Shropshire Star

Severn Valley Railway in ‘stronger position’ in 2024 as boss aims to get attraction back on track

The boss of the Severn Valley Railway hopes the cash-strapped heritage line is on track for a stronger 2024.

Jonathan 'Gus' Dunster

Managing director Jonathan 'Gus' Dunster took on the role 12 months ago, when Severn Valley Railway (SVR) had to make a number of staff redundant and launched a "survival fund" as it faced financial challenges.

But the managing director says thanks to events such as the festive season's Diesel Day and the Winter Steam Gala, the heritage line was in a much better position as it heads into 2024.

Writing in SVR's monthly newsletter to members, Mr Dunster said he wanted to thank everybody that has helped "in keeping the SVR magic alive throughout 2023" in what he said were "the most challenging of circumstances".

He continued: "There is a lot for us to be proud about over the past 12 months - we have staged some stunning events and the visitor feedback on the Christmas season has been overwhelmingly positive. There is so much that we can celebrate."

He said the coming year is likely to still "present challenges" but added that SVR's survival fund is now nearly a third of its way to its £1.5 million target.

He said: "I’m sure 2024 will continue to present challenges for us and most other heritage railways. Let’s not forget that we’re still actively seeking donations to our Survival Fund, as it approaches £500,000.

"We’re working as hard as we can to deliver an impressive range of events, designed to appeal to all sectors of the market. Enthusiast events have been our strength in 2023, and we’ll make sure these are equally attractive in 2024.

"But we’re also putting together events that appeal to a family market, such as character events and our ever-popular 1940s weekends. And, you won’t have long to wait to see the railway back in action, as we’ll be open in February for the half-term holiday, and I very much hope to see you then.

"This year also sees two very important anniversaries for the railway; in May we’ll celebrate 50 years since the line extended to Bewdley, and in July we’ll mark 40 years since the opening of Kidderminster Town station.

"As we embark on this brand-new year, we can be confident that we are in a stronger position than we were a year ago."