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News
Updated Friday 4th July 2014

July Round-Up
A round up of general information and items discussed at the Holdings Board meeting in June that have not already been announced.

Working Members Thank You Party:

The Boards would like to thank Di Malyon and team and Nicky Vale and the Engine House staff for organising the fantastic annual Working Members Thank You Party. The evening was a ‘sell out’ with over 300 attendees and was a lovely opportunity to meet colleagues from all different departments, the beer and pig roast always help!

Civil Weddings:

The Engine House as you may have seen is listed for civil wedding ceremonies, couples can be married on the footplate of 7325, or inside the Royal Carriage for example. We already have six bookings for this year and one for 2015. It is proving popular as a quirky, different wedding venue. Following the civil ceremony couples and their parties are booking the Observation Saloon or Diner for their wedding breakfast which again brings in extra revenue to the Railway.

Locomotive 6634:

The Railway is seeking legal advice concerning the continued lack of progress on 6634 the Waterman Trust Engine in order to resolve this long running problem.

Heritage Skills Training Academy:

The Heritage Skills Training Academy Coordinator Richard Thurlow has, following an interview process involving Nigel Hanson, Hugh McQuade from Carriage & Wagon and Ian Walker, Duncan Ballard from the Motive Power Department made five offers to potential trainees for the 2014 intake, the young men and woman will be starting in August.

The Railway is working with the Heritage Railway Association to produce a syllabus that means the Railway apprenticeship course can be accredited.

Potential Severn Trent Water Authority Work:

Severn Trent Water Authority are looking to carry out some renewal work on the aqueduct this winter and are in negotiations with the Infrastructure Manager Chris Bond to achieve this without causing the Railway disruption.

Review of the 2014 AGM:

The Board reviewed the 2014 AGM and considered venues for 2015, deliberations are continuing on the best venue for next year. In response to some of the questions that arose from the AGM the Board will look at the best way to produce and circulate further financial information in addition to the requirements of the annual accounts to shareholders prior to the next AGM.

Diesel Depot:

The Diesel Depot detailed designs are being worked on by C21 the contractor undertaking the build, they have been instructed to incorporate design change to allow a beam overhead crane to be incorporated in to the shed.

Bridge Strike Bridgnorth:

There has been a recent bridge strike of Cleobury Road Bridge with the articulated lorry making off. A neighbour kindly reported this to Chris Bond, who saw the truck on the way to the bridge and recorded details. Our insurers are pursuing this with the truck company insurers. The bridge has been moved and track damaged as a result of this collision causing a temporary speed restriction to be applied to the bridge.

Forums and social media:

The Board have considered a paper by Chris Thomas concerning the use of Forums on the Railway. Chris as a moderator on the unofficial forum will make it clear that Railway staff will provide answers to queries that arise on the forum if individuals use their name and not a pseudonym. 

The Staffing Committee will be publishing an article in the Working Members Newsletter concerning social media. The VLO are still receiving complaints as a result of unwarranted comments being made on social media about colleagues. The Railway are also aware of email content and noticeboards being pasted on to forums and social media sites. Much of this content is suitable for dissemination but the author’s permission has not been sought before circulation.

1940’s preparation:

Pre-bookings for the 1940’s event are running close to the levels of last year, which indicates that the event will again be strongly supported.

Dealing in SVR shares:

The Accountant Matthew Harris continues to look at brokers who can supply a service to deal with the secondary share market. This is proving difficult because of the small size of the market.

Finance: 

The Peppa Pig event achieved its budgeted passenger number of 4,000 and hit its revenue target.

Funding through loans is under negotiation with HSBC bank to assist in the purchase of Apley Estate land and the building cost of the Diesel Depot.

Holdings Board Chairman and Deputy Chairman:

The Holdings Board reelected Nick Paul as Chairman and Mike Ball as Deputy Chairman of the Holdings Plc.
Nick Ralls
General Manager

Holdings Board matters
(from the April meeting).

Bridgnorth Development Project Update:
Ian Baxter and David Postle attended the meeting as scheduled to update the Directors on progress. Ian split the overall project in to three packages of work:

  1. Listed Building & a new building to the south of the listed station
  2. The public realm
  3. Volunteer accommodation & Operations

The presentation concluded with an initial cost estimate for the attention of the Directors and the next steps for the Project Team. These are:
- To meet with English Heritage and the Shropshire Planning Department in May.
- Appoint an Architect to finalise drawings ready for planning.
- To achieve Board agreement in July
- Submit a planning application in July.

Ian and David were clear that further presentations would be made to the Railway during this process.
The Board fully supported the plans and agreed to the funding of an architect to finalise the drawings in preparation for a July planning submission.

The 2014 Holdings Plc AGM:
The Board were informed of the intention to hold the AGM at St Georges Hall, Bewdley on the 14th June. Timings have been arranged around the train service on the day. The AGM registration will open at 2.00pm to enable a 2.30pm start. The AGM will finish and be followed by presentations and a Q and A, finishing at 4.30pm to allow time for shareholders who arrived by train to walk to Bewdley Station ready for their departures.

Office Move to Kidderminster:
The 'civils' work is now complete and the offices have been fitted out. Staff will be moving to the offices from Friday 25th April with the move complete on Tuesday 29th April. We are trying to keep any disruption to a minimum. Dates will be released for any volunteers who would like to have a guided visit and to look at
the meeting spaces which can be booked on line by any group associated with the
Railway.

2015 timetable and budget:
The planning of the 50th anniversary events in 2015 in outline is nearing completion. An outline timetable and budget are being defined for the May Board
meeting.

Diesel Depot:
The contract, subject to signing is in place so that essential design work can take place in order that the construction of the depot can start this September.

Peppa Pig Weekend:
Over 2,300 tickets have already been sold for the May event against a budget of 4,000. The combination of the Railway and Peppa is proving a strong combination
for the family audience.

Weddings at the Engine House:
Two weddings have already been booked for 2014, and the press release has garnered good local press coverage.

Motive Power Department:
75069’s new rear loco drag box is on site. The tender has been re-wheeled and a new piston rod machined.
7714 has had cylinder liners fitted. Optical alignment is taking place.
42968 volunteers continue to strip down the loco in preparation for overhaul.
34027 work continues on reaming stays for the boiler. Stays are being produced.
A trial of Welsh coal is taking place to ascertain its qualities and usage.

Carriage & Wagon:
The paintshop have undertaken repairs to the doors of LNER Buffet car 643, revarnished
the vehicle and reapplied over 1800 feet of lining.
At Bewdley work continues on stripping out toilet compartments and vestibule
floors and assessment of the body condition of GWR 1146 Compartment third.

Infrastructure:
The movement of Bridgnorth car park has required that further bore holes have been sunk to establish ground conditions. Jewson’s below the Railway have been informed that some work on the car park is likely to be required.
The small slip at Sterns seems to have stabilised, a rolling speed limit of 5mph is now in force.

Valley Suite & On-train catering:
The demand for the Railway as a venue for wedding receptions is on the increase with five booked so far this year.

Finance:
Passenger numbers in March were on budget. We received 9,000 visits in the month and the average fare has held up well.
Financially we are on budget with catering and bars ahead of budget with a net profit of £23k and £24k respectively in March.
Nick Ralls
General Manager