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Coronavirus: Severn Valley Railway launches emergency appeal as future 'in jeopardy'

By Rory Smith | Bewdley | Attractions | Published:

One of the Midlands's largest tourist attractions faces an "uncertain future" after it was forced to close due to coronavirus.

Severn Valley Railway in Bridgnorth

Severn Valley Railway (SVR) Group has launched an emergency appeal across its three companies as cancelled events and railway closures have caused a "significant loss of income".

The business, which consists of Severn Valley Railway Ltd, Severn Valley Railway Holdings PLC and Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust Ltd, operates from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster and is not insured for disruption caused by the pandemic.

SVR general manager Helen Smith said that while government loans are available, they would put the railway into "significant debt".

She said: "The railway urgently needs your help. We rely heavily on the regular income from visitors to keep us running, but in light of government advice in response to the coronavirus crisis, we have found it both necessary and sensible to postpone all our train services and to close the Engine House Visitor Centre, our gift shops and our refreshment rooms until further notice.

"We have also taken the difficult decision to cancel many events, all of which were predicted to generate vital large-scale income to keep the railway running."

The disruption comes at a monumental time for the railway, which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary.

All Easter holiday activities as well as the Spring Steam Gala, Open House Weekend, Spring Diesel Festival and anniversary celebrations have been cancelled.

Mrs Smith added: "Without this income the railway faces a very uncertain future and although the government has announced various support measures for businesses, they offer insufficient help to the SVR at present.

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"We, like many other businesses, are not insured for business interruption caused by the pandemic and the only help currently available to us is through government backed loans, if indeed we qualify, which would put the railway into significant debt and would take many years to pay off.

"We therefore face a very significant loss of income, over an uncertain amount of time, which through no fault of our own could potentially put the whole SVR’s existence in jeopardy."

The emergency appeal can be found at svrtrust.org.uk/emergency

Rory Smith

By Rory Smith
Reporter - @rorysmith_star

Senior reporter based at the Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley, Telford.

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