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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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    Quite! But this seems to be the approach of some - that those who chose to spend their time and money on a steam train ride will do as they are told when it comes to refreshment - buy before boarding or get off, queue in the Tea Room and then wait for the next train.

    As far as I am concerned, it is the hour or so round trip that offers the opportunity for am on board catering offer. Before anyone needs the smelling salts, I am NOT suggesting the IoWSR or Tanfield should include a Mark 1 RMB or kitchen car in their trains, but hold up the Tanfield example of what can be done without compromising the overall ambiance being aimed for - and, from @gwalkeriow's posting, it sounds as though the IoWSR would be open to the idea if they could obtain a suitable vehicle. The obvious standard of their restorations mean such a suitable vehicle would clearly be an absolute gem and a joy to 'take tea' while travelling in!

    As has been pointed out, 'accurate' recreation of a branch line = going bust - hence my point that passengers in modern dress (forgive the slight personal joke here, having seen a photographer ask for a vintage tram to be moved about a metre to ensure a modern tram was out of shot while the clearly visible passengers inside the tram were most definitely not in period costume!) and the level of crowding are both compromises from a 'bucolic past' which may not even have been accurate in the summer months, as I am sure the railways of the IoW were always busy in the peak times.

    For railways that, 'accurately' or not, do use Mark 1s, the difference in weight between the lightest Mark 1 (with BR1 bogies) at 33 tons and an RMB at about 38 tons (with Commonwealth bogies) is not going to require a significantly bigger loco, nor will having 44 instead of 64 seats mean an extra carriage is needed in many cases. Cramming passengers in is never going to improve their experience, so having a set that has 'too many' seats, if possible, is always a good point of customer care. Very few lines are genuinely short enough for there not to be the opportunity to serve refreshments, and, done properly, enhance passenger's experience, can be very lucrative - and appealing to potential volunteers. A number of railways have volunteer groups doing very high quality refreshments such as at the Weighbridge at Levisham, who are entirely volunteers!

    Steven
     
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  2. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Because there isn't any case, economically, practically or historically to provide on train catering in these circumstance..
    Forgive me but you do have a strange obsession. I suggest you actually go to the IOW, find out the geography at first hand and see if there is any real, genuine, difficulty about what I suggest. Certainly hacking about genuine pre-grouping rolling stock, of which there is precious little, to provide instant access to plastic cups of tea is, frankly, appalling.

    As for the saloon which never materialised, this was an L.B.S.C.R. inspection saloon body which the owner found he could get money for and did. As far as I understand, the idea was to use it for private hire. This was because there were no corridor connections. From what I now gather this would be no problem to beancounter. Just take a saw!

    PH
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 6, 2017
  3. Paul.Uni

    Paul.Uni Member

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  4. Rosedale

    Rosedale Member

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    The RMB in the maroon set is usually staffed, as is the Gresley RMB when in service and also the Gresley RF (ex-TO) as often as not. That said, I don't think that I have ever seen the plum and custard Mk.1 TSO(B) staffed in the twenty-odd years since it was converted.
     
  5. Hirn

    Hirn Member

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    When the Bluebell less than 3 miles long, the solution to having long enough on the train to eat a full meal was to run the dining trains
    very slowly indeed.
     
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  6. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    And in turn you may wish to consider the size and scale of the Tanfield, and the catering offer that is being described, as from the perspective of a very satisfied customer. I would suggest a lot of potential similarities exist.

    You have pushed the importance of market research and customer feedback before. It seems rather perverse to then reject such feedback out of hand as being unsuitable.

    This is not to suggest that it must happen - there may well be other, better, uses of time, money, and resources within the context of the IoWSR - but the outright hostility seems disproportionate to me.


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  7. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    I know nothing of the business pattern of the Tanfield Railway, its customer base or the sort of catering facilities available on "dry land". Thus I won't comment on how they do things. Similarly I think you ought to come and see the IOWSR first.

    The catering facilities at Havenstreet are substantial, very lucrative and continually developed. Another outlet has gone in alongside the Train Story visitor centre this year. Havenstreet is where the vast majority of visitors join the trains, which is a hard fact many enthusiasts seem unable to grasp. It has had to be developed, both to cope with this use and to provide things to appeal to non-enthusiast visitors. Thus it is the place refreshment facilities need to be and, no doubt, they will continue to be developed.

    The fleet of pre 1925 passenger stock is the USP of the IOWSR. It is surprising and annoying that some (not all) enthusiasts are prepared to countenance wrecking the interiors of this stock in order to provide tea on an eleven minute journey.

    PH
     
  8. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    I get your argument; however, I think you keep weakening your own case by referring to a notional "11 minute" journey time. That is in effect the time from Havenstreet to a station with no significant passenger facilities, after which the loco runs round and returns. Far more realistic to base your assumptions on the passenger journey that, by your own admission, the bulk of people do, i.e. a Havenstreet - Havenstreet round trip, which is closer to an hour. I also think you are somewhat casually switching between refuting an "RMB" model (which clearly will never work on the IoWSR) and a "cream tea" model, which may or may not work, but isn't out of the question given the very similar set up at Tanfield.

    Incidentally, at that latter railway, in addition to the on-train cream tea service, there are fixed catering outlets at Andrews House, Marley Hill and East Tanfield, which seemingly do not suffer as a result of the on-train cream tea offering. To put those locations into some sort of geographical and operational context, imagine Andrews House = Havenstreet; Marley Hill = Train Story; East Tanfield = Smallbrook Junction (with no catering at Sunniside / Wootton) and you will get a pretty good impression of how closely similar the two set ups are in spatial terms - even to the extent that the Tanfield train service effectively starts and finishes at the intermediate station (Andrews House) with the basic journey being a round trip starting in the middle and going to each end in turn before a return to the middle where there is a pause, the loco takes water and passengers change over. Sound familiar?

    Tom
     
  9. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Part of the furniture Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

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    The 11 minutes comments (as someone else mentioned that earlier in the thread), seems to confuse the running time to the end of the line with the total time of the experience which is a round trip. It's a completely different scenario to what's being suggested.

    Good post btw Tom.
     
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  10. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    In addition to @Jamessquared's comments (which have the benefit of personal experience of Tanfield that I sadly lack, but which seem entirely relevant and reasonable), you miss my point about approach. There may be many good reasons why a "cream tea" operation wouldn't be viable or appropriate on the IOW. However, to simply dismiss it out of hand as inappropriate and unnecessary smacks of nothing more or less than "not invented here".

    Other railways ARE using added value services like cream teas, and presumably finding that they are making additional net income as a result - which comes as little surprise to me*. I fail to see why such innovation is automatically a bad thing, especially if they can be provided at marginal cost using existing assets & staff.

    * - I volunteer at my church, and we run a coffee shop with volunteers. When we do events, and set up for cream teas, it is noticeable that they drive a great deal of business, and also have high margins. To judge by the majority of National Trust sites I've visited, we aren't alone in that experience.
     
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  11. Paul.Uni

    Paul.Uni Member

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    Back in March I went to the Bluebell Railway. On the train was the Great Northern Saloon. For a supplement you could travel in the saloon and purchase tea/coffee and cake. I thoroughly recommend it.

    To my eyes it looked like it had been restored to a high standard and certainly not 'hacked' so that tea could be served.
     
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  12. goldfish

    goldfish Resident of Nat Pres

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    Some of these threads pitch it into 'WIBN' territory…

    ;)

    Simon
     
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  13. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Right you lot (he says rudely), none of you seem to have taken in what I have written previously so here goes again

    If you join at Smallbrook from Island line it is an eleven minute journey to Havenstreet where the refreshment facilities are. Go by bus or car to Wootton and the journey to Havenstreet takes six minutes. Most visitors come by road to the latter place where they come upon refreshments straight away. Quicker than if they waited for a hypothetical buffet car to arive.

    Now for vehicles. The idea behind the L.B.S.C.R. saloon was indeed for cream teas to be provided. However, its owner had second thoughts about donating the body and sold it off. There are no saloons available apart from the Ventnor West set and if anyone suggests that gets converted into a tea car they had better flee the country! I thought gricers were supposed to be heritage conscious but seemingly not. I am no longer surprised that the hardest thing to find in use on a tourist railway is reasonably authentic branchline carriage stock.

    PH
     
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  14. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

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    The Paignton-Dartmouth line had a dining train some years ago. It ran from Paignton where adequate servicing arrangements were and ran to the siding at Hoodown. Diners were able to view all the activities on the river and its beautiful surroundings whilst they dined.
    Once the shipping side of the company was incorporated dining was transferred to one of the ships and the service trains used to convey the diners to the the vessels boarding point.
    Dining train stock is quite expensive to maintain and are subject to extra legislation where catering is concerned. I know, from posts here, that some trains do well financially and pay for their upkeep - mainly because they are staffed with free labour - however reasonably or poorly filled dining trains are quite likely to be a drain on limited cash flows for many lines. Questions arise about less well patronised dining trains - are they financially worthwhile and an asset to the railway? or are they simply another attempt at trying to be all things to all people?
     
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  15. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Well, Smallbrook Jnc ain't gonna be around long enough (as a station) to get too het up about.... a bit of optimism doesn't go amiss here IMHO and it's a racing certainty that when St John's Road happens, it will be brought up to award winning standard, including three scoop raspberry ripple with sprinkles, in pretty short order. As anyone who knows the line will tell you, the IWSR just doesn't 'do' tatty!

    It really is such a shame that the ex-LBSC saloon 57, which met it's end as Inspection Saloon 6986, perished in 1969 (How far carriage restoration has come on since those dark days!). By now, Paul wouldn't be the only one hurling brickbats at anybody suggesting it's use as a glorified ice-cream van!
     
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  16. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    At last, a clear argument rather than IIVI (isn't it a vile idea). Thank you.


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  17. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Sprinkles be b******d. Minghellas do strawberry pavlova flavour with meringue flakes, "brown bread" flavour and best of all "The Empress's Peach Pudding" (crushed raspberries and peach puree). As supplied to Harrods, Fortnums and IOWSR. Worth getting off the train at Havenstreet for alone.

    Paul H
     
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  18. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Empress's Peach Pudding, :eek: i assume that only for those in receipt of a first class ticket, :( What do the oiks get?
    PS: As i was the one who advocated using the Ventnor west set as a catering vehicle, i'm in an airport lounge somewhere, waiting for my one way Flight to Somewhere, not even you can find me, :)
     
  19. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    They can buy exactly the same as anybody. There is no extra charge for the "weekly special" where these delights are found although the "ordinaries" are not at all ordinary.

    I suppose there is nothing to stop anyone eating one of these exotics whilst in the seat used by H M The Queen when she visited but you would need a first class ticket and don't mess the upholstery.

    Off to Ingoldmells then?

    Paul H
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
  20. gwalkeriow

    gwalkeriow Well-Known Member

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    Brave man :)
     

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