The Severn Valley Railway

May 31 2022 Business Insights

Michael Dunn is Head of  Visitor Experience at The Severn Valley Railway in Kidderminster. The railway has been short-listed for the Resilience and Innovation Award at the Visit England Awards for Excellence, 2022.

We asked Michael about his average day, as they get ready for the big awards night in June.

Hi there! How early is your first cuppa?

It’s about 7 am and it’s always coffee to get going in the morning.

 

Tell us a bit about your attraction.

Severn Valley is a heritage railway.  It is 16 miles long and runs from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth in Worcestershire.  The attraction includes six stations, two pubs, three restaurants, a museum and everything else in between. Our motto is ‘Step Back In Time’ as this is what we want visitors to do, so they can see what transport was like in the age of steam.  We try to get a balance between heritage and also a modern, dynamic experience.

 

How do you recharge during the morning?

I just go down to the station.  Once there I can soak up the real-life buzz and excitement of visitors as they experience our café, shops and get ready to ride the trains.  It is fantastic to see the excitement and joy across the generations and to hear them discussing their memories from the past.  There is something very special about the station in the morning.

 

What’s your favourite lunch-time snack?

As a treat, I go up to Highley to our Visitor Centre and buy a lamb and mint pasty.  It’s a treat as once there I can look out across the amazing countryside views. Mind you, I don’t do this too regularly as the pasty, though absolutely delicious, isn’t necessarily the lowest calorie lunch you can have!

What’s your average afternoon routine?

In the afternoons I like to get the team together and we talk about future plans and activities.  We like to plan at least nine months ahead so are very used to planning Christmas in early summer. After my team meetings I try to go back down to the station and ask passengers about their experiences.  I always ask them if they have enjoyed themselves and they always say yes.

 

How do you chillax at the end of the day?

I really enjoy popping on the train into Worcester, having a meal with my partner and meeting friends.

 

What’s your favourite part of what you do?

I think the variety of my role is something that I have always enjoyed; no two days are ever the same as we are always thinking of new ideas and looking at new things to develop.  The Severn Valley Railway, apart from being a railway and a tourist attraction, is an engineering works and runs apprenticeships.  We try to innovate and have a strong team who know who they are and what they are about.  I think that strength comes through to passengers, makes my role rewarding and helps me feel part of something special.