Shropshire Star

Severn Valley Railway launches new Resilience Fund

The Severn Valley Railway (SVR) has launched another fundraising appeal as it attempts to shore up its financial future.

Published

Watch more of our videos on Shots!
and live on Freeview channel 276

Last April, the cash-strapped heritage railway launched a Survival Fund due to a “double whammy of escalating costs and lower revenue”.

At the time, bosses at the railway said they hoped to raise £1.5 million and warned that the “future for the railway will be at risk unless there is an urgent injection of cash”.

That fund has now been wound up after raising £500,000, which Managing Director Jonathan ‘Gus’ Dunster said has helped turn the railways fortunes around.

It is being replaced by a new 'Resilience Fund' aimed at supporting the railways operational resilience in the coming years.

“We are indebted to everyone who supported the Survival Fund," said managing director Gus Dunster. "It raised a very substantial £500,000, and has helped us turn things around from what was, without doubt, a time of crisis.

“We’ve now wound up the Survival Fund, but there’s still a long way to go before we can say we’ve fully recovered.

“We’re going to need ongoing support to meet our running costs for some time to come, so that we can build the railway’s resilience and confidence, and safeguard assets such as rolling stock and infrastructure.”

Mr Dunster has not said how much SVR hopes to raise from its new fund, which is being led by the SVR Company Limited, the railways volunteer-run company.

“Because we’re a volunteer company, we’re able to keep overheads to a minimum,” explained Diane Malyon, chair of the SVR Company Limited. “And that means we’ll be able to pass on to SVR (Holdings) every penny possible to support the Railway’s operational resilience, and to secure its future for many years to come.”

“The costs associated with running a heritage line can be very high,” continued Diane. “For example, the Railway has to spend £500 on coal for a steam locomotive’s return trip along 16-mile line, and a new set of points will be an eye-watering £10,000.

“Those are some of the higher costs, but donations of all sizes will help, and will be very welcome. A ton of granite ballast costing £25 will stabilise the track for example, and with £50 we can buy three litres of specialist paint for a locomotive or one of our heritage carriages."

Gus Dunster added: "We suffered a huge loss of income during Covid when we had to shut down for extended periods. And the current cost-of-living crisis has damaged visitor numbers, whilst the price of coal, diesel, electricity and everything else we need continues to rise.

“We’ve made massive savings with scrupulous spending controls and by reducing our paid staff numbers, and we’ve found new ways of earning income by undertaking contract work for main line railway companies. But operating the SVR is a costly business, and we need every bit of help we can find right now.

“Next year, we’ll be celebrating the 60th anniversary of the SVR pioneers coming together to save this wonderful line. Will we be running in another 60 years? We think so, and we hope we’ll get the support we need to achieve that ambition.”

​There’s more information at svr.co.uk, where you can also make a donation to the SVR Resilience Fund.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.