If you register, you can do a lot more. And become an active part of our growing community. You'll have access to hidden forums, and enjoy the ability of replying and starting conversations.

GWSR General Discussion and Operations

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by michaelh, Aug 25, 2013.

  1. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    Messages:
    21,853
    Likes Received:
    41,551
    Location:
    215
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    One of the most unexpected benefits of the Bluebell's mainline connection has been a burgeoning relationship with mainline infrastructure companies, who have been using the line for training and commissioning purposes; in exchange, the Bluebell has had large sections of the line tamped. (Of course, that is a benefit because at the moment we have a high need for that!) We have also from time to time been able to do other things for mainline companies, for example temporarily storing rolling stock, acting as an unloading point for road / rail interchange (scarce in the south east on the mainline) etc.

    Incoming charters are I think very marginal: pre-covid, I doubt we had more than one or two per year. The GWSR may get more on the basis of race-day traffic, but if those punters arrive and move straight away to the race course, the opportunity for secondary spend is not there, so you are reduced to just whatever profit you make in the access charge: unlikely to be of existential value for a few charters per year.

    Incoming passengers from the mainline: Judging by how many people get on the first down service, or get off the last up service each day, that is a reasonable number of people. I couldn't tell from the footplate though how many actually arrived by mainline train, and how many just drove to East Grinstead. More significantly, how many just transferred from the south to the north end of the line - transfers from one starting point to another don't generate new revenue, i.e. 25,000 East Grinstead tickets is no good if you have had a corresponding drop of 25,000 Sheffield Park tickets. That is difficult to judge: our "turn up and go" passengers have struggled in recent years (whereas special events and premium services do well - but are typically based around Sheffield Park as a starting point).

    You also have to think about where your facilities are. Given our layout, if we were to have a really dramatic upturn in people starting / finishing at East Grinstead, it would have to be serviced by trains from Sheffield Park, so essentially you'd have at leats one full-line trip each day that was to all intents and purposes ECS: 22 miles of unremunerative traffic. To an extent the GWSR would have the same issue if they remained based at Toddington, with a need to run opening and closing services out to Honeybourne. If space were available, you could think of a second operational base there, but it would be a big punt given perhaps uncertain demand.

    Then of course there is the operational issue of a 20 mile long line - not just the infrastructure, though that is considerable; but the need to provision another train each day with the additional maintenance and volunteer demands each day.

    I guess if you got to a point where you thought it was really "now or never" to save the line, one option might be to build it, but continue with the core CRC - Broadway operation as now; and just operate over the Broadway - Honeybourne section for (1) galas (2) charters (3) value-added services, i.e. footplate courses etc. That way you have reduced usage so somewhat lesser infrastructure costs, and no need to provision an additional train. Keeping value-added services away from the mainline potentially gives more flexibility.

    Tom
     
    35B, MellishR, Major Midget and 8 others like this.
  2. JBTEvans

    JBTEvans Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2008
    Messages:
    1,736
    Likes Received:
    410
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Newport (South Wales)
    The NYMR mainline connection is not to a main route, it is to a stub on a barely used branchline. Comparing apples and pears.
     
  3. JBTEvans

    JBTEvans Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2008
    Messages:
    1,736
    Likes Received:
    410
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Newport (South Wales)
    The GWSR mainline connected or not, in my opinion really need to think of how they can make joining at Cheltenham more attractive. The are frequent buses to Cheltenham Racecourse, but it is a little bit of a walk to the station so they need to factor that in too.

    They are one step of the way there already with an ECS off Toddington at the moment and the first public run of that set being from Cheltenham, however I would argue it's too early in the day at 0945. The last train scheduled to arrive at Cheltenham is at 1610. Shifting their day back a bit would make a big difference to the appeal of starting at Cheltenham, or running another service down after what is the last scheduled at the moment.

    Realistically you'd need to be at Cheltenham Spa by 0830 to make a comfortable connection with the 0945 service.
     
  4. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Part of the furniture Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
    Messages:
    6,023
    Likes Received:
    3,793
    Surely if you want to start later you would just catch the next train at 11am?

    I’m not sure there are sufficient numbers arriving by train via Cheltenham Spa to justify it, there is a decent sized car park though which probably provides the large majority of passengers for the first train of the day.
     
  5. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2013
    Messages:
    9,779
    Likes Received:
    15,845
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Cheltenham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    That one is perhaps a little late if you wish to spend time in Broadway! I agree with @JBTEvans on this occasion, the extra train is great, now shift the whole timetable 20-30 minutes later in the day. Personal opinion, although I know others share it! We'll see if anything changes next year...
     
    ross likes this.
  6. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2013
    Messages:
    9,779
    Likes Received:
    15,845
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Cheltenham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    We already run in effect a ECS round trip from Toddington to Cheltenham so we know all about that! Broadway to Honeybourne as a special section has an attraction to it, but there's still the same ongoing infrastructure costs as if we ran a full service, and I think it would be difficult to resist the urge to connect with mainline services on a regular basis once we built it, then we're back to trying to spread ourselves too thinly with extra trains and staff required.
     
    Greenway, jnc and Kje7812 like this.
  7. Kje7812

    Kje7812 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2010
    Messages:
    2,257
    Likes Received:
    671
    Location:
    Kidderminster/ Cardiff
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Also surely it's better have your first train of the day busy rather than the second as people can wait if the first is full. Hard to do so if it's the second that is full.
    That was something I noticed the other year on SVR when the first departure from KR on the 3-train service shifted earlier by 30 mins, it massively upset the loading balance.
     
  8. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Part of the furniture Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
    Messages:
    6,023
    Likes Received:
    3,793
    Possibly, you still get nearly three hours in Broadway though. The service does finish early though to be fair and almost seems back to front with the later departure time from the starting point, (which is how I see Cheltenham Racecourse), rather than the destination.
     
  9. jnc

    jnc Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2012
    Messages:
    1,511
    Likes Received:
    2,704
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Western Atlantic
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    A lesson that the situation at the Cheltenham end teaches. Still, I think having local government take over the whole lot and repair the bridges, and then lease the trackbed to the GWSR (they've already done some work on the drains in that section, IIRC), which could then delay actually doing anything with it, is the way to go. The only concern would be public unhappiness with a ton of public money being spent to allow heritage rail people to 'play with trains' (and maybe public pressure to do something else with the trackbed). Although I suppose if no track is laid to start with, that charge won't come immediately to hand. The local government might get stuck with the bridge maintenance anyway (if those roads are their responsibility), which might make them readier to take the thing on. We'll have to see; undoubtedly all discussions between the parties will be private.

    Noel
     
    MellishR and flying scotsman123 like this.
  10. JBTEvans

    JBTEvans Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2008
    Messages:
    1,736
    Likes Received:
    410
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Newport (South Wales)
    The 11am I would think is pretty busy as it will be pretty busy leaving Toddington and probably why the first run of the day down is ECS. I can't see the 0945 off CRC being full and standing. Doesn't matter if the people walked, drove or got the train there, I think having it later would help loadings and finishing a bit later would be more appealing to start at CRC, but what do I know.
     
    Pete Thornhill likes this.
  11. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    Messages:
    21,853
    Likes Received:
    41,551
    Location:
    215
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Indeed so - I think it would also be a hard sell to a membership ("raise money for this extension, which we are then only going to use on high days and holidays") but was just floating it as a possibility. The last four miles of the Swanage line, or last two miles of the WSR, would be examples of similar. It does at least avoid one of the major costs of an extension, which is having to run a greater number of train miles without a concomitant increase in revenue. But I get the feeling that for the GWSR, an extension to Honeybourne would be heart ruling head, whereas Broadway seemed to make a lot of sense.

    Tom
     
    Kje7812, jnc, Paul42 and 1 other person like this.
  12. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Part of the furniture Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
    Messages:
    6,023
    Likes Received:
    3,793
    Fair enough, definitely agree on the later finish and yes I suppose the first off Toddington is likely to be busy.
     
    JBTEvans likes this.
  13. jnc

    jnc Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2012
    Messages:
    1,511
    Likes Received:
    2,704
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Western Atlantic
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    But all heritage steam operations are, to some degree, heart ruling head! Yes, they have to be done in an economically sensible and sustainable (in the general meaning, not the 'green' one) way, or you get Llangollen. So I think your suggestion of not generally running over the full length is a good one (and I suspect that that general approach is one that more heritage lines are likely to seriously consider - precisely because, as you say, it avoids all the issues raised when "having to run a greater number of train miles without a concomitant increase in revenue"), as more lines put in extensions as they become more established (and able to afford their dreams).

    But I do think that supporters would respond positively to an appeal to fund connecting up at Honeybourne - provided that the line is, in other respects, being run sensibly (which includes not ignoring @flying scotsman123's other meritorious capital projects). Even if the mainline connection was only used occasionally, and didn't have as good an ROI as other meritorious projects (which might therefore properly have a higher priority), I think it would still have a lot of appeal to GWSR backers.

    Noel
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2021
    Monkey Magic, JBTEvans, ianh and 2 others like this.
  14. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2018
    Messages:
    3,327
    Likes Received:
    6,633
    Location:
    Here, there, everywhere
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Ignoring the other issues with it, a good example of a line that does not run the full length is the WSR which only uses the BL - NF part of the line occasionally. It certainly isn't having those extra miles that have caused the WSR its associated problems.

    There tend to be a lot of 'what I think' arguments made where people assume that they represent the typical passenger. I think if there were to be an extension there would need to be serious research done on passenger flows as to whether it pays to have it as something that is use occasionally or as an end point in its own right.

    While there are lots of people predicting terrible things financially for the railway if it extends - are there any examples of any lines that have gone to the wall after extending because of the cost of extending? I can't think of any.
     
    The Dainton Banker likes this.
  15. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2011
    Messages:
    17,153
    Likes Received:
    13,955
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Grantham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    I'd suggest that the Llangollen's failure might have to do with the impact of running an extension project on top of their usual business.
     
  16. marshall5

    marshall5 Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2010
    Messages:
    1,906
    Likes Received:
    2,517
    Location:
    i.o.m
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    I was under the impression that the great majority of the funding for the extension came from sources other than the LR plc. Happy to be corrected though.
    Ray.
     
    ross likes this.
  17. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2018
    Messages:
    3,327
    Likes Received:
    6,633
    Location:
    Here, there, everywhere
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    I thought it was more the engineering side that tipped it over the edge more than the extension. Although you could argue that the extension distracted management from keeping an eye on the engineering side of things.
     
    Gareth, jnc and The Dainton Banker like this.
  18. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2011
    Messages:
    17,153
    Likes Received:
    13,955
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Grantham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    That was what I was getting at, rather than that the financial costs of the extension themselves drove the LR under. Projects have costs, and they go beyond the directly measurable financials.
     
    jnc likes this.
  19. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2018
    Messages:
    3,327
    Likes Received:
    6,633
    Location:
    Here, there, everywhere
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Yes but as the WSR and PR demonstrate you don't need to have an extension for management to take their eyes off the ball and for the finances to go down the pan, so it is more about the quality of the managers rather than the extension/associated issues.
     
  20. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2011
    Messages:
    17,153
    Likes Received:
    13,955
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Grantham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Of course. But when focus is split, the challenges and risks rise.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
    jnc likes this.

Share This Page