Today was our last scheduled service of 2016. We experienced fairly good passenger numbers on a cold and drab winter's day. Thanks to the train crew and booking hall staff for ensuring our visitors experienced a warm welcome. Two passengers went out of their way today to tell me how friendly they felt our railway was with enthusiastic volunteers and apologised for not visiting us sooner!
In households north of the border, it is customary at hogmanay to reflect upon the passing year and look forward to the new one. Keeping with tradition together with a glass of 12 year aged Royal Lochnagar Single Malt at my side, I beg your indulgence as I consider our progress in 2016 and highlight what 2017 holds for our railway:-
This year we:-
- Opened two new booking offices
- Had a very successful diesel gala with a visiting class twenty locomotive
- acquired a signal box
- ran a number of high quality evening dining and afternoon tea trains that showcased the talents and dedication of our catering team
- laid the foundations of the maintenance facility extension
- tarmaced the car park
- Commenced constructing a second Shottle platform on the down line
- Completed our busiest Santa experience to date
- Achieved a third successive Trip Advisor 'Centre of Excellence' Award
- Won a Heritage Railway Award in the Small Group section
- Successfully awarded a Transport and Works Act (1992) Order which ensures the future of our railway
- Awarded a £75,000 grant from the Department of Transport to develop our DMU Visitor Centre of Excellence
- Won an Aviva Community Award enabling work to be completed on the permanent way bubble car.
There may be other achievements I have forgotten to mention and I apologise if I have but I am nearing the bottom of my first glass!
Sadly we lost three valued members of our volunteer team this year: Rod Birch, John Evans and John Gratton and our thoughts are with their family and friends at this difficult time of year.
This next year has many exciting events scheduled including:-
- The new year heralds an even more exciting time with the arrival of a steam locomotive in the summer to under the weekend Wirksworth to Duffield services. Later in the year we should see both Cathryn and The Duke entering traffic ensuring steam traction sits alongside diesel hauled and DMU train services in the future.
- 2017 sees us enter a year of celebration with a range of Wirksworth 150 anniversary events. News of these will be circulated in the coming weeks.
- This year we will have multiple visiting locomotives and special events to attract even more visitors to our railway to enjoy the atmosphere and vistas that makes the railway so special.
- There will be some upheaval to contend with too as we re-configure the Wirksworth yard but the end product will be worth the disruption!
With such a busy schedule for 2017 being prepared it will see even more demands made of our already stretched volunteer base. If you know of any relative or friends that could spare a few hours to support the railway in any volunteering capacity, please invite them along to our Volunteer day scheduled for the 18th February 2017.
Finally, it is my pleasure to propose this toast, "Here's to a bright New Year and a fond farewell to the old; here's to the things that are yet to come, and to the memories that we hold". Wishing you a peaceful and prosperous New Year.
Ecclesbourne Valley Railway