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Kent & East Sussex Railway

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by martin1656, Apr 10, 2017.

    Wonderful! :)
    Wash your mouth out with soap and water, young man!
    Having lived in several parts of the UK, including a number of years amid the scenery of Scotland and Cornwall, for me the gentle rolling, gloriously bucolic countryside of Kent and Sussex is still the best there is. "You can take the man out of Kent..." etc.
     
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  1. Tim Light

    Tim Light Member

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    I didn't say it was bad .....;)

    Maybe I've been spoiled, living most of my life on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales.
     
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  2. Rosedale

    Rosedale Member

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    Mind you, the heritage aspect of the FfR survived despite the best efforts of certain post-Garraway and pre-Lewin managements (to the extent that a semaphore signalling project for Tanygrisiau was cancelled by the then-GM when most of the work had already been done by volunteers), so I'm not sure that it's the model to aim for. A lot of what the FR is doing now is based on trying to fix previous managements' cock ups.
     
  3. Miff

    Miff Well-Known Member

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    Good - nothing is beyond restoration (as I recall a C&W manager saying about a particularly hopeless looking case). Well done to the FfR for recognising their mistakes and putting them right - a lesson for us all.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2017
  4. Journalist

    Journalist New Member

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    Feels like a lot of unfair criticism on this thread. We get some really informative contributions from KESR members on here and their approach always seems to be a sensible and pragmatic effort to preserve the essence of a Col Stephens line while also bearing in mind some of the practicalities required for being a 21st century visitor attraction.

    I spent all my summer holidays as a kid in Kent visiting our wider family and making endless KESR and RHDR trips. Unless my memory is failing me (and the old picture albums suggest it isn't), in the 1980s this WAS becoming 'just another railway' - so many of my visits featured a repetitive roster of the same Austerities on Mk1s. Through the 1990s it came alive with the restoration of the SR coaches and the vintage set, bringing the smaller engines back into play. There was more variety in the necessary larger locos too, reflecting the sort of pragmatism I thought Stephens himself showed with grabbing what he felt his lines needed from wherever those engines could be found.

    Every visit since then I've felt that spirit of respect for its heritage has still been present but just adjusted to factor in a longer line length. And that longer length hasn't been a nowhere-to-nowhere vanity extension, it's brought the line to Bodiam Castle and the next move will take it to the main line connection, and hasn't data from other lines shown the benefits of that?

    I'm not a massive fan of GWR 2-8-0Ts, that probably comes from getting a bit bored with them while living near Paignton for 12 years, but nothing the KESR is saying or doing suggests to me that its smaller engines and older stock will be abandoned. It's just adapting in a way that reflects the heritage it's trying preserve and some practicalities that will ensure it has the income to preserve that heritage. I wish anyone accusing it of becoming 'just another railway' could teleport back to about 1988 for an Austerities-and-Mk1s trundle to the absolute nowhere of Wittersham Road and remember the contrast between the KESR of then and what it is now.

    My next visit there will be at the end of May because while I'll always mainly think of Tenterden as a home for Terriers, I'm an unashamed fan of noise and spectacle from classic locomotives of whatever type and the idea of a Manor up Tenterden Bank excites me enormously.
     
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  5. Rosedale

    Rosedale Member

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    Mind you, I think there are lessons to be learned from the way the FR is run nowadays. Yes, most of the time it tuns long trains of modern stock and many of them are hauled by modern locos, but it can at the drop of a hat turn itself into a living museum with Victorian engines hauling Victorian stock, gravity worked slate waggons, and so forth. Or it can be both things at once. I popped in to Tenterden today and while one service train consisted of a BR black pannier on a rake of five Mk.1s, the other was made up of 'Charwelton' in an ornate 19th Century livery hauling a two coach set including the SECR birdcage brake. You can be all things to all men so long as the will is there.
     
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  6. paulhitch

    paulhitch Part of the furniture

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    All those who express doubts about the direction the K.E.S.R. is heading are saying is "have a care" and don't fall victim to "big chufferitis". This is an expensive complaint quite at odds with the concept of a rural light railway and has nothing to do with generating extra income.

    Incidentally, whose idea was it to wire the Tenterden lavatories for sound? Not good.

    PH
     
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  7. Ploughman

    Ploughman Well-Known Member

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    All depends on the source of the sounds.;)
     
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  8. martin1656

    martin1656 Part of the furniture Friend

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    Handel's water music ?
    Rural light railway? i thought the line was a tourist attraction rather than a sterile museum? See thats the dilemma, can you be both, everything has to be a comprise, like the FR, no dought past management have made mistakes, and we have to live with those mistakes, there will always be a struggle between those who say we need another corridor rake with the eye on the additional income from catering and coach parties, and those who want a more historically pure railway of small engines and vintage coaches, i believe both can exist but only by working out a timetable where the victorian rake can be an attraction, most likily in the early season, but peak season, i would envisage the core service would have to be both coridoor rakes, unless you can get good tie ins with coach firms where a ride in a genuine vintage train is part of the tour, as ever it has to be advertised, in the past that has not been the railways strong point, getting the word out but this time if the lego show is anything to go on we are learning our lesson, and hopefully recent changes within the board, have re energised things, sometimes you do need to shake up things if its getting stale and prehaps some people need to make way for new faces with fresh ideas. if your board does not have a regular influx of new blood , it very quickly becomes moribund, and unwilling to make changes that are needed to reflect new needs and customer requirements,
     
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  9. paulhitch

    paulhitch Part of the furniture

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    The source of the sound was the IMHO rather too frequent announcements on the P.A. system. Spare us such things from the loo!

    Also IMHO you are about 180 degrees out in the rolling stock priorities. Keep the new(er) stuff for the peak times and justify the description "heritage railway". Neither coach operators nor their passengers have any problem in doing without buffet cars or corridors. Much more important is that the trains are smart, kept clean and operated by staff that are friendly and attentive.

    Paul H
     
  10. MellishR

    MellishR Well-Known Member Friend

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    Sometimes on a train (service train or railtour) I miss an announcement because it can't be heard in the loo. So I'd rather that loos (on trains or stations) are included in the PA system. A separate issue is how often announcements are made and how necessary or otherwise they are.
     
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  11. martin1656

    martin1656 Part of the furniture Friend

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    The frequency of PA announcements is an often heard complaint, and some people seem to get carried away, or they should be ;) but you do get some who are very good, especially the halloween, trains, i remember someone , dont know who it was did a very good impression of vincent Price, with the announcements, i and several of us in C&W had to go outside to listen ,
     
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  12. JMJR1000

    JMJR1000 Member

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    I am the only one that finds it weird that Paul Hitch appears to be saying the opposite of what he usually says?

    Where's the "we need to run heritage railways with our heads not our hearts", or "people need to face the hard realities or the future and cease all this wouldn't in be nice talk", is this even the same Paul? o_O
    I would have thought you would be in favour of a railway that's adapting to the needs of the modern day tourist market, but now your suddenly wanting them to drop their expansions, run less frequent trains and just do less to be more profitable.

    I really don't understand you anymore Paul... A heritage railway that's too rose tinted and not changing with the times, or one that is changing and being more pragmatic even if it might be at odds with railway's image.

    What's it gonna be?
     
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  13. paulhitch

    paulhitch Part of the furniture

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    It's because, forgive me, you don't understand the issue. "Adapting to the needs of the modern day tourist market" is fine, providing it is done with care. Indeed such adaption has to be done. It is the "with care" bit that concerns me.

    As an analogy I would cite a publican who advertises his rural pub as a traditional gem only for those who go there to find he has transformed it into a Weatherspoons look alike. Moreover an expensive to run lookalike. A sort of W.I.B.N. for the brewery trade.

    Returning to tourist railways, if you are running an erstwhile mainline, then these issues do not matter, as long as the line does not become too costly to run. If, however, your railway is a rural backwater then you really have to be careful to avoid overdeveloping. It is perfectly possible to run a successful tourist railway without a Mk.1 or onboard catering facility in sight.

    I am not claiming that the K.E.S.R. is "overdeveloped". It is though, in some danger of this happening.

    PH
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2017
  14. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Resident of Nat Pres

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    If you start from the position that only the Welshpool and IoWSR have got it right, you may then begin to understand where Paul is coming from. :)
    Look at the IoWSR though. It runs Austerities and now an Ivatt 2 with another to come IIRC. These are big engines by IoW standards and historically have no place on the line but never a peep from Paul about the lack of authenticity. Yet other lines who have gone down a similar route get nothing but opprobrium from him. Like you, I'm confused.
     
  15. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    Welshpool seem to have addressed the realities of the modern world too.
     
  16. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Resident of Nat Pres

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    A splendid little line but to remain "authentic" it would have just the two locos and the one passenger rake. Additions like the Franco-Belge, Sierra Leone loco and stock plus other locos are no more than the KESR is proposing IMO.
     
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  17. Tim Light

    Tim Light Member

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    Welshpool have the right balance. The Sierra Leone coaches are the 30" equivalent of Mark 1s, whilst the Zillertalbahn coaches are delightful to ride in but unauthentic. But I'm sure that the vast majority of visitors are happy with all of that, and don't worry too much about the motive power so long as it's steam.

    For the benefit of the few who do understand the line's history, they have their wonderful vintage train, reserved for special occasions, but always a delight.

    The KESR will no doubt continue to take a similar approach, giving us the choice of vintage travel or Mark 1s.

    My local railway, the KWVR, runs the majority of its trains with BR standard coaches and bigger locos than would have been normal before preservation. That's the only way it can deal with the traffic on offer at an affordable fare. And it has its fair share of childrens' and family events to keep the coffers topped up. All this helps to provide the platform on which they can occasionally turn out their vintage stock for the benefit of enthusiasts like me.
     
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  18. nanstallon

    nanstallon Well-Known Member

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    In defence of the IoWSR, the Ivatts represent what could easily have happened in the 50s/60s, as the identical BR Standard 2MT tanks (84xxx) were seriously considered as replacements for the ageing O2 class. So there is historical justification for them.

    And Austerities were such a feature of preserved lines in the 70s/ 80s, that they have acquired their own authenticity, although then you'd need to complete the picture with some Mark 1 coaches!

    John
     
  19. martin1656

    martin1656 Part of the furniture Friend

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    i agree with the post re the Ivatt 2's, yes they are a might have been, as there plans had steam lasted beyond dec 66, then a small stud of 84's may have been transfered, and who knows, would Mk 1 Suburban coaches have followed in due course?
    The KESR, Markets itsself as a rural light railway, but what does that mean to the general public, define Rural light railway?
    does it mean mainline coaches, large tank engines, or small ex industrial engines hauling victorian 4 and 6 wheeler coaches? this i think is the crux of the matter, what actually are we trying to give the public, define authentic? what does Family A expect? do they expect a modern bogie coach , or a victorian compartment coach, then there is the issue of catering, there is a very good refreshment room at Tenterden , vs having a meal on the train, what market are you trying to attract?
    To me, we send out mixed messages, we say we are a rural light railway, but most of the trains we run are more like any other preserved railway , i would actually prefer it if we ran the vintage rake as the mainstay, and the Mk 1's were uprated to an high class dining rake, and that if we are going to compete with that trade then it has to be as a premier product, in other words pre booked full dining trains, saturday lunches sunday lunches afternoon teas, the even more high class pulman, and the one compliments the other, familes come to experience the victorian era trains, but also get a glimpse of the on train dining experience . and hopefully make a return visit, to sample the dining.
     
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