The coronavirus pandemic has forced the closure of the Severn Valley Railway, one of the country’s leading heritage attractions. In a turn of fortunes however, the railway’s emergency appeal has already raised more than £100,000.
The fundraising campaign, launched on March 20, aims to raise £250,000 to keep the Severn Valley Railway ticking over during its enforced closure.
Severn Valley Railway Holdings plc chairman Nick Paul CBE said: “To have reached the £100,000 milestone already is absolutely tremendous. This shows how important it is for many people who love the Severn Valley Railway to have something to hold onto, a hope for the future when the Railway will be able to return as strong as ever.
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“With the Railway now closed, visitor income has disappeared. We don’t know how long this situation will continue. Furthermore, it comes on the back of the flooding a few weeks ago, and the fact that we had to close the line between Kidderminster and Bewdley because of essential repairs to Falling Sands Viaduct. The consequent 75% drop in passengers in our first weeks of operation this year meant we were already up against things.”
Severn Valley Railway general manager Helen Smith added: “We’ve pared our running costs back as far as possible, with most of our paid staff furloughed under the Government scheme to underwrite 80% of salary costs.
“Plus we won’t have to pay business rates for the next year. But even with these measures, we need to find £250,000 to pay for minimal essential staff cover to maintain the security of our stations and engineering workshops and protect the Severn Valley Railway’s world-class heritage rolling stock. We must also carefully develop a recovery strategy so that we can be ready to open again, when the time is right.
“Thank you so much to those who have supported us so far – each donation and share purchase is moving us nearer to securing the survival of the Severn Valley Railway.”
There’s full information about making a donation or purchasing shares on the Railway’s website, www.svr.co.uk, and card payments can be made over the phone on 01562 757902.