Interim Managing Director of the Severn Valley Railway, Jonathan Dunster, has been appointed in the role on a permanent basis.
Jonathan took up the interim role on the 1st March 2023 after Helen Smith announced she would be stepping down from the role.
Previous to the role, Jonathan was Avanti West Coast's Executive Director of Operations and Safety, but has been volunteering at the SVR for more than 30 years.
“This is great news for the railway,” said Chris Walton, the chairman of SVR (Holdings) Plc. “It's yet another step in stabilising our organization, as we continue to meet the many challenges we face.
“Over the past year, Gus has worked closely not only with me, but also the rest of the board, the senior leadership team and our paid staff and volunteers. He has made a huge contribution to the railway's operation, galvanizing the entire team, and putting many new measures in place to secure the future of the SVR.
“He has brought in new board members, who have significantly strengthened our leadership, and he has also been instrumental in forging the SVR's landmark partnership with Network Rail, the first of its kind in the UK. His experience and connections with main line rail companies continue to yield invaluable benefits for us, and enable us to secure diverse income streams, and benefits in kind.”
Commenting on his permanent role at the SVR, Gus said: “It's been a pleasure to be the SVR's interim MD for the past 11 months, as the railway works hard to counteract the long-term impacts of pandemic lockdowns, rocketing costs, and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis that threatens visitor numbers. It's still early days, but there's a very real sense that we are now firmly heading in the right direction. I want to pay tribute to everyone across the SVR who has ‘done their bit' in recent times. Despite the challenges we have much to look back on with pride from the 2023 season. I am very proud to be part of the team at this important time in our railway's history.
“I must reiterate the message that tough times still lie ahead. We cannot be under any illusion that things are ‘back to normal'. Like all heritage railways, we face continuing challenges, but I am confident we can meet these, if we all work together for the good of the SVR.
“As we approach our 60th anniversary in 2025, I hope everyone associated with the railway will share my optimism, and my determination to safeguard the SVR's future.”