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Embsay & Bolton Abbey - Branchline Weekend - May 4th, 5th & 6th

Discussion in 'Galas and Events' started by Muppet, Mar 5, 2013.

  1. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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    I made a visit on Saturday and regret to say that I had 2 main complaints - the platform access fee and the paucity of caterng at Bolton Abbey.

    The main gripe was the platform access fee which - at £5:00 - I find excessive and aggravated by the fact that it is chargeable at both Embsay and Bolton Abbey - and is NOT a single price to cover both sites. I had £20:00 to spend but if that figure is to be halved by such charges then I would rather spend the £10:00 on buying something tangible such as food which is bought off-site. During my visit I heard many state that the fees charged had made them review their spending and buy off-site; a gain for the community perhaps but a loss to the railway.

    I did sample the cafe at Bolton Abbey and was surprised to find that at dinnertime on Saturday there was no warm food. Again I wanted to spend money on a bacon butty, a cup of tea and a cake but could only find a limit range of sandwiches which were not to my taste [e.g. no plain ham and cheese; plain ham;] thus forcing me to restrict my spending to a cup of tea and piece of cake - yet further loss of income that I desperately wanted to make and the railway need me to make.

    In the event I spent the day at the line side and whilst this was a pleasant experience given the variable weather of recent times my pleasure was diminished by the platform access charge which is too much IMHO - £1:00 would be acceptable and should encourage visitors to remain on site and spend - and the paucity of catering which is where most railways garner most profit.

    As an aside I visited the Churnet Valley Railway the following day and found the catering to be of a totally different standard with hot food available at both Cheddleton and Froghall; not only did it encourage spending as I spent £10:00 with no trouble at Cheddington but offered an ambience that was sadly missing on the Embsay & Bolton Abbey.

    I will doubtlessly return to the Bolton & Embsay Railway but that will be to photograph at the line side but NOT spend on the stations until the discouraging platform access fee is greatly reduced - if not removed altogether.
     
  2. Swiss Toni

    Swiss Toni Well-Known Member

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    The last time I went the platform access fee was nowhere near £5, that's just ridiculous.
     
  3. Muppet

    Muppet New Member

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    We don't normally do platform tickets at all for Gala days - up to now it has been full fare or no entry.

    This was an experiment as the event costs a lot to put on, and a lot of visitors do spend a long time at the stations to see what is happening. At the end of the day we need to make the books balance, otherwise we cannot operate such events. Platform tickets are for adults only, and we held child fares for the event at the same rate as per usual running. The alternative would be that we let people in to the platform to take pictures / videos on their very expensive camera gear, and put up the rover ticket prices to cover the shortfall. That way, though, all those who travel are subsidising the cost for those who want to see all the different locos / trains but not pay.

    On balance, it worked quite well, there being only a very small number of complaints, and from what was in service, we feel it is about the right amount. The tickets ARE valid at both stations to allow you to get the most out of it all. No-one has ever said anything other than this, so I am puzzled as to why it has cropped up.

    The issue of platform tickets per se is non-negotiable; if we do not have them, we cannot reclaim Gift Aid. On standard days, platform tickets are £1, again, just for adults as children need to be accompanied. Even flushing the toilets has a charge levvied on us as we are not on mains sewerage at Bolton Abbey...

    Catering again relies on volunteers; we have aspirations to be able to do more, we would really like to be able to offer more, but if we don't have people available...
     
  4. Platelayer

    Platelayer New Member

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    I'm sorry you had your visit marred by the 2 issues mentioned.

    Being honest, the catering at Bolton Abbey could be enhanced as you suggest and we hope to improve matters regarding hot food options there. Regarding your assertion '.....catering which is where most railways garner most profit.' - is that factually correct?

    Regarding the charge for a Platform Ticket, this policy is an attempt to make enough money from the event to cover the cost of staging it.

    Travellers on the trains get free access to the Platform as part of the ticket price (and everybody gets free parking regardless) so I must admit that the £5 Platform Ticket is an aimed at extracting some money from those who do not intend to travel but merely wish to admire and photograph the spectacle of regular train arrivals and departures. At other times the ticket costs £1.

    I've re-typed this post a few times in an attempt to remove any implied anti-photographer bias.

    If you'd like to help us out and suggest other ways of maximising revenue on these weekends please do offer your suggestions.
     
  5. Platelayer

    Platelayer New Member

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    See the reply elsewhere, normally £1.
     
  6. Muppet

    Muppet New Member

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    I sincerely hope you do not intend to photograph lineside as this would be trespass. I presume you mean from footpaths.

    I take great issue with your attitude that you ought to be allowed free entry to take your photographs (some of which you then publish) without contributing anything to the costs of operating the railway. Whilst we cannot prevent photographs taken from public locations, and would not seek to do so, we would hope that some recognition of the costs involved would be shown. Particularly at a gala. Otherwise you are arguing that you should be able to make money at our expense. This seems unreasonable and unappreciative of all the volunteers' efforts to save, restore and operate the line. I trust you have noted that the standard platform ticket is £1.00, and can see that there is a difference between access on a normal running day (1 engine in steam) and a gala (lots happening).

    If you do travel on the line and pay by GiftAd donation, you are given a platform ticket for free that is valid for one calendar year (barring special events). Hopefully that puts things into perspective.

    We do not try to deter people from visiting as you imply, and make great attempts to provide what those visiting want to see.
     
  7. Muppet

    Muppet New Member

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    We have taken great steps to improve the line for photographers, and I agree with Platelayer that I am not anti-photographers! As someone who enjoys taking pictures myself, I am aware there are less-than-ideal plantings of trees along the line (which should never have been put in as they are too close to the line and some structures.). Part of our work has had an impact upon these to improve matters, and you will notice that, to this end, a lot has been cleared. We also have a permissive footpath at Bolton Abbey, which gives alternative viewing angles to improve the experience.
     
  8. kesr

    kesr New Member

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    OK i see some things here on which I wish to comment, Platform Fees i believe should only be charged on non running days. On listening to the comments posted I am aleady against the idea of visiting the railway upon my trip to the area.

    Catering does bring in a lot of money accepted but I do not believe that it is the greatest part of income. Catering options should be simple and to the poitn ata minimal basic.

    As for photography and being lineside is there any opportunity of lineside photography (i.e. as other places running a course for such a thing).

    Lineside is the best opportunity for people to get photos that they otherwise may not.

    It s enthusiasts (i am speaking in general) that keep our heritage alive and in the railway world this is something that should not be passed upon.
     
  9. Platelayer

    Platelayer New Member

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    Why would a charge be levied on a non-operating day? We charge a nominal £1 for a Platform Ticket on operating days but such a thing is not necessary if a train ticket is purchased.

    Yes, I agree, it is enthusiasts that keep our heritage alive. Like myself and all the other Embsay volunteers, in this particular instance. All we ask is that a contribution be made.
     
  10. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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    To those who had the courtesy to reply first may I apologise if I gave the impression of trying to gain "something for nothing" but in order to contribute there needs to be (a) a choice and (b) an understanding by both sides from both sides. I note that the fee paid on the Gala Days covers both stations - I had been led to believe that each station made the charge and therefore I apologise for my misunderstanding of the situation.

    In response to Muppet I do NOT expect free admission then profit from the publication of images in magazines; I expect to contribute by spending on the railway and see my photography as a way of publicising the event by trying to show the event and the railway in the best possible light. If you wish to be pedantic the cost of fuel for my visit came to £12:00 and with the £20:00 I wished to spend that was a cost to me of £32:00; I do NOT gain that much revenue from publication of the images therefore I am guaranteed a financial loss to start. Paying for the platform fee would have reduced potential spend by (a) taking monies with little obvious benefit to me whilst (b) discouraging me from making a further contribution through purchases. As a comparison the KWVR charges £3:00 for car parking at Haworth but then refunds it against shop purchases / train tickets; I see no similar practice at Embsay.

    You state that the platform ticket is (a) Gift Aided and (b) valid for a further year from date of purchase; whilst this ameliorates the position it was NOT publicised in any way that I saw and certainly NOT to the members of the public who I met at the lineside and who commented on the charge and their reluctance to pay the fee for what they understood to be a one-off use.

    I certainly am NOT out to dissuade visitors to the railway as I have been a regular visitor for over 25 years but when a reasonable policy (if the additional detail given by Muppet but NOT clearly publicised is correct) is enacted in a way that deters visitors then I feel the least I can do is draw attention to the matter and ask how others view the matter so that the relevant person(s) can take note and clarify matters.

    I do appreciate the cost of staging these events and am happy to contribute when I visit by spending on books and meals then going to (non-trespass) lineside positions for my photographs. Had the platform fee been £1:00 there would have been little question BUT the charge of £5:00 with no suggestion of (a) Gift Aid-ing (b) offset against purchases or (c) lengthier validity than 1 day did deter some people and therefore there is no gauging either the loss of income on the day or the loss of future income from potential return visitors not wishing to return given the charges that were made.

    I have no wish to cause problem for the railway but if no-one raises the matter how will it be aware of problems and potential threats to its current and future income streams ?
     
    gwalkeriow likes this.
  11. george.sawdon

    george.sawdon New Member

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    Great gala, really enjoyed myself. Probably will be attending the 125th anniversary in October or whenever it is.
     
  12. Platelayer

    Platelayer New Member

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    Thanks George, glad you enjoyed it. I'll pass your message on to the organisers who worked very hard to make it an enjoyable and successful weekend.
     
  13. cct man

    cct man New Member

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    Not always so IMHO, it is the commercial side of things that pays for the gricers.

    Enthusiasts are slow to put their hand in their pockets in general.

    Regards
    Chris:
     
  14. Respite

    Respite New Member

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    I think griping at a £5 charge for a days entertainment is very heartless to everyone involved in putting on the gala. The volunteers had even been clearing the lineside in preparation. You got unique or pretty rare motive power and four different train types not just Mark 1s. There wasn't an hours wait between trains either like you would have had a competing event.
     
  15. forty

    forty New Member

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    IMO I think the railway should consider the addage of 'speculate to accumulate'. It's a bizarre thought process I know but a £5 platform ticket seems excessive to me when I WANT to spend my money at the railway on food, drink & shop goodies. I didn't pay £5 each for 2 x adults + free child but I would have happily spent that much on the above mentioned items..........................???

    At least that amount was advertised in advance - credit for that.
     
  16. Robert Heath No.6

    Robert Heath No.6 New Member

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    To be fair, he didn't say enthusiasts fund the railways, he said they 'keep our heritage alive'. I'd imagine most of the volunteers on any preserved line are enthusiasts, so it's not untrue...
     
  17. Platelayer

    Platelayer New Member

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    See my post#49
     
  18. Platelayer

    Platelayer New Member

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    The Yorkshire Dales Railway Museum Trust (Holdings) Ltd, which owns and runs the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway, is a Company Limited by Gaurantee and a Registered Charity. It runs the trains, charges for tickets and either makes a profit on the Branchline weekend or not.

    It does not immediately benefit from the Shops and Buffets on the Railway. These are run by the wholly-owned E&BASR Trading Company who covenant their profits directly to the YDRMT.

    Therefore, the train and platform ticket sales are the part of the equation when we decide whether to hold another weekend of this type BUT NOT the ancillary buffet/shop sales. We get the money from those much later.

    So, its not that we don't want you to spend your hard-earned in the shop and buffet - we do- but we need to make enough money on ticket sales.
     
  19. Steve Sienkiewicz

    Steve Sienkiewicz Well-Known Member

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    Lots of issues being raised on this thread but I think the bottom line is that the organisers are free to make whatever judgement call they like in terms of what charges to apply in order to try to make the event pay. I personally think that a £5.00 charge (in whatever way this is administered, e.g. car park / platform access), is perfectly reasonable and would still be a very cheap day out compared with a lot of other paid entry attractions. This is especially so when you consider what the costs would be of putting on an event of this type, with loco fees, coal, etc etc.
    As an aside, I visited the Llangollen gala a couple of weeks ago for the first couple of hours in the morning. My available time was limited and I spent it photographing at the lineside. For the last half hour of my time, I went to Llangollen station, hoping to have a walk around the platforms. I was quite happy to buy a platform ticket and make a donation, but I was refused access unless I purchased a gala travelling ticket. I wasn't even allowed to use the loo on the platform - again I explained I was quite happy to make a donation but access was refused. I think that the lady controlling platform access was quite embarassed, saying she was only imposing the rules as instructed.
    If the Llangollen staff had at least been given the discretion to accept a donation in exchange for platform access, I'd have happily paid £5.00 for the privilege and the railway would have gained a few extra quid in the coffers - doubtless from other people also who would have just liked to visit the station. So, given the choice between the Llangollen / Bolton & Embsay examples, I'd go with the latter every time!
     
  20. 47406

    47406 New Member

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    Well I certainly enjoyed the visit on Monday and thought the £15 was a reasonable price to pay for 5 locos / varied timetable, intend to return in October and use the discount on advance purchase tickets which is good idea.
     

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