Last year, the West Somerset Railway had severe financial and operational problems, which put the railway at risk. The money had run out, the track condition was getting worse and the ORR had concerns over the West Somerset Railway.
However, in the past few months, the railway has been undertaking a review on its entire operations and overhauling its finances.
The West Somerset Railway has said that ‘The Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway Trust seems governed in such a way that it meant they felt unable to assist us financially other than allowing the WSR to hold and retain the modest profits from the Real Ale Festival last year’
The West Somerset Railway has also said that the SDJRT acted like a ‘cuckoo in the nest’ during their crisis period, which the PLC found unacceptable.
As a result of this, they have given the railway a year’s notice to remove themselves from the Washford site.
Currently, the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust occupies some of the land adjacent to Washford railway station, and have done so for many years.
However, the West Somerset Railway has said that the rent the SDJRT pays is far lower than any other organisation occupying space elsewhere on the railway.
The WSR has a plan to develop the Washford site to meet their needs which will include P-Way vehicle and equipment storage, workshops and covered winter accommodation.
The S&D Trust has suggested they might seek to change the WSR’s Light Railway Order at Washford and operate the rail lines there separately. However, the WSR has said that they would object to this due to ‘concerns about how they have operated the site’.
Currently, SDJR 7F No. 88 (53808) is owned by the S&D Trust and is operated on a separate contract. The WSR has said that it is committed to this engine and proposes to honour this contract separately.
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