THE chairman of West Somerset Railway has said the directors are confident the company will return to trading profitability, despite recording a loss of more than £800,000 in the 15 months up to March 2019.

West Somerset Railway PLC chairman Jonathan Jones-Pratt says he is confident the measures now being taken will secure the future of the railway.

The state of the finances has been revealed in the accounts and report to shareholders ahead of an annual meeting due to be held on December 14.

Company directors have told the auditors they are confident they have enough cash reserves to continue trading for another 12 months.

But in their note to the accounts the auditors say the railway remains in need of regular and significant capital investment.

“In recent years this investment has been financed from cash reserves as the level of profit generated has not been sufficient.

“In future the company will need to generate more profit or identify other ways to finance this continued investment.”

They warn that the company’s forecasts of being able to generate more cash from ticket sales and special events may not be achieved.

“These events or conditions indicate that a material uncertainty exits that may cast significant doubt on the company’s ability to continue as a going concern,” they warn.

However in his report to shareholders chairman Mr Jones-Pratt says in the eight months since March the railway’s fortunes have improved and projected income for next year suggested the company would remain solvent.

In his chairman’s report Mr Jones-Pratt said: “In the early part of my tenure as Chairman I determined that the mistakes of the past would not be repeated.

“I undertook a wide-ranging change to the governance of the company to install new board members as well as addressing any potential conflicts of interest arising.”

Part of the loss is ascribed to the company’s £1.2 million annual wage bill, however that has now been slashed by £350,000 with chairman Jonathan Jones-Pratt telling shareholders that there are hopes of reducing it by a further £100,000.

The wage bill rose significantly after volunteers left in numbers following a row with the previous WSRA board.