Recently the Government announced the re-opening of attractions in England from 4th July (subject to safeguards) alongside the reduction of social distancing to 1m plus (with additional mitigations). We will remain closed.
Why aren’t we opening from 4th July?
We’ve been constantly assessing the changing situation over the lockdown period. The recent announcement hasn’t changed our plans.
We have been sharing and talking to many of our fellow railways across the country, and attractions and heritage organisations here in Cornwall during these challenging times. Many share some of the same considerations, however each one is in a unique financial and operational position. Based on consideration of all the factors, we have been working on plans based on re-opening the railway later in the year – the recent announcement hasn’t changed these plans.
There are quite a few reasons and factors why we aren’t rushing to re-open even though we understand why you would want us to – please believe us when we tell you that we are keen to re-open as well.
Our current focus is on planning the safe re-opening of the railway, ensuring all our staff and volunteers are trained appropriately and making sure we have all the new systems, resources and processes in place and working well. We know from survey results from both wider public consultations and speaking to our volunteer and staff teams that the safety of both staff and customers was most important, and we agree. All of this takes time. In addition to Covid-19 safety measures we also have a great deal of work to do to ensure that our locomotives, coaches, track and operational staff training are ready to run trains again. During lockdown our staff team have been furloughed and volunteers haven’t been able to come in, so this work had to be put on hold.
Our job as custodians of the Bodmin & Wenford Railway is to ensure its long-term viability and survival. All of the above is carefully balanced with the fact we want to run trains again BUT the financial impact of the last three months means that we cannot take any financial risks at the moment when the potential of demand and levels of business remains so unclear. If we had been able to reopen at this stage we would be doing so in a very limited capacity due the number of coaches we have available and the limitations of social distancing.
Like many organisations across the heritage and tourism sector we are also having to undertake a redundancy and restructure process during this period, which is both challenging and heart-breaking.
Please know that we are doing everything we can to re-open our railway to you all – we especially miss our volunteers and our visitors and can’t thank you enough for all your support and kindness over these last few months. If you would like to continue to support us during this time, you’ll find more on our fundraising campaign here.
If you have any questions or comments please get in touch and we’ll get back to you.
We’ve put together some FAQs which should help answer current questions.
I’m a volunteer and I’m really keen to come back and help!
We can’t wait to see you. We’re working on a return to work plan for volunteers (and have had some small groups return already, in particular the Track Gang and Maintenance team) however there are some things that need to be put in place before this can happen. We are working on a list of projects that we’ll need your help with and are hoping to share details of these with you directly week commencing 6th July. Since staff returned from furlough they have also been putting measures in place to keep volunteers safe when they return to the railway, and we’ll need you to pay attention to the new procedures and way of working that have been put in place.
I have a trip or experience booked in July or August, what is going to happen?
We will not be running pre-booked trains as planned in July and August. Since returning to work earlier this week a priority has been contacting all those booked on to trips in the next two months. Please be patient, we will be in touch to confirm that your pre-booked ticket has been transferred to a voucher which will be valid until December 2021. We are also contacting any group booking coordinators to update them.
I have a voucher that expires this year…
Your voucher is automatically valid for an extended period, until the end of 2021. You do not need to do anything further. We hope that whilst it is disappointing you can’t attend as planned, this will offer something to look forward to when the experience can be enjoyed. We look forward to welcoming you at a later date, and thank you for your understanding.
I have a group booking with you, what should I do?
We will not be running trains in July and August, so if you were intending to travel with us during this time your visit will not be able to go ahead. Now that some staff are back to work we will be contacting all affected group bookings. If you are due to visit later in the year and have made the decision to cancel, please just let us know and we will update our records. The best way to do this is by emailing [email protected].
I’m booked later in the year, what should I do?
We are continuing to reassess and hope to be able to run trains later in the year. We will not be revising these bookings at this stage, but will be in touch nearer to the time if we do need to make changes to your booking.
How will I know when you reopen?
The best thing to do would be sign up to our mailing list here. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – now some staff are back to work we’ll be able to keep these channels better updated. We’ll share updates about our plans for reopening as we have them.
It’s only July, but what about Christmas?
Our tickets for Christmas are on sale. Please do book ahead. We are closely monitoring the situation and will be making changes to the experience to accommodate the need for social distancing, and to make improvements we had already planned to make our festive trains an even more special experience. You can book online here.
I’m trying to contact the office but I’ve struggled to get through.
Sorry that we haven’t been able to be as responsive as usual. Our entire small team have been furloughed, and although some staff have now returned, this is on a part time basis, whilst others are still furloughed and whilst we’re going through a restructuring process. Now that some staff are back to work, the best way to reach us is via the enquiries email address [email protected] which will be monitored weekly. We are hoping to be able to provide some revised opening times for our office (for phone enquiries) soon.
I want to support the railway during this challenging time.
We are truly humbled by the support we have received since announcing our delayed opening. You’ll find details of all the ways you can support us on our website here. These include making a donation, but also the option to buy from our online shop or sign up as a member of the Preservation Society. Thank you!
I haven’t volunteered before but would like to get involved now.
We would love to hear from you. We are going to be looking at various new ways people can volunteer to help the railway, particularly whilst many of our typical volunteer roles running trains are not required. We’re going to be advertising some of these new opportunities to get involved in specific projects and tasks, but we need to concentrate on getting new working practices in place and bringing back our existing volunteers first. We hope you’ll understand. You can email [email protected] to let us know you’re interested though.