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Catering facilities on Heritage Railway trains (ex WSR and SVR Threads)

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by paulhitch, Aug 11, 2017.

  1. Bean-counter

    Bean-counter Resident of Nat Pres

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    My Partner and I had tea and biscuits in that carriage a few months back! As Tom has detailed, the Railway in question - the Tanfield - had at least 4 static locations doing refreshments of varying types - it was an event weekend but 3 of those locations were normal and permanent. We sampled 3 of the 4 and all were excellent.

    The Tanfield is probably the nearest of the mainland standard gauge lines to the IoSWR in terms of use of period stock - not even (yet) any bogie coaches (there was a bogie brake on loan from Beamish but I think it has gone back). The coach in question is this: http://www.cs.vintagecarriagestrust.org/se/CarriageInfo.asp?Ref=898. It provides a very pleasant experience which adds to the train journey and includes the 'value' (and hence price that can be charged) of making the journey - being able to travel in it certainly meant we did a longer journey and actually spent more on both tickets and refreshments.

    The Tanfield is only 3 miles long, shorter then the IoSWR. Amongst its collection of coach bodies, the IoSWR must have something that could be restored to provide a similar service and enhance the experience of visiting the line for those for whom refreshments on the move enhance the experience of travel and make them more likely to do so, and certainly repeat the experience. It seems to me that the IoSWR are missing out on an opportunity and their passengers on an enhanced service.

    Steven
     
  2. gwalkeriow

    gwalkeriow Well-Known Member

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    A few years ago we were within a hairs breath of acquiring LBSCR 7996 http://www.cs.vintagecarriagestrust.org/se/CarriageInfo.asp?Ref=5428 . That would have given just that opportunity without having to modify an existing coach.
     
  3. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    What happened to it Gary?
     
  4. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    https://www.facebook.com/iwsteamrailway/photos/pcb.1630407550368052/1630401027035371/?type=3

    These excellent pictures by John Faulkner show exactly what the IOWSR is about. At lunchtime, the time from terminus to table is never more than eleven minutes. Even I cannot wolf down a meal in quite so short a time. When you are talking about the brilliant steak & kidney pie the kitchen staff produced the other day it would be an insult to their hard work.

    This is a rural branch line, which also happens to hold a Visit England Gold Accolade. Just as Blenheim Palace, Beaulieu and the Tower of London do.

    PH
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
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  5. Bean-counter

    Bean-counter Resident of Nat Pres

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    So any visitor who would like to enhance their experience by dining on the train (in any form), without having to get off, queue in the tea room, wait for the next train and get back on again, shouldn't be allowed to because you think it would ruin the 'branch-line experience', even if facilities were provided in a period coach (and quite possibly one which wouldn't need adapting should a chance to acquire it reappear)?

    Very customer focused - surprised you think passengers in modern dress should be allowed on the trains or the platforms for fear of spoiling the 'branch line' ambiance - not to mention the very non-branch line levels of overcrowding described elsewhere on here on busy days!

    Steven
     
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  6. gwalkeriow

    gwalkeriow Well-Known Member

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    It was sold on for further use as a chalet.
     
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  7. Platform 3

    Platform 3 Well-Known Member

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    I had a trip in that carriage recently as well - really lovely. They were using it for multiple purposes, had a lovely attendant who was a real enthusiast for the service they were offering, and made it a railway I wanted to revisit. It was the bit of magic- much like carriage 150 on the Ffestiniog as a different type of experience, which makes railways so much more than just a journey.

    Sent from my SM-J330FN using Tapatalk
     
  8. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    This IMHO is getting rather silly. Havenstreet station was revamped by the Southern Railway so as to be operated by one man. It was not even given electric light. Nowadays two people are in the gift shop alone and a lot of things are sold that require electrical power in some way or another. If "heritage" is to be more than an empty word, a bit of care needs to be exercised in how change is managed.

    You criticise the IOWSR for being too purist. Someone, on another post criticises it for not being purist enough. You are both wrong!

    PH
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 6, 2017
  9. LC2

    LC2 Member

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    Surely, unless the railway is very small, or has made a concious decision to completely volunteer run, then the role of organising the running of the catering operation ought to be one of the paid posts.
    As you tightly say, there is more to it than simply turning up and doing your turn behind the counter (whether that be on train or on station).
    The arranging of rosters, organisation of menus and ordering of the food, the tasks to ensure hygiene etc. are something best organised by someone whose job it is to do those things.
    It sounds like your railway was lucky to have someone do it as a volunteer who was so good at it.

    I would suspect that on most established lines the person in charge of the restorations and repairs, the marketing, the operations are not unpaid volunteers (which allow people to
    ). So why should the catering organisation be left to volunteers.
    It's generally accepted on this thread that having catering is important (albeit it's not agreed on whether it should be on train or not).
     
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  10. michaelh

    michaelh Well-Known Member

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    For once, I agree with PH - 11 minutes is far too short to need/enjoy any form of catering experience.

    I'm not sure that your comments re modern dress add anything to this particular discussion.
     
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  11. Platform 3

    Platform 3 Well-Known Member

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    According to the IOWSR, the average round trip takes just over an hour. 11 minutes is the journey time from Smallbrook Junction to Havenstreet. Of course it might that the timetable is inaccurate- I've only been there once so couldn't comment. Seems enough time to do catering - which of course is different from saying that it should be done just because many other railways do so successfully.

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  12. toplight

    toplight Well-Known Member

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    I must admit your great post and checking out the Tanfield website and all those vintage coaches inspires me to go and visit this line one day. We seem to hear very little about the Tanfield, Why don't we hear more about it in the magazines etc ? I hardly knew it existed. Always think of Beamish nearby instead.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2017
  13. michaelh

    michaelh Well-Known Member

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    With reference to OTC though, its the 11 minutes that is relevant - not just over an hour.
     
  14. Martin Perry

    Martin Perry Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    Therein lies the rub; all tourist/heritage/preserved railways have had to compromise to manage the present day situation, much of that change has not been planned from start to finish, but most have reached a stage of equilibrium where they meet the needs of their visitors and volunteers to a level that they feel is appropriate. Fine tuning will continue undoubtedly, but what suits one railway will not suit another ... and will definitely not suit all the enthusiasts or forumites :)
     
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  15. huochemi

    huochemi Well-Known Member Friend

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    You would like the NYMR Paul. I have been on five trains (not the diner) in the past few days, including a Pickering - Whitby service all the way, and they do not seem to have any buffet cars. There is supposedly a trolley on some services and we did see it once being determinedly pushed through our coach without soliciting any orders. :cool:
     
  16. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Depends, I suppose, how positively the wares are promoted. On a railway described to me recently as "too long", this is one location where I would have thought a case could be made for onboard catering.

    PH
     
  17. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Unlike my experience of a couple of weeks ago where the trolley attendant asked everyone if they wanted refreshments.
     
  18. Brunswick Green 2

    Brunswick Green 2 New Member

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    Having looked in on the Grosmont web cam recently there are certainly buffet cars in some of the Moors sets (not the Teak set because of vandalism), cannot say whether they were operational. Perhaps a shortage of volunteers? As for the trolley operation could it be for convenience sake it was being moved to the other end of the train before sales began? I hope you reported your experience to the railway at the time, rather than just taking to social media like so many people seem to do these days. After all if a supplier of a service is not informed of failings how can they improve?
     
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  19. 61624

    61624 Well-Known Member

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    I believe there is a wish to include buffet cars on every train on the NYMR and an additional example is in the process of being acquired, but this is a line that has always favoured trolley service over buffet cars. With a journey time of about an hour Pickering-Grosmont, and an hour and a half Pickering-Whitby, I think nowadays people expect some form of refreshment offering. It might not be "heritage" on this line, but expectations have evolved over the years, just as they have with regard to toilets!

    The catering side of the NYMR is mostly run by paid staff. Most people who volunteer are railway enthusiasts and want to do railway-related tasks, whether that may be engineering-type work or operational. Running a catering trolley or buffet car doesn't really float their boat. That is a generalisation, of course, and there are those who take on these duties as volunteers but they are very much in the minority.
     
  20. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

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    I don't understand this. You can have an 11 minute ride and then get off to find some food and drink. You then either go the rest of the way on a later train or go straight back without the longer ride. How does that support the case against providing catering on the longer part of the journey?
     
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