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Gloucestershire Business News

Heritage railway can't wait to re-open for business

The Dean Forest Railway (DFR) re-opens for business on Saturday, April 17, thanks to the relaxation of rules around Covid-19 with the government's 'roadmap' guidance.

DFR's most recently restored carriage, M4923 (pictured) is waiting to carry its first passengers since returning in March from the specialist workshops of West Somerset Restoration at Williton Station, on the West Somerset Railway.

Defective metal was removed and rebuilt, mostly from the floor and body, the interior restored, the running gear overhauled and the electrics refreshed. Finally, after numerous undercoats, top coats and varnish, it came home by lorry in time for the new season - except this was delayed until April by the pandemic.

DFR's general manager Duncan Rowe said "Our carriages have never been in better condition. For visitors we will continue to operate a Covid-safe environment with one-way routing, a simplified take-away service at Whistles café, boarding only at Norchard Station and reserved seats purchased online. This means that passengers can remain socially distanced once they are aboard our freshly restored M4923 and all its sibling carriages."

Duncan continued: "Our staff and volunteers at the DFR can't wait to see visitors arriving and enjoying their rides on our heritage trains. This is what we are here for and to make sure everything goes well for our paying passengers we have used the previous weekend to run a rehearsal timetable.

"This will refresh the train crews in all the Covid-friendly procedures which we last deployed for our Santa Specials before Christmas."

Commercial manager James Graham added: "As a business, of course, we are also looking forward to earning our revenue again. This will mean that we can start to get going on our various development plans, especially our scheme for carriage sheds at Lydney Junction.

"It's a shame we've just missed Easter which is normally so busy for us, but like so many other businesses in the Forest we are looking forward to a great year if so many people decide to spend their holidays in the UK."

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