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Gloucestershire Business News

Coronavirus stops trains on steam railway

15.35: Gloucestershire County Council is closing all council run libraries and community access points from Monday, March 23 until further notice, due to the current issues relating to Covid-19.

In addition, request services such as inter library loans and music sets will be suspended.

Library users can continue with normal borrowing until the closure on Monday and in order to mitigate the impact this may have during the closure period the following will be applied:

* No fines for overdue materials and overdue notifications will be suspended.

* Expiry dates for library cards will be extended so that users can continue to access online materials.

In addition a reminder that e-stock is available online - this covers e-books, e-audio and e-magazines.

These materials can be accessed from www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/libraries

GCC are also looking into how they can best support vulnerable users and those self isolating. According to the county council more information will follow on this.

EARLIER NEWS...

The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) has suspended its steam and heritage diesel train services with immediate effect, over its 14-mile line between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway.

The railway carried 125,000 passengers last year, making it one of the most popular attractions in the Cotswolds.

A special board meeting of the volunteer-run organisation - which has over 950 volunteers and just seven employees - reluctantly reached the unavoidable conclusion that the Government's definition of 'unnecessary travel' in the light of the Coronavirus pandemic included its trains, which are run for the enjoyment of visiting families and enthusiasts.

Richard Johnson, voluntary chairman of GWSR Plc said: "We are facing an extraordinary and fast-changing situation and a severe threat to public health. These are unprecedented circumstances and sadly we feel we have little option but to suspend train services.

"Our next two major events are affected: 'Wartime in the Cotswolds' (27th and 28th April) has been cancelled while the 'Cotswold Festival of Steam' (23rd -25th May), which would have featured up to four visiting locomotives, has been postponed.

"If the situation eases, we will instead run all available locomotives from our home steam locomotive fleet over the late May Bank Holiday weekend but, of course, nothing is certain. Other planned special events will be kept under close review as events unfold."

Mr Johnson also pointed out that volunteering on the GWSR was a popular occupation for many retired people.

"Over half of our volunteers fall into the Government's 'at risk' category as they are retired and if they are obliged to self-isolate, then it would seriously affect our ability to run the trains that everyone so enjoys doing," he added.

In an announcement to volunteers, Mr Johnson confirmed that the railway was taking the situation and the safety of both its volunteers and potential visitors seriously and said: "I am sure that with your support we shall soon be doing what we do best: running trains."

More information will be provided on the GWSR website as well as on social media. However, Mr Johnson warned that there was much misinformed comment circulating and that the railway's official sources should be checked for latest information.

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