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Gloucestershire Business News

The train not departing...steam runs out again for GWSR

The latest government lockdown has also stopped the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway's (GWSR) trains in their tracks once again.

With immediate effect, no trains are running over the 14-mile Cotswolds railway until further notice.

Graham Radband, the railway's volunteer commercial director, said: "This is a real blow and the worst possible news for the railway, for our 950 volunteers and for the public who enjoy travelling through the Cotswolds with us.

"On Sunday night our steam locomotives were once again put away in the locomotive depot at Toddington and left to go cold for at least another month.

"Our planned services for the weekends of November will not be taking place and we will be in touch with the hundreds who have booked tickets."

The railway's Santa Experience trains announced last month are planned to take place once the lockdown ends.

Striking an optimistic note, Mr Radband said: "We are hopeful that we can operate special trains from Toddington to Winchcombe for families to see Santa in person - although social distancing means that they can't get up as close and personal as in the past.

"Our volunteer Santa team has been working flat out to ensure that Winchcombe station is transformed to 'North Pole' station in time for Santa Experience trains to run. The gifts, for which our railway is justifiably famous, are ready and we look forward to seeing Santa giving them to deserving children!"

Tickets will soon be available on www.gwsr.com  but if lockdown is extended the planned operating days could be cancelled too. 

But, said Mr Radband: "We have to expect that lockdown will end as the government plans so that we are ready to run trains again as soon as we are able."

The first lockdown saw the railway's trains stop on 15 March, not resuming until 15 August but with much reduced capacity, taking into account the need for social distancing.

The service has been a success and has covered operational costs, but the railway will have lost a full six months of its operating season.

Last month, the railway benefited from a grant of up to £318,000 under the government's Culture Recovery Fund. 

Mr Radband added: "This is a real lifeline for the railway. Whatever happens it will help us to pay the bills, continue vital maintenance and be ready next year when, hopefully, restrictions will have eased and we can welcome the public back to enjoy the 'Friendly Line in the Cotswolds'."

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