Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by Eightpot, Oct 4, 2011.
Restoration of 1466 seems to be progressing nicely - https://m.facebook.com/1466restoration/
It is rather a shame that the King looks to be going into hibernation for some time but at least it will be somewhere dry and indoors.
Hopefully over the next few years Didcot can consolidate their motive power situation- having to hire in branch power when they have such a fine selection of resident locomotives is a real shame.
I can certainly see some merit in hiring some 'star' (do you like what I did there...) motive power out for appearances elsewhere if it used as a tool to promote Didcot- I think 6023 has done a great job in this role for the last 2-3 years, and Pendennis and 2999 will hopefully do similar.
Id love to see Didcot get to the stage where they could field a representative field of operational GW motive power with perhaps an example of Small Branch/tank, Medium (Pannier/Prairie/56xx etc), a heavy freight example and either a Large mixed traffic or King/Castle were available simultaneously.
My idea would be that Didcot should loan out a locomotive to a railway who pay for the overhaul and run it for 8 years then return it to Didcot for its final two years on the demonstration line.
Didcot get a loco restored for free and two years use.
I have always thought the continued moving of one locomotive in and out of Didcot a waste of money and makes hiring them for anything less than a season very expensive.
I'm not surprised 6023 did not make it to the mainline. They had a massive task to achieve this and never received the support they needed, be that money or man hours.
So if we assume a loco overhaul takes 2 years, for every loco on site in ticket they need five out on loan. If they need 2 or 3 available on site they won’t have very many left.
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The logistics involving getting any loco on the mainline has to be a great factor, Didcot is a fairly small man power wise set up and limited to what they can afford to do, they have several problems, the demonstration line is limited length wise so engines are hardly able to show their potential , and the site is rail locked, any movements have to be via a short trip on NR to a suitable loading yard, GW engines are by design very wide over the cylinder , and such has been the squeezing of clearances that some classes that may once have fitted now just don't with out drastic changes to them in some cases its meant new outside cylinders to ensure they can still fit, but its a problem with any outside cylindered GW engine , but saying that, Didcot still would make a good designation for some rail tours assuming there are paths available so, i'm of the view that the GWS should give serious thought to basing 6023 elsewhere, like say the SVR where it could be used more and the GWS concentrate on something they can make use of, such as a pannier. or the weymouth docks shunter,
Unfortunately I suspect that some won't wish to or be able to view the latest imagine on the Didcot Railway Centre Facebook site but it serves as a reminder of what makes the place so special. Big engines resting inside the engine shed - magnificent https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=3309872789039586&id=161421647218065
And also, if all the GWS' most popular locos are farmed out, what happens to ticket sales at Didcot?
As they all look the same, would anyone know?
Once you have perfection why bother with variation?
That's why they all need to be together, so that the ignorant can spot the differences...
Is Fire Fly not popular then?
Certainly, having lots of GW engines in an authetic GW shed is what makes Didcot special, and if you scattered them to the four winds for overhaul and hire work that would not be smart. But equally we've seen Didcot loan 6023 and 4144 out with a good deal of success, so there is clearly a happy medium somewhere, with most locos based at Didcot with a few in steam or under overhaul, plus a couple loaned out. The problem with loaning out locos for overhaul is the host railway would probably want to get more running out of that engine than if it was just a short term hire, so it's a bigger commitment from Didcot to lose and engine for a lot longer than the summer season hires they've done recently.
I do wonder at the economics of hiring out locos.
Consider two scenarios. In the first, you have a loco. Railway “X” offers you 100 days per year @ 60 miles per day average duty for ten years (or however long it lasts!) for £500 per day. Or you keep the loco on site, giving it 20 days per year @ 10 miles per day with no nominal income directly banked to the loco.
Option 1 sees you get back a loco that has done 60,000 miles, in need of a total rebuild, with £500k in the bank. Option 2 sees nominally no money in the bank, but the loco has only run 2,000 miles and is likely to need next to no mechanical attention, just a boiler inspection, maybe new tubes, and a repaint.
Which would you choose? At the very least, option 2 looks like the lower financial risk. Totally worn out locos have a nasty habit of exceeding their overhaul estimate (time and money) once they are stripped down.
Or what about option 3 - the loco spends half its time hired out and half on your own line. Then you end up with only £250k in the bank, but the loco has still run 31,000 miles and will likely still need a complete strip down - the cost may not be much less than option 1, but only half the money in the bank.
Or even option 4 - you hire out the loco but then have to hire in (at cost) in order to deliver your own objectives of running a demonstration service for 20 days a year.
It’s all very well saying “hire a loco out to make money”. But I suspect such agreement may be more favourable to the hiring railway than the loco owner. Which is fine if the loco owner has as its core objective seeing its loco run (as is often the case). But maybe less fine if in essence a museum collection just ends up subsidising another organisation, particularly if in so doing it struggles to meet its own demonstration objectives.
If I were in charge at Didcot, I’d be looking at least to have a nucleus of locos that stayed on site, ran very low annual mileages, but which could be “turned round” at relatively low uncertainty in cost and time.
Well said. Hiring out a locomotive to make money is only viable if you can make a significant *profit* from doing it. There's also the consideration of what your volunteers think if the loco they spent all that time on b*****s off to the other end of the country and doesn't come back until its clapped out.
Certainly nothing to disagree with there as ever Tom, I think your last 2 paragraphs are worth noting - it's not always just about economics; for instance the 6023 guys absolutely loved their visit to the GWSR, I understand that, if they didn't actually ask to come back the year after they were very happy to have been asked again! And on that last point, those probably ought to be the small locos that rarely leave that are most suited to the duties, but which doesn't preclude a bigger engine taking the turn when it's not out visiting elsewhere such as the King or the Saint.
On option 1 vs option 2, I wonder how different both options would be with, say, a 14xx and a King? E.g. a "simple" strip down and retube is going to be more expensive for the King, equally it can attract larger hire fees if out on overhaul and still probably not over exert itself too much with so much power in reserve.
Didcot has already had to hire a locomotive in to cover its calender running days. Having a couple of locomotives on long term hire would not be detrimental to the overall GWR shed experience at Didcot.
The GWS should of had A shop at Swindon when the works closed.
Many railways "hire" in locos internally ie they pay a daily rate to use locos which are normally based on that line (as distinct from brief gala event imports). This is predominantly the case on the newer lines but is increasingly being adopted by some of the older established lines. Pay as you use makes budgeting much simpler for the host line and there is then no real possibility that overhaul funding goes astray onto other projects as has been the case with the "use then fix" type of agreement. There is no question of making money or profit from these arrangements, more the challenge of achieving a decent surplus ready for the next overhaul. Groups with a small fleet of locos are at an advantage here because they can spend recent earnings on the current under overhaul loco whilst the other(s) are out working/earning.
Mentioned before, but the ‘exchange’ deal which saw 4144 spend the summer at the SVR while 1450 spent the same period at Didcot worked well for both parties. 4144 could work heavier service trains at the SVR while 1450 was better suited to Didcot’s shorter running line. A similar exchange with 7802 and 6960 was also working well until metal fatigue struck…
And what would they have done with that?
Do you mean in addition to Didcot? They struggle to find enough volunteers now, so no chance of running 2 centres.
Or perhaps you mean give up an original running shed and coal stage in favour of a huge barn of an industrial shed. How attractive would that be to the general public who only have a passing interest in railways?
PS. I was lucky enough to be able to visit Swindon a couple of times before final closure and it is a great shame that such a significant part of railway history has been turned into a shopping mall. No offense to STEAM museum, but it just doesn't come anywhere close to conveying what the works was really like.
Didcot's priorities may be a bit different from most, because the members belong to the Great Western Society, not the 'Didcot Railway Centre Supporters Association'. I'm sure there are some whose primary interest is keeping the Didcot operation going, but there will be many others who are primarily enthusiasts for the company and its history in many different forms and as a whole. That kind of member would probably want to see the Saint stretching its legs on a GW mainline south of Broadway (for example), and see that as fulfilling GWS objectives, even at a net cost to Didcot.
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