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Great Central Railway General Matters

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by Reading General, Nov 11, 2017.

  1. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    My feeling is that although galas have remained fairly stable, and probably other events too, it's the bread and butter day-in-day-out operations that have most notably not recovered since Covid leading to shortfall.

    Edit - I should add, general comment, not specific to any particular railway (although one I've observed on my home railway).
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2024
  2. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

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    Definitely not, look at the SVR, Galas and events as robust as ever in bringing in visitors, normal days not. Not unique to them either.
     
  3. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

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    Agreed although less disposable income means people look for value and need and looking at various railways figures that the most perceived value is at galas or events.

    Although Covid definitely didn’t help and of course reduced income via the restrictions etc I think the cost of living crisis has had the most effect with the end consumer compensating for less disposable income and are more picky and choosy about what they do as a result, looking for the most bang for their buck so to speak - the aforementioned value.
     
  4. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    There’s a lot of talk about coal (indeed the GCR announcement even references it) but the one that really has bitten - and I suspect is a surprise to many - is electricity prices. No price cap for businesses in the way that domestic users had, and with large numbers of buildings, often poorly insulated, and maintenance activities dependent on extensive use of power tools, railways are big consumers. I was pretty taken aback that at one point a year or two ago, our electricity bill on the Bluebell was running at £1000 per day - considerably above the coal bill. Worse, it had gone from something like £200 per day - so it was like having another £1/4million added to the budget almost overnight.

    The other factors are all real, but that one is a massive shock - in a time of declining “turn up and go” passengers (as I believe is common across the sector) it was like needing to find another 15,000 passengers each year just to stand still.

    Tom
     
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  5. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    Evening all

    A great opportunity to support the railway and have a good railway day out (with me) . With thanks to the GCR a day with 75069 on the railways beautifully restored van train . 35 places and £125 will all money raised going to the GCR https://www.tickettailor.com/events/30742charters/1122253
     
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  6. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Absolutely Pete, to use a football analogy it’s all about being able to do it on a ‘cold, rainy night in Stoke’
    Going back to Simon Smiths comments about running 3 locos from early season I do wonder if that’s something that doesn’t exactly help with the coal situation, apart from the 2 standard moguls what else can Loughborough turn out that’s ‘small’?
    7714 and 1501 have both seen considerable use since Covid at the SVR I don’t think the GC has anything operational that’s similar at the moment.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2024
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  7. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

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    Yes not just in this industry the electric cost has been biting. I’m friends with someone who owns a group of holiday parks, the electric bill basically tripled, we are talking significant amounts of money, their problem with it was two fold. Firstly during the main season they can’t physically accommodate more people (although they have been trying to improve the off peak parts of the year), then secondly if they raised the prices to the real level required it would take them over the ceiling the customers would likely pay. Even the increase they did put in caused loads of moaning traffic on their social media.

    What those moaning don’t realise is the increase only covers part of the increase in costs, the company absorbing the rest and actually operating at their lowest margin of all time which is over 40 years now.

    In their case, Covid led to them having to sell one of their parks due to that happening at a time some big investment had just been made then came the electric and other cost increases which meant although they were lucky to actually get a really good price for the park they sold, but a big chunk of the money fork the sale has gone on absorbing some of the utility costs in the hope of riding it out and the prices come down.

    Looking at the GCR it will be interesting to see where the redundancies and cost savings come from as catering and on train dining are a large part of their operation and income and a lot of paid staff are used to provide it. One hopes that if the cuts come from there it doesn’t start a vicious circle by further reducing income.
     
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  8. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

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    In service there’s only really the austerity that’s on loan to Llangollen that fits the category.

    I do question if an 8 mile line needs so many 3 engine days, the GWSR at basically twice the length seems to manage okay with mostly two as does the WSR amongst others, given the journey time end to end it would seem the GCR would still be able to provide a decent enough service by reducing that requirement.
     
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  9. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    A visit to the GCR is a round trip which generally means your visit is over in the space of an hour . Quick wonder down to the shed and back and you are done . and that is maybe the biggest challenge , there isn't a great deal to do that captivates a family beyond the train ride
     
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  10. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    I'm not levelling any criticism at you but I do wonder if the GCR is underselling itself. How many people does it take to put the event on? It's a non-operating day so, at a guess, a driver, fireman and guard, at least one signalman and a duty controller. They may be volunteers but a cost needs to be put to these five people and I'd suggest £150/person isn't unreasonable. That's £750. Then there's coal. Assuming the loco is lit up from cold then three tons isn't an unreasonable figure at (say) £375/ton which is £1175. The loco is on hire so there is a hire fee. I'm quite out of touch with loco hire fees at the moment but pre-covid, £800+/day wasn't unrealistic for such a loco. Let's say £1200 /day now. Totting that up comes to £3125 and the expected revenue is. £4375. Does all this go to the GCR, I have my doubts? In all this I've ignored water, oil and wear and tear on stock and track and all the support services such as FTR's that are necessary to operate the train. Let's also not forget that electricity bill Tom has just mentioned.
    The figures I've used are all subjective but it does show that running a train is not a cheap exercise. We can look at it another way and say that on a normal day a loco and train can do 4 return trips over the line. GCR return fare is £25 so, dividing that £4375 by £25 is the equivalent of 175 passengers for the day. With four trains that is 44 passengers/train, about 2/3rds of the capacity of a Mk.1. I can't see that as being a worthwhile service to operate. Having said all that, as long as the income covers the direct costs it is contributing to the bottom line, even if it is only a small contribution.
     
  11. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

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    That’s not unique to them. I’ve said before heritage railways need to realise they are competing with other tourist attractions, theme parks, zoos etc for the family market and add something to attract them Some railway seem to understand that better than others.
     
  12. Daddsie71b

    Daddsie71b Member Friend

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    Scary, realistic figures. You haven't included paid staff, maintenance etc. Not sure what the answer is. At Swanage, in my opinion, we run far too many trains, so the chance for saving is easy. I find it interesting that the up and coming railways are having good years, whilst the 'premier league' are struggling.
     
  13. 1472

    1472 Well-Known Member

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    Can you point out which railways are having "good years" just now?
     
  14. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Hmm, not sure about some of those figures. I know we've disagreed about this before and I can see @Steve 's point of view, but I don't think it is necessary to put a cost on volunteers. That is time that they are donating. If you want to account for it fine, but that £750 is still going to the company, not the individuals. Presumably, set-up costs like shunting and FTR-ing will be fairly minimal as it's right after the gala when stuff will be out anyway, so probably little need to include much in the way of paid staff and maintenance costs either.

    Photo charters are never going to be money spinners, we all know that. But if they can cover their direct costs and make a contribution towards overheads, on a day that would otherwise be making no money (and no contribution to overheads), especially in the lean months when there's not much else coming in, then it feels worthwhile to me.
     
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  15. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Please don’t ask that question, we’ll get chapter and verse from how everyone else is wrong and those in charge of every other Railway should follow the lead of those on Vectis…
    :Gagmewithaspoon:
     
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  16. Hicks19862

    Hicks19862 Member

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    Has the David Clarke Trust now taken full ownership of 48305?
     
  17. Daddsie71b

    Daddsie71b Member Friend

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    Gwilli, Spa
     
  18. 3855

    3855 Member

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    Embsay...
     
  19. Simon Smith

    Simon Smith New Member

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    Those that are showing a profit in their accounts?
     
  20. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    Each line has a different economic assessment around charters albeit there is an increasing consistency in the costs charged and certainly from a comparison perspective are similar to the revenue from a footex day . There is a balance to not setting a cost so high that it is one the market cannot sustain it and a useful (from a cash in the bank, engagement , and also marketing perspective) but lower margin activity being lost
     

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