At the SVRSevern Valley Railway
Michael Draper was appointed to the Board of SVRSevern Valley Railway(H) as Finance Director on 1 January 1973 under the Chairmanship of Sir Gerald Nabarro. He also became a Director of the Guarantee Company. While Finance Director, he published several articles in SVR News on Finance and Commercial activities.
He became Acting General Manager following the resignation of Hugh Mossop in January 1976, initially on a part-time basis for the rest of that year pending appointment of a new permanent General Manager. He began the now familiar quarterly "General Manager's Notes" in SVRSevern Valley Railway News in summer of that year and was duly appointed permanent General Manager in 1977.
During his period of office the SVRSevern Valley Railway established itself as the self-proclaimed ‘Premier Steam Railway’. SVR Passenger numbers grew from 113,000 to 194,000, with the extension of the line from Bewdley to Kidderminster, with two successful share offers funding Kidderminster Town station and Bridgnorth Boiler Shop. Mr Draper travelled widely, speaking at meetings round the country, and was often featured in local Press and Railway magazines.
He was a proponent of the need for heritage railways to be financially solvent, part of a leisure industry and expected to show a profit.  “The two essentials for a preservation business – Love It – Make a Profit”.
Mr Draper is referred to for his repeated view there were too many heritage railways. In 1981 he said the ever growing steam movement was “sowing the seeds of its own destruction”.. He also wrote in 1997 “Make no mistake, there will not be 150 [preserved] railways and steam centres in this country at the end of the next thirty years”. Mr Draper’s predictions have not yet come to pass as, despite some failures, by 2019 The Heritage Railway Association has 180 member organisations regularly open to the public, with 156 of these operating with passengers.
Mr Draper continues to be a member of preservation groups with an SVR connection.
Departure from the SVRSevern Valley Railway
In the Annual Report for the year ended 31 December 1993 the SVRSevern Valley Railway(H) noted it was defending an unfair dismissal action brought by Mr Draper. The 1994 Share Prospectus noted proceedings had been issued against Mr Draper for recovery of approximately £16,000 and the 1994 Report noted a County Court claim by SVRSevern Valley Railway(H) against Mr Draper to “recover money owed to us” had been settled out-of-Court with a payment to the Railway of £21,000 “thus fully vindicating the action taken by the Board”.
He was succeeded by Alun Rees.
Other railway roles
He was also a Director of the Heritage Railways Association until 30 November 1994.
After his departure from the SVRSevern Valley Railway he held a similar role at another heritage railway for a short time.
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 26, 31
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 35, 36, 37
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 38
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 39
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 40
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 43
- Burton, Anthony, A Steam Engine Pilgrimage, Pen and Sword, 2017
- Deayton Alistair and Quinn, Iain, Waverley Steam Navigation Company, Amberley Publishing Limited, July 2014
- Brown, Jonathan, The Railway Preservation Revolution: A History of Britain's Heritage Railways, Pen and Sword, June 2017, p. 266
- Carter, Ian, British railway enthusiasm, Oxford University Press, January 2017, p. 284.
- Heritage Railway Association website (Retrieved 6 April 2019)
Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) PLC (company 01046274) on Companies House