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Severn Valley Railway looks to carry ‘buoyant’ start into Easter (2nd April 2012)

AFTER the best start to a new season since 2008, the Severn Valley Railway rolls out its busiest steam train timetables for the forthcoming Easter bank holiday weekend, optimistic that the buoyant passenger figures it has seen so far can be maintained.

The Kidderminster-to-Bridgnorth steam heritage line saw a 62 per cent increase in visitor figures at its three-day Spring Steam Gala (March 24th  - 26th ), with almost 4,200 paying passengers, and has recorded a record number of advance bookings – more than 3,600 at the latest count  - for its two ‘Day out with Thomas’ weekends on March 31st /April 1st  and April 14th/15th.

Easter – the bank holiday ‘sandwich’ between the two ‘Thomas’ events - sees ‘timetable C’ – the railway’s busiest passenger timetable (excluding special events’), in operation for the first time this year on Saturday, Easter Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday.
The ‘C’ schedule requires four locomotives in steam on these days to operate the 45-minute interval service from both Kidderminster and Bridgnorth, with a fifth engine ‘on standby’. The first train of the day departs Kidderminster at 09.55, and from Bridgnorth at 11.10.  On Good Friday April 6th - traditionally always the quietest day of the four-day Easter weekend,  and on weekdays following the bank holiday weekend, the railway will execute it’s ‘B’ timetable with six trains in each direction, running at roughly 75-minute intervals through the day.

Said SVR Visitor Services Manager David Mee: “We’ve arrived at the end of March some way ahead of the passenger numbers we’d budgeted for, so we have to be happy about the way we’ve begun the year. The kind weather towards the end of the month undoubtedly helped, but we have to be optimistic that the trend will continue through the Easter holiday period.”

The railway celebrates the 150th anniversary of the opening of the original SVR in 1862, at a grand Victorian Weekend on May 19th/20th, when Queen Victoria herself - or least someone very much like her - will be among the crowds who witness a major cavalcade of locomotives, including the country’s oldest working steam railway locomotive, the 1863-built former Furness Railway engine No.20.