Bridgnorth's cliff railway closure is losing businesses 'thousands of customers', cafe owner says

  • Watch ITV News Central Reporter Hannah Kings' report from Bridgnorth, where businesses say they're losing thousands of customers

A business owner in Bridgnorth says her cafe is losing out on hundreds of customers week because the nearby cliff railway is closed.

The Bridgnorth Castle Hill Railway is the oldest and steepest electric funicular railway in England - and hasn't been able to operate for the last twelve months. It's usually used by around 98,000 people per year.

The attraction has been at the heart of Bridgnorth for more than 130 years - but for the past year, it's been closed for essential repairs to its retaining wall.

The predicted cost cost of the repair work is £750,000 - and is expected to leave a shortfall in the council's budget of between £400,000 and £500,000.

The council says this is because the work needed is a lot more extensive than initially thought.

Rebecca says the closure is losing her business thousands of customers. Credit: ITV News Central

Rebecca Calder runs the Platform 10 cafe at the railway's top station.

"I definitely think that we've felt the difference," she says, adding: "Obviously, with all the people that ride on there, they come this way - or the other way - and I think it's around 1,000 people a week that we've missed out on.

"I think with the current climate we're always worried about the number of people we're getting in weekly, to pay all the bills that have gone up. It's been a difficult year for everyone in business I think everyone's feeling that, and that obviously hasn't helped.

"It's made us think outside the box in how we can bring people into the business."

Locals say they're looking forward to the railway's eventual reopening.

Although the repairs to the cliff are due to be completed by 13 November, more needs to be done before it's reopened to the public.

Most of its staff were made redundant when it closed in September 2022, meaning that a full team of operators will need to be re-recruited.

Most of the railway's staff were made redundant when it first closed. Credit: ITV News Central

Because it's been out of service for so long, there'll also be additional checks needed before it can run again. Barry Evans is one of the railway's engineers - he says "he recommissioning work will take a while to do".

He continued: "The tracks need to be cleaned, the rollers sorted out, the ropes have got to be checked, brakes systems checked, electrical checks."

In a statement, the council said: "All scaffolding [is] to be removed week commencing 13th November 2023, weather permitting. The costs for the delivery of the remedial works for this project are currently estimated to be £750,000.00.

"The Town Council is holding a further community consultation meeting on Thursday 16th November 2023 to update and inform the public on how these costs will be paid for."

An exact date isn't yet known for when the cliff railway will reopen to carry passengers again.

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