After four-and-a-half months in lockdown, Severn Valley Railway welcomed the return of passengers over the weekend.
The first service, hauled by GWR 2857, left Kidderminster town station at 10.15am on Saturday with hundreds of excited visitors on board.
It was the first public service the heritage railway had been able to run since mid-March, and it represented a huge achievement for the volunteers and paid staff.
General manager Helen Smith spoke of relief and pride:
“It has taken an incredible effort from everyone across the Railway to pull together and deliver this new excursion experience for our visitors, and it’s just what we needed to get back open again in a controlled manner to ensure visitor and staff safety. We’ve witnessed a sea of smiling faces, and this tells us we’ve got it right.
“This doesn’t mean all our problems are solved because we still have a mountain to climb. Not only do we have a large business interruption bank loan to pay back, but we also need to work hard to make sure everyone adheres to the social distancing regulations, so we can protect our staff and visitors, and start to make money again.”
The reopening services were sold out and the railway says that sales for the rest of reopening week are looking very healthy. Whilst they’re encouraging advance booking, there may be some on-the-day places available.
The Railway is running three excursion services every day. One from Bridgnorth at 10.45am and two from Kidderminster at 10.15am and 10.45am. Travel is within a private compartment, seating up to six people at £75 per compartment. There are concessions for shareholders, loyalty pass holders and SVR members.