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Updated Tuesday 28th September 2014

MPD Update - October 2014
The MPD project to outshop a locomotive from MPD on average every 200 days over a three year period within five years has been up and running for two years.

There has been a significant investment during the last two years in facilities and staff, which I hope all visitors to the site will clearly see. The project, initially employing the skills of Perspectiv Change Management consultants, continues with MPD management now taking the lead. A workshop took place last week and it is opportune to report on the progress of the project over the last quarter.

Loco availability W
hilst the project has concentrated on overhaul, the maintenance of the running fleet is vitally important and during 2014 the availability of the fleet has held up very well. There have been failures, but these have been limited in their impact, the worst event being the failure of 43106 and 34053 on the week of the diesel gala.

Fleet overhaul
There are a number of locomotives in the Works currently 7714 and 75069 have made significant progress over the last quarter with 75069’s tender now complete and the locomotive rear drag box installed in the frames. Current projections so 34027, 7802, 813 and 7714 being completed by the end of 2015.

The new cohort of apprentices have commenced work on the Railway and currently MPD has four Apprentices working at Bridgnorth, Max Greene and Chris Bird from last year and currently 1 of this year’s intake on weekly rotation. They are under the tutelage of our senior staff but are making an impact on projects, such as Hagley Hall, where they can follow an overhaul project through from beginning to end.

The SVR is also a partner with the Boiler Engineering and Skills Training Trust (BESTT) who were successful in a Heritage Lottery Fund Skills for the Future application. The funding allows recruitment by BESTT of apprentices who are placed in boilershops of partner organisations around the country. They are expected to undertake training and be assessed against a syllabus to ground them in the principles of boiler inspection, maintenance and overhaul. We are pleased to host one of the BESTT apprentices in our boilershop, his name is Philip Mason and I hope that you will make him welcome if you meet him during the next twelve months.

Contract work Contract work in MPD is important as it maintains a steady flow of revenue to support work on the home fleet. Ian Walker and Duncan Ballard work to make sure that the progression of contract work is steady and does not subsume our home fleet activities. This is why, in the Boilershop two Boilersmiths are tasked with contract work only, two Boilersmiths plus the Chargehand are tasked with overhauling home fleet boilers.

Duncan and Ian have reported that their order books are very healthy and that they have secured contract work through 2015.

B&Q tools and vouchers

The apprentices across the Railway will be working with tools and equipment provided free to the Railway by B&Q. Thank you to MPD for arranging photo opportunities from the press on the arrival of the tools.

MPD updates
The work at MPD is at the heart of the Railway and many working members will be interested in gaining the most up to date information they can. Ian and Duncan are aware of this and currently use Twitter as a method of providing the most up to date news. They are currently working with Bill Griffiths to find a new home on SVRlive where they will be able to provide more detailed updates on the website.
Nick Ralls General Manager

August / September Roundup

Passenger Numbers and financial performance in August:

Despite an extensive television advertising campaign and a leaflet drop the passenger numbers in August were disappointing, with visitors in August 2014 2,000 below August 2013.  Despite the poor passenger numbers in the month, financially the forecast for August was missed by only £29,000.  The forecast for the rest of the year clearly indicates that the Company will make a healthy profit for the year.

Budget 2015
The analysis of the financial and passenger results so far is being used to inform the preparations for the budget for 2015.The marketing campaign for this special 50th anniversary year will receive a thorough review. The first pass of the budget has been completed. Different financial scenarios are being worked on to study the impact of raising the headline fare for 2015. Meanwhile the 2015 timetable will be concluded with the events programme and all of this plus the budget will be taken to the Holdings Board in October for discussion.

Capital position of the Plc Since 2007
The Railway has every year, invested heavily in its infrastructure, for example rail replacement or the large undertaking to rebuild Arley platforms and improve drainage in 2011.  We have also invested funds in the last two years in to the Motive Power Department in terms of both facilities and staffing, and this year investment has increased in our Carriage & Wagon facilities.  All this investment is timely and required in order to provide a safe Railway with a high quality and variety of rolling stock and locomotives.   The high level of investment required over the last seven years has depleted the Company reserves and so we are planning to increase our cash reserve over the coming years by managing our on-going financial commitments and developing our cash generation. Silver King Charter with UK Railtours This charter on the 6th September went very well for the tour operator and the SVR.  Thanks to John Farrow of UK Railtours for using the SVR as a destination and to Phil Swallow for his work in bringing UK Railtours and the SVR together.   
Shunting incident at Eardington
On the Monday 8th September a shunting incident occurred at Eardington involving a run through of the points. The inquiry is being chaired by Chris Thomas.

Locomotive 73129

The Caprotti Class 5 is returning to the Midland Railway Centre in week commencing 29th September 2014. We thank MRC for the loan of this popular locomotive.


LNER 7960 coach restoration project

Through the offices of the Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust, dogged determination and incessant phone calls a supplier of tableware has very kindly donated over £2,000 worth of ceramics to help with the fit out of this newly restored kitchen composite.

Civils Winter Work 2014-2015

Chris Bond, Infrastructure Manager, will again have his hands full in the coming months with winter projects.  he Diesel Depot is key amongst these and clearance of the site has already been undertaken, thanks to Roland Bull and team. Chris Bagley and P-way gang are taking up the track and Chris is working on the geometry requirements of the new layout.  Contractual details are being worked through with C21 who will design and build the depot. The project will start this year and progress in to the first quarter of 2015. Tenders have also been received this week for essential repair work on both Bewdley North (Wribbenhall) Skew Arch and Bewdley South (Sandbourne) viaduct arches.  The costs for the work are likely to be c. £120,000 and are a priority item to arrest the deterioration of the structures.  This project, its costings and benefits will be taken to the Holdings Board in October 2014 for consideration. The Board have also discussed the Bridgnorth Proposals which are the subject of a separate notice.

Nick Ralls General Manager



'Silver King' arrives at Kidderminster and transfers to SVR metals on Saturday 6th September. Video courtesy of Bernard Strutt.


July Roundup

1940’s event:
This years 1940’s event organised by Pete and Angela Smith with the support of a large team put on another superb event, the numbers of the two weekends were 28th/29th June 3,514, 5th/6th July 3,373 making a total of 6,887. The numbers were slightly down on last year but the poor weather on the first weekend did not help. Due to the congestion caused on Highley platform with passengers arriving and leaving after the battle, the battle was replaced with a blackout fair this year, however it was not as popular as anticipated.
As the event is so complex and involved, Pete and Angela are handing over the reins to Malcolm Broadhurst who will chair a 1940’s events committee, their remit is to organise the event in conjunction with the special events committee. Thanks to Pete and Angela for all there fantastic work over the last few years and Malcolm for assuming command for 2015; planning has already begun for this event.

Apley Estate Land Purchase:
David Postle and colleagues of the Bridgnorth Development Committee have met with English Heritage to discuss SVR plans for the fields behind Bridgnorth Station. The Committee wish to gain English Heritage support for the proposals prior to submission of the Bridgnorth Development master plan to Shropshire Council. The land purchase itself is still subject to contractual negotiation and agreement with English Heritage.

Bridgnorth Development:
David Postle attended the Holdings Board meeting on the 15th July 2014 to update the board on progress made by the committee. Initial cost estimates have been established for all elements of the project plus or minus 20%.
The first phase includes the conservation and restoration of the listed station building and a new building to the south in Great Western design which will house new toilets and new buffet. The total cost for this element is £1,025,000.
Apley Car Parking alterations to the field to provide up to 330 parking spaces will be £315,000 or £195,000 if restricted to just the North field.
Public realm improvements are budgeted at £200,000.
Storage and volunteer accommodation is estimated to cost £2,000,000.
Architects have been appointed who are well versed in Railway projects, including the new span at Paddington Station, the firm is Oxford Architects.
The full plans are expected to be presented to the Holdings Board at the August board and then shortly after to the Railway at large.

Plans for 2015:
Catering (both on and off train) is taking an increasing number of bookings for wedding receptions, and with the Engine House now listed for ceremonies, the number of wedding receptions and parties is set to increase further. Quite correctly concern has been raised that staff, especially at stations, need to be well informed of any requirements for wedding guests. Also it is imperative that wedding couples are informed in good time about what they can expect to see at the stations, for example, during the set up for 1940’s at Kidderminster Station the concourse will be full. Checks are being put in place to make sure that wedding bookings information is disseminated in good time.

Registrars for secondary share purchase:
Matthew Harris, (Company Secretary) has struggled to find a reputable organisation to provide a service for selling and purchase of shares on the secondary market. He now believes a local firm has been identified and he will be meeting with them in the next month to discuss how the service would work and assess costs.

The Unofficial SVR Forum and pseudonyms:
The Board has recently considered the relationship of the Railway with the unofficial forum. It is recognised that debate and opinion is one of the forums strengths, but Chris Thomas has suggested that legitimately, questions can be raised by forum members and that an answer should be provided, the question must be raised by a named individual rather than under a pseudonym.

These simple to use devices have become common on the High Streets of the UK and the Board has agreed for Mel Cook to pursue the purchase of two of these machines to be situated at Kidderminster and Bridgnorth. They will be readily available but not in kept in boxes that may detract from the heritage ethos of the stations.

Bridge Strike:
The Board were perturbed that although a recent bridge strike on Cleobury Road Bridge by an articulated lorry was luckily traced and located, it was not taken more seriously by the police when reported. The General Manager will be contacting West Mercia police to discuss further.

Permanent Way Retirement:
Many of you will know Bob Toye as a member of footplate crew and also as paid P Way staff. Bob has recently retired from his paid position, thanks to Bob for all he has done. His paid Permanent Way career began with the relay over Worcester Road Bridge in 2008, and come rain, shine, snow etc. Bob has been one of the P Way team who has done so much to maintain our track. Enjoy the retirement!

Drunken Behaviour on Trains:
Travelling Ticket Inspectors, Guards and Station Staff have had to deal with a number of incidents of drunken behaviour at the SVR; the problem is restricted to a very small minority but makes life difficult for staff and spoils the visits of other passengers. We are aware of the problem, and links with local community police officers are being forged to encourage more visits to the Railway by CPO’s to be a visible presence and deterrent to drunken behaviour. Appreciation and thanks to those staff that have dealt so professionally with the disruptive individuals.

Fisherman’s Crossing near miss:
The change of this particular crossing to an open crossing puts the onus on the road user to observe the road signs, but a recent incident involving a delivery driver crossing in front of a train is concerning and is being taken up with the delivery firm.

Nick Ralls
General Manager