England

Severn Valley Railway restarts passenger services

Driver Tony Bending and fireman Joshua Harvey Image copyright Iain Shorthouse
Image caption Driver Tony Bending and fireman Joshua Harvey were at one end of the line at Bridgnorth

A heritage railway has reopened after more than four months of closure due to coronavirus.

The Severn Valley Railway [SVR] has been losing about £500,000 a month due to the closure.

SVR was fully booked up for Saturday's reopening, with passenger groups of up to six having their own compartment to enable social distancing.

The railway's general manager said resuming services would help "break even" rather than making a profit.

Helen Smith said the closure due to the pandemic had had a "devastating impact on our finances".

Image copyright Ryan Green
Image caption A train was photographed approaching Arley, although passengers could not get off at that station or at Hampton Loade on Saturday

About £800,000 has been raised through an emergency appeal to support the railway during its closure.

"Once we get to September we are hoping to move back to more than a normal service," she said.

"This just gets us up and running and it gets the volunteers back to the railway."

Image copyright George Scott
Image caption The families of staff and volunteers took the place of passengers as the heritage line tested its Covid-19 operating procedures earlier in the week.

SVR reopened with three trains taking passengers along the full 16 miles of the line, from Kidderminster in Worcestershire to Bridgnorth in Shropshire, and back.

It was running trains on Monday, ahead of reopening, in order to test its Covid-secure operation and cleaning regimes.

After so long away from the engines, driver Gary Townley said: "It feels really funny just feeling the beat of the engine and everything.

"You think 'Wow, this is great to be back'."

Image copyright Tom Clarke
Image caption Two of the three trains on Saturday started from Kidderminster

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