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.
“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.