As planned, the WSR plc Board has been giving further detailed consideration to draft proposals to establish a new charity-led organisation to run the WSR in future. These proposals were developed following the initial report by John Bailey in May 2020.
An earlier informal seminar was followed up on Tuesday 30th March by a further full plc Board discussion ratifying the earlier decisions. The Board were supported in these discussions by the WSR plc President, David Morgan.
Besides being a former Chairman of the West Somerset Railway plc, David has very considerable experience advising heritage railways on their structures as part of his work as a former Chairman of the Heritage Railway Association (HRA). A lawyer by profession, David has also worked professionally on company structures over the years.
Whilst acknowledging the considerable work that has so far been put into this proposal, the plc Board have concluded that it is not appropriate to continue with this far-reaching proposal at the present time. This is for a number of reasons:
David Morgan (PLC President) comments: “The WSR plc Board considered these matters very carefully when we met and, given the present circumstances, I consider that this was the right decision to make.
“It is crucial for the successful development of the railway that the Board, together with all the WSR partners, now devote their full energy to ensuring the successful commercial re-development of the railway itself post Covid lockdown.
“At this point, a reorganisation would only serve to divert energy away from our main purpose of getting the railway running again, and, if there is to be a reorganisation, a great deal more work – and expenditure - would be necessary to establish the benefits of any proposed change.”
WSR plc Chairman Jonathan Jones-Pratt comments:
“The plc Board have spent some time considering the Bailey proposals and we are very grateful to all those who have brought them forward. We are also very grateful for the sage counsel from our very experienced President, David Morgan.
“The plc Board took into account the low level of response from shareholders, and so we agreed unanimously that this was not the time to take the investigations further.
“We realise and recognise that some of those who have worked on this initial feasibility investigation will be disappointed by our decision, but we believe that this is the time that all the members of the railway family really need to work together and focus on getting our wonderful railway back in action first and foremost.
“It is going to be challenging for us to succeed in a difficult marketplace over the next year or so, and this is where the Board, staff and volunteers need to put their effort.
“This is exactly what I and the plc Board will be doing and – subject, as ever, to government guidelines – we look forward to seeing our trains running again soon.
“There will be a difficult journey ahead for us, but I am certain that when we pull together, we will succeed. We have come through challenging times in the past and we can again! I look forward to seeing you on the railway in the next few months.”