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WEST Somerset Railway (WSR) has asked its stakeholders whether they believe funds should be sought so the heritage line can be developed to regularly accommodate large engines.

The not-for-profit company has produced its draft Corporate Plan for 2018-2023, and has asked stakeholders a series of questions including to what extent timetabled trains should be cancelled to accommodate incoming charter trains which bring in more money.

WSR runs as a public company steered by a board of directors. Vice Chairman Frank Courtney said: “The board decided it was time to review the way the railway developed and is consulting on a new Corporate Plan. A key element of this is the recruitment of more volunteers.”

The Corporate Plan covers all aspects of the railway’s development. The railway is now a £3m business and is the largest employer in West Somerset. Mr Courtney added: “At the same time as retaining its heritage role WSR needs to move with the times and follow modern business practices.

“The railway needs to look ahead and ensure that the business continues to grow over the next several years.

“Given the present uncertain economic situation this is no easy task, but given that one way or another, the railway has survived for the well over a hundred years, the directors are confident that the West Somerset Railway has a bright and exciting future.”

Alex de Mendoza from the Minehead Rail Link Group said: “I was pleased to see the stakeholder consultation. We have had productive meetings with Great Western Railway and WSR and we are starting to speak the same language.”

WSR has also launched a new call for volunteers. The railway, which runs daily steam trains from Bishops Lydeard through to Minehead from March through to November, has more than 1,000 active volunteers but is always on the lookout for more.

The volunteers cover the whole range of duties, including operating the trains as drivers, guards and signalmen, running the stations, keeping the track and buildings up to scratch and all the necessary back office work.

Anyone who is interested in learning more about volunteering opportunities should call the WSR office 01643 704996.

Written By Steven Salter 

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