The West Somerset Railway Association and West Somerset Steam Railway Trust’s ‘Rail Renewal’ appeal is now over the £75,000 mark and so 30% of the hoped-for total of £250,000 by 31 December for the next round of infrastructure works, so it could easily achieve a figure close to that target with gift aid by then, but the WSR Plc will be meeting any difference having signed off the £250K spend needed for rails, sleepers and track fittings, plus remedial repairs to bridges, monitoring embankments, formation repairs, drainage and some fencing. The WSR ‘family’ is actively looking to continue the fund raising, but the Plc has committed monies too, so any greater amounts raised means doing more than the minimum for compliance and so go above and beyond that. WSR Plc Chairman Jon Jones-Pratt is determined that the WSR is in control of ensuring that it does what’s needed to operate in the correct manner for 2020.
Jonathan’s plan is to make sure the WSR gets back to the higher 20 ton ‘Red’ axle weight as soon as possible, and the recent independent infrastructure review has been positive in this regard in the sense that it means the WSR is getting very well qualified on the subject and also gaining better understanding and knowledge of the line’s infrastructure and needs. The independent infrastructure review was designed to be a ‘traffic light system’ to highlight high, medium term and longer term priorities for works and has shown that the planned programme is achievable. An estimated figure of £400K is likely to be an annual investment requirement into the infrastructure that will be needed going forward for some time to come however.
Jonathan says “We have had good, independent infrastructure reviews, so I hope to be able to agree fairly soon that we will be back to ‘Red’ route activity for 2020, along with having all of our temporary speed restrictions’s removed. There is a lot of work taking place in the background and the positive news is that we have a signed off works plan in readiness for November 2019. All of this effort will pay off in dividends as the WSR embraces its journey of recovery and striving for excellence.”
He adds “I was also very proud to be asked to attend a future joint seminar with the Office for Road and Rail (ORR) at which I will have a 30 minute spot at the next Heritage Railway Association meeting, detailing the working relationship between the two of us and how a professional approach was delivered through all our challenges – 12 months on, we now have a very different Railway!”