VOLUNTEERS have hailed the return of Broadway railway station to the timetable after council chiefs took the wraps off a new £650,000 car park for the landmark.
The car park was officially opened on Tuesday (March 5) by Wychavon District Council chairman Coun Tony Rowley and Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) volunteer chair Richard Johnson.
Dedicated members of GWSR reopened Broadway station last Easter almost 60 years after the last train departed. Since then it has carried more than 144,000 passengers – an increase of more than 42 per cent compared with the previous year.
GWSR chiefs hailed the increase as a demonstration of the additional attractiveness of the line extension to Broadway and the heritage tourist offering that, in turn, brings visitors into the area and supports the local economy.
Wychavon’s cash injection on land provided by the GWSR will meet the demand for visitor parking at the station. It is also designed to discourage parking on the main road and provide safe parking for those having a day out on the steam railway.
A total of 85 spaces have been created on the car park, along with a grassy area next to the line that can be used for picnics while electric vehicle charging units will be installed later this year.
The parking charges are from 50p for half an hour up to £5 for 10 hours. Those purchasing a £5 parking ticket can receive a £3 refund from GWSR against the purchase of one train ticket on that same day.
Coun Richard Morris, deputy leader at Wychavon said: “This is a fantastic investment in a popular tourist attraction and is a great boost for the local economy. The incredible work of the volunteers to keep this historic heritage offering thriving is humbling to see and I’m so pleased that we can support it along with the business and tourist economy.”
Mr Johnson added: “The railway’s success since we extended the line and opened Broadway station – which is a brand new replacement of the one demolished by British Railways in 1963, three years after it closed – has been astonishing.
“Our first train from Cheltenham to Broadway is often full of travellers who then visit the village and enjoy all that it offers. Anecdotally, traders tell us that the railway has made a positive impact.
“It has been a pleasure working with Wychavon to come up with this car parking solution. It means that visitors can more easily start their journey from Broadway, perhaps returning to spend time in the village during the evening.
“I’m absolutely delighted that our railway, which is almost entirely run by volunteers, has had such a positive impact on the local community,” he added.