Saturday, 24 February 2018

Railway Supporters' Day

We had a good attendance at the supporters day today. A small crowd gathered to look round the development sites at Bishops Lydeard station  - the crowd being smaller than expected due to the cold weather.

This was conducted by Frank Courtney who explained the lie of the land at Station Farm and provided a tour of Blackmore House. We also looked around the new developments in the Gauge Museum. 
After lunch, we gathered in BL village hall for the main event. I provided my first chairman's address - nervously but soon settled down! and Paul Conibeare gave a preview of the railway's events in 2018. I was really pleased that both Paul Whitehouse and Chris Austin were able to be present and to give presentations on the work of the Association and Trust.
We have just launched a consultation phase for the new corporate plan, and we wished to use this time to involve as many of our supporters as we can in its development. We have a number of questions in our minds that we want to get answers on. Accordingly, we split the supporters into four groups and asked them to consider the questions and provide feedback. The six questions we have are:

1. Should we seek funds (e.g. a share issue) so that the railway be developed so that it can regularly accommodate large engines, or should funds be sought for other purposes and the railway only operate locos of a size appropriate to a West Country branch?

2. To what extent should we cancel timetabled trains in order to accommodate incoming charters which bring in more money?

3. How can we upgrade our buffet cars and our off train catering to provide better and more attractive facilities for passengers?

4. What aspects of heritage are most important to preserve? (For example, trains, bull head rails, signalling systems, buildings, railway operating systems)

5. Which is a higher financial priority: painting carriage roofs or improving station toilets? What other non-essential work may be a higher priority?

6. How could we try to extend the season to generate additional revenue, particularly in late February and March?

Some very interesting feedback was received! Here are some photos of the groups considering the questions:

We have carefully kept the responses and will be adding this to the new plan. The consultation phase runs until 7 April, so please take part. You can either respond directly to the plan or provide feedback on the six key questions above. The draft corporate plan is available here

Thanks are due to all who took part, helped set up the event and participated in any way.

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