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Churnet Valley Railway General Discussion

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by Sheff, Dec 6, 2013.

  1. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    The Isle of Wight do very well with a (mostly) one train service over five miles; in part because they have decided what sort of railway they want to be, and then focus tenaciously on delivering just that.

    The problem with getting bigger is that the costs to deliver the service rise quicker than your ability to raise fares and passenger numbers to cover those costs. Not only more infrastructure to maintain, but also if your core service starts going from one train to two to three and so on, you keep adding to the number of locos and carriages you need available for traffic. To run a routine three train service, you probably need about 8 locos nominally in service, to allow for washouts, minor repairs etc. That means you need the capacity to overhaul a loco every year.

    Then you get into the frightening infrastructure costs. Pretty much without fail, all of the long-established long lines (say, > 10 miles) have found themselves in recent years facing significant infrastructure renewal costs; some have coped financially better than others, but in pretty much every case, they are involved in infrastructure work that is costing hundreds of thousands per year just to stand still.

    I wouldn't argue that a line such as the SVR should therefore make itself shorter; but for line like the CVR, there may be better options for how to improve the quality of the product than just assuming that inevitably bigger is better.

    Tom
     
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  2. ghost

    ghost Well-Known Member

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    Depends on your catchment area for volunteers to operate/maintain/pay for the railway. In a sparsely populated area a 5-6 mile line is a lot easier to maintain and operate than a 10 or 15 mile line.

    Keith
     
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  3. Martin Adalar

    Martin Adalar New Member

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    Not quite sure how the IOW railway could expand if they wanted to. SVR May be 16 miles long now but that wasn’t always the case, if your ideas had been prevalent in 1970 there is no way they would be the premier steam railway they are today; at the time the local Tory MP Gerald Nabaro wanted to build houses on the Bridgenorth site, apparently to raise funds for the rest of the railway, fortunately they managed to be rid of him.
     
  4. Martin Adalar

    Martin Adalar New Member

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    I wouldn’t describe North Staffordshir/South Cheshire as a sparsely populated area but NYMR is most definitely in a sparsely populated area - all 22 miles of it, so I don’t know how they go on. Perhaps some of the members of this group can give them a bit of business advice.
     
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  5. gwalkeriow

    gwalkeriow Well-Known Member

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    Well the IOW Railway is currently in negotiations to extend operations into Ryde St Johns. It could also extend towards Newport, but the costs would be astronomical.
     
  6. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    They have also had 50 years since then to build up the necessary support structures to run such a line.

    I'm not against extensions per se; it's just that if you are going to promote them, you should at least do so with a realistic plan for how you are going to resource the ongoing maintenance and operational requirements of an expanded line once built. Contrary to belief, most heritage lines aren't genuinely profitable; at best, they survive on the back of substantial subsidy, partly in cash from altruistic donors, and partly in donated time. If you are going to expand, you simply increase the amount of such subsidy you require, so you need to be realistic in the likelihood that you will be able to access it.

    (Look at the WSR for a salutary tale of a line whose accounts indicated, and I suspect whose supporters believed, that they were broadly profitable, right up to the point when it was suddenly revealed they weren't. The nature of heritage railway assets is that they are slow to depreciate but expensive to renew; that's a real problem if you aren't making proper provision for renewal in your business model. Extension just makes that problem bigger because you end up needing more of everything - more track, more buildings, more carriages, more locos).

    Tom
     
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  7. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Well, this member of the group can give some advice; the optimum length for a heritage railway is generally acknowledged to be about 5-6 miles. Beyond that you start to look at two train services and that has an immediate negative impact on costs that requires a quantum leap in visitor numbers. Don’t think about expanding beyond this unless your present income will support it with a good surplus. Extending to increase income is nonsense.
    My only caveat is that you cannot stand still and you must always have achievable goals but these don’t have to be extensions.
     
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  8. Davo

    Davo Member

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    Going up to leek also would involve topping and tailing maybe S160 at front leading from chedd and diesel tailing or S160 a front hotspur or whiston banking or if aloop were to be installed at leek station new site a run round loop maybe but more cost wi a run round loop. Is there a museum planned or already exists at leek for the north staffs railway society i know a NSR Tank 0.6.2. Exists at foxfield and a battery powered shunter is there any NSR coaches exist?
     
  9. Pbrian49

    Pbrian49 New Member

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    I believe the plans submitted for the end of the line at Leek would include a run round loop.
     
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  10. Davo

    Davo Member

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    That would be 5 loops then eventually but the kettles only take water at cheddleton is there a water point at froghall? And a loop a ipstones not always used on the T.A.T. trains though when 2 a day run to ipstones 1 good thing as well for future visitors to leek will have easier access to shops in leek rather than going to froghall cafe or consall or buy off the buffet on the train.
     
  11. lil Bear

    lil Bear Part of the furniture

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    The plans for Leek were linked in the press release - currently a run-round loop is planned that can hold 1x loco and 8x coaches. This may / may not be extended to 10x, there was talk of but I'm not directly involved with the planning team on this. I appreciate your interest, but please read the facts instead of posting what is in essence rubbish - we have enough people trying to knock us as it is.

    A North Staffs museum is planned at Leek, but this would be a later development after the line has opened. No(7)2 is now in the custodian of Foxfield, BEL1 is owned by the NRM - but their latest document indicates they are not keen on static loans going forwards once Sheldon has been developed. The Knotty Coach Trust are launching their 3x coach rake of 4-wheelers in May, and they have the NSRC 1st Class to do next and then enough bits of 2x more to make 1x good one - giving them a 5x coach rake. The full set will visit CVR at some point, but their home is Foxfield. After that there isn't much NSR stuff left.

    Broadening the range - LNWR locos have aa history in the area considering the LNWR + NSR had running rights over each other's lines. The Midland also used to run their Cromer Express along the CVR before WW2. Further GWR 7714 + 7715 were built in Stoke by Kerr-Stuart, there's a few stories to be told of railways in North Stafford - see what is developed when the time comes.
     
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  12. lil Bear

    lil Bear Part of the furniture

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    We mainly water at Froghall, Cheddleton is only used at galas and when a Tank Engine is being used on the Ipstones line.

    Froghall currently is only signalled to be a run-round loop, though there are plans to make it a passing loop when the finance becomes available.
    Consall is all set as a passing loop, though maybe upgraded at some point.
    Cheddleton will get a passing loop, when the embankment is fixed. This is currently being worked on, but will be a slow process and is dependant upon finance.
    Leekbrook is primarily a run-round loop, but can be set up as a passing loop when required.
    Ipstones is purely a run-round loop currently, some of us would like to see it become a passing loop when we re-open towards Cauldon but it will need a lot of money to come our way plus the completion of more vital projects first.

    And from a railway point of view, people leaving the line to go and use the cafes in Leek etc is not ideal. Our secondary spend income has been greater than our primary spend income at times. The cafe in particular is one of our biggest earners. We obviously have Froghall, and the plans do still exist for Cheddleton to get a new tearoom at some point.
     
  13. lil Bear

    lil Bear Part of the furniture

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    Not picking on you per say Tom, but why is everyone making out CVR current extension is potentially over doing it?

    Leek is LESS than a single mile (0.8m I seem to remember). This very small extension will see the line enter the biggest town in the area, where redevelopments will include an additional car park, re-routed bus services that will enable greater accessibility (and the A53 has a better selection of bus services than the A523) and the whole canal marina developments of Barnfields. Once complete it will an attractive little area, and thats before we take into account the proposed museum. Llangollen midweek run a 1-train service on their 7.5 miles Llangollen - Carrog line, and have done so for years. Why is that workable, but CVR 6.3m Leek to Froghall is risky?

    Adding Oakamoor into the mix then increases us to 8.5m, but when it's serving the Moneystone holiday site surely it'd be foolish to ignore this option - especially when we already own the trackbed? Provisions will also be made to allow a further 2.5m extension to Alton Towers at a later date, but once the 8.5 mile is operational we will more than likely consolidate what we have and make sure that the line we have gives customers a day out - hence my mentioning of Cheddleton developments further up. Despite what you may hear, whilst our numbers maybe small the CVR have a number of switched on people, and we know how our railway works and where it needs to be developed. Leek will be the snowball that kicks us on, and break the 100,000 passenger mark. Currently we are between 70,000-80,000 per annum. That extra footfall will give us the extra income we need to develop in-house. Things are happening, and the clues are out there you just need to be patient.
     
  14. Sheff

    Sheff Resident of Nat Pres

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    Clearly you’ve never been to the Worth Valley then?


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  15. 49010

    49010 Member

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    Spoken like a True Tyke.;)
     
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  16. NeilL

    NeilL Well-Known Member

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    You can't accuse Sheff of being a 'tyke' !!!
     
  17. Sheff

    Sheff Resident of Nat Pres

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    Not had a better compliment for a while actually!
     
  18. Martin Adalar

    Martin Adalar New Member

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    I have been to the excellent KWVR but I don’t they chose to be a 5 to 6 mile line, I think that’s was decided for them by the line old MR.
     
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  19. Sheff

    Sheff Resident of Nat Pres

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    But that allows them to concentrate on their superb stations and rolling stock, rather than pouring money into track maintenance. If you’ve got the right topography small can be beautiful. CVR have this.


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  20. Martin Adalar

    Martin Adalar New Member

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    For every pair of passing loops you have there would a section for a train to occupy. If all those loops that you mentioned were in use then that would be a six train service which would be ridiculous for a line as short as the Churnet even if the Cauldon was running as well.
     

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