This months cover image of 7714 departing Bewdley by Kenny Felstead.
Picture by Kenny Felstead
Welcome to your March edition of
The 2017 Season is officially underway, and the Railway welcomed visitors of all ages throughout the recent half term holiday. As we gear up for the Spring Steam Gala later this month (17th-19th March) two new exhibitions have opened at the Engine House, Highley which are well worth making time to go and see.
Also in this edition, we've news of a very helpful temporary visitor to the SVR and a fleet of Seacow wagons that will be arriving soon to boost the P/Way department's capabilities. Plus some restoration updates, insights into what's been happening across the Railway, and important safety information for Working Members.
You can send us an update from your department or even just give us feedback on our new look by contacting us.
Support the SVR share offer
As sales of shares in the current share offer move ever closer to £1 million, and preparation work continues at Bridgnorth, the Railway is asking for further help to complete the transformation of the station into a northern terminus of which everyone can be proud.
Company Secretary Matthew Harris explains how the appeal is now being extended to shareholders with smaller holdings:
“We’ve undertaken a mailing campaign to people with holdings of between 50 and 99 shares, and who therefore aren’t receiving any annual travel benefits. We’re encouraging them to take up the new share offer, with a minimum purchase of £100. This will mean they’ll be entitled to at least one free ticket a year, currently worth £19.80, or more if they buy a larger quantity of shares.”
TLC from LNER Group for GWR Toad Van!
Members of the LNER Carriage Group continue to carve out time from their other duties to restore GWR Toad Brake Van 17410. Group newsletter editor and fundraiser Richard Hill clearly has a mischievous twinkle in his eye:
“As part of our missionary work here, deep in Great Western territory, we do have to use every opportunity to maintain the honour of the service from the drier side of Britain, so here’s the new tail lamp bracket demonstrating its usefulness with a lamp of LNER design!”
On a more serious note, the group has now received some excellent castings for the van’s new trunnions and drawbar guides. These were an essential expense in order to replace the life-expired, heavily rusted and cracked originals. Have a look at the ‘before-and-after’ photos if proof is needed!
Project manager Richard Gunning says:
"Producing the casting was made possible through a significant donation from one of our stalwart supporters, and on behalf of us all I'd like to offer him our profound thanks. However, we do still need more donations to allow us to complete the Toad’s restoration, and we’d love to hear from anyone who can help, especially dare I say it, the ‘Swindon brigade’!"
Working with the SVR Charitable Trust, the Group has raised almost £4,000 but needs more funds in order to complete the restoration of the Toad. You can download a Toad donation form to make your contribution. To whet your appetite for what it’s going to look like when the restoration is complete, here’s link to a video showing the Toad at work back in 1990. The guard on this particular goods train was the late Roger Stubbs.
The SVR looks to the Balkans for authentic materials
Work continues at Bridgnorth to bring coach 4399 back into service as a wheelchair carriage, and the restoration team are casting far and wide for the right materials, as project supervisor Hugh McQuade explains:
“We buy our lino from a wholesaler in Kettering, and found that the pattern we wanted had been discontinued a few years ago. However, they looked further afield to help us in our quest for authenticity. We wanted the closest match possible to a green speckled pattern used in the 1950s. Working with a manufacturer in Croatia, our supplier has managed to source a vintage, oil-based lino that fits the bill, and we’re currently awaiting delivery.”
The team has reinstalled the original steam heating units, and is in the process of varnishing veneer panels for the southern vestibule so that these can then be refitted. The Bridgnorth volunteer team works its magic on Wednesdays and Saturdays, with help from various apprentices from the Heritage Skills Training Academy as they rotate through their placement at the Kidderminster paint shop. Additionally, staff members James Broughton and trainee Ronan O’Brien are renovating components at Kidderminster during the week, and volunteering at weekends in their own time, to expand their skills.
4399 is owned by the SVR Charitable Trust and is one of two coaches that will be converted for wheelchair use in a Department for Transport-funded project. The Charitable Trust was awarded £75,000 by the DfT towards the project, which include converting coach 80776 into a first class wheelchair-accessible dining car.
Talent hunt as SVR gears up for 2017
The Railway is looking to fill a number of paid vacancies as it gets ready for the 2017 season. Could there be something here for you, or someone you know? Click on the job title for further details.
Collect Logs : Save Money
Even though the Railway was closed, and a re-laying operation taking place on the section north of Hampton Loade, the P/way department at Bewdley got the relevant permission to run a train.
More on this from Assistant Stationmaster Dai Phillips:
“We somehow managed to pick one of the coldest Saturdays of the winter to take out a log collection train, but it was worth it. We were retrieving a great deal of the wood that had previously been cut down by lineside working parties. We’ll use the logs we collected for the fires in the waiting room and booking office, and we’ll save on the cost of coal by doing so.
“I’d like to say many thanks to everyone involved on the day, not forgetting wagon department for letting us use the vehicles.”
New safety guidance for all staff
The General Manager has issued new guidance for staff concerning safety across the Railway. This includes the correct procedure for reporting incidents and accidents, an alert about changes to the SMS-POL-143 Age Limits for Safety Critical Roles, and a reminder about the need for all electrical equipment used at the Railway to be PAT tested by the SVR.
Safety Advisors Mel Cook and Ray Stilgoe advise the General Manager and the Directors on safety issues and requirements, and can assist with staff training. Any member of staff can contact them for safety advice. The Safety Team has a number of members with safety experience and qualifications who will assist with monitoring safety.
Safety Audits will take place on a rolling programme at all SVR premises by the Safety Team, and will include general safety, fire safety, reviews of records and assessments, and other safety issues as necessary. Department managers will receive notice of audit inspections and convenient dates organised. The Safety Team will carry out general monitoring of safety standards. Auditing is not designed to catch people out, but is undertaken to help improve our safety practices.
Safety Incident/Accident Reporting It is essential that accidents and incidents are reported in accordance with SVR policies. Form ‘FRM-0031 Incident Report’ should be completed, and all relevant evidence gathered and recorded promptly. In the first instance, departmental managers will be responsible for accident and incident investigation, but can request assistance from the safety advisors if necessary.
Statistics will be collated and circulated periodically by Notice Board Issues.
General Information * The email address for any safety advice or correspondence is email@example.com
* Safety Advisors’ telephone numbers are available from the SVR main office at Comberton Place on 01562 757900.
* It is essential that SVR premises and procedures are maintained to comply with current legislation. Penalties for non- compliance can be severe and could, in extreme circumstances, compromise the operation and future of the Railway.
* All members of staff are requested to ensure their own safety and that of colleagues.
Two further reminders:
* SMS-POL-143 Age Limits for Safety Critical Roles was amended last year and significant changes made to age limits and medical requirements. Please check with your department management if you require any information or clarification on this issue.
* Electrical Items and Equipment used on SVR premises must be authorised by the department manager. Electrical items must be subjected to SVR PAT testing. Any items not meeting these criteria must not be used on SVR premises.
Bunks at Bridgnorth
As the full running season approaches, there’s a reminder from the Bridgnorth Accommodation Committee about how to go about booking a volunteers’ overnight bunk. You can make your booking by email using firstname.lastname@example.org , or by phoning 01746 764361, between 10.00 a.m. and 4.45 p.m. On weekdays this number will be diverted to the Kidderminster office and a member of staff will note your request details. At weekends, your call will be dealt with directly by the on-duty Booking Office Staff at Bridgnorth.
As always the Reservations Book itself will continue to reside in the booking office lobby at Bridgnorth, and volunteers are at liberty to write in their requirements themselves.
However you choose to book, you will need to supply your name, arrival date, the number of nights you require, a contact telephone number, and where you would like to collect your key (usually the Railwaymans Arms) Rates are currently £3 per person per night. When you vacate your compartment please return the key(s) and any money due via the drop off box next to the shower room door, using the envelope system currently in practice. Overnight accommodation at Kidderminster, Bewdley and Arley is also available, and later this year there will be accommodation at Hampton Loade. Please book these locations through the Volunteer Liaison Office , 01299 401776, or contact the relevant Station Master.
The accompanying photo is of the NRM's Seacow bogie ballast hopper, number DB 982896, and is shown for illustration purposes only. This image is courtesy of Shildon & District Town Crier, licensed for reuse.
A fleet of Seacows on its way to the Railway
The Railway has bought six Seacow wagons from DB Schenker to help with the annual track re-lay and ballasting operations. Five of these of these ballast hoppers will be used by our Permanent Way teams with one as a spare. General Manager Nick Ralls is delighted with the purchase:
“The greater ballast capacity of the Seacow over the Herring and Dogfish hoppers will be very advantageous, and we are very grateful for the generosity of one of our long-time supporters, who has both secured and financed the purchase of the wagons.
As a working Member, remember to click on the 'Benefits’ page included in this newsletter for exclusive offers and benefits!
Here’s a visitor that’s more than welcome!
The Railway is playing host to this modern tamping machine, which comes complete with the added benefit of two weeks’ fully staffed service on the track, and best of all, there’s no cost to the SVR.
The great deal comes courtesy of Colas Rail, whose operatives are gaining experience using this impressive piece of equipment on the Severn Valley line. During their stay with us, they’ll tamp track at various locations.
Infrastructure manager Chris Bond explains how it works:
“For those unfamiliar with tamping machines, their purpose is to pack ballast under the sleepers using vibrating metal tines. On-board monitoring equipment measures the section of track to be tamped, and records the existing state of the track geometry. The computer then works out the necessary corrections in three dimensions in order to put the track back to the required specification. The machine returns to the start of the measured length and advances one sleeper at a time, packing the ballast by the right amount to achieve the desired result. Generally this means a smoother ride for both our rolling stock and, of course, our passengers.”
It’s all good news for the Railway, and the three miles of track that will be tamped includes a second tamp of Waterworks Straight, which was re-laid during the winter closure period. Not bad for absolutely nothing!
Storm Doris fails to dampen Bridgnorth spirit
Although the weather continues to throw extra challenges at the onsite team, progress continues as Infrastructure Manger Chris Bond describes:
“Despite the efforts of storm Doris to disrupt both the UK and our project, work at Bridgnorth has carried on regardless! The heavy rain that has continued to fall has left the site rather muddy, but the sub-contractors continue to make good progress. Each day they’re lacing together another section of the reinforcing to form more of the ground beams. Some of these have already been cast.
“We’ve had further deliveries of the timber and plywood that will be used to build the shuttering, in anticipation of further deliveries of concrete. This work will carry on until all the ground beams are completed. Preparation will then be made to create the building slab that will sit on top.”
Good news from the shops, buffets and bars
The Railway has seen a number of developments and improvements this past month across the shops, buffets and bars, and it’s already coming through in the sales figures. Remember, you can get discount in the shops and buffets using your Working Member’s pass.
Starting with the shops, and Kidderminster and Highley are now stocking brand new SVR-branded products, including a new range of clothing. This has gone down very well with customers, and during half term there was a 100% uplift in sales compared with the same week in 2016. There are exciting new men’s, women’s and children’s designs in polo shirts, tee shirts and caps, and the range will be further extended in the coming months. A members-only polo shirt is also planned and should be available very soon. The shops are selling a much larger range of SVR-branded gifts and food, and the new cuddly toys range has gone down a storm with younger visitors during December and the recent half term holiday.
Meanwhile, revamped menus in the buffets are now focusing on quality and choice, supported by chefs recruited throughout last year. The favourites are still in place, but there’s now improved choice across the Railway.
The King & Castle in Kidderminster has started serving food, a move that visitors have welcomed, whilst at Bridgnorth, the Railwayman’s Arms has won the regional CAMRA Pub of the Year Award. According to Heritage Support Manager Andrew Burton:
“The beers at Bridgnorth are outstanding and the CAMRA award was a well deserved accolade. Both the Railwayman’s Arms and the King & Castle have some great beers and a wide range of other drinks. A visit to both of the SVR’s pubs is a must for any visitor this year!”
Exhibition openings at the Engine House
Make time to visit the Engine House, Highley to see two brand new exhibitions, with a third is on its way later this month.
The Art of the Railway Poster tells the story of how the ‘big four’ railway companies looked for ways of promoting travel by train to the general public, and it showcases some beautiful original posters of the era.
Meanwhile, Signs of the Times is a fascinating display of London Underground and Great Western Railway signs, on loan courtesy of London Transport Museum and Kidderminster Railway Museum.
The third exhibition 2007 Storm Damage - 10 Years On will open in time for the Spring Steam Gala (17th-19th March) . There's been a fantastic response of memories and anecdotes from working members and the public, and this exhibition will look at the damage inflicted on the Severn Valley Railway by a freak weather event in summer 2007, and the extensive work and funding needed to rebuild our wonderful railway.
All three exhibitions will run at the Engine House until the end of this year.
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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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Last year’s lessons help shape 2017 working timetables
Operations Manager Steven Chapple has announced that the 2017 working timetables have been created after receiving feedback from around the Railway and taking into consideration any issues arising with the 2016 WTTs. The new timetables have been presented to the Board, and agreed.
Full details of Steven's announcement are on other pages of svrlive.com, and here is a summary of the main principles informing the 2017 working timetables:
* Avoiding where possible operating both and FE and Private Charter on the same day.
* The timetables are based on one master timetable with variants of that created to accommodate additional trains such as Footplate Experience and Private Charters.
* All trains (service, diner and charter) have been pathed to standard timings and have additional dwell time at stations built in to assist in making up time if the service runs late.
* During the quieter months the stock diagramming has been designed to accommodate more use of smaller locomotives (7714 and 1501) to work the trains from the south end of the railway. Maximum train lengths have been agreed with MPD.
* One area of feedback was that it was confusing to have a number of different WTTs on one timetable, such as the variants dependant on whether or not FEs were operating. So, the 2017 WTTs have a number of variants depending on what additional services are running. A specific WTT letter and number has been given, eg WTT A1 is a standard Mid-week, WTT A2 is Mid-week plus FE.
* To create a regular pattern of departure times from Kidderminster the turnaround times have been reduced. Many passengers join the SVR at Kidderminster in order to visit the rest of the line and this is reflected in the longer lay over period at Bridgnorth so that passengers can explore the station and surrounding attractions.
* Because of the shorter turnaround at KR, watering facilities in Platform 1 will be upgraded.
* Dining trains – The Severn Valley Limited set (set S) has been reduced to four coaches during the week in order to allow the railway to operate smaller locomotives such as 813. On Sundays, the ‘Limited’ will have two additional vehicles added to the train to allow three coaches for standard passenger accommodation, following feedback that this will assist in reducing the gap in the passenger service. Also where possible the set will run as six coach length train, to allow the use of smaller motive power such as 7714 and 1501.
* With the potential increased use of Kidderminster station and yard areas, the WTT has been created so that on a standard service the station can be operated with one platform.