Help us to develop the future of our railway
Since reopening the Spa Valley Railway in 1996 our heritage train services have provided pleasure to hundreds of thousands of visitors as well as to our dedicate volunteer workforce and society members. You don't need to be a railway enthusiast to appreciate the Spa Valley Railway's combination of heritage steam and diesel locomotives plus rolling stock, the fantastic LBSR shed, unique parallel running with Network Rail, the beautiful surrounding countryside and the way the line provides a link between attractions close to each station. However all of this comes at a price.
As our assets age, so the cost of ensuring that they are kept in good operating condition also increases. Ticket sales and catering income generally only covers normal day to day running costs and we rely heavily on the major contribution made by our volunteers who give many thousands of hours each year for free for the love of the railway to achieve this. However to further develop facilities and attractions, and to restore locomotives / rolling stock we rely on donations, grants and legacies.
Did you know for example that the cost of a 10-yearly steam locomotive overhaul can be in excess of £300k, and a carriage restoration can easily cost £50k. We would really love to boost our visitor facilities at Tunbridge Wells West to provide a museum area, better viewing of our stock under restoration and improved catering and toilet facilities, all of which can come with a hefty price tag even when using volunteer labour. Whilst we are blessed with undercover restoration facilities, much of our stock stands in the open all year round considerably increasing our maintenance costs so we also dream of the day when a greater proportion of our stock can be stored under cover when not in use. To thrive we need to both conserve what we have, and to constantly improve our facilities. Legacies to the railway can thus play a major part in making such dreams come true, by providing a source of revenue outside our normal day to day income.
Amongst the most common forms of legacies are:
- Residuary: this comes out of the remainder of your estate, after all other legacies, taxes, debts and expenses have been satisfied. It may comprise the whole of or a share of the residual amount.
- Pecuniary: a specified cash amount.
- Specific: a gift of a particular item such as property or shares.
- Default: paid out of your estate if there are no other beneficiaries left alive or if other organisations no longer exist.
Solicitors always like to have a default legatee when they draft a will as it tidies up any loose ends. We strongly recommend that you use a solicitor to draw up your will, or to amend a current one, which means that its execution will be simple.
There is an added benefit in leaving a legacy to the railway, which is that the "Tunbridge Wells and Eridge Railway Preservation Society” is a registered charity (No.1039493 ), and under current tax law a legacy to a charity can be donated free from Inheritance Tax, thus reducing the inheritance tax on the balance of your estate. Also many people are not aware that if you leave at least 10% of your net estate to charity then the inheritance tax rate on the remaining estate will be cut from 40% to 36%. This effectively means if you are considering leaving more than 4% of your estate to charity, you may wish to increase it to 10% as both your family and the charity will actually be better off.
If you are already considering recognising the Spa Valley Railway / Society in your will, or have already done so, we sincerely thank you. If you have already provided for the Railway in your will, please do take a few moments to ensure that it is the society name in your papers rather than the Company or railway Trading Name as this can be a common error.
We are not financial advisors and would obviously recommend you review your personal circumstances with a financial advisor, but if you would like to talk to us about anything contained in this article in the first instance please contact our Finance Manager Stephen Woolven in confidence, and he will be happy to help.
Together we can ensure that the Spa Valley Railway is able to further develop and improve for many years into the future.