A recent press release describes a “new era for the Quantock Belle” and wow this is certainly the biggest change for the dining train operation in a long time.

Essentially, from the new year, the Quantock Belle will be run jointly by its owners, the Association, and the WSR Plc.

“This new agreement between the two organisations means that the dining train will be fully integrated with all the other services and special events on England’s longest standard gauge heritage railway.

Although the train will continue to be owned by the Association (who have been responsible for the purchase and refurbishment of the train) the new arrangement means that a wide variety of new and exciting opportunities will come available to passengers and diners. The existing successful volunteer train crew will continue to play a central role under the new arrangements, led by Train Manager Barrie Childs.”

The press release includes this very useful note:

“The agreement is for three years, running to 1 January 2020. It will be reviewed every six months by the Association and the Plc. The current Dining Train Manager will in future report on operational matters to the Plc Head of Retail and Catering; he will, however, retain a reporting line to the Association in its role as owner of the dining set. The Plc will be providing to the Association a statement of intended objectives for operating the dining train before the Association’s AGM on 22 October 2016. For 2017, the Association and Plc will share net revenue (that is, ticket, food and beverage sales less direct costs of haulage, purchases and kitchen staff) equally. Commercial terms for 2018 and 2019 will be agreed in the light of experience in 2017.”

The WSRA website http://www.wsra.org.uk carries the full message.

So. Here is one of the first acts of the “new world” of our Association. Closer ties, closer working with its major partner, the Plc. May the enterprise – and our Railway – prosper.