33108 is seen soon after departing Hampton Loade with a Kidderminster bound service on the 21st April 2018, By Ian Murray
Welcome to your latest edition of
With the Railway now running seven days a week, and an exciting season of events lined up for 2018, it’s our pleasure to welcome you to the May edition of Express Points. This is the monthly digest of news, views and happenings across the SVR, compiled for working members.
This month we report on an impressive start to the SVR’s campaign to save Falling Sands Viaduct, including an appeal for volunteer ambassadors to visit local businesses and shops to help spread the word. Following recent press speculation about a Safari Park station being built by West Midlands Railways, general manager Nick Ralls clarifies the SVR’s position on the matter. Plus we have news on many of the restoration projects that are currently taking place, and a fascinating filmed insight into the recent Open House event which you won’t want to miss.
Why not let us know what’s happening in your part of the Railway, and send a photograph as well, and we’ll include your news in next month’s edition. We want Express Points to reflect the widest possible variety of news from, and we need your help to do that. Please send your contribution for the June edition to email@example.com by Thursday 31st May at the very latest.
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Simon Turner & Lesley Carr, Co-Editors
Picture by Ian Murray
A jam-packed month at Bridgnorth MPD
Shed master Martin White reports:
Easter has come and gone and so has Open House weekend. From the perspective of Bridgnorth Motive Power Department, the interest and feedback we received during Open House certainly showed that it was enjoyed by those who made the effort to attend. The boiler shop, in particular, was a great attraction, where people could get up close and see what is going on. Visitors saw for their own eyes that 75069’s boiler is almost ready to have the tubes fitted. Thanks to all the staff involved in setting up and stewarding the event. Just like the rest of the Railway, it takes a lot of time and effort, plus patience and the ability to talk a lot whilst the visitors come round!
From a steam loco perspective, we’ve just about managed to maintain the steam services in early 2018 by using some of the smaller locomotives double-headed, to fill the gaps due to a temporary shortfall of our usual larger locos. Double-headers wasn’t a panic measure, it had actually been planned for some months as we knew that we would be a little short of the larger locos at the early part of the season, thus far everything has gone pretty much to plan.
34027 re-entered service on 6th April, but was actually available as ‘spare’ loco during Easter week. 43106 came out of traffic at the end the day on 1st April and was back in service on 25th. It would have been back sooner had not both of the insurance company boiler inspectors been on holiday for the same week! Nevertheless, to achieve this timeframe took a considerable effort from the staff involved, in particular the boiler smiths.
2857 meanwhile has had some attention to the side rods as part of its intermediate overhaul along with one or two other minor jobs whilst it is being reassembled following its major valve and piston work. The return to traffic of the 2-8-0 is now very close following its test steaming.
Other work has included a number of general running repairs on 7802 and the tank locos. 813 has received its winter maintenance and had some pipework modifications made within the cab to rectify a brake problem. It has been successfully steamed and tested on a train.
In the boiler shop the front tube plate of 75069 is now riveted in place and the tubes are being prepared for fitting. The repair to the boiler for Isle of Man Railway No 15 has been completed and the boiler despatched back to them and a number of other small long-standing contract jobs are being finished off to get them out of the shop.
Having mentioned above the busy time that mid-week running brings, anyone who was around the SVR on Friday 20th April might have been expecting a quiet day. However, this was not the case as there were three footplate experience trains operating, plus an observation saloon charter, hence four steam locos in use. Additionally, at Bridgnorth both 7802 and 813 were in steam moving around the yard and station undergoing testing. That made six locos in steam, plus the class 33 diesel returned the 30 ton steam crane to Bridgnorth after a few days of P-Way work earlier in the week. Not bad for a day when no public trains were operating!
Superb early response for Falling Sands appeal
The Railway launched its ‘helping hands for Falling Sands’ appeal in April, and donations have come in thick and fast. Nearly 800 people have already signed up to add a name to the SVR’s first ever donation wall, and together with contributions from grant-making bodies and businesses, this means the SVR has raised £80,000 as we go to press. The Charitable Trust is leading the appeal to repair Falling Sands Viaduct on behalf of the Railway, and director Shelagh Paterson is delighted with the progress:
“We are thrilled that so many people have already given us their support, and are looking forward to creating our specially commissioned donation wall which will go up in The Engine House Visitor Centre at Highley next year. However, there’s a long way to go to reach our target of £275,000. This is the amount that the Heritage Lottery Fund expect us to contribute, to match the £1million that we are bidding for from them.
“We urge everyone who cares about the SVR’s future to get involved and sign up for the donation wall to save the viaduct. For £50, you can add your own name, a friend or family member’s, or a name in memory of a loved one. Perhaps you could persuade the company where you work to get involved? We also have an option for businesses to add their names to the wall.” It’s easy to sign up for the donation wall online at www.svrtrust.org.uk , where you can watch a film about the ‘helping hands for Falling Sands’ project.
NB: Later in this edition, we've news of a recruitment drive for volunteers to spread the word about 'helping hands for Falling Sands' to local shops and businesses.
Clarification about potential Safari Park station
There has been recent coverage in the press about West Midlands Railways’ intention to build seven new stations, including one at the Safari Park Halt, subject to feasibility studies.
General manager Nick Ralls has responded to this from the SVR’s point of view, saying “The situation has not changed from that described at this March’s Question and Answer session for working members. A concern was raised over a possible relationship with a mainline operator and mainline trains using SVR track. We said then that whilst discussions have taken place with a mainline train operating company, it is only to explore possibilities. No decision will be taken in isolation and would require consultation prior to any decision being taken to the Holdings Board.
“This statement is still correct, and again I would like to reassure working members and supporters that consultation would be undertaken before any such agreement was to be considered by the Holdings Board.
For absolute clarity the SVR is not involved in any feasibility study at this time.”
Volunteer Thank You Evening
This year’s event will take place on 16th June, 6.30-10.30pm at The Engine House Visitor Centre. Tickets will be available from all SVR booking offices and from the Volunteer Liaison office in Bewdley from the middle of May, on production of your 2018 working member’s pass.
The Volunteer Thank You Evening is jointly funded by the SVR Holdings Company PLC and the SVR Company Ltd (The Guarantee Company) and is organised by the Staffing Committee and Nicky Vale of The Engine House. It’s an informal evening where volunteers from all areas of the SVR family can get together for a social occasion, with a special train laid on from each end of the line, food and drink funded by both companies. The aim is to provide a ‘thank you’ to as many volunteers as possible. Included with the free tickets are a pig roast, vegetarian option and salads, and two free drinks vouchers per person to be exchanged at the bar.
Tickets MUST be obtained in advance and will be the only means of admission. Each member of staff will be entitled to a maximum of two free tickets on a ‘first come first served’ basis.
Helston Railway joins the SVR’s reciprocal travel scheme
Phil Ralls, the SVR’s reciprocal travel officer writes:
I'm pleased to announce that Helston Railway in Cornwall has joined our reciprocal travel scheme. It is appreciated that they are in their 'infancy' as a heritage railway but already they are planning a one-mile extension. Working and retired working members who wish to visit Helston should show their pass at the booking office to obtain a travel ticket. Happy travelling!
Click here for details of all the heritage railways in the reciprocal travel scheme https://www.svrlive.com/reciprocal-travel
Even more luxury for 7960
The Charitable Trust-owned kitchen diner composite has recently received a curtain upgrade, thanks to the fundraising efforts of the Friends of Kidderminster Station Group. Through collections and donations they’ve raised enough to re-curtain both the dining sections of the carriage, providing a welcome upgrade on the previous hand-me-down window coverings.
7960 is currently used to accommodate the Railway’s afternoon tea and morning coffee services. Although these do tend to be booked up very quickly, there are still limited seats on some of this season’s departures from Bridgnorth. You can book tickets at http://www.svr.co.uk/RestaurantCarIntro.aspx
Photo: Michael Howard
Improve your awareness of working at height safely
The SVR has requested that all operation staff watch its recently released ‘working at height awareness’ video, then undertake a short online assessment to check understanding.
The video was commissioned following a request from Steve Turner, an inspector from the Office of Road and Rail, for the Railway to offer ‘tool box’ talks to its staff on working at height. This activity is commonly undertaken across the Railway by staff, but on occasion best practice may not be followed. The SVR’s video, which you can access at www.svrlive.com/wah highlights:
* What working at height is
* Common misunderstandings about working at height
* Considerations that should be made when working at height
* Awareness of working at height in a heritage railway environment
Wheelchair diner conversion gets underway
Staff at Kidderminster Carriage & Wagon have started intensive work to convert coach 80776 into a first class wheelchair diner. They’re currently stripping out and dismantling some of the walls. They’ll be installing a cleverly designed zigzag arrangement of tables, to allow the maximum amount of flexibility for combining wheelchair diners and varying numbers of non-wheelchair users.
Twenty years ago, the SVR converted this same coach was into a wheelchair accessible vehicle, the first one to go into service on any heritage railway.
Its current restoration and upgrade is part of a larger project to enhance the SVR’s accessibility. The Charitable Trust successfully secured £75,000 of funding from the Department for Transport towards the project.
Photo: Richard Herington
Visits to the Diesel Depot
Roland Bull, the manager of the Traction Maintenance Depot (Diesel Depot) in Kidderminster writes:
Over the last year the interest in Kidderminster TMD has increased and there has been a significant increase in people visiting the site, often without prior arrangement. Kidderminster TMD is a working engineering environment, with many potential hazards. Therefore with this in mind all visits need to be organised in advance, this includes all staff. This will allow for the necessary safety briefing to take place. To arrange a visit please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Phil Blann photography
Tony Fielding elected as zone rep for Bridgnorth
The chair of the staffing committee, Diane Malyon, announced the election of Tony Fielding as Bridgnorth zone rep:
“Congratulations to Tony who received 71% of the votes cast, and thanks to all three candidates for being willing to put themselves forward.
“Working Members Zone Representatives 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 can also support working members as a companion during formal hearings, for example disciplinary, grievances and appeals. Zone reps are active members of the staffing committee, which reports to the SVR Company Ltd (the Guarantee Board.)”
You can contact Tony in person or by email at email@example.com , or in writing via his (new) pigeonhole in Bridgnorth Booking Office.
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 http://www.svrlive.com/reciprocal-travel for full details.
We have received the sad news that Colin May passed away last month. Colin was a much respected volunteer with the Bridgnorth Permanent Way team, where he had been based since joining the SVR a few years ago. Colin’s funeral took place at 2.50pm on 11th May at Stourbridge Crematorium. We send condolences to Colin's family at this sad time.
Barry Moreton, VLO
Open House film
Railway enthusiast and film maker Sam Birchall of Sammy B Videography spent a number of days around the SVR, capturing the interest and excitement of last month’s Open House event. Sam moved to the Bridgnorth area from south London six years ago, and is clearly hooked on heritage rail! See his film at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTNAOLaELM4
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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.