As members will be aware, the WSRA has welcomed the direction of the Bailey report and is working with the PLC and other members of the railway family towards implementing a new structure. The proposed structure would achieve a new charity to own the railway and the operating company and offer a home to the many special interest groups who contribute to the railway in their own way.
No heritage railway can raise enough income from fares alone to meet its costs. Ownership by a charity brings tax advantages (effectively adding 25% to all money donated by taxpayers) as well as access to funds from grant-giving bodies and organisations such as the National Lottery. While we and others have been successful in raising funds by this route in the past, the amounts raised have been far less than that achieved by many other heritage railways.
A successful restructuring will also bring the opportunity to resolve the internal strife which has plagued our railway for many years and the subsequent harm caused to our image, locally and nationally.
Clearly, there is a need to resolve many details, and to gain approval of regulators, such as the ORR & the Charity Commission, as well as taking shareholders, members, and our landlords on the journey with us. A good deal of work is needed to gain these agreements, and the WSRA trustees are keen to engage with that work. We are therefore asking members to complete a very simple initial survey to confirm their agreement to the proposed way forward and also to put forward any questions and suggestions you may have.
There is a members’ page on our website HERE dedicated to the proposed restructuring process. You will find links to the relevant documents and responses together with the initial survey. If you are unsure of any answers, there is an opportunity to explain your concerns and also scope for a wider response by completing a form or sending an email. Please do complete the basic survey as this will give us a simple basis of quantitative data from which to work.
We will keep members informed of progress and seek approval before any proposed change and modify/update our response in the light of members’ feedback.
If you are not yet a WSRA member but would like to become more involved with the railway you can join us HERE