‘Astonishing’ Increase in Visitors to
Isle of Wight Steam Railway
Travel Income Up 27% Year-on-Year!
The Isle of Wight Steam Railway is enjoying a significant increase in ticket sales this year, with travel income showing a massive 27% year-on-year increase!
This successful trend began from the day the Railway opened its doors on the 2010 season in March, with virtually every operating day seeing improvement on the equivalent day last year. In addition, nearly every special event has also seen a marked increase in visitors, with a couple of events experiencing a 50% growth! “We are astonished, but also extremely pleased”, said IW Steam Railway General Manager Peter Vail. “We began 2010 very cautiously, looking somewhat nervously at what appeared to be a fairly bleak economic picture, with the uncertainties of a general election and competition for audience from the World Cup! At the time the Board budgeted for little more than a flat year in terms of visitors and revenue, but from day one the IW Steam Railway has been flourishing. My daily monitoring of visitor numbers and income has confirmed that barely a day goes by without another good total to report”.
The increase in income is not just confined to travel. Both the Railway’s shop and, in particular, the Railway’s catering operation are also reporting increased business, with the Refreshment Rooms and associated catering running at well over 20% up.
For some years the Havenstreet-based steam line has invested strongly in marketing itself as a high quality and unique visitor attraction on the Island. Over the past couple of years the Railway has developed new marketing initiatives, re-focussed its advertising, launched a new customer-orientated website and staged a number of new and exciting special events. In recent years the Railway has won many local, regional and national awards and at the start of this season was awarded Visit England’s accreditation of ‘Quality Assured Visitor Attraction’. In awarding the accreditation, the assessor stated, “This first assessment quickly ascertained that the number of awards previously received by the Railway have been well deserved on the evidence of the very good standards achieved throughout the business … Very good impressions were gained from excellent customer care as well as both high presentation and operational standards”.
Commenting on the strong performance, Chairman of the IW Steam Railway, Steve Oates, said, “This is a very impressive performance and is very welcome in what could have been a difficult year. As a registered educational charity all of our income goes towards restoring and preserving our piece of Island railway history for visitors to enjoy, both now and in the future. I know that at times the additional visitor numbers have stretched our resources, so I must pay tribute to all of our staff and volunteers who have pulled out all the stops to ensure we have a good season, and who continue to work so hard.”
The strong visitor and income numbers give the Railway a good platform on which to prepare for its 40th Anniversary year in 2011; and they also come at a time when the IW Steam Railway has won another major award. In a live televised final (on BBC1) on Saturday 4th September, the Railway won first place in the Heritage Section of The National Lottery Awards.
For visitors who have not yet been to the Steam Railway this year, the railway is open daily until mid-September and on numerous days from then until the New Year. Forthcoming special events include the Wine Festival (25th & 26thSeptember), ‘Calbourne Weekend’ to celebrate the return to steam of our flagship locomotive No. 24 ‘Calbourne’ (8th to 10th October), Wizard Week (October Half-Term), and Santa Specials (numerous days during December).