Bridgnorth Cliff Railway delays reopening after financial struggle
The UK's oldest cliff railway based in Shropshire has "no immediate plans to reopen" having felt the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Bridgnorth Cliff Railway had just incurred a five-figure cost from major engineering work less than a fortnight before being forced to close, and its owners said its long-term survival has been made a priority.
Usually depending on the summer tourist season to recover funds, the Covid-19 crisis has made this not possible.
Cliff railway chairman, Dr Malvern Tipping, said staffing had also been a concern, with a number of older employees and volunteers hesitant to return despite extra safety measures.
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Dr Tipping said: "As a result of the cost of that engineering, we would ordinarily have been very heavily dependent upon the summer traffic revenues to replenish our reserves. That is now not going to happen.
"My family and I are determined that our first duty is to try to ensure the long-term survival of the cliff railway rather than to concern ourselves with short-term considerations.
"Currently, our staff remain furloughed. Some are biting at the bit to get back to work at the cliff railway. However, some of our older employees are concerned about returning to work before the pandemic is over. The directors fully appreciate their concerns and intend to do all that they can to accommodate their anxieties.
"Therefore, the plan is that when the cliff railway does reopen, those older members of staff with concerns will be excused from work in the interim whilst the younger and fitter ones will be asked to fill the gaps."
The railway is yet to announce a date for reopening and has been busy ensuring it is safe when able to return.
Dr Tipping added: "There are no immediate plans to reopen the cliff railway. Our first duty is to the health and wellbeing of our staff. Steps are already in place to minimize any risk to them. When we reopen, I would anticipate that it would only be on weekends to reflect the likely demand from passengers.
"Although no plans have yet been formulated for reopening, we have been putting in place safety measures with the acquisition of safety wear for our staff, hand sanitisers for passengers and the provision of signage. Bridgnorth Print has already produced some bespoke signage for us. Other signage has been created and put on file should copies need to be printed."