THE Severn Valley Railway has announced the appointment of Jonathan ‘Gus’ Dunster as the permanent managing director of SVR (Holdings).

Mr Dunster has been fulfilling the role in an interim capacity since March 1 last year, following his retirement from his previous role as Avanti West Coast’s executive director of operations and safety.

He was already a well-known face at the heritage railway, having volunteered there for more than 30 years.

Chairman of SVR (Holdings) Plc, Chris Walton, said it was "great news for the railway."

He said: “It’s yet another step in stabilising our organization, as we continue to meet the many challenges we face".

Mr Dunster added: “It’s been a pleasure to be the SVR’s interim MD for the past 11 months, as the railway works hard to counteract the long-term impacts of pandemic lockdowns, rocketing costs, and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis that threatens visitor numbers.

"It’s still early days, but there’s a very real sense that we are now firmly heading in the right direction. I want to pay tribute to everyone across the SVR who has ‘done their bit’ in recent times. Despite the challenges we have much to look back on with pride from the 2023 season.

"I am very proud to be part of the team at this important time in our railway’s history.

“I must reiterate the message that tough times still lie ahead. We cannot be under any illusion that things are ‘back to normal’. Like all heritage railways, we face continuing challenges, but I am confident we can meet these, if we all work together for the good of the SVR.

“As we approach our 60th anniversary in 2025, I hope everyone associated with the railway will share my optimism, and my determination to safeguard the SVR’s future.”