December 2018

On the 18th Nov 2018 2857 is seen between Bewdley and Kidderminster, by Ian Murray

Welcome to your latest edition of

Express Points!

There’s a festive chill in the air and the excitement is growing! Our Santa Service is in full swing with lots going on around our Railway. We have lots of news to tell you this month including news from Bridgnorth, our new 2019 timetable and details of the Inter-Rail pass applications, for all this and more please scroll down.

As this year draws to a close we would like to thank all of our readers for their continued to support to Express Points and the SVR, and we wish you all a very Merry Christmas. This year has blown by and for Simon this marks his 18th year producing the Working Members Newsletter - a job taken on for a few issues until someone else could take over! However, it has to be said that the newsletter is reliant solely on the support and submissions from you, so please do get in touch and tell us about your patch at the SVR – with an operation the size of the Severn Valley, it’s often difficult for people to know what’s going on elsewhere, and it’s not because they’re not interested, it’s simply because they’re busy doing their thing too. But we are all in the same team, so let’s share what we do with each other. Email us at expresspoints@svrlive.com and please send photographs too. They really do add to a great story!

 

Each month we have a draw for a £20 voucher to spend on the Railway, check here to see if it's you.

 

For SVR supporters, shareholders, members or those with a general interest in Railway operations please sign up for our dedicated supporters’ newsletter 'Branch Lines' by emailing BranchLines@svrlive.com

 

Simon Turner & Lesley Carr, Co-Editors

Picture by Ian Murray

SVR about to receive keys for Bridgnorth Refreshment Room 

Iris Construction is working through a small snagging list at the Bridgnorth Refreshment Room and toilet building and it’s expected they will soon hand over the keys to the Railway. All the contractors’ cabins and remaining materials will be removed from the site next week.  

General manager Nick Ralls is delighted with the finished product: 

“This is a fine recreation of a 1910 station building extension with the highest attention paid to detail and finish throughout, and it is a credit to all concerned. In conjunction with the car park improvements, this building will transform the visitor experience at Bridgnorth.  

“Once we are able to freely access the building, the priority will be to open the toilets up to the public as soon as possible to replace the existing facilities. There will then follow a period of setting up the interior with items such as tables, chairs, curtains, fire irons and other essential items in order to make ready for public use. The kitchen staff will also require training on the new equipment and plant.  

“The intention is to fully open the Refreshment Rooms for the February 2019 half term week but it is anticipated that there will be a ‘soft’ opening before then in order to shake down the equipment and ensure its smooth operation when launched.  

“We will be organising a grand opening with invited guests and shareholders as detailed in the 2016 Share Offer document. Further details will be made available in the New Year.”

New look timetable for 2019 

With a new year just around the corner, you might have noticed the new look 2019 Timetable leaflet is now out and in the racks, and you may have spotted a number of changes to previous editions. Lewis Maddox of the marketing department explains more: 

“The timetable is very often our first interaction with a potential customer. We therefore set a brief to keep the content and format as simple as possible and provide information in an easy to understand format, with plain and straightforward content. We wanted to promote the Railway as a whole day out and in particular our Freedom of the Line tickets.  

“We have left out a lot of detail from previous timetables, as we will be introducing an ‘on the day’ handout. This will give passengers further details of what they can do when they are with us, how they can support the Railway and why they really need to make a return visit!  

“In addition, you’ll shortly see an Events & Experiences leaflet, providing details on things we do that add a little bit more to the customer’s SVR experience.” 

Changes to the Working Timetable for 2019 

The operations department have announced a few changes to the working timetable for next year.  Overall, much of the feedback received from 2018 was that the timetables have worked. However, the department has made some minor changes to address some areas where issues have been spotted. 

Special Events at the Railway will look a little bit different! The 2019 plan encompasses a variety of events aimed at attracting our key audiences, as well as trying to engage with new ones. There will be more emphasis on developing ‘normal’ passenger days, with new events based at The Engine House. The revised fare events are listed in the new look Timetable leaflet, now available, and the full list of events for 2019 is at www.svr.co.uk/NewsItem.aspx?a=860 

Here’s a summary of the changes for next year. 

Table A 

• The whole table has been brought forward by 15 minutes, making the first train 10.00 from Kidderminster. This means the service would start at 10.00 and finish at 6.22; 15 minutes earlier than currently. The Bridgnorth start time has also been brought forward by 15 minutes, meaning the first train will leave at 10.30.  

• Additionally the charter and FE paths have been adjusted on this timetable so they follow the same basic pattern. The only difference is that charters start from Kidderminster and FEs from Bewdley.  

• The slack in the current timetable has been reduced with a couple of minutes dropped here and there to sharpen up station dwell times, while increasing the section time from HY to HL from eight minutes to 10. Here, delays have occurred, especially when stopping at Country Park Halt for large groups and negotiating the TSR through Aveley Woods.  

• On Non - Peak midweek and Winter Weekend Table A services, the S2 path will be Diesel-operated, commencing from KR at 11.20 and finishing at 18.22.  

Table B (an updated version of this year’s Table B that worked very well): 

• As per Table A, a change of section times HY to HL is included. Other changes include:  

• Minor tweaks to Charter / FE paths have been included. This particularly includes a planned HY stop as it was noticed when the charter path operated as a Diner, the HY stop added a delay to the service so this is now planned for all types of trains operating in this path, trains that do not need to stop will have additional recovery time.  

• A change to the afternoon FE path on the second outward (Down) trip was encompassed to give more of a turnaround time at Kidderminster as it had been noted some delay could creep in here. The overall day does not lengthen however.  

• On all Table B dates a diesel will operate on the S1 path, commencing from KR at 09.45 and finishing at 17.33.  

• Special Events, such as Steam on the Road and On The Buses, will now run with a Timetable B to give passengers more flexibility to explore the additional attractions. 

Christmas gift ideas at Arley 

Head along to the Arley station fund shop where you’ll discover a range of goods on sale that could solve some of your Christmas present dilemmas. 

Liz Kempton, a member of the shop team is a gifted knitter and she’s created a collection of hand made gloves , beanies, wrist warmers and mittens.  

Christmas cards featuring the station are on special offer for £1 each, or six for £4.50. 

Plus there are several BR jackets, coats and trousers on sale. The shop is open every Sunday in November, and every weekend in December.

SVR thanks National Lottery players for their support  

   

On Thursday, 6th December, a group of National Lottery players had the rare opportunity for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Carriage Works at Kidderminster. People had to book in advance as numbers were limited, and the tour very quickly filled up with eager enthusiasts, who’d spotted the opportunity on social media or in the local press. 

  

The Charitable Trust has organised the event, as a way of thanking National Lottery players. The SVR has benefitted from National Lottery Funding for a number of projects. In recent years the Heritage Lottery Fund, which is entirely funded by the National Lottery, awarded the Trust £500,000 for its endowment fund, and £95,000 towards the restoration of Hagley Hall. The Trust has recently submitted a bid for £1 million for the restoration of Falling Sands Viaduct, and is expecting a decision from the HLF on this by spring 2019. 

 

 ‘Thanks To You’ week is a national event, and the Railway is one of hundreds of participating venues. Its aim is to say ‘thank you’ to people who have raised money for good causes by buying a lottery ticket or scratch card.  

 

If you’re a National Lottery player and would like to benefit from a free offer at one of the other participating venues, you’ll find full details here https://www.hlf.org.uk/thankyou/map

The perfect Christmas present for someone who cares about the SVR 

Forget the socks, the chocolates or the dodgy aftershave, and make someone really happy by adding their name to the Falling Sands donation wall.  

For just £50 you can add a name (even your own, if you feel like spoiling yourself this year!) You’ll be helping to save the SVR’s Falling Sands Viaduct, an essential part of the Railway’s infrastructure that links Kidderminster to the rest of the line, and which is in urgent need of repair. 

The SVR is raising £397,000 towards the cost, and recently submitted a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a further £1 million. 

The donation wall will be specially created and installed at The Engine House, Highley during the 2019 running season. Sign up online at www.svrtrust.org.uk or phone 01562 757940. 

Thousands of people have already signed up and added names as testament to their determination to save the viaduct – will you join them? 

Closure of Bridgnorth boiler shop crossing 

The crossing to the Bridgnorth boiler shop has been closed since mid-November and is expected to remain so for the next week or two. Contractors are working on improvements to the pedestrian route to the boiler shop, as part of the development work on the Bridgnorth station car park.  

The work involves the digging out of the boiler shop yard in preparation for new concrete. The work site has been fenced off and all SVR personnel are reminded that they should not enter any contractor’s work site without permission from the contractor.

Bewdley station improvements 

 

Assistant stationmaster Dai Phillips writes with this update:  

Although the past year’s focus has been about other parts of the Railway, we’ve not been idle at Bewdley, and several projects have been completed or are under way. For those who haven’t visited recently, we thought a few words and photographs would let you know what’s been going on away from the platforms. 

 

You’ll probably know that the main part of the buffet building was demolished. The present arrangements see the old kitchen retained plus toilets, with a coach in the dock as the place to sit down and eat. Out front we have two containers; one is a buffet store and the other is a meeting room, primarily for driving courses. 

 

The old bungalow, or parties office, now serves as a mess room for station staff, plus booking office, plus S & T department. We have a room for staff to access a computer, also used by Alan Coley in connection with his role in the guards department. We have a small room which serves as a duty officer's room. A door to the platform 1 was recently installed to allow staff to access the platform quickly. 

 

At the front of the building, it was necessary to knock down the extension built a while back as it was coming away from the wall and could not be re-attached. This has now been rebuilt, and the old porters / messroom on the platform has been knocked through to give a larger building. This will be used to store the many items which need to be kept for special events throughout the year. 

 

On top of all that, we have kept the station in good repair; that’s not always easy with something that opened in 1862!  And we look after the upkeep of Northwood Halt. 

 

One request, please stop asking what is happening with the buffet, as we have no more idea than you do. The old buffet was put up in the 1970s and was second-hand then, so we got our money's worth, although I don't think we actually paid anything for it!

Spaces available to join the SVR’s 200 Club 

Do you like raising money for volunteer projects? Do you like the idea of winning prizes? If the answer to these questions is “yes”, then the 200 Club could be for you, and the good news is that there are some vacancies to join! 

Colin Clark has been running the 200 Club on behalf of the Severn Valley Railway since 1991. Over more than quarter of a century, its membership has grown and the money it has raised has helped fund many volunteer projects around the Railway, whilst also giving its members the chance of winning one of the five monthly prizes.  

As a member of the 200 Club you pay £2 per month, and every month you have the chance of winning £75, £50, £25 or one of two £10 prizes. At Christmas, there’s an enhanced draw at Christmas when you can win even more.  

All monies, after the prize payouts, are reinvested towards volunteer projects across the Railway. 

If you are interested in joining the 200 Club please contact Colin on 01384 397395 or at 7 Enville Place, Stourbridge, DY8 1XT.  

If you would like to apply for funding for a project you are working on please email svrgfinancecommittee@svrlive.com to ask for an application form.

Witherslack Hall joins Operation Santa at the SVR 

Months of planning and weeks of preparation have come together as the Railway enters its Santa season. We’re expecting in excess of 35,000 visitors this month for the Santa Steam Specials, Carol Trains, Christmas Cracker Expresses and the extra-special, Christmas Eve Santa Sleigh Express, which sold out within two weeks. 

 The SVR fleet will be joined this year by a Christmas visitor, the ex-WR Modified Hall No 6990 ‘Witherslack Hall’, with thanks to Great Central Railway Plc and the David Clarke Railway Trust. This engine made its debut on the SVR back in spring 2016, and will be a very welcome return guest. 6990 will return to the Great Central Railway in early January. 

More than 35,000 people are expected to visit the Railway during the coming month. Pulling off such a fantastic and packed Santa season is no mean feat; there are more than 100 train services to run in December, not to mention half a tonne of chestnuts to roast, and 23km of fairy lights in place at Kidderminster, Arley and Bewdley Stations.  

Overseeing proceedings for the 23rd year is Diane Malyon from Bridgnorth, affectionately known on the Railway as ‘Mrs Christmas’. She paid tribute to the working members who make it all happen: 

“Our busiest time of year is a huge logistical operation, involving teams from all across the Railway, who do everything from roasting chestnuts to looking after buggies. Though hundreds of man-hours are clocked up by our volunteers each Christmas, they all do it because they love it. 

“This year, Christmas Eve at the SVR will be extra-special, with our Santa Sleigh Express services running all day, and I am sure that, as the sun sets and the last service of the day steams out of Kidderminster, hauling carriages full of smiling faces, we’ll know that all the hard work has been worth it.” 

Photo credit: Neil Cave

InterRail Pass 2019

The SVR, through its membership of the Heritage Railway Association (HRA), once again has the opportunity of purchasing a quantity of Inter-Rail Passes for use by working members, employees and directors of the SVR. This year each pass will cost £30, and is valid for 1 year. It covers both the working member and one accompanying person. It is valid on the majority of preserved railways and preservation sites throughout the UK. Each pass holder may use the pass on any participating railway as often as they like until 29th February 2020, subject only to certain restrictions (e.g. not on Gala Days, Thomas Days, Dining or Santa trains). If you would like to purchase a pass then please contact the Ticket Office at Comberton Place, Kidderminster by either calling 01562 757900, option 1 or in person during the opening hours of Monday–Friday 9am till 5pm, where the team will be able to take a card payment (or cash if in person).

 

The deadline for receipt of application is Friday 8th February 2019. When calling the office please have the following details to hand: 1) Name 2) Address 3) Department you volunteer/work with 4) Payment Card Details

 

(N.B. This does NOT replace the Reciprocal Travel Scheme operated in conjunction with certain other preserved railways.)

In Memoriam

Richard Weaver

We are sorry to announce the passing of Richard Weaver, a long serving volunteer, following a long illness. Richard joined the Railway in 1973 and was a regular face in Bridgnorth. He spent much of his time working on the catering side of the Railway, including the Railwaymans Arms and the On Train Buffet. Richard was also a regular at Arley during the Santa Season. Richard’s funeral will take place at Lodge Hill Crematorium Weoley Park Rd, Birmingham B29 5AA on Friday 21st December 2018 at 12.45pm. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this very sad time.

Frank Shepherd

It is with deep sadness that we have to announce the death of Frank Shepperd. Frank and his family joined the SVR in 1986. During his service, Frank held many senior roles in the organisation, for which his expertise was highly regarded. His funeral was held on Thursday 29th November in Devon, and we send condolences are sent to Frank’s family at this very sad time. 

Barry Moreton, VLO

Exciting winter menu for Bewdley Trackside Buffet 

Last weekend saw the introduction of a new range of delicious offerings at the Trackside Buffet at Bewdley. 

The new range has come about as the result of working with the catering team on how best to provide a focused menu for the buffet during the winter months, as Engine House manager Nicky Vale explains: 

“We had to take into consideration our current equipment, facilities and storage space. We are committed to supporting a delicious hot food offering that we can realistically deliver exceptional standards and service on.  

“Bewdley is well known for its fabulous breakfasts, so it is with this in mind that we will be offering hearty all-day breakfast menu options, along with light bites and some exciting new festive hot drinks such as Black Forest hot chocolate and gingerbread latte. You’ll also want to try our new SVR breakfast muffins and hash browns, great for on-the-go.”

First responder courses for 2019 

The Volunteer Liaison Office is putting on first responder courses on Sunday 13th January and Saturday 2nd February 2019.  

First responders are trained to attend emergency situations and provide life-saving first aid in the vital minutes before an ambulance arrives. 

The courses will take place Comberton Place in Kidderminster and lunch will be provided. Please book your place by phoning the VLO on 01299 401776.   

Valves & pistons take centre stage at Bridgnorth MPD

Shed master Martin White has this month’s update:

I’ll start with an explanation of why we found ourselves using pannier tanks on our Santa services this year. The first thing to say is that there was always a possibility that this might happen and that preparations had been made, in advance, in case it was required, but we hoped it wouldn’t be needed.

We had for a long time planned to undertake the valve & piston (V&P) exam on 7802 ‘Bradley Manor’ in between the September Gala and the start of Christmas running. We needed to do the Manor at this time, firstly because its mileage was very close to the top end of the defined mileage limit and secondly because we have lots of other work on the rest of the running fleet that needs to take place in the January/February closed season. We cannot do everything in that five to six week window.

Regular readers will know that when examined, it was unfortunately found that 7802’s cylinders needed to be rebored and that also meant new piston heads. We had some castings in stock, so work started quickly on machining them. However, when one of the newly machined heads was being screwed onto the piston rod, a fault arose which meant that the head had to be scrapped and a further casting had to be machined from scratch. These piston heads are not simple things; they are actually hollow and have threaded ‘cores’ in them as well as threads to screw on the head. So there is quite a lot of machining to be done. This issue has delayed the completion of 7802 which is why the panniers had to be used.

1450 is also due a V&P exam. This is now underway at Bridgnorth, and on these locos it necessitates taking the front buffer beam off. We expect there to be quite an extensive list of work arising on this loco which is why the work was started as soon as its diagrammed duties for the 2018 season were completed. This work will be fitted in around running repairs and boiler washouts to the service locos. 2857 for example, is due a boiler washout in the first week of December in between two Santa weekends. 1450 will also have to fit in around the completion of 75069 and then the main winter maintenance on the larger locos in the closed season. The aim is to having the 14xx running again in March. That is the target, but as we have seen with 7802 unforeseen issues can, and sometimes do, occur.

Space in this brief update doesn’t allow me to expand on the planned winter maintenance for all of the locos, but suffice to say there is a considerable amount of work to be done to some of the fleet, including some more V&P work.

Finally, I’m delighted to report that 75069 really is close to having a fire in it for the first time in many years! Sam Birchall has made a short film, which captures the anticipation surrounding its much-awaited return to steam. Watch it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYkkhSMo69w

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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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