at Broadway station, join the train and sample either our on-board catering, or one of the other cafe's on our railway.

I hope that that clarifies any misunderstanding which may have been caused by the various recent blog postings, and why we made the decisions we did when we did.

Richard Johnson
Director & Company Secretary



Sunday, 5 November 2017

Passenger numbers at the end of October

With the main season now having come to an end it is worth having a look at passenger numbers so far this year. The picture is very encouraging. You will remember we had a 13% increase in 2016 and I said at the beginning of this year I thought that with Broadway on the horizon, people would be holding back from travelling with us this year. Well, that hasn't happened. Overall we are about 3% up on last year. What is particularly interesting is that it is our "normal days" that have seen the increase whereas, apart from our Wartime weekend, our special events have levelled off - the weather having played a major role here. During October we had several record days with trains very full - something new for us and something we may well have to manage carefully in the future.

Santa bookings are pouring in at a faster rate than ever before - some trains are already fully booked - so it looks as though final numbers at the end of the year will exceed 2016. This is of course provided winter doesn't provide any nasty surprises.

Finally, you will be interested to know that within a day of putting the sale of tickets on line for the Easter Broadway opening next year, we started to sell tickets. It looks like a busy year ahead!

Colin Fewell

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Food and drink fayre

If you didn't come to this, you missed something special! Almost 1800 visitors travelled on the trains over the 2 days - about 300 up on last year, plus of course the many hundreds of other people who just came to the fayre itself. So congratulations to John Mayell and his small team for all their hard work. The variety of stalls selling all kinds of local produce was amazing. And 46% proof gin as well! Even "Brian" couldn't dampen everyone's enthusiasm.
Colin Fewell

Friday, 13 October 2017

Passenger numbers

As at the end of September the number of visitors was up by about 4% on last year. Bearing in mind our increase of 13% last year, this is a fantastic achievement. What is particularly encouraging  is that we are seeing the largest increase on "normal" days rather than just at special events.

Our September Thomas event went smoothly as did the October diesel weekend although in both cases passenger numbers were slightly down on 2016. As always, the weather plays a significant part

Colin Fewell

Santa specials

Half way through October and we are already sold out on some trains!
Ticket sales this year are almost 50% up as at the same date last year. We must be doing something right! What is especially pleasing is the increase in the sales of the Toddington based DMU santas. If you remember, these started a few years ago to supplement our steam santas on extra busy days. Now we are finding that the more relaxed atmosphere with santa walking the train is proving attractive particularly to families where children are perhaps frightened of walking into a dark grotto.
Colin Fewell

Thursday, 5 October 2017

GWSR Board approves a significant Capital Expenditure programme for 2018

Dear supporters of the GWSR,

GWSR Board approves a significant Capital Expenditure programme for 2018 budget year

As the running season draws to a close (where did yet another year go?) I am pleased to tell you that the finances of our railway are in excellent shape. This is due to three factors;
Firstly, as you know, the share issue was over-subscribed to the tune of £80,000 and we have the privilege of having thousands of new shareholders from both near and far.
Secondly, the running season has again been a great success. Passenger numbers at this time are slightly ahead of last year and, as I believe I reported before, there has been a healthy rebalancing of passengers away from special events and on to normal service days.
Thirdly, we have enjoyed massive support from the Trust (GWRT) for both the extension to Broadway and the Tim Mitchell building, the latter now being very much a part of the landscape at Winchcombe.
Regarding the extension to Broadway, all is very much on track for the planned opening on Good Friday next year, 30th March 2018.
As you know, the railway’s funds, coming from the above sources, are used exclusively for investment in the railway and its infrastructure.
Taking the satisfactory nature of your railway’s finances together with the high degree of confidence that our Broadway project will be achieved on time, the Board met this week to review the current cash position and our projected cash inflows and from this information determine which capital projects should be undertaken in 2018.
In its deliberations, the board concluded that the Broadway station building would open for business in March with a functioning booking office and toilets, but that other expenditure at Broadway, however desirable, would be deferred in order that pressing projects relating to other aspects of the railway could move ahead expeditiously in 2018.
The projects the board approved are as follows;
1. Sufficient funding to allow the completion of the booking office and toilets at Broadway, prior to the opening on 30th March 2018
2. A 5 metre wide concrete roadway in Winchcombe yard, from the security gate to C&W – no need to explain to C&W volunteers why this is necessary!
3. Secure storage at Winchcombe primarily for Permanent Way Department stores and vehicles
4. Security cameras and associated equipment at vulnerable locations
5. A proposed new facility for the SLD at Toddington – this is easily the biggest of these projects at around £300,000 and may well not be completed in the calendar year
6. A 2 Road Carriage shed – subject to agreeing a location
7. A new facility for S&T at Winchcombe
8. Heritage wagon shelter at Winchcombe – this will be the Heritage group’s next project and reflects the Board’s confidence in this group following their excellent work on recreating Hayles Halt
Items 1, 2 and 7, by the way, have already been the subject of a quotation process and require no further approval – they are shovel ready!

I hope you will agree with me that the above makes exciting reading and reflects the confidence that we all share in this superb volunteer run enterprise!

All good wishes,
Chris
Chris Bristow

Finance Director

Monday, 4 September 2017

GWSR Financial results for the half year to 31 July 2017

Dear supporters of the GWSR,

It was in early May that I last wrote to you following the successful conclusion of the 'Broadway the last mile' share issue which generated £80,000 more than our original target to end at £1,330,000.

This coming week I am pleased to update you with the railway's commercial results for the first half year which, I am pleased to say,  have been good!

Overall passenger numbers at 46550 were up very slightly on 2016 with a measurable change towards more passengers on normal running days and away from special events. This is a good thing as the railway is, on some special event days, beginning to be constrained by capacity.

With generally good weather up until June all our special events did well, the race trains and the wartime weekend achieving new records, but our railway has now become a firm favourite with tour operators and this is a major driver of the move to busier ordinary running days.

For the first 6 months, turnover was nearly £1 million and like gross profit was almost exactly on budget. With some cost reductions in our overheads our operating profit (which to all intents and purposes is our cash flow) came in at a healthy £225,000.

I like to say that 5 paid staff and 900 volunteers came together and in 6 months generated nearly a quarter of a million pounds in cash!

Receipts for the Santa trains have already started to come in, so I forecast our railway will have  another excellent year, our last in the current format before the opening to Broadway.

Finally, on operations, there was the no small matter of opening Hayles Abbey Halt which was a huge credit to the Heritage Group and, in particular, Jim Graham who lead the project.

Turning now to capital works, I can confirm all is on target to open Broadway station to the public on Good Friday, 30 March 2018. Although much remains to be done the embankment repairs at Broadway were completed in July and the heritage roof for the station, made by our steam loco department, was craned into position in May - see photo. In addition, good progress has been made with developing relationships with businesses and the community in Broadway which I am sure will be mutually beneficial.

At Winchcombe. the new visitor centre, for which we won the Aviva Community award, is nearing completion and will be first used for the Santa trains. See second photo. 

All in all, everything moves along at our railway very smoothly.
 
Kind regards,
 
Chris
 
Chris Bristow
GWSR Finance Director
 


 
 

Friday, 25 August 2017

Update on commercial activities

Passenger numbers to the end of July were just a little up on 2016 which was to be expected following last year's big increase and the odd weather we had this July. August is looking good with record Saturdays. The real ale weekend achieved such a record of over 1000 visitors on the Saturday.

Planning for 2018 continues of course with lots of positive discussions taking place with businesses in Broadway

The 2018 timetable is now at the second proof stage. This has been a major exercise taking into account Hayles Abbey Halt and Broadway and of course the complete change in train times. We all recognise that next year's timetable isn't going to be perfect as we have to consider not just the anticipated growth in passenger numbers but also limitations imposed upon us by the length of the line and working day, the need for lunch breaks, the demands being imposed on each operating department etc. etc. It will probably take about 3 years to get the ideal timetable in place. The detailed timetables are on HOPS and hopefully the printed timetable will be available in November.

And if you get a chance, have a look at Tripadvisor

Colin Fewell

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Diesel gala

An excellent weekend marred a little by the weather. Visitor numbers were down on last year's record number but still up quite a lot on 2015. Talking to people, they all seemed to be enjoying it and several blogs have commented on this being the best diesel gala around. Congratulations to all who were involved in the organisation.
Colin Fewell

Friday, 21 July 2017

Visitor numbers

After last year's  13% increase in passengers, we are assuming in all our planning that this year, numbers will not increase any further  before the expected surge in 2018. In actual fact, numbers are continuing to rise  although at a much slower pace. For instance in June we were 3% up and for the year so far about 2%.

One area where growth seems to continue unabated is in our group bookings which so far this year are about 15% up.

The classic vehicle day attracted almost 1000 people some of which just came to admire the cars.
Colin Fewell










Tour of Britain cycle race

 On Saturday September 9th, cyclists will be racing past our railway resulting in road closures etc.
 The information I have is as follows:
 TODDINGTON
At about 13:45 the Stow Road from the Toddington roundabout will be closed so there will be no entry or exit from the station.
Cyclists will ride though from 14:18 until about 15:00 when the road will be re-opened.
 WINCHCOMBE
At about 14:00 the road outside the station entrance will be closed so there will be no entry or exit from the station entrance.
Cyclists will ride through from 14:31 until about 15:10 and the road will be re-opened about 5 minutes later
 CHELTENHAM RACECOURSE
At about 14:20 the A 435 will be closed into town and there will be no entry or exit from the racecourse roundabout

Cyclists will ride through from 14:51 until 15:32 when progressively the road will be re-opened.

Colin Fewell

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Bus Rally

Another successful event with a record number of over 700 visitors. Thanks to all who were involved in the tremendous organisation
Colin Fewell

Friday, 7 July 2017

Thomas

I realise nor everyone loves Thomas the Tank Engine, but his popularity seems to remain at a high level amongst young families. The event a couple of weeks ago was as successful as in the past with almost 2500 paying visitors. The actual number was only a few  down on the 2016 record. Interestingly about 70% of these bought tickets in advance on line through the Thomas website. Everyone seemed to have a great time and apart from a minor problem with the loco on Sunday morning, it all went well. Thanks as always to all who participated.
Colin Fewell

Monday, 3 July 2017

Some points from my presentation at the AGM

For those unable to make the AGM I thought I would summarise some of what I said in my presentation.

2016
We had the best year ever making it two years in a row with record passenger numbers. In 2016 we saw just over 100,000 visitors which was 13% up on 2015. Note however we ran on 9% more days. This increase in days running was deliberately to get us into position for 2018.
Every event was successful and record breaking except for the September Thomas which unfortunately fell on the day of the Cheltenham half marathon which clogged up all the approach roads. That won't happen this year as this has been put back a week following our request.
It is important to recognise that every special attraction last year was successful and not just the main events so congratulations to all the organisers. Of special mention was the new Food and Drink fayre which will be repeated this autumn.
It is also worth saying that numbers of visitors on "ordinary" days increased

2017
This year is looking good with photo charters and more recently the BBC filming a whole episode of Father Brown at Toddington and Gotherington stations. I think it is important to say that we aren't expecting any dramatic increase in passenger numbers this year but are budgeting on the same number as 2016. Numbers can't keep increasing and  we hear from lots of people "see you in 2018"
Another great achievement this year has of course been the opening of Hayles Abbey Halt which has co-incidentally come in the same month as the opening of Hailes Abbey museum. It is interesting to see how many passengers are buying tickets to the Halt. (And what railway can boast they opened two railway stations within the period of 1 year?)
Last but not least of course we have the new Tim Mitchell building at Winchcombe which will be used for various exhibitions, and  for our special events and of course it will be available for volunteer training.

And 2018!
A reminder - if any was necessary - that we open to Broadway on Good Friday 30th March. We will run service trains the preceding three weekends from Toddington to Cheltenham Race Course.
There will be two train timetables - one for 2 trains (whether they be 1 steam and 1 DMU or 1 steam, 1 diesel or 2 steam) and one for 3 trains.
We have volunteers currently working on a new guide book and a second book of walks - concentrating on Broadway and Hayles Abbey Halt - and hopefully we will have a new DVD or two available.
We are also working on special trains during March for our working volunteers but more of that anon.
Colin Fewell

Sunday, 4 June 2017

GWSR hosts visit from NRM leaders on Friday 2 June

Dear GWSR Supporters,

I am pleased to advise you that the NRM's Director, Paul Kirkman, and the Head Curator, Andrew McLean, visited our railway on Friday.

Ably assisted by Glyn Cornish and Maxine Barton-Hawkins and volunteers at each station, I escorted them from Cheltenham CRC via Winchcombe, where they could admire Foremarke Hall on the Fire and Drive experience day, through Hayles Abbey to Toddington and finally on to Broadway.

I think we all explained our railway's values and objectives and I believe they were impressed by what a largely volunteer run railway can achieve.

The photos speak for themselves! Thanks to all the volunteers who helped to make this day a success.





Saturday, 6 May 2017

GWSR ‘Broadway the last mile’ share issue closes with great success on 30 April 2017!

GWSR ‘Broadway the last mile’ share issue closes with great success on 30 April 2017!

Dear Supporters of the GWSR,

I am delighted to be able to tell you that, with the final share applications counted and the last donations to the Trust (GWRT) banked, the share issue closed at £1,330,000!

Yes! That’s £80,000 over the £1,250,000 we were seeking!

A huge THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO SUPPORTED US!

This extra cash will be very welcome because, as you are aware, the Broadway embankment is going to cost about 4 times what we estimated when publishing the Share Issue Document. But with this extra money and the normal generous support from the Trust we are in good shape to keep our commitment to all our supporters to open to Broadway on 30 March 2018!

You will doubtless be pleased to know that the Broadway embankment remedial work is now in process and likely to last 12 weeks. The successful contractor in our bidding process was George Law Limited who, as you will remember, was the prime contractor for the bridges in 2014 – that seems a very long time ago, so much positive has happened since then!

Meanwhile the Permanent Way team are busy laying track northwards, and the Station group are busy with the many tasks needed to be completed before opening. The heritage station roof being constructed by our own Steam Loco department is nearly completed and ready for trial assembly at Toddington, after which it will be shipped to Broadway where the station building is almost ready to accept it.

These are exciting times and there is no slack in our volunteers’ construction timetables but thanks to your generous support they have the means to get the job done.

Do please use your shareholder ticket vouchers and visit the railway soon.

Finally, we will now go back to HMRC and seek their confirmation that our share issue is, as they advised us at the outset and then rescinded, acceptable for Enterprise Investment Scheme tax relief – watch this space! I am not giving up on this.

All good wishes,

Chris
Chris Bristow

GWSR PLC Finance Director

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Numbers

It's always difficult to compare visitor numbers at this time of year as Easter can have a marked effect. We have found in the past that we benefit from an early Easter as presumably the public is at last glad to get out of the house. Easter in April however seems to have the opposite effect.

So, looking at our visitor numbers, on our "normal days" we are ever so slightly down on last year. However the Wartime weekend was a tremendous success. Over last weekend we saw 1600 paying visitors on the Saturday and 1400 on the Sunday. When you add to that the 250 re-enactors (who also pay but at a lower rate) then the final total is on a day to day basis in excess of our traditionally biggest special event - the steam gala. And from all I heard at the weekend it is set to grow again next year with lots of positive comments. Thanks to the organising group for all their hard work - it was well worth while.
Colin Fewell

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Broadway - the last mile share issue exceeds £1,250,000 target on 4th April 2017

Broadway – the last mile share issue reaches £1,250,000 target on Tuesday 4th April 2017!

Dear supporters of the GWSR,

I am delighted to tell you all that, including donations to the GWRT, the share issue has today exceeded our target  of £1,250,000 with 25 days to go before the offer closes on 30 April 2017.

A huge THANK YOU to everybody who has subscribed for shares or made a donation to the Trust (or both!). Without your support reaching Broadway would still be a dream.

If you are still thinking about buying shares or making a donation then I would encourage you to do so, as the embankment repair in Broadway is going to cost at least £300,000 and we had only estimated £80,000 at the time of preparing the share issue document .

We have to make up this shortfall from somewhere.

Anyway, get ready for that opening on 30 March 2018!

Thanks again,

Chris

Chris Bristow


GWSR PLC Finance Director

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Broadway share issue passes the £1,150,000 mark on 10 March!

Dear supporters of the GWSR,

I am delighted to be able to tell you that the railway's share issue reached £1,158,000 on Friday 10/03.

That's about £150,000 more than my last Blog posting  just over a month ago, and is directly related to the terrific response we have received to my letter to shareholders and the recent Broadway edition of The Cornishman, our members and volunteers magazine.

The only 'fly in the ointment' is the potential cost of rebuilding the embankment between the two bridges in Broadway. At the time of writing the share issue document (late 2015) I had used an estimate of £80,000 for this but our design consultants have recently indicated £400,000 is more realistic.

So, we shall need every penny of the £1,250,000 requested and for anyone still considering buying shares, the share offer remains open until 30 April 2017. The share issue document and application form are available on the website, GWSR.com, from the development office at Toddington 01242 621405 or email: development@gwsr.com.

If you wish to make a donation to the GWRT please send a cheque payable to the GWRT to;
GWRT Chairman, The Railway Station, Toddington, GL54 5DT and if you wish to claim gift aid request a form with your donation. Alternatively call 01242 621405.

Please make a contribution now and be part of this great project to restore trains to Broadway for the first time since 1960!

All good wishes,

Chris

Chris Bristow

GWSR PLC Finance Director

Friday, 3 February 2017

'Broadway - the last mile' share offer passes the £1,000,000 point!

Dear GWSR supporter,
  
I am delighted to be able to tell you that today we passed the £1,000,000 mark on our 'Broadway - the last mile' share appeal thanks to the generous support of our shareholders, members, volunteers and the public at large.
  
I feel very confident now we have broken through the psychologically important £1 million barrier that the balance of the funds we need, now only £230,000, will flow in during the next 90 days before the share offer closes on 30 April 2017.
  
We do absolutely need this cash as you've probably heard the embankment between the 2 bridges in Broadway needs more substantial remedial work than previously estimated but, with your continued financial support, I remain confident that we will be welcoming our first passengers to Broadway on 30 March 2018 (Good Friday).
  
If you had been planning to contribute to the share appeal then, with the end, in sight, I would like to suggest now would be a good time.

Thanks again to everyone who has already contributed,
  
Chris
  
Chris Bristow

GWSR PLC Finance Director
  

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Board Update


FROM THE BOARDROOM

There have been another couple of board meetings recently; one in December and one in January. There are a whole range of issues which continue to arise which need to be dealt with to support our future plans and progress.

In December, as is normal we received written reports from all directors about matters they had been individually dealing with. Safety plays a big part in all we do. We had a report from Chris Webb our Safety Director summarising some recent - relatively minor - accidents, and we also had to review and approve the new Safety Management System (SMS) document which had been re-written by Neil Carr.

A further safety issue to be considered was the proposal to acquire a number of new portable ramps for accessing our carriages by disabled passengers. The existing ramps are very heavy and awkward to use. We need to have ramps which can accommodate both un-powered and powered wheelchairs, and mobility scooters. Again, this is not so straightforward as might be thought. Where they are used has safety implications, as there needs to be enough clearance at the end of the ramp for wheelchairs and scooters to avoid conflict with station furniture. That in turn impacts upon where our accessible carriages stop.

One of the major aspects of the meeting was considering a further report from  Alan Bielby about the problems with the embankment between Broadway Evesham Road bridge, and Childswickham bridge. At that stage, efforts were still on-going to establish both what the extent of the problems were, and what could be done to remedy it (and the cost!). We were promised more information after Christmas - see below.

We also debated what to do about the current position regarding the proposed car park at Broadway. It appeared that it could become much more of a challenge and much more expensive to create a car park than was first expected. Arrangements were made for a small delegation to meet with local councillors and council officials as soon as possible to see how best this could be progressed.

Following on from this, Lee Alibone reported to us that whilst all was going very well with building the extension, there was no slack in the programme if we were to meet the anticipated opening date in spring 2018.

We considered and approved the arrangements for demolition of the Elf Centre after Christmas. The contract for the new building has been let and work should start in mid-January.

In early January, we settled down for another meeting after the excitement and exertion of Christmas and the New Year. We were very pleased to be told that our passenger figures had exceeded 100,000 for the first time ever - just. Very well done to everybody.

The start of the meeting was delayed for a very good reason, as a team from Aviva arrived unexpectedly to tell us that we had been successful in our bid for £25,000 for the new Tim Mitchell Centre (the Elf Centre). It was a pure coincidence that they arrived just as the board meeting was about to start. If only all board meetings started like that!

There were two main issues we had to deal with. Firstly, Alan Bielby reported that the on-going deliberations about the above mentioned embankment had reached a conclusion. We were advised that there was no alternative but that the embankment had to be stabilised and made safe before trains could run over it. The best and most cost effective option was to reduce the profile of the embankment by narrowing it at the top, and then soil nailing it. That would inevitably reduce the width so that only a single line could be laid. We were told that that option would cost an estimated £387,000.

If we decided to keep the double track option, the cost would increase by at least a further £200,000. As a decision was required so that a contract could be let, we accepted the first option. The intention is that the work will run for 12 weeks from April-June.

That impacts on the originally expected P/way track laying programme. So, the programme has been revised with track laying ceasing at Childswickham in the Spring. P/way will then move to the north end of Broadway, and begin laying track through the station heading south. That way hopefully, the target date will still be met.

Secondly, Chris Bristow presented us with a draft budget for 2018. It is a sign of the size of our expanded business that the income targets, and expenditure expectations get ever larger. As matters stand, with just over three months to go, our share appeal is still about £250,000 short of target. We have received nearly £1m which is amazing, but we need still more if we are going to meet the cost of building to Broadway.

There was a long debate over how we balance income with expenditure. Understandably, some were keen to retain our traditional model of not seeking any external funding, whilst others felt that that was the only realistic alternative. We are very fortunate to have the unremitting support of GWRT, and as they have a planned board meeting later in January at which their ability to assist financially will be discussed, it was decided to adjourn this matter to a special board meeting at the end of the month, for a decision to be made.

Whilst every possible effort is made to keep costs to a minimum, we have no control over the cost of most capital items. If we want it, we  have to find a way of paying for it.

After this fairly lengthy debate about matters financial, the rest of the meeting passed without any great controversy. Chris Sparks explained the plans he had made for a special meeting between directors & Head of departments in late January. This will enable HOD's to tell us what they think about the various currently live topics.

We were also told that the anticipated timetable for 2018 onwards will potentially require more signalmen (and women) than we currently have available, so initially at least the new signal box at Broadway will not be opened, and working will be by way of a ground frame worked by loco crews. Efforts are being made to recruit and train more signalmen, and the position should begin to ease in subsequent years.

Perhaps I can end by asking that if you have not yet contributed to our share appeal and are thinking of doing so, now is an ideal time. Let's try and get to the £1.25m that we set out to achieve.

Richard Johnson
Company secretary
15th January 2017


Tuesday, 10 January 2017

AVIVA COMMUNITY AWARDS - WE ARE WINNERS!

Dear GWSR Supporters,

Happy New Year everyone!

I am delighted to be able to tell you that it was announced today that we have won an AVIVA community award towards the Elf centre replacement building at Winchcombe which will be constructed this year. These funds will be used to fit out and furnish the building. Details from AVIVA are below.

I want to say a huge THANK YOU to all of you who took the time to vote for our project.

Also, we all need to thank Maxine Barton-Hawkins, the railway's admin. manager, whose idea to enter this competition it was and who worked so hard to get us through the thousands of projects entered to being finalists and then from being one of 12 finalists to being WINNERS.

What a nice start to the NEW Year!

Chris B

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Congratulations!

We’re delighted to share with you that your project GWSR New Visitor Centre at Winchcombe Station 2017 has been chosen as a winner in the Aviva Community Fund and have been awarded £25,000.

Our judges scored your entry highly against some very strong competition.  The full list of winners will be published on the Aviva Community Fund website at 2pm today.

We want to make sure that as many people as possible hear about the good work that your project does and your well-deserved win.  To help you share your good news we’ve pulled together some tips on how you could use your digital and social channels to celebrate your win – please see the attached document and folder.

Well done from all at Aviva.

Deborah, Debbie & Sarah


Aviva Community Fund Team

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Visitor numbers for 2016

I am very pleased to report that we reached the magical figure of 100,000 visitors in 2016. This is a massive increase of over 13% on last year's total which itself was a record, and reflects the tremendous hard work all volunteers put in to make our railway truly the "Friendly Line in the Cotswolds". Thanks to everyone for making this happen.
Colin Fewell