* Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway launches Share Offer  

* ‘Bridges to Broadway’ aims to raise £500,000 share sales 

* Broadway Station on target to see first trains since 1960

The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) today confirmed its determination to extend its railway from its present northern extent to Broadway, as soon as possible.

The railway has launched ‘Bridges to Broadway’, a new Share Offer to raise £500,000 to pay for the refurbishment of five bridges over which the line will pass.

All of the bridges need work, two requiring significant expenditure to repair damage caused by corrosion, movement of the embankments or strikes by over-height lorries.

This represents a third of the total £1.5m cost of bringing the additional two miles of the railway into use; the additional costs including construction of the station at the beautiful tourist destination of Broadway; embankment repairs and installing track and signalling.

This will see trains running between Broadway and Cheltenham once again, for the first time in more than half a century.

Malcolm Temple, chairman of GWSR Plc, said that if the railway is successful in raising the full £1.5m quickly, the first train could reach Broadway in little more than three years.

He pointed out that the railway has emerged from major setbacks with two serious embankment collapses on its existing running line.

“An emergency appeal raised a stunning £1 million which means that the rebuilding of the embankments has been completed on time and paid for.

“The public and particularly the heritage railway movement responded magnificently to our plight.

“That we are launching this appeal less than a year after the last embankment repair works were finished, says much for the sheer grit of our volunteer workforce and their determination to press on with the expansion of our railway.”

When the two mile extension, all of it on an embankment, is completed the railway will be 14 miles long, starting at Cheltenham Racecourse and passing through Gotherington, Winchcombe, Toddington, Laverton and Broadway.

“Work on rebuilding Broadway station has been underway for some time, with construction of two 10-coach length platforms now substantially complete, thanks to the efforts of the volunteer Broadway Area Group,” Mr Temple added.

“We have now been granted planning permission for the station buildings,which will be similar to those that stood there until after the original station was closed by British Railways in 1960, and a signal box on Platform 2.”

The railway has meticulously researched the works necessary to rebuild the railway over the remaining two miles.

Works have been categorised as bridges, track, signalling, the station itself and adjacent car parking.

Planning for train services is also under way, embracing timetables, locomotive and rolling stock requirements (a service comprising at least three steam locomotives and three sets of coaches for each operating day are seen as essential), recruitment of additional volunteers, services at Broadway and a maintenance programme.

Railway development: Mr Temple pointed out that lessons have been learnt from the embankment collapses.

“All trading surpluses are now ploughed back into renewal, repair and improvement of existing assets and infrastructure.

“A number of major projects are in hand – gulley and drainage repair, fencing, track replacement and signalling; building a second platform at Cheltenham Racecourse station; improvements to the locomotive shed and workshops at Toddington; and provision of a paint shop at the Carriage and Wagon department at Winchcombe.

“As a result, funding for extensions and new facilities must come from external sources – grants, donations, partnerships and share offers, such as the one being launched today (30 September 2013) for bridge repairs.”

Experience of fundraising for the embankment appeal has led to the creation of a Development Foundation between GWSR Plc and the charitable Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Trust (GWRT).

The Development Foundation is led by a full time Development Manager, Maxine Barton-Hawkins. Three grants have already been secured while long term donation commitments have also been established.

This £500,000 ‘Bridges to Broadway’ share offer has been created by the Development Foundation.

The share offer: Standing in the way of track laying to the rebuilt station at Broadway are five bridges which have receive little attention since the line was closed by British Railways some 40 years ago.

An engineering assessment has identified a spend of some £550,000 to bring them to present-days standards. The Railway already has £50,000 available from an insurance claim.

The share offer is for £500,000 with a minimum investment of £100.

Importantly the share offer is under the Government’s Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) which means that income tax payers benefit from tax relief of 30% on any purchase. Therefore, a purchase of £1,000 of shares will cost only £700.

Shareholders will also enjoy generous free travel concessions and a unique share certificate.

The bridges:

Bridge 1 – Station Road, Broadway: steel bridge, with brick abutments.

Strikes from road vehicles and corrosion mean major repairs are necessary,
making this the most expensive bridge to repair of the five. At 43ft long
Station Road is the second-longest steel span on the line (the longest is at
Gotherington). Expected cost: £215,000

Bridge 2 – Childswickham Road, Broadway: similarly constructed to the bridge over Station Road, this one fortunately needs less in the way of repairs. Expected cost: £86,000

Bridge 3 – Pry Lane: in good condition, this small brick arch bridge needs relatively minor work. Expected cost: £18,000

Bridge 4 – Peasebrook Farm: a small structure, with a deck comprising concrete-filled steel troughs resting on brick abutments. Work needed includes significant repairs to the wing walls. Expected cost: £46,000

Bridge 5 – Little Buckland: of similar design to the bridges at Station Road and Childswickham Road, this one requires major work to the brick wing walls, which have suffered from significant movement and have serious cracks. Expected cost: £192,000

Malcolm Temple concluded: “During the last few years the GWR has really got its act together at every level.

“The Railway is a success. It is fun and fulfilling to be a volunteer while the public love our working steam railway heritage museum and the friendly welcome they receive.

“Our turnover for 2013 will comfortably exceed £1million and we are an important contributor to the local economy, attracting visitors from throughout the UK as well as from overseas.

“We are all excited about the Development Foundation and what we can achieve with the donations and share purchases of supporters old and new.”

He added that if funds are forthcoming the railway could reach Broadway in three years.

Once the railway is fully operational to Broadway, it will then turn its attention to continuing northwards over the four miles from Broadway to Honeybourne.

Full information is available on www.gwsr.com.