After many years of successful preservation and operation as a visitor attraction, the Railway recognised that it could further develop its role as an educational charity, undertake many more restoration projects, and become an even greater force in Island tourism.
Additionally, the development of the Strategic Vision was driven by the fact that the Railway has outgrown many of its facilities. The document touches on most areas of the Railway’s operation and sets out aspirations in a number of areas including:
• Designating the whole railway as a museum and developing the ‘heritage’ aspects of the Railway
• Increasing the membership, increasing the support given to the management and staff, developing the volunteer resource, and supporting the ‘preservation’ of traditional steam engineering and operating skills
• Restoring numerous items of historically important rolling stock, securing other examples of former Island stock, and maintaining our nationally important collection of rolling stock and artefacts
• Securing additional land and property and acquiring historically important buildings
• Developing much-needed new buildings including an entirely new mechanical engineering workshop, a rolling stock display and interpretive facility, a new entrance building (to include booking hall, shop, and offices), and new buildings for educational, museum and commercial uses.
• Increasing the train operating capability
• Maintaining a policy of expanding the line if it becomes practicable
IW Steam Railway Chairman Steve Oates explains, “The Strategic Vision is not a ‘business plan’ in the traditional sense. It is a long-term strategy document, setting out policies, principles and proposals to guide our thinking and decision-making over the next 20 years”.
The document also provides an insight into the likely long-term financing requirements to fulfill the Strategic Vision, while also recognising it is essential not to jeopardize all that has been achieved so far. It also highlights the need to develop new funding streams and fund-raising strategies.
Focusing on the substantial levels of funding that will be required, Chairman Steve Oates said, “When we think back, we can clearly see that our railway has already achieved a great deal and that there have been very substantial levels of investment already undertaken. If we then think forward, we can clearly see the enormous benefit to this Island in further developing the Steam Railway as a first-class tourist attraction, as a major employer, as a living museum with a unique and nationally important collection of heritage rolling stock and artefacts, and as a source of inspiration and enjoyment for generations to come”.