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December 2017

Merry Christmas

Pannier Power! 7714 at Hay Bridge on the 28th Oct 2017, by Ian Murray

Welcome to your latest edition of

Express Points!


As we go to press with your December edition of Express Points, the first Santa weekend is underway, and the buzz of festive excitement is all around the Railway. In this edition, as the Railway prepares for its busiest month of operation before the (relative!) calm of the January-February shutdown, we have news of a soon-to-be-released training film. Commissioned by the SVR, this deals with all aspects of working at height and is set to become an invaluable part of safety training across operational departments. It must be the month for films round these parts, because the Charitable Trust has released its promotional film about the SVR and the need for fundraising – and we have a link so you can be one of the first to see it. There’s a final report on the remedial work at County Boundary, which, for practical purposes, is now complete, and a plea to working members from the SVR’s safety officer to look after their wellbeing and keep safe during the extremely demanding Santa season.


Please let us know what’s going on where you are. We rely on working members across the Railway to let us know what’s happening, and if you get in touch with your news, we’ll publish it in next month’s Express Points. Please remember to include a photograph! You can email us or drop us a message on Facebook!

Each month we have a draw for a £20 voucher to spend on the Railway, and because it’s Christmas, this month there are four winners. Check to see if you’re one of them here.

For SVR supporters, shareholders, members or those with a general interest in Railway operations please sign up for our supporters’ newsletter 'Branch Lines' by CLICKING HERE

As we complete the first year of the working members’ newsletter as an online-only publication, we’d like to wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and all the very best for 2018.

Simon Turner & Lesley Carr, Co-Editors

Picture by Ian Murray

Bridgnorth site progress


Work continues to progress the roof towards a watertight building, which will allow the internal trades to commence, as infrastructure manager Chris Bond reports:


“All roof trusses are now in place along with the supporting steel and wood construction for the flat roof of the refreshment room. The sub-contractors who will be undertaking this have met with our designer Bob Marrows, to make sure they have a complete understanding of our requirements. We will be using a material in the roof construction they have not yet encountered. This is a product known as foamglas; blocks which are made from foamed silica glass and have a high insulation value.”


Elsewhere, the gable ends have been completed and the onsite building joiner is constructing all the other timber structures required.

Community support for the SVR

For a number of years, the members of Franche Village Sports & Social Club and St John’s Club have supported the Railway through the Charitable Trust, and recently added a cheque for a further £500 to their contributions. They raised this through a bowls competition in memory of one of their members, Rob Hodson. Rob had a long association with railways as a Virgin Trains driver, and Club members wanted to honour this by supporting apprentice training in the Heritage Skills Training Academy.

If you know an organisation that might like to support the SVR in a similar way, please contact


Coralie Hudson of the Charitable Trust and Brian Salmon from Franche Village Club

2018 working timetables are almost ready

The operations department is in the final stages of checking the 2018 working timetables (WTT) before sending it to the printers. The team consulted across the Railway before preparing the 2018 WTT and received wide and varied feedback, as operations assistant Matt Robinson explained: “There were several areas that stood out as issues to all. The standard 22 minute turnaround time at Kidderminster was not only too tight for crews but caused other problems, and there were multiple complaints about the 11 minute dwell time on pretty much all ‘up’ trains at Bewdley.


“For 2018 there will be only two main timetable versions in the public leaflet. The A will be the backbone midweek timetable that also operates on most Sundays throughout the year, except Bank Holiday weekends. It will be the timetable that operates on weekends out of the main season, when footfall does not warrant a busier Saturday timetable.


“Table B is a new timetable developed for 2018 by Chris Thomas. It will run primarily on Saturdays but will also feature on Bank Holiday weekend Sunday and Mondays.


“A major change is the FE timings moving much later on this timetable, benefits however include less early starts for signalmen at the South end of the line, something that was a regular occurrence in this year’s timetable. That of course means these trains finish later, after the last public service, but as table B is normally operating on Saturdays it runs into an evening service of Diner and/or DMU so a mutual swap time can be arranged for the evening signalman to come on duty. We hope this will help the lengths of day at South end boxes, which has been flagged up to us this year.


“Many will recognise the new Table A is based upon the tried and trusted midweek B timetable from 2015/2016, with more time allowed in areas that had caused issues in the past. We hope to reduce confusion by dropping to two main public timetables. For 2018 the WTT booklet will include 9 WTT’s in total, compared to 18 in 2017. There will be 6 A variants and 3 B variants.


“As I mentioned earlier we have tried, where possible, to include suggestions received, and hopefully these timetables will sit well with most of our staff. The timetables have generally been well received by the checking team and Heads of Departments. I also need to mention to all of the people who have taken the time to go through them in great detail and point out our typo’s and timing errors!


While work takes place to get the booklets made, SVR Online will see the electronic versions uploaded, which all staff using the office 365 system will be able to view.

Parking charge increases


SVR car park charges have been held at £3 for a considerable amount of time. However, particularly at Kidderminster, there has been increasing use of this car park by Network Rail passengers seeking to avoid the current London Midland charge of £4.50 a day.


This being the case, car park charges at all SVR stations have been increased to £4, with the reminder that working members and shareholders with more than 3,000 shares do not have to pay any fee.

New film promotes the work of the Charitable Trust

The SVR Charitable Trust was delighted when drp Productions offered to make a film for them, showcasing the attractions of the Railway, and explaining why the Charitable Trust’s support is so vital to the Severn Valley Railway.

The film shows off the SVR beautifully, as both a visitor and a heritage attraction, and explains the type of restoration and training projects that have benefitted from Charitable Trust investment. The film is now available to view and share with friends and family. Just click HERE.

In the New Year, the Charitable Trust will be releasing two further films, also produced by drp; one will explain why gifts in Wills have always been so important to the Railway, and how they'll continue to play a big part in its future; the other will showcase the benefits for companies of corporate partnership with the SVR. Watch this space for more.




SVR commissions safety training film

The Railway has teamed up with drp Productions to help volunteers and staff work safely at height, following two height-related incidents. General manager Nick Ralls explains:

“We’d been asked to do tool box talks to train all our operational staff to work safely at height, but it was clear that there would be some problems with this. Part of the issue is that many volunteers are only at the Railway on a limited number of days a year. The solution was to make a film, and we’re extremely pleased with the results. In it, we bust a number of myths about working at height, and give clear, concise rules for a range of operational situations across the Railway.

“Producing the film has a number of advantages. You can watch it at your own pace, in the comfort of your armchair, and as many times as you want. We’d like to know what people think of the film once it is released, and we’ll be providing a dedicated feedback email or form to fill in.”

The film, which runs at just over six minutes, will soon be viewable on the password-protected svronline. You’ll need to log in to view it, and this allows the Railway to have a record of who has watched the film and fulfilled the training requirement.

Changes to rules for booking volunteer accommodation


The Accommodation Steering Group has made a number of changes to the use of volunteer accommodation. These can be summarised as follows:


· If you use volunteer accommodation, you must be able to prove you have somewhere else as your main home (through the provision of a tax or household bill)

· Accommodation is primarily for volunteer use, but on occasion it may be used by paid staff, contractors and visiting loco representatives etc, providing they seek confirmation from the relevant accommodation committee, at least seven days in advance of the stay

· Paid staff, contractors and visiting loco representatives etc, can stay in the accommodation, providing there is a vacancy, their stay is for a maximum of eight nights per calendar month and the relevant fee is paid

· A written warning will be issued if this limit is exceeded. Following three written warnings all rights to use the accommodation will be forfeit for both paid staff and volunteers

· For clarity to those staff who are both paid and volunteer: the use of accommodation as a paid member of staff is subject to the rules above. Consecutive volunteer use of the accommodation before or after use as a paid member of staff is allowed, but these additional volunteer stays must be in a recognised rostered volunteer duty for the preceding or following day(s). In this context recognised rostered duty means a duty for a known department where the duty is recorded and requires signing on

· The above supersedes relevant terms and conditions in existing site rules, and is subject to periodic review by Accommodation Steering Group.

Each month we hold a draw for a £20 voucher to spend on the Railway, check if you are the lucky winner here

A Carol Train invitation to volunteers and staff


Running every Saturday evening until Christmas, the DMU-operated Carol Trains are an excellent way for volunteers and staff to socialise and get into the Christmas spirit.


The three car unit, which includes the bar, is fully booked for fare-paying passengers. Unless you have a valid Carol Train tickets, you won’t be able to travel in this part of the train.


However, as a volunteer or staff member, you can travel in the rear coach of the two-car part of the train, where the DMU Group (West Midlands) hope to offer a limited bar service consisting of bottles of real ale, cider, soft drinks and tea and coffee.

If you'd like to join the Carol Train, please contact Alan Coley on in advance by email to reserve your place.


Carol Trains start at Kidderminster and will call at Bewdley and Arley in both directions. You’re welcome to join the festivities and carol singing in the Engine House as well.

In memoriam


Phil Coutanche

David Williams writes: We are sad to have to record the death of Philip Coutanche on Sunday, 12th November.

Phil was a key figure in the revival of the Severn Valley Railway when, as a civil engineer on British Railways in 1965, he reacted to a telegram from John Garth by halting the demolition by BR contractors of Bridgnorth station track and equipment. This allowed the preservation effort to proceed, with the result that we all know today. Phil and John remained friends until John's death in 2003.

Phil lived at Linley station, next stop north of Bridgnorth on the Severn Valley line, but soon moved to Bridgnorth, helping the preservation effort as a duty signalman, and technical advisor on permanent way and signalling matters.

Away from SVR, Phil was an established enthusiast and modeller, painting and lining models to a high standard for museums and exhibitions, and producing books and literature on rolling stock for probably his favourite railway companies before 1923, both located in South East England.

He is survived by wife Mich and two daughters who shared his Severn Valley interest and involvement, Maggie, a Bridgnorth signalman, and Liz, who is married to SVR locomotive driver Geoff Harsley. To them all, we extend our deepest sympathies.


Brian Craven

On 18th November around 200 friends, family and colleagues visited the Railway to travel on the late Brian Craven's memorial train. Brian, who died in September, was a shareholder, long-standing volunteer and a patron of the SVR Charitable Trust. He worked as a signalman and in Kidderminster Carriage & Wagon. What many who knew him might not have realised is that Brian also had a PhD in Engineering. After their trip along the Railway that Brian loved so much, guests enjoyed a buffet in the Valley Suite. Brian will be much missed by his friends and colleagues.

Phil Dunn

Barry Moreton writes: We were saddened to report the passing of Bridgnorth Permanent Way volunteer Phil Dunn. Phil was a leading light with the relay team, in addition to vegetation maintenance. We send our condolences to Phil’s wife Janet.


Denis (Tony) Garlick

Barry Moreton writes: We are sad to announce that Denis passed peacefully away in his care home on the 20th October 2017. Pioneer volunteers will remember Denis, coupled with other talents, as one of our Signalmen. We send condolences to his son Peter.

Keeping the Santa season safe


The SVR’s Santa season is busy and profitable for the Railway, and attracts more passengers per day than most other events over a number of weeks. Safety advisor and team leader Mel Cook warns volunteers and staff to look after themselves during this very busy time:


“Fatigue can be a factor which compromises safety. We are lucky to have very loyal working members, but I suggest that breaks are taken when needed. During the festive period, I will be around and may well experience the undoubted warmth of the Arley shed! You can always email me on .

Talking more generally about safety, Mel and members of the safety team have been visiting premises across the Railway during the past year, as he explains:

“We have a rolling programme for safety audits which will carry over to 2018. The process is quite time-consuming but very worthwhile in doing what we can to avoid challenges from inspecting authorities. It is worth noting that non-compliance with legislation can be costly in financial terms and affects our safety reputation. I would like to express thanks to all staff members who have co-operated with our premises audits and request that issued reports are given due consideration. I am working closely with Ray Stilgoe who has extensive general safety knowledge which is invaluable to the SVR.


“Generally, there is an improvement in safety understanding in many areas and I am pleased when members approach me to discuss safety items, however, there are still areas and issues that require further scrutiny. For example record keeping is essential and is often the first item requested by inspectors. There is also a marked improvement in accident and near-miss reporting, but please remember to give full information on any reports. If in doubt with near-miss queries contact your line manager.


“I am looking to recruit members as part of our safety team who have an interest in railway and general safety. It would be very beneficial to welcome some younger members who can progress our work when some of the older personnel strongly consider retirement. I hope to be around for a long while yet but would like to pass on general safety and fire safety knowledge as I am very keen on moving forward. To join us, please contact the Volunteer Liaison Office on 01299 401776 or email

Bird boxes donated to memory garden

When volunteer Arthur Hamson heard that the Charitable Trust is creating a memory garden for SVR supporters close to the Engine House at Highley, he wanted to support the project in a very practical way; he used his woodworking skills to make a pair of very smart bird boxes.


Arthur explained:

“I’ve made bird boxes for other locations at the Railway and thought how it would be nice to encourage birds to nest in this particular spot. When people visit the garden to remember their loved ones, I hope that they’ll be able to enjoy the sound of bird song too.”

Arthur, and his wife Beryl, have volunteered at various SVR locations for more than 35 years, and are currently based at Bewdley. Responding to the donation, Shelagh Paterson said:

“We’re very grateful for Arthur’s kindness and thoughtfulness in making and donating these boxes, which we think will make a wonderful addition to the garden. The area has already been fenced off and some steps have been built leading down from the Engine House. We hope to start work on the design and planting of the garden very soon, so that it will be open by next spring. We want to encourage all those who’ve lost a friend or loved one with an SVR connection to visit the garden, and remember them, alongside the Railway that played such an important part in their life.”

Reciprocal travel for our Working Members

Have you checked out the list of heritage railways that offer free or discounted travel to SVR working members? Please visit for full details.

County Boundary remedial work is complete


The work to rectify the landslip at County Boundary is now complete. The contractors have handed back the trackside worksite area and removed their cabins. The stoned haul road that was created to allow materials to be imported has been tidied up and left in place for the farmer to use as part of the licence agreement. It has also been agreed that the farmer will carry out the reinstatement of the SVR boundary fence next spring when the area of the riverside field that was used for contract operations has recovered sufficiently for stock grazing to resume. Commenting on the operation, infrastructure manager Chris Bond said:


“All in all, the job has proceeded very smoothly and the SVR is very grateful to farmers Peter and Michael Kirton who have put up with a tremendous amount of disruption in order to accommodate the works.


“During the January-February shutdown, we’ll remove four panels of track and excavate around 600 tonnes of ash and ballast. This will be replaced by imported stone and reinforcing mesh topped off with re-laid track and fresh ballast, which you will notice is currently stored lineside at the location. These works were recommended by the consulting engineer as the final part of the slip remedy and should ensure that there won’t be any post repair settlement problems. After completion of this, the area will be returned to line speed for the 2018 season.”


A postscript to all this work, the SVR also took advantage of the contractors’ presence to effect much-needed repairs to the adjacent Bridge No 19. The wing wall coping stones were removed for re-bedding using lime mortar. Life-expired stones will be replaced with reconstituted stone versions in a matching colour, which will be put in place during the shutdown.


The picture shows the east wing walls awaiting their new coping stones. Some re-pointing has also taken place. As a result it will hopefully be very many years before any further work is required on this remotely situated structure.

Vacancies at the Railway

There are usually a number of vacancies for paid staff at the SVR and you can find full details at Please let friends and family know about these opportunities.


Stations’ manager is appointed


General manager Nick Ralls writes: “I am pleased to announce that, following interviews for the volunteer role of stations’ manager, the SVR Guarantee Company Board has ratified Ian Latimer’s appointment.


“Ian will continue to fulfil his present role as Arley station master, and I am sure you will join me in wishing Ian every success in his new assignment.”

Zone representative nominations are sought


Following the merger of the SVRA and SVRG all four working members’ zone representatives are to be re-elected, and nominations are being invited.


Zone reps act as a voice for working members and are a route for finding out answers to questions, then passing that information back to working members. They also sometimes support working members as a companion during formal hearings, for example disciplinary, grievances and appeals.


There are individual representatives for Bridgnorth, Bewdley and Kidderminster and one representing Arley, Highley and Hampton Loade, as there are fewer volunteers at these stations. General manager Nick Ralls explains more:


“Two of the existing zone reps have indicated that after many years of service, they wish to stand down. Many thanks to Mike Osborne (Kidderminster) and Steve White (Bridgnorth) for all the work they have done. The other zone reps are currently Alan Coley (Bewdley) and Ian Latimer (Arley).


“If you wish to apply please do so in writing, supported by and signed by a seconder, for the Attention of Steve White’s pigeon hole, Bridgnorth Booking Office by the 18th December 2017.


“If there is more than one candidate for a location, there will be an election at that location, between 1 - 29 January 2018, with a ballot box for volunteer working members to cast their votes.”

For a full job description, please visit


If you have any questions about the role please contact your current zone rep or David Mellor (SVR Company Ltd secretary) via Number 1 Comberton Place.

Looking for Christmas gifts?

Don't forget to visit our Gift Shop at Kidderminster

Working Member Benefits

We have some great offers available to Working Members, including Travel, Gym Membership, Specsavers Eye Tests, Pomodoro Restaurant, Style Hair Salon and this month we welcome Doddingtree Estate Agency. 


Full details can be found on our Express Points Benefits Page. 

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Any opinions or views expressed in this newsletter are entirely the opinions of the contributors, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Directors of Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) PLC. which owns the Severn Valley Railway, Severn Valley Railway Company Limited, the members of which are responsible for its operation, or the Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust.

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