Last Tuesday, the Severn Valley Railway (SVR) launched a £1.5 million ‘Survival Fund’ appeal, following a “double whammy” of “escalating costs and lower revenue” has prompted urgent action.
Railway bosses said the fund was “necessary for the survival of the railway”.
The appeal has been backed by well-known music mogul and railway-enthusiast Pete Waterman who said the heritage railway was “too precious to lose”.
The record producer, who now lives in Coventry and is an avid Walsall FC fan, said: “Heritage railways are great for the community, the crisis they are in now is not just the money, it’s the volunteers.
“Since Covid-19, we’ve lost a serious amount of volunteers and you can’t run without volunteers.
“The appeal is to get out there and support them, because if you don’t you could lose them, we can’t lose the Valley – it’s too precious.”
New interim chair of SVR, Chris Walton, has now said that following the launch of the appeal last Tuesday, the railway had received around £16,000 in just the first 24 hours.
He said: “The current appeal is being promoted through the Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust, as any donation by a UK taxpayer facilitates an additional gift aid contribution of 25 per cent towards our target.
“The Railway is already planning for 2024 and those plans will be heavily influenced by the subsequent financial reserves that we achieve in 2023.”
He added that every decade a working steam engine is removed from operating at SVR and undergoes a complete overhaul that can cost up to £1 million.
“If the Severn Valley Railway is to continue to present a quality visitor experience of a railway reflecting the period across 1945 to mid 1960’s we need the financial support of not just visitors but people who wish to experience what was commonplace over 60 years ago,” he said.
The news comes as the Severn Valley Railway is holding its annual Spring Steam Gala over the weekend, as crowds flock to the heritage attraction from Friday to Sunday.
Mr Walton, said: “For our Steam Gala this weekend, we have invested in visiting steam motive power external to the Railway in addition to the home fleet.
“Great Western Railway ‘Pendeniss Castle’ being the star attraction. A locomotive not seen on heritage railways and that used to work some of the heaviest express passenger trains on the Great Western Railway and into British Railways days.
“The timetable was set to give a varied range of train services across the whole railway from morning to late night.”