The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway has announced that its best ever year in 2018 by a considerable margin.
Records tumbled in during the year, after Broadway station opened in March 2018 which increased the lines length to 14 miles and since then, many of the trains have been full to capacity.
Altogether, the railway’s steam and heritage diesel trains carried over 144,000 passengers, which compared with 101,000 last year, is an increase of 42.5%.
Tickets sold at the booking offices and online were up an amazing 49% to just over 125,300.
The railway is now closed for essential maintenance including replacing some worn track that has been in place since the 1980s and the steelwork for the Broadway footbridge steps will be installed. The break is also an opportunity for volunteers to smarten up stations and complete maintenance of the line’s carriages and locomotives.
For the 2019 season, trains will start running again on 9th March and the pay and display car park at Broadway station will be open and those travelling will get part of their parking cost discounted with purchase of a train ticket.
What did the officials say?
The GWSR’s volunteer commercial director, Colin Fewell, says:
“This success is astonishing and it has exceeded all of our expectations – we thought we might see a 20% increase in passenger numbers this year. Almost every aspect of the railway’s operation has seen significant growth – whether ordinary operating days or special events.
“Opening Broadway station was a very special occasion and it has changed the dynamics of the railway. All ticket offices have seen big increases in sales but before Broadway, less than a third of were sold at Cheltenham Racecourse. Now its 35%, accounting for some 40,000 tickets sold compared with 26,000 last year. Toddington still sells most tickets (43%) while Broadway accounted for 16%.
“We often see the first train out of Cheltenham filled to capacity as people head to Broadway for the day.
“Anecdotally, those running shops, pubs, restaurants and tea shops in this delightful village tell us the railway has made a noticeable difference to their takings. It’s clear that the railway is bringing people to Broadway without their cars and struggling to find a parking space.”
“It will be interesting to see what effect the car park has on ticket sales at Broadway.
“And do we expect to see a repeat of those numbers this year? I really don’t know. The novelty of Broadway station opening – which on some days saw passenger numbers almost double the previous year – won’t be repeated. But as the news spreads that the railway is now over 14 miles long and goes from somewhere to somewhere, we will certainly still be regarded as one of the leading tourist attractions in the Cotswolds.”
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