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Keighley & Worth Valley Railway faces uphill struggle
A heritage railway faces the challenge of improving its facilities in the face of rising costs and reduced income, its chairman says.
Better facilities for passengers, volunteers and trains are among priorities for the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway.
The railway must meet the needs of all three despite rising costs and reduced income, said chairman Matt Stroh.
He said that investment was needed to improve a number of areas of the heritage line's operation. These included toilets at Oxenhope station, car parking in Haworth, and the railway’s catering provision.
These would add to recent improvements such as a wheelchair-accessible carriage compartment. Mr Stroh made his comments in the latest issue of the railway's in-house magazine Push and Pull.
He was prompted by a visit, with fellow directors, to a meeting of heritage railways.
The Heritage Railway Association and the Office of Rail Regulation wanted to remind those members of the importance of safety.
There have been several incidents in heritage railways, including the death of a volunteer at the North Yorks Moors Railway last summer. Mr Stroh said: “This is a salutary reminder of how important the safety-critical aspects of the railway's operations are, and is why safety continues to be at the heart of the structure of our organisation.
“The state of the economy is not making it easier, with access to funding and grants more limited, and passengers are less willing to spend whilst our day-to-day running costs and longer-term locomotive overhaul costs continue to rise.”
Mr Stroh said it was important to improve passenger facilities, provide suitable accommodation for locomotives and rolling stock, and insure volunteers and staff could work in an appropriate environment.
He said the board of the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway Preservation Society had to make the most of its charitable status and address the long-term issues.
He said: “Despite the challenges the railway continues to shine. We have maintained a focus on managing costs and increasing revenue.”
Mr Stroh cited initiatives which had attracted passengers, such as a ‘children go free’ promotion over the summer.
He also urged railway members to remember the many good things about the railway, as a result of continued hard work and commitment of volunteers.