Volunteers on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) are working flat-out to make things ready for the first public train to stop at Broadway station for nearly six decades, on 30th March (Good Friday) 2018.
The Lord Faulkner of Worcester* will signal the triumphant re-opening of the brand new Broadway station by unveiling a plaque recognising the achievement of volunteers who have tirelessly resurrected the railway and built the new station on the site of the original.
The first train will be headed by the GWSR’s ‘flagship’ steam locomotive, Great Western Railway-designed Hall class locomotive no. 7903, Foremarke Hall which will depart at 09.40, bound for Cheltenham Racecourse, more than 14 miles to the south.
This follows years of effort to extend the popular Cotswolds heritage railway, from its headquarters station at Toddington, to the delightful village of Broadway. The final rails were laid just before Christmas 2017 to complete the link between Broadway and the southern terminus at Cheltenham Racecourse.
The station building is substantially complete, using new heritage bricks and materials so that it looks almost identical to the one that once stood on the site. It even has a riveted (not welded) steel roof and platform canopy superstructure, to the original 1903 design, that was made by volunteers in the railway’s steam locomotive department.
The railway’s volunteer chairman, Richard Johnson, says: “This puts Broadway firmly on the railway map once again!
“British Railways withdrew local train services and closed the original station in March 1960 with the buildings and platforms demolished in 1963.
“Although the line itself, once a vital link between the West Midlands and Wales and the West Country, remained open for through freight and passenger trains, the whole line was closed in 1976 and, by the end of 1979, the track and remaining infrastructure had gone.
“The reopening of the line on 30th March is recognition of the vision of the early preservation pioneers, who took occupation of a derelict Toddington station in 1981 and started progressively to rebuild our delightful railway through the Cotswolds,” Richard Johnson says.
“It’s also a huge triumph for the railway’s 950 or so volunteers who operate and grow what has become one of the UK’s top heritage railways.”
Ahead of the opening, volunteers and larger contributors will enjoy the opportunity of a preview of the extended railway and the new station on special trains (that are not for public use).
Among remaining work is commissioning of the signal box, completing the station facilities including a refreshment room and the footbridge, construction of a station building for visitors on, and completion of, Platform 2.
Last year the railway carried over 100,000 passengers on its trains for the second year running and its fifth successive record year.
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