The Severn Valley Railway is stepping up its passenger services from 26 March, as it prepares for what managers hope will be a very successful season.

The popular Worcestershire and Shropshire heritage line opened at the start of February half-term, using an off-peak timetable. However, things will change in the run-up to Easter, as the railway will have more steam- and diesel-hauled services along with the ever-popular Diesel Multiple Unit, (DMU) which has recently returned to service following extensive repairs.

The DMU allows for a mid-morning first departure from Bridgnorth, something which was greatly missed in the 2023 season.

The railway will operate three timetables, A, B and C, designed to expand and contract the number of services in anticipation of lower or higher numbers of passengers. For example, timetable C, which will usually operate on high season Saturdays, will feature three steam- and one diesel-hauled service.

“Last year was all about survival,” said the SVR’s head of operations Steve Wainwright. “We were faced with huge uncertainty over passenger numbers as well as spiralling costs, and we had to be extremely cautious with our timetables.

“As we approach our main running season in 2024, we can be a little more optimistic. Our expert  timetabling team has taken all the factors into account, including the need to provide a great visitor experience, to keep costs under control, to fully man our trains, stations and signal boxes from our pool of volunteer staff, and to make best use of our small resident operational steam fleet.”

“We’re delighted with what the timetabling team has devised,” added visitor experience manager Lewis Maddox. “Their plans allow for an innovative timetable, within a realistic budget, which can be comfortably managed within the constraints of our fleet and pool of staff. Plus, we’ve built in the capacity to earn extra revenue from charter trains.

“It’s going to allow for a fantastic day out for passengers, with plenty of choice of services, and on many days the chance to travel behind or encounter three different types of traction! And that’s what a day at the SVR is all about – travelling back to the golden age of heritage rail and making unforgettable memories.”

For more information on timetables and days out, visit Details of special event timetables for 2024 are still being finalised and these will be released as soon as possible.