200,000 fLock to ELR iN REcoRd yEaR

Steam Railway (UK) - - Steam News -

A record 2016 at the East Lan­cashire Rail­way saw vis­i­tor num­bers pass the 200,000 mark for the first time in its 29-year his­tory, writes Andy Cow­ard. The suc­cess was partly thanks to two suc­cess­ful oper­at­ing pe­ri­ods by the Na­tional Rail­way Mu­seum’s Gres­ley ‘A3’ No. 60103 Fly­ing Scotsman, which at­tracted more than 30,000 peo­ple to the line. The rail­way ex­pe­ri­enced growth in all ar­eas of its op­er­a­tions dur­ing 2016, in­clud­ing gen­eral vis­i­tors, spe­cial events, din­ing trains, foot­plate ex­pe­ri­ences, group vis­its and Bury Trans­port Mu­seum at­ten­dances, along with other an­cil­lary ac­tiv­i­ties. The ELR has been de­vel­op­ing its events and ac­tiv­i­ties to help in­crease the num­ber of vis­i­tors, which for a num­ber of years plateaued at around 110,000. The ap­point­ment of a full-time mar­ket­ing man­ager and a com­mer­cial man­ager has helped the ELR re­alise year-on-year growth for the past seven years. In 2008, the East Lan­cashire Rail­way Trust em­ployed Locum Con­sult­ing to carry out a de­tailed study and sug­gest ways for the line to reach a wider au­di­ence. The re­port high­lighted a num­ber of ways in which the rail­way could in­tro­duce new ini­tia­tives and at­tract ad­di­tional vis­i­tors, set­ting a tar­get to achieve vis­i­tor fig­ures of 200,000 by the year 2020. ELR Mar­ket­ing Man­ager Kate Walker ac­knowl­edged that the two vis­its of Fly­ing Scotsman in 2016 had been the main fac­tor be­hind the record-break­ing fig­ures. Dis­count­ing the vis­i­tors brought in by the ‘A3’, the rail­way in­creased its vis­i­tor statis­tics by over 8,000 on the 2015 fig­ures and is now look­ing at in­tro­duc­ing a wider range of new, non-rail­way spe­cific events, aimed pri­mar­ily at the fam­ily mar­ket. ❚❚Read more about the ELR on page 36.

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