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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. Matt78

    Matt78 Well-Known Member

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    I’d make the point that it’s probably a bit more complex than that. If the wage bill (say) is reduced that is a saving against future expenditure (although an initial hike for redundancy costs potentially) but doesn’t take into account other cost increases which may be anticipated. So 250k might be saved in the wage bill but if the coal bill rises then you are back to a similar position.

    heritage railways have to constantly review all costs and the chances of savings are often very limited without changing the mode of operations - I think this is were many are struggling as there has clearly been a depression in overall business since Covid if accounts from some of the larger lines are correct.

    Capital investment rarely comes from ticket income and this is often the preserve of grants/donations/borrowing or legacies:
     
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  2. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Just on a minor point - if you are funding capital investment from borrowing, then eventually that is coming from ticket income, because the borrowing (and interest) has to be repaid. The other income sources are, as you say, not coming from ticket income.

    I think one of the things that makes railways very difficult to compare is the varied ways in which they manage core activity through either paid staff or contracting out. For example, I'd suggest that "maintaining an operationally viable locomotive fleet" is core to the operation of a railway, but you can achieve it by owning your own locos or by hiring in; and doing overhauls in your own workshops with paid staff or contracting out to places like the Flour Mill or simply paying a daily hire charge to a locomotive owner who is using that hire charge to recover their own costs. All of those achieve the net transaction of "Money spent - locomotive available" but in ways that will look quite different on the accounts. The risk is that you might make £100k savings in staff redundancy in your workshop and then find that to achieve equivalent loco provision costs you £150k in costs to other workshops.

    My own gut feeling is to prefer a "mixed economy" model both in costs and in revenue streams. The risk factors seem to be in areas where a given railway is overly dependent on one model or one revenue stream. At the times there was lots of talk on NP about the WSR, it seemed that they really had primarily one string to their bow (transporting people for a train ride to the beach) which made them very susceptible to a decline in that market. It's notable on many railways now the extent to which they are trying to develop a wider range of services, of which the core "turn up and go" train ride is only one.

    Tom
     
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  3. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    And I would completely agree with you - my comment was deliberately over-simplified, and assuming no other changes in cost base, which I should have explicitly called out as an assumption.

    However, I think the implication of costs in terms of tickets sold is important. We rightly wince when the organisations we support have to cut back, but those payroll costs equate to a hell of a lot of tickets that need to be sold. If (say) coal prices rise, that slack will be used - but it's still 10,000 fewer ticket sales required per year than if the paybill hadn't reduced by £250k.

    It's an area where I suspect that the cost models of a number of railways will be further challenged in coming years, as the trade-off between the certainty of availability of paid staff versus the cost advantages of volunteers is worked through in a difficult climate for attracting volunteers.
     
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  4. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    From my armchair but with the benefit of over fifty years experience of heritage railways and their finances much of which has been at director or senior position level. And I'm not judging anyone, merely merely commenting on two different approaches to the same problem. We also can't make a judgement based on the limited but interesting info Jonnie has provided as we don't know the ratio of adults/children/familes/OAP's and a host of other variables. I do know that, as far as I'm concerned, some of those paper profits aren't worth the time and effort of the (presumed) volunteer input. That brings me back again to another of my hobby horses and that is volunteer time. If I give up my time to a railway I like to think that I am making a worthwhile contribution to that railway, not spending an 8 hour+ day to provide the railway with an extra few pounds when I could have been doing something more useful and contributing in a more beneficial way. Or doing something else.
     
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  5. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    A position, volunteering within a church setting, where I completely agree - if people are being asked to turn out to help, they need to know and feel that what they are doing is valuable, and valued. That includes using people for what they are actually good at, not just what they is needed right here, right now.
     
  6. pmh_74

    pmh_74 Well-Known Member

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    AIUI 48305 was bought out of Barry by Jonathan Bailey and Roger Hibbert. Jonathan Bailey subsequently passed his share to DCRT whereas Roger retained his share before eventually setting up a separate trust for his locos. Seems that his 50% of 48305 has subsequently found its way to DCRT as well via a stint in GCR PLC ownership. Seems like a good result to me. The Roger Hibbert Locomotive Collection still owns 47406, 68067 (currently at Llangollen) and an RSH 0-6-0T. I guess that selling their share in 48305 will have boosted the overhaul funds of 47406 and the RSH. (Not basing this on any inside knowledge as I don't have any; this is just what I can piece together from what's in the public domain already.)
     
  7. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Certainly on some occasions a railway might be better off if the volunteers donated their petrol money for the drive to their duty and back again! But doesn't that kind of miss one of the points of a heritage railway, i.e. it's our hobby? As long as we're making a small profit which allows us to continue to turn up and enjoy ourselves, is that not a means in itself? Like you I've probably got more useful things to be doing than manning an operational role on a very quiet day that only makes marginal profit, but for a significant proportion of volunteers is that actually the case? For plenty of people, it's an excuse to get out of the house and do something that keeps them active, the brain working, and all of that good stuff.

    It's actually an aspect of heritage railways I think we underplay - we had some local councillors mooch round our railway last year and they were amazed, they could immediately see the benefits in giving retirees a purpose and, bluntly, reducing the burden on the state.

    We really are getting off topic, but it's an interesting discussion. Any chance of it being spun off mods?
     
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  8. Miff

    Miff Part of the furniture Friend

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    I think something like "encouraging volunteering and promoting the benefits to society of volunteering" should be one of the charitable aims of most if not all railway charities who rely on volunteers.
     
  9. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    To be fair to @Steve, I doubt he was knocking that - just the assumption that if the railway's running, it's worth people turning up no matter what. Balancing the urgent and the important is a challenge, where the urgent has a habit of winning.
     
  10. Bikermike

    Bikermike Well-Known Member

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    Also, as a mini rugby coach (and IOMTT marshal (not at the same time)) I turn out for the love of it, and will reschedule most things to get there, but if I've juggled stuff and called in favours for no reason, it's not an encouraging thing. So I get Steve's point; yes, there are times when one turns up for the fun of it, and other times one turns up at personal inconvenience for the love of it, but if too many of the latter are for no good reason, the love dies somewhat
     
  11. WesternRegionHampshireman

    WesternRegionHampshireman Well-Known Member

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    Does anybody know if 52322 and 75069 have arrived yet? I see nothing on the social medias.
    A photo of them at Loughborough would also be nice, if you can provide one. :)
     
  12. Belgarath001

    Belgarath001 New Member

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    Both have arrived - 75069 last week and 52322 today.
     
  13. 3855

    3855 Member

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    2 fine machines but neither is an s160...:(
     
  14. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Nat Pres stalwart

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    How about if you squint a bit? :)
     
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  15. 5944

    5944 Resident of Nat Pres

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    lyr-loco-1300-built-in-1896-later-lms-12322-and-br-52322-at-sheringham-JJ92M4~2.jpg

    Better?
     
  16. 3855

    3855 Member

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  17. Johann Marsbar

    Johann Marsbar Well-Known Member

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  18. malc

    malc Part of the furniture

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    52322 - it's got all the right digits, but not necessarily in the right order!
     
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  19. Flying Phil

    Flying Phil Part of the furniture

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    The Winter Gala was well attended and there were many happy visitors, sunny but cold weather was a bonus! The timetable went awry this afternoon but it was totally understandable as there was a "Medical Emergancy" on a train leaving Rothley. It had to set back into the station and wait until an ambulance arrived, it then had to negotiate a packed Rothley car park. I believe the passenger was not actually taken away in the ambulance, but it was all dealt with very well by the GCR team and paramedics.
    There were two freight trains (Tankers and mixed goods), three passenger train sets, plus Iris and the NER Railcar in operation so a typically busy GCR.
    DSC03348.JPG
    DSC03351.JPG
     
  20. Johann Marsbar

    Johann Marsbar Well-Known Member

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    More details of the joint event that covers the GCR, GCR(N), Mountsorrel Heritage Centre etc have been posted on the GC Events page.....
    https://www.gcrailway.co.uk/whatson2024/
    Click on the "More information" link under the event heading on that page.

    Seems to be a few attractions that aren't normally open for viewing - i.e. Rothley Carriage Works.
     

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