Covid delays restart of full operation on GWSR
By David Wood
Following the Government's decision to delay lifting of Covid restrictions, the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) will continue its present pre-bookable round trip services until 18th July*.
Trips are available from Toddington, Broadway and Cheltenham Racecourse stations. Winchcombe Station, Gotherington Halt and Hayles Abbey Halt remain closed.
The planned show in the Tim Mitchell Building, marking the 40 years since the formative GWSR was created to preserve as much as possible of the route of the former Stratford-upon-Avon to Cheltenham railway line, from which all track had been lifted, will go ahead from the 20th July.
Sadly, continuing restrictions mean that 'Posters from the Steam Age' - a show marking the life and work of the last great railway poster artist, Laurence Fish - scheduled for 10th and 11th July at Winchcombe Station - has had to be postponed. The railway has rescheduled the event for the weekend of the 18th and 19th September.
Richard Johnson, the volunteer chairman of GWSR Plc, said: "We fully understand and support the reasons why the Government has delayed the lifting of Covid restrictions. The safety of our passengers and volunteers of course comes first.
"If the lifting of restrictions goes ahead as the Government expects from 19th July then we will return to a normal timetable with all of our stations open, an improved train service, re-opened ticket offices and, of course, our usual warm summer welcome for all our visitors!"
He added that timetables and tickets will be published on the railway's website soon. Until 18th July, tickets should be pre-booked. Social distancing with wearing of masks on stations and in trains is still required.
The trains mostly comprise compartment coaches, bookable for between two and six passengers in a 'social bubble' and travellers can remove their masks when in their compartment. Open coaches are also included with limited seating available, for individuals and couples.
The railway's cafés at Broadway (for passengers and non-train visitors) and Winchcombe (for non-train visitors only) are also open for table service while the Flag & Whistle tea rooms at Toddington offer table service for light lunches as well as take-away snacks.
The pre-bookable services currently offered are:
- Round trips from Toddington station with departures at 10.00; 11.40; 13.20 and 14.40
- Round trips from Broadway station departing at 12.09 and 13.49
- Return trips from Cheltenham Racecourse to Broadway departing 11.00 (arrive 11.49), return departure at 13.49
There is limited availability for these new services and advance booking is encouraged at www.gwsr.com Subject to space being available, tickets (payable by credit or debit card) will also be offered from ticket offices but, if trains are already fully booked it won't be possible to travel:
"So it's best to book ahead online which can be done up to the day before travel," adds Richard Johnson.
Advance tickets for trains after 20th July are not yet available and travellers are urged to keep an eye on the website for updates.
There is free car parking at Toddington and Cheltenham Racecourse; there is a charge for the local authority-managed car park at Broadway. There are now electric car chargers at the Broadway car park, too.
*Subject to restrictions being lifted
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