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February 2017

This months cover image of Taw Valley on 4th December 2016 by Ian Murray
Picture by Ian Murray

Welcome to your February edition of

Express Points!

We've loads of news and information in this month’s edition including news of the Northern Belle arriving, New Appointments, Share Offer and more.


Remember the Railway resumes services on Saturday 18th February and we look forward to an exciting operating year on the Railway. Visit the main SVR website for details!


You can send us an update from your department or even just give us feedback on our new look by contacting us.

Re-laying our Railway

It’s been a busy time for the Permanent Way teams as they work to re-lay this year’s half-mile section north of Hampton Loade. As Infrastructure Manager Chris Bond tells Express Points, in the past week they’ve been making good, solid progress as the track is relayed towards the northern railhead.


Over to Chris: “The initial section of the relayed track was carried out using concrete sleepers. These require handling using a road railer, and their obvious weight makes this a slow process.



“We’ve now switched to laying the steel sleepers that Network Rail donated. As you can see in the photos, two people can handle these. This means that track laying is much more rapid than our method using concretes. The P/Way volunteers have helped a great deal with this process.


“Equipping the bare sleepers with all the necessary fittings required is also being facilitated by the efforts of volunteers, as they swarm all over the freshly laid sleepers with buckets of clips and pads. It’s a great team effort, and what the SVR is all about.


“The newly installed drainage is working very well and is disposing of the spring water in fine fashion. Next week should see us connecting the two railheads connected, and the start

4399 Progress

Despite the cold weather of the past month, the team working on Coach 4399 at Bridgnorth has been making great progress. This coach is being restored and converted for wheelchair use, as part of a larger Charitable Trust project to boost the Railway’s facilities for disabled users.


It’s been all hands to the deck on Wednesdays and Saturdays, with volunteers, staff, apprentices and a trainee getting involved. The condition of the coach was very poor indeed when work began, as project leader and Charitable Trust Chairman Hugh McQuade explains:


“The coach had suffered a great deal from being stored outside for 20 years, and had become severely corroded. We’ve had to entirely rebuild the south end, including the gangway, to deal with this.”


Ronan O’Brien, one of the regular weekend volunteers on the project, has now joined Hugh for the Wednesday trip up from Kidderminster C&W to work on 4399 – clearly he can’t get enough of this particular challenge!


Originally built in 1957, the coach came to the SVR in 1983. Now owned by the Charitable Trust, it is one of two coaches being restored and converted for wheelchair use. Once 4399 is completed and is back in service, work will begin on rebuilding coach 80776 to create a first class dining car suitable for wheelchair users and their companions. There’ll be an innovative zig-lag layout for the tables so that the accommodation will be as flexible as possible. Last year the Charitable Trust successfully bid for a £75,000 grant from the Department for Transport to part fund this exciting project.

Northern Belle moves to SVR

A new resident for the SVR has arrived! The Belmond Northern Belle fine dining train will be stabled at the Railway for the next 10 years. The agreement, between the SVR and the operators of the Northern Belle, is the result of more than six months’ planning and consideration.

The rake of 11 operational carriages and two spare vehicles will be housed at Kidderminster on Carriage Siding 1. A small compound at the north end of the Kidderminster car park will provide space for Belmond Northern Belle containers and office accommodation for their staff.

Belmond Northern Belle’s operation will compliment that of the SVR and they will make extensive use of our main line connection at Kidderminster.

General Manager Nick Ralls is delighted at the arrival:

“This partnership will provide many opportunities for the Railway and Belmond Northern Belle. Importantly for the SVR, it means another income stream that will support further investment in the Railway. It is our intention that the SVR will provide cleaning and maintenance services, and this is currently being discussed.”

In principle, a usual day for the Belmond Northern Belle set will be as follows:

* Following its mainline trip and return to the SVR, the train will enter the SVR mainly late at night and be stabled back on Carriage Siding 1 before our services begin in the morning.

* The set will be platformed after SVR daily services end, so that loading of the Belmond Northern Belle train can take place.

* An hour before its mainline departure time the set will have DRS locomotives attached and will move to the exchange ready for departure. This will mainly occur before our services start.

The Belmond Northern Belle operation will require the SVR to provide signalmen, 09 drivers and shunters who are available for working anti-social hours.


Nick explains more:

“This will not be a burden on working members, as these operations will be covered by paid staff. The costings of these positions have been considered and included in the budget for hosting Northern Belle. There’ll be more information in the coming weeks about the operation, cleaning and maintenance of the Belmond Northern Belle, how Kidderminster yard will be managed, and we’ll be recruiting for paid operational staff to cover night time operation.”

Working Members passes

2017 Working Members passes have been distributed, please be aware that last years passes will only be valid for discount in the Railway’s bars, buffets and shops until 16th March. After this date, you will need to produce a valid 2017 pass. Please contact Membership Secretary Kate Kirk on 01562 757930 if you have a query.

REMEMBER - Your Working Members Pass entitles you to many benefits, you can  see these on our benefits page.

Vacancies: Boilersmith and Fitter Machinist

There are permanent, full-time vacancies within Engineering Services at Bridgnorth for both a Boilersmith and a Fitter Machinist. If you’re both enthusiastic and skilled in heavy engineering, with a desire to work within the Heritage Railway industry, the Railway would like to hear from you.

The work includes low production volumes and the one-off manufacture and fitting of components applicable to maintaining and rebuilding steam locomotive boilers,chassis and associated pipe work. You’ll have a range of skills in a heavy engineering area, and experience of operating general machines including turning, milling, boring and drilling all on conventional machine centres, hot work including the use of welding and cutting equipment, along with general bench-work and fitting skills.


You will be apprentice-trained or qualified in engineering or equivalent with good fitting experience in re-build or overhaul in a heavy engineering field, competent to operate a range of traditional machine tools. Knowledge of locomotives is desirable but not essential.

Applications by CV and covering letter to Neil Taylor, Works Manager, Severn Valley Railway Engineering Services, Hollybush Road, Bridgnorth. Shropshire, WV16 5DT or email by 24 February 2017.

We are promoting these roles through our social media sites this month so please pass this information to anyone outside of SVR that you believe may be interested. There are full details on these exciting opportunities, at  Closing date is 24th February 2017.

New Head of Department appointments

Operations Manager Steven Chapple has announced the following appointments to Heads of Department roles by the SVR Guarantee Company Board, with immediate effect:

* Rob Starkey as Train Crew Manager

* Peter Davenport as Signalling Manager

Additionally, Lee Whittaker takes up the post of Station Master, Hampton Loade.

The interview panel included Nick Ralls (General Manager), Steven Chapple (Operations Manager), Jon Teuwen (Loco Crew Manager), Alan Longdon (Stations Manager/Director) and Jane Preece (HR Officer).

Steven adds:

“I would like to thank Mel Cook (Train Crew Manager), Russell Maiden (Signalling Manager) and Steve Dockerty (Hampton Loade Stationmaster) for their commitment and achievements in these roles previously, and to wish them well in their future SVR undertakings.

“We have recently advertised for Head of Travelling Ticket Inspectors and Senior Duty Officer. More details will follow on the successful candidates, after the next Guarantee Company Board meeting.”

Health club discount for Working Members

News of another discount deal for SVR Working Members.

Now you can get 15% off the standard tariff for membership at the Mercure Kidderminster’s Feel Good Health Club, thanks to an fantastic deal secured by the SVR Charitable Trust.


Click on the 'Benefits’ page included in this newsletter for more details and other exclusive offers for SVR Working Members.

HRA InterRail Pass 

Working Members, employees and directors have until Monday 6th February (tomorrow) to buy a Heritage Railway Association InterRail pass.


Costing £30, and valid for one year, the pass covers both the holder and a companion for travel on the majority of preserved railways and preservation sites in the UK. Please call in person at the Ticket Office at Comberton Place, Kidderminster, or phone 01562 757900, choosing option 1.

In Memoriam

We are sad to announce the death of Mike Parker (often affectionately known as FUT) this morning. Mike started on the railway in the late 1970s, worked in the Booking Office, as a TTI, and was an active member of the Bridgnorth Carriage and Wagon department. In later years as his health deteriorated, he set up and ran the sales coach for the Carriage and Wagon Department at Bridgnorth.


As well as his love of railways Mike loved buses and enjoyed his job as a bus driver being proud to have worked for Midland Red, although in later years he would always describe the word ‘work’ as swearing. Mike had been taken into Burton hospital on Sunday and died peacefully surrounded by his family this morning at 8.30am Details of the funeral are not yet known, but will be passed on once published. Our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time.

SVR Accountant Matthew Harris to retire

Announcing that SVR Accountant and Company Secretary Matthew Harris intends to retire in April this year, and relocate to Austria with his wife Denise, Nick Ralls pays tribute to Matthew’s contributions to the Railway:

“Matthew has made our financial practices more secure, robust and has dramatically improved reporting. He has always offered good counsel, and challenging opinion when required. Whilst I am very happy for Matthew and Denise who will be starting a new adventure, he will be missed at the SVR.”

Recruitment for the Accountant and Company Secretary position will begin shortly.

New faces fill vacancies at Comberton Place

In the past few weeks, the SVR has welcomed three new members of staff who have been recruited to fill vacancies at the Railway. HR Officer Jane Preece tells us more.


Shirley Ann Breed brings a wealth of experience to her role as Accounts Assistant, and accepted a permanent position at the SVR after working temporarily for two months. Shirley is part AAT- qualified and is a qualified legal cashier; she also has an OU degree in English Literature and Economics and has taken an entrepreneurial dive into crafting fabric lampshades which she sells at craft stalls and specialist events.


Stan Jones fills the part-time position of Marketing and Events Assistant. He has a BA in Business Administration and an MSc in Management and Marketing with distinction classification. Before joining the Railway Stan was the sales and marketing co-ordinator for a wind turbine manufacturer in Hartlebury. He has a passion for travel and some of the favourite places he’s visited include Rotterdam, Verona, Barcelona and Nice.


Sue Harris has been recruited as another Accounts Assistant. She’s AAT-qualified and has experience dealing with a wide variety of financial matters, including purchase ledgers and payroll. Sue is a keen walker and cyclist, and enjoys pursuing both these activities in Devon and the surrounding areas. I’m sure you will join me in welcoming these new starters to the Severn Valley Railway and wish them all the best in their new roles.

First Aid Training

With the 2017 season just a few weeks away now you have a number of members within your department that require First Aid training. The VLO are looking to arrange a number of sessions but need to know how many people require the training. Therefore could you please contact the VLO if you, or people in your department, require this training.

New reporting line for two-way radio faults

There’s now a dedicated phone line and voice mail system to report faults with the two-way radios based at Kidderminster and Bridgnorth signal boxes. It’s hoped this will improve the process for collection and repair, and ensure adequate working radios are available for shunting moves at both locations.


Train Crew Manager Rob Starkey explains how to use the service:

“If you have a problem with one of the devices, you can call internally on 581, or externally on 01562 757906, to leave your message. Please could you include a brief description of the fault, and say where you have left the radio for collection. It would also be helpful if you can attach a suitable label or note, such as a sheet of paper held onto the radio body with an elastic band, so that we can easily identify the item and the symptoms of the fault.”

New retail buying team is in place

A redefinition of roles within the retail team is now saving the Railway money in payroll costs across the retail area. At the same time it means new opportunities for team members who will have more ownership and responsibility.


Rather than recruit a new buyer to replace Ian Latimer who retired last year from his role, Heritage Support Manager Andrew Burton has developed a buying team from the existing staff. He explains more about how this will work:


“The new buying team members are Lesley Bayliss, Sara Griffiths, Angela Smith and Yvonne Coles. We have identified strengths and passions and are now working as a team in the buying responsibilities. We also are utilising volunteer skills across the Railway; recently Paul from Bridgnorth and Alan from Kidderminster helped with reviewing the Bachmann model train ranges. This gives us a combined resource, allows us to make decisions as a team, and helps to build understanding and ownership across all of the retail shops.”


Lesley Bayliss has taken on the retail administration in support of the computer and report work that’s essential for developing the shops, in addition to her supervisory role at the Kidderminster shop.


A recruitment drive for volunteers is also being launched with the support of the Volunteer Liaison Office. If you would like to find out more about what working in one of the Railway’s shops would entail, or you know someone who is interested, please contact one of the shop supervisors, or Barry Moreton in the Volunteer Liaison Office on 01299 401776 or email

 £900,000+ shares now sold for Bridgnorth, and news from on site

As Express Points went to press, 2016 Share Offer sales had passed the £900,000 mark. General Manager Nick Ralls appealed to working members to spread the word about the ambitious and important 'Building for the Future' project:

“We're very encouraged by the sales so far, but are appealing to Working Members to give the Share Offer a further boost by telling about it, and how they will enjoy travel benefits if they buy shares. More details are at .”

Work at the Bridgnorth site has got back into full swing now that the reinforced steelwork has been delivered. The sub-contracting firm that installed the piles is now back to cast the ground beams, and are preparing the ground with an excavator and dumper. More from Infrastructure Manager Chris Bond:

“We’re now holding meetings every month to talk about the various issues that arise, and we’re carrying out the valuation for monthly invoices. The Quantity Surveyor walks over the site and confirms that the work that’s being claimed for, has been carried out, and is to the required standard. We can then advise the Contract Administrator what the value of the payment certificate should be, and this validates the invoice so it can be paid.

“Earlier this month, work took place to prepare the way for the main utilities such as gas, electricity, telecoms and water, as well as the ducts that will carry the heating pipes. The heating boiler itself is going to be located in what has become known as the ‘Bovey Tracey’ building that will sit in the service yard at the rear. It will be a replica of a goods lock up that once occupied Bovey Tracey station on the GWR Moretonhampstead branch in Devon. As well as housing the boiler, it will act as an ambient food store for the buffet. If you Google Bovey Tracey, you will see the outline appearance of the original building that we’ll be basing our replica on.”

Veteran supporter pays tribute to the SVR

When Express Points received a message from Martin Long in Essex, we wanted to share it with our readers. Martin has been a member and shareholder of the SVR since the 1960s and his words pay tribute to the hard work and dedication of the thousands of working members who, over the years, have made the Railway what it is today. Over to Martin …


“I am so proud at what has been achieved in the years since I first visited the SVR. Being based in Essex, it is not easy for me to get to the Railway as much as I would like. (I really would love one of the chalets that adjoin the line for a bolt hole!)


“I wholeheartedly support the SVR Charitable Trust and hope that it achieves what it sets out to do. The various communications from the Railway are eagerly read and I only wish that I could be there too, to be part of the big adventure. I have a very deep affection for the Railway, having been a member since it started and a shareholder when I could afford to be! “I last visited the line in September last year. I always love coming over but it gets expensive with the hotel bills!”


Thanks for getting in touch Martin – there are lots of exciting events planned for 2017, and we hope to welcome you back to Railway soon.

The SVR needs your vote!

The Severn Valley Railway has been announced as a finalist in two separate categories in the 2017 ‘What’s On’ Readers’ Awards:


* Best Visitor Attraction, Shropshire

* Best Visitor Attraction, Worcestershire


Following the Railway’s huge successes in 2016, which included the visit of Flying Scotsman and the launch of the Bridgnorth Share Offer, to pick up two prestigious awards like these would just be the icing on the cake!

It’s all down to votes, and we need your help to win. Please register your vote and spread the word to friends and family.

Bewdley North Signal Box gets some TLC!

Richard Heap and the Signal Box Restoration Team gives us an update on progress.. The Junior Club spent Saturday 14th January scraping and rubbing down the lower paintwork in preparation for the repainting of the box into a Great Western 1930s colour scheme.  Their efforts saved the team many hours of work which has helped progress the refurbishment much faster, so huge thanks to the Junior Club and their Supervisors.


The repaint itself is coming along well with the ceiling completed and the back wall almost done.  Attention is now being turned to the sides and front of the box, as well as the fiddly window frames.  The plasterer is due next week to smash off and completely re-plaster the area by the fire and the train register desk as this became life-expired years ago!  Once the painting is finished, the box will be fully cleaned and a few improvements made to enhance the interior.  More on that in the March edition... 


Jordan Taylor’s request for signalling hand lamps has seen three donated so far, which will be refurbished as required and then put back to work.  Thank you to those who have donated these lamps!


Meanwhile, the other signal boxes are receiving a deep clean by another small band of volunteers so that they are ready for the new running season.

Thanks for reading!

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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 either Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) PLC. which owns the Severn Valley Railway, or Severn Valley Railway Company Limited, the members of which are responsible for its operation.

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