Full steam ahead as workers prepare Severn Valley Railway for reopening

Staff are being recalled and preparation work is underway at Severn Valley Railway ahead of its reopening next month.

Apprentice Bradley Windridge works on the signal box at Severn Valley Railway
Apprentice Bradley Windridge works on the signal box at Severn Valley Railway

The heritage railway attraction ran its last passenger service on March 15, and is set to reopen on August 1, albeit with a "very different" look.

As the locomotives are cleaned and woodwork repainted, staff have also been putting in extra measures to ensure the safety of railway workers and customers.

Chris Thomas, Bridgnorth station master, said the team are making up for lost time.

"We're trying to catch up on three and a half months of nothing," he said.

"We've been doing a lot of weeding, cleaning, scrubbing down, painting and repairing.

Station master Chris Thomas up the ladder, is helped by staff preparing Severn Valley Railway

"We're not open for passengers until August 1 and when that happens it'll be a very different railway. We'll be doing all bookings in advance and each party of up to six people will have their own compartment.

"Incoming trains will have to be met and unloaded in sequence so you don't suddenly get hundreds of people milling about on a platform."

Making sure staff and customers are safe will be a priority for the railway, which will operate with a one-way system.

Chris added: "I'm relieved things seem to be getting a bit better, although I'll reserve the excitement until things get a lot better – it's going to make things quite a lot harder.

"I think every business is going to be affected. Everyone has been hit in some way and everyone will have to make changes to how they've been working, it's just a completely different world now."

Station master Chris Thomas chats to fitter Steve Llewellyn

Despite the added pressure businesses and tourist attractions are facing, the railway reported an "overwhelming" and "fantastic demand" for tickets upon opening sales for the first half of August earlier this week.

"We certainly had a very good response," said Chris. "A lot of people are quite keen to get out, but at the same time we're quite keen to make sure we can do it safely.

"We have to bare in mind a lot of our help is from volunteers, they do it for love not for money, so we've been going very gently on recalling them back.

"We've only been bringing people back as we need them. Obviously people have been working on the track and making sure the signalling system is spot on.

"The locomotives are being tested and returned to service and carriages are going through brake tests.

"Among other things, we've just been making sure all the public areas are clean, tidy and have a working one-way system."

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