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The Severn Valley Railway is to fine-tune its timetabled services from the end of this month, incorporating earlier first departure times and an extra steam service on selected days.

This follows a planned review of services in order to save costs, and minimise the railway’s exposure to the risk of lower passenger numbers.

“We’re very pleased to be able to add an extra steam-hauled service to Timetable B on 56 selected dates, starting on 27th May,” said managing director Jonathan ‘Gus’ Dunster. “We took the decision after a great deal of careful consideration, and the constant monitoring of services so far this season. The additional round trip has been added for sound business reasons, in order to enhance our passengers’ experience. It will comprise up to seven coaches in order to be suitable for haulage predominantly by 7714, our smaller pannier tank engine.

“The careful start we’ve made means we can now add these additional services, working within the budget we have set for the year. However, we will continue to focus very closely on our operating costs at all times. The use of the revised Timetable B will remain under continual review, and if necessary, further changes may be made should costs rise again, or should visitor numbers not meet those forecast. It remains crucial that we only operate fully profitable services. In our current financial situation we simply cannot afford to expose ourselves to any more risk than absolutely necessary. 

“The addition of an extra service on the revised Timetable B will give passengers more choice about how they spend their day with us, as well as helping to smooth out the loadings of passengers throughout the day. These features are the driving forces in its introduction.

“We’ll be making announcements about footplate experiences in due course.”

The revised Timetable B will apply during the forthcoming spring half-term holiday and other selected dates during the rest of the season through to early November, on a total of 56 days. It incorporates an additional service, which will make one round trip each day, leaving Kidderminster at 12.45pm. The SVR says it intends that this will be steam-hauled whenever possible, although it reserves the right to use a heritage diesel for occasional operational reasons.

Both Timetable B, and Timetable A which will operate on less busy days, will feature earlier departures from both ends of the line. The first train out of Kidderminster will leave at 10.00am, and from Bridgnorth the start time will be 11.55am.

“Whilst we are delighted to be able to introduce these enhancements to our scheduled services, it is important to remember that the SVR is still fighting for financial survival,” said SVR chairman Chris Walton. “Our £1.5 million Survival Fund appeal is going well - at the time of announcing these timetable changes we’ve already raised £230,000, and donations are coming in every day. However, there is a very long way to go until we are on the other side of our difficulties. We are managing the situation on many different fronts, and timetabling is one of the key components.”

For more information on tickets and to donate to the SVR’s Survival Fund appeal, visit svr.co.uk.

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