Swanage Railway prepares to undertake governance review

Dorset’s Swanage Railway is following in the steps of the West Somerset Railway by undertaking a complete governance review of both the Swanage Railway Trust (SRT) and Swanage Railway Company (SRC).

A letter signed by SRT chairman Gavin Jones and his SRC counterpart Liz Sellen was sent to members during May. It outlined the need for the review, stating the governance structures, which date back to the early 2000s, are not necessarily fit for today’s “larger and complex operation”.

Bulleid ‘Battle of Britain’ Pacific No. 34072 257 Squadron draws into Corfe Castle station as No. 6233 Duchess of Sutherland waits on the opposite road during the Swanage Railway gala on October 14. ANDREW P M WRIGHT

The letter goes on to highlight the risks associated with the levels of income (circa £3million per year) and trading margins, which “mean that even marginal adverse fluctuations in income can impact financial viability”.

It would seem the lesson of the West Somerset Railway, which came within a whisker of insolvency late last year, has been influential in the railway taking this action, along with a new governance code issued by the Charity Commission.

A review panel of seven people has been established under chairman Robert Patterson, who over the next few months will look at whether the SRT and SRC has the right governance/management structures, the right composition of skilled directors and trustees, and how the governance compares to recommended practice. The panel hopes to deliver its findings at the AGM this autumn.

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