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Updated Thursday 7th May 2015

Pump Trolley Run

Monday 27th April saw the Pump Trolley event take place between Bridgnorth and Hampton Loade in fantastic Spring sunshine, with 13 imaginatively dressed teams successfully covering 50 miles during the day. It was fantastic to see each team’s magnificent fancy dress effort, everyone really got into the spirit of things.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who supported the event, both in the planning stages and during the day itself, I am pleased to say it was a huge success, and plans are already afoot for a similar event in the future.
Now, the announcement everyone has been waiting for! Reigning triumphant to be crowned Pump Trolley Champions 2015 for scoring the highest points for the best skill and outfits, and recording an impressive time of just 21 minutes, were The Beatles, aka Bridgnorth Engineering Services, who will receive a commemorative trophy in due course, so congratulations to Gary, Will, Phil and Chris!
Highly commended teams also include Catering Staff as well known faces from the Starship Enterprise, The Railwayman’s Arms as St Trinians and Arley station as characters from Trumpton.
It is always fantastic to see different departments on the Railway working so closely, and that really shone through on April 27th.
If you would like to receive photographs of your team pumping away, please drop me an email:

Spring Steam Gala

We’re pleased to report a very successful Spring Steam Gala and excellent start the season. The Railway was buzzing with very happy visitors enjoying the exciting line-up and Springtime weather in the Valley.
4313 passengers visited over the weekend (1380 – Friday, 1652 – Saturday, 1281 – Sunday) compared to 3877 in 2014, an 11% increase on last year’s Gala and 5% up on budget (4200).
This is a really pleasing result and testament to the hard work of all those involved in organising and running the event. Thank you to the Gala committee for putting on a fantastic show once again and to all volunteers and staff that helped to deliver it.
What a great start to our Golden Jubilee year!!

Q&A Session - February 22nd

A Question & Answer session was held at The Engine House on the 22nd February at 11.45am. It was attended by over forty working members, and may I take the opportunity to thank all those who attended and contributed to the session.

The General Manager started the session with a small presentation that reviewed 2014 and looked ahead to 2015. 2014 ended with a passenger total of 204,000, the TV advertising campaign that was so successful in 2013 did not have the same impact in 2014, with the result that we dropped behind the passenger budget in these all important summer months and never fully recovered. In 2015 we are looking to other forms of media for advertising and spreading the breadth of advertising not just over the summer months. Whilst we do know the financial result is positive the auditors are currently verifying the accounts.
Information was given on the events in 2015, and in particular the 50th anniversary of its inception, including the Royal visit and lauding the pioneers who established the Railway 50 years ago.
The Share Offer investment in 2014 was noted and it was reported that there is still £1.4 million available, an element of which will be used at Bridgnorth Station for phase one of the development.

Plans were discussed for improving consultation and engagement with volunteers. There are already a number of volunteer committees in place but from this year there will also be Department Planning Forums. Two of these per department will be held a year, advertised via noticeboard and held at a convenient time so that working members can attend. The manager of the department will have devised an agenda and will run through proposals, taking ideas from those in attendance. These proposals will form the basis of that departments plans for the next twelve months, with a review session as the second meeting. Further details will be posted as a noticeboard shortly.

David Williams, Chairman of the SVR Company Ltd referred to the negotiations between SVR (G) and SVRA leading towards their proposed merger.

A brief synopsis of questions and answers is provided for information, it is not a verbatim report.

Question: Is it possible to have issued a list or information on how much it costs to run a train and other facts?
Answer: A fact sheet will be produced this year with all salient facts that will be of both interest and for information when speaking with passengers. The sheet will be generally circulated.

Question: The Bridgnorth Station Development Project; can we have a circulated update on this?
Answer: David Postle is providing an update as an NBI, this will be issued shortly.

Question: It is obvious that the whole project, with all its phases is beyond the finances of the Railway at the moment. What is being done to raise funds for the subsequent works?
Answer: At this stage we have only an indication of cost, c. £5 million. It is felt once the whole plan is explained and publicly available and has planning approval that this would release a lot more money from friends and supporters. It will also be a focus of fundraising efforts of the Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust.

Question: The circulation of the SVR leaflets seems to be hit and miss, with areas of central Birmingham missed out.
Answer: A request was made that if we could have details of the firms that have supplied and re-fill the rack it would help the SVR identify if this is one of the firms that we already use, or consider using them.

Question: The car park at Kidderminster is for many the point of arrival and does not have marked out bays, it needs better marshalling and space.
Answer: With the construction of the storage sheds at the yard, the apron and end of the car park will be cleared.

Question: Kidderminster car park, complaints have been received as to its surface. Can improvements be made?
Answer: This has been raised at the Board and the General Manager is compiling costs for the Board to examine. The first problem to overcome is that the drainage in the car park needs improvement before any surfacing is done.

Question: There was concern that the Railway consultation should have included noise attenuation measures in the planning of the diesel depot.
Answer: The depot planning was done in full consultation with Wyre Forest District Council and did require us to fulfill a number of environmental criteria. As a planning application all local residents were consulted and were given the opportunity to object.

Question: Have we got foreign language leaflets in our racks?
Answer: I did not have the information to respond and subsequently have found out that there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of demand for multi lingual literature as international visitors are very few. However this does not prevent exploring this further and possibly having relevant literature available on the website.

Question: Timetables – these need to be decided earlier and be ready earlier in the year.
Answer: It was agreed that this is the case, and the Holdings Board in March will agree the provisional timetables, calendar, events and headline fare for 2016.

Question: Do we use the skills register?
Answer: Yes we do, but we can and should make further use of it.

Question: Can we have an update on the locomotive negotiations?
Answer: Mike Ball/David Postle responded, the negotiations have made good progress this year. There is a timeline in place to conclude the negotiations this year. A meeting of the small locomotive owners at the end of last year prepared for the principles to be taken to a meeting of all fleet locomotive owners in January, the meeting was cordial and the representatives have time now to consult with their colleagues concerning the proposals. The Small group will meet again in March to feedback from the large group meeting.

Question: There are a large number of groups that arrive by coach each year and sometimes they are running late but the information does not get through to personnel at the station. Can we make sure that the information that is posted out to groups contains a contact number at the stations so that the messages get through?
Answer: Yes the group organisers will be given a DDI telephone number for the relevant stations.

Question: Can we have an earlier train departure from Bridgnorth during the season?
Answer: Chris Thomas provided background commenting that due to the limited passing places it is not easy to provide the earlier departure although it is constantly reviewed.

Question: Can the Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust use ‘Just Giving’ as a method of fundraising?
Answer: The SVRCT has been very successful in the last two years since it has had a widened remit, Just Giving will be looked at in due course.

October-December Roundup

A synopsis of activity and discussion within the Holdings Board and other items from October to December 2014.


Passenger Numbers

October proved to be a successful month, with both the Diesel Gala and Ghost Trains taking place. In total we saw over 14,300 passengers on our trains, 2,000 ahead of budget for the month. November figures were to budget at 4,400 passengers and December figures, which consist mainly of Santa Services, are doing very well, with a near sell out of over 32,000 passengers. Let’s hope for a crisp and dry festive season to finish the year off well.


Heritage Skills Training Academy

The new cohort (5 in total) are now placed in the workshops across the Railway, including Bewdley Carriage & Wagon and Kidderminster Paintshop. You may have seen some recent press stories concerning the HSTA and the enrolment of Emma Harrison this year, please do welcome all of the new cohort to the Railway if you meet them in the workshops.


B&Q Tools Delivery

This event went very well. Thanks to all the crews, MPD and station staff involved on the day. The tools are very good quality and we have over £2,000 worth of vouchers to spend on Railway equipment at B&Q stores. We have also made some good contacts with the management team at Kidderminster store.


Carriage & Wagon

Good progress has been made on the Carriage Department project. A scaffold platform has been purchased which offers a semi-permanent structure in the carriage shed which allows roof and carriage painting during the summer without interrupting the paint programme in the paint shop. There is also a wood working shop being constructed on the ground floor of the Carriage Department.


Bridgnorth Car Break In

You will be aware of the terrible incident where 15 cars were broken in to. Thanks go to Tony Bending who has been working to provide support to those working members who were affected and Chris Thomas, who is coordinating the security improvement response.


Kidderminster Car Park

The pedestrian walkway round the Kidderminster car park barriers has now been completed and paid for by the adjacent developers in exchange for access to the car park to make half a dozen deliveries direct to their construction site.


Bridgnorth Car Park Repair work

The small slip at the edge of Bridgnorth car park sustained early in 2014 has now been fully repaired, financed through our insurance. Whilst this undoubtedly caused inconvenience for Station staff, drainage improvements were also undertaken to protect the embankment from water ingress during heavy sustained rainfall.


Budget 2015

The budget for 2015 was presented to the Board at the October and November meetings. It has now been signed off together with the timetable for 2015. The budget is ‘low risk’ based on a low passenger threshold and a main fare increase of £1 on the headline fare which in 2015 will be: £19.00.

As you would expect the costs to the organisation have risen with increases in utilities and coal.


Knowlesands Trading Estate

The SVR is still in dispute with the owner of the Knowlesands Trading Estate at Oldbury. The area was subject to washouts during the 2007 rain events. The Railway is now looking to undertake improvements to the drainage and water capture on our neighbours land whilst recouping the costs for undertaking the work from the land owner.


Winter works 2014-2015

Chris Bond Infrastructure Manager will be managing a number of projects this winter including repair and maintenance work on Bewdley North (Wribbenhall) and Bewdley South (Sandbourne) viaducts. The civil engineering reports undertaken on a five year basis have illustrated the need to repoint brickwork, replace stonework where necessary and re-bond the arches to the main structures. Repairs to the skew arch on Wribbenhall viaduct will be undertaken with one of the arches of Sandbourne this winter. This work will involve achieving some form of traffic light system for controlling traffic under the skew arch whilst the work is undertaken. The total cost for the two arches will be £125,000.

The project to replace the Elan Valley Pipes under the Railway is still progressing and whilst contracts have not been signed all logistical issues have been resolved, it is anticipated that that work will take place in January. Please see NBI-H-204 issued on 18th December.


Hampton Loade Station House

There has been a desire to upgrade overnight volunteer accommodation and replace the dilapidated Great Western carriage used currently. At Hampton Loade the original intention was that this would be provided with a new appropriate building on the site. However the recent end of the tenancy for the Station House has offered a different opportunity and the Guarantee Company is working with the Station staff to allocate the Station House as messing and sleeping accommodation for the volunteers. The structure is sound and the building contains many historic features that will be retained. Agreement will be reached shortly for the volunteers to adopt the house on a long term basis.


Retirement of David Mee as Visitor Services Manager

David has provided a long and distinguished service to the Railway as a volunteer, Engine House Manager and latterly as Visitor Services Manager. Whilst David’s connection and involvement with the SVR will not end, he is standing down from his current position at the end of January.

With Lisa Smith currently on maternity leave this does leave the department without a number of personnel, further announcements on working arrangements will be made in the New Year.


New 2015 Timetable brochure and leaflets

Whilst a preview version of the timetable for 2015 was printed as a small run for the Warley Model show a full amended print run will now be undertaken, this will include an amended timetable A which includes a round trip for AS2 (the diesel/DMU path) in it and charter paths to use for bookings as well. Consideration has also been given to the length of the working day on some of the locomotive turns and where possible this has been shortened. Final checks will be made on other timetables as well.

The print run for the timetable is considerable and we are looking at providing a concise version that will be more accessible and smaller for racks away from the Railway, for example at Motorway Service Stations.


Filming on the Railway

Thanks go to staff at Bewdley Station, Kidderminster Station, loco, guards’ crews and Bill Griffiths for assisting with the filming of scenes on the SVR for the new feature film 'The Black Prince'.


Motive Power Department

Progress has been made on the following locomotives:

7714 - frame alignment is now complete, and axle box work is underway. The frames are being painted and the cross head and slide bar work is underway.

7802 - cladding is being painted and the tender is in the Works to allow the EMF to undertake repair.

34027 - has new cab fitting being machined, the chassis is being prepared to receive the boiler imminently.

42968 - volunteers have now removed valves to allow work to commence on the valve liners.

In the boilershop:

34027 - boiler is undergoing water testing and rectification work is taking place.

7802 - boiler is having holes reamed for new rivets to be fitted.


Catering buffet price changes:

Working members may have noticed that the menus have been adjusted in the buffets. The increase in some prices reflects Gavin Chances move to use more local and higher quality products in the menus.

Prices continue to be discounted by 35% for Working Members.


The Engine House:

The Engine House will be the venue for a Timeline exhibition in 2015 celebrating the first fifty years of the Railway. Weddings continue to be popular with six weddings booked for next year and three further enquiries.


Signalling Engineering:

The Signalling Engineering Department has occupation of a new shed on the Railway and work has commenced to install shelving to make best use of the space.


Nick Ralls (General Manager)