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.

Llangollen Railway

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by 14xx Lover, Jan 4, 2010.

  1. 12CVST

    12CVST New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2008
    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    65
    July Roster:
    Tues-Fri all month: Railcar. Classes 108 and/or 109 (Wickham).
    Sat 2nd & Sun 3rd: Classic Transport: Class 31 31271 (Sat), Class 26 5310 (Sun), GWR 0-6-2T 5619 & Class 109 or 108 DMU (both days).
    Sat 9th: Class 26 5310 & Sun 10th: Class 47 1566 (one train working)
    Sat 16th & Sun 17th: 31271 (one train working)
    Sat 23rd: 5310 & 5619 (two train working, steam & diesel)
    Sun 24th: 5619 & DMU (two train working, steam & railcar)
    Sat 30th: 5310 & 5619 (two train working, steam & diesel)
    Sun 31st: 5619 & DMU (two train working, steam & railcar)

    We are carefully looking at revenue differences between DMU, steam and diesel running days. So far traffic figures are looking pretty good overall and diesel running at weekend's is more than holding its own in terms of ticket receipts.
     
  2. M59137

    M59137 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2009
    Messages:
    1,228
    Likes Received:
    1,816
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Carriage & Wagon
    Location:
    Sheringham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Not a comment specifically aimed at Llangollen, but many a railway has been guilty at not examining the revenue, cost and motive power relationship properly.

    Hypothetical example: A DMU attracts 30 passengers and once costs are deducted makes a modest profit. A steam engine attracts 80 passengers but makes a loss as costs are higher. At this point, managers who are steam enthusiasts and believe in the ethos of the place being a "steam railway" justify the increased steam usage on the statistic that steam attracts more than double what a DMU does, and the increased people make the place more alive and even buy more in the buffet. However the end result is still poor books at the end of the financial year.

    Returning to Llangollen, I am not furnished with their financials, but was pleased to see higher DMU use in their recovery as I would assume they are recognising that their DMU's are the best vehicles for operating a (modestly) profitable service when passenger numbers are conservative. Of course higher potential numbers in turn create the right days to run steam and reap the higher revenue advantages that come with it.

    This is not an anti steam post, more a thumbs up that hopefully the right traction is being selected for the right days based on projected numbers. If everything washes it's face on their various days one of course has success and heath!

    Sent from my moto g(8) power using Tapatalk
     
    Herald, toplight, Johnme101 and 7 others like this.
  3. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    Messages:
    23,857
    Likes Received:
    48,239
    Location:
    LBSC 215
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    While I don’t disagree with your overall premise, often the opposite also applies. For example, the lower loadings on diesel get justified by lower “running cost” but often that running cost focuses solely on the traction element only. You have to pay infrastructure maintenance, rolling stock overhauls, basic business expenses etc regardless of the specific traction on the front - but taking your hypothetical above, you’ve got to cover those with thirty fares rather than eighty. My suspicion is that the per mile whole train costs of steam and diesel aren’t hugely different.

    Of course, if a DMU could cover its direct operating plus a small surplus cost on a quiet day and that makes the difference whether the railway opens - and makes a small surplus - or stays shut - with no income at all - it may still be worth doing on those fringe days. But comparing direct costs only as a way of comparing different traction types is not robust, in my view.

    Tom
     
  4. Johnb

    Johnb Resident of Nat Pres

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2014
    Messages:
    12,706
    Likes Received:
    13,520
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired, best job I've ever had
    Location:
    Buckinghamshire
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    That’s the accountant’s argument but there’s a lot more too it than profit and loss. The Severn Valley promoted itself as Britain’s Premier Steam Railway so are the family wanting a day out going to look at the timetable to see if there train is steam? Probably not so one disappointed customer is lost for good and having been disappointed they are less likely to spend money in the cafe or gift shop. Neighbours ask where that have been, are they going to recommend it?
    When people have a good experience they tell a couple of others about it, if it doesn’t come up to expectations they tell everyone. If 10 out of the 30 on that DMU vow never to return again, the railway has lost out.
     
    Bluenosejohn, MellishR and Matt78 like this.
  5. MellishR

    MellishR Resident of Nat Pres Friend

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2009
    Messages:
    7,095
    Likes Received:
    4,354
    The arguments in the last few posts are all true. They demand a lot of care in constructing timetables, with clear indication of what the traction will be. They also demand contingency plans for the occasions when the rostered motive power is unavailable for whatever reason, including what to say to those customers who are disappointed.
     
    MattA and 35B like this.
  6. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2017
    Messages:
    12,059
    Likes Received:
    11,399
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Brighton&Hove
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Yes and no. Chris makes a very cogent argument, but one which isn't the complete picture. Whilst many (most?) websites have improved out of all recognition over the last five years, I do still wonder about marketing.

    Often, I feel we're unduly complacent in relying on (admittedly very impressive) shiny colourful steam locos to do the marketing for themselves. They do that very well, so far as that goes, but just because we're addicted to steam, it doesn't follow that's the only thing which entices folks to turn up ..... or is someone about to claim a family day out at a 'Teddy Bear's Picnic' event is the same as an End of Season 'everything goes' bash, or a sedate five course meal in a Pullman .... and I dare anyone to tell me excitable sprogs running between a Silver Service Steward's legs is a good idea!*

    Take Llangollen's DMMU service. They've been completely open about what they have on offer, and it's deservedly paid dividends. FWIW, especially on a line that scenic, I'd have bigged up the panoramic qualities of the 1st gen DDMUs for all they're worth. Even decades on, I remember the first trip where I could see the line ahead of behind (on a 2car train on the CCL, you could do both!). Frankly, if you can't sell that sort of experience, you've absolutely no place in promoting your line!

    Most of us are unapologetic steam nuts. Some can't even concede there are some passengers who come for a ride and really aren't too bothered what's up front. Among such, diesel services are seen as a poor substitute and if used as a substitute, they have a good case. What that doesn't mean though is that there's no scope for diesel operations.

    Yonks back, the Ffestiniog used to run an 09:30 diesel service from Porthmadog under the 'Early Bird' banner. It was cheaper than steam and ran for several years. When and why it was withdrawn, I can't recall, but the FfR have a track record as a canny lot, so I imagine there were good reasons .... back then.

    The argument against off-peak services, other than (very relevant) questions of volunteer staffing, usually comes down to a belief they only serve to abstract income from premium services. I've yet to see any hard evidence to back-up that argument. In fact, I remain utterly unconvinced all categories of visitors constitute a single, homogenous market .... mainly due to there being a shedload of evidence they're not.

    *I'd still cite rowdy sprogs as justification to get some cattle trucks back into operation! :Meh:
     
    The Dainton Banker likes this.
  7. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2011
    Messages:
    21,085
    Likes Received:
    17,105
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Grantham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    As well as promoting the railway in ways that reduce the emphasis on traction as a way to deliver the day out people want.
     
    MellishR likes this.
  8. Bikermike

    Bikermike Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2020
    Messages:
    1,250
    Likes Received:
    1,370
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Thameslink territory
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Of course you then need to work out which assets actually get worn more by use than not. Physical infrastructure will vary. I suspect at preserved railway frequencies earthworks, bridges and tunnels will deteriorate at the same rate used or unused, wheras eg rails presumably wear out faster than they corrode. So it's going to be a finely-balanced equation.

    I wonder which falls into which side?
     
  9. M59137

    M59137 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2009
    Messages:
    1,228
    Likes Received:
    1,816
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Carriage & Wagon
    Location:
    Sheringham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    I should perhaps have been clearer in my example that my arguments rely on comparing DMU vs steam hauled, not diesel loco vs steam loco. Steam and diesel loco operation has to account for rolling stock overhaul cost of 3+ coaches whilst DMU's are whole trains on their own.

    DMU's require one less traincrew (two if you need TTI's on hauled trains) and depending on how the railway is signalled, signalmen are sometimes not required.

    It is also well known (BR research dept et al) that heavy locos (such as enormous ex BR diesel locos) wear infrastructure out faster than lightweight trains such as DMU's. In turn, bogies are less punishing than fixed wheelbase, so heavy 2-8-0 steam locos are in turn worse than diesel locos for wearing out infrastructure. It's a science difficult to measure, but if attributing infrastructure costs to every train individually then the steam has to take a bigger hit on track and bridges than a DMU. Having said all that I do accept your point that there are plenty of other (time based) renewals/costs (rotting fence posts for example?) that are constant regardless of what's running.

    Returning to diesel locos, whilst I undoubtedly have a personal enjoyment of big diesel operations, I feel from a sustainability point of view that sadly they share many of the disadvantages of steam haulage but without unlocking that undisputed mainstream attraction of steam.

    I think you may be right for locos, but will maintain my stance on DMU's. I wish I could remember the exact source, but years ago i picked up that BR did research into DMU overall costs vs steam and I think it was 7 to 1. In my experience of preservation today being involved in DMU restoration/operation and that of steam and coaching stock, I believe that old ratio remains pretty unchanged.

    Sent from my moto g(8) power using Tapatalk
     
  10. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2006
    Messages:
    11,136
    Likes Received:
    8,548
    Occupation:
    Gentleman of leisure, nowadays
    Location:
    Near Leeds
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    The big advantage of a dmu over steam is with labour costs. If you are using volunteers that advantage largely disappears. They are cheaper to run but not to the extent you are claiming and it is a well known fact that, as far as a heritage railway is concerned, they are less of a draw compared to a steam locomotive.
     
  11. Herald

    Herald Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2015
    Messages:
    286
    Likes Received:
    548
    Gender:
    Male
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Surely the biggest advantage of DMU's is as a low cost way of boosting the service to create opportunities for visits to intermediate stations or to allow flexibilities for visiting other attractions without the long waits between trains which are very unattractive to most visitors.
     
    johnofwessex likes this.
  12. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2017
    Messages:
    12,059
    Likes Received:
    11,399
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Brighton&Hove
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    For most of the 1st gen kit, I'd add the panoramic qualities to the list of advantages.
     
  13. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2011
    Messages:
    21,085
    Likes Received:
    17,105
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Grantham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Surely labour costs aren't just about money, but also availability of people.
     
    ghost and johnofwessex like this.
  14. ilvaporista

    ilvaporista Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Messages:
    4,035
    Likes Received:
    4,764
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    C.Eng
    Location:
    On the 45th!
    There is also a nostalgic value in early DMUs. Some of today's grandparents that take families out were born after steam finished and can directly relate to the DMU. Those thick cushions, bouncy springing and glorious views on the Cambrian Coast line certainly left their mark on me!
     
    weltrol likes this.
  15. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2017
    Messages:
    12,059
    Likes Received:
    11,399
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Brighton&Hove
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Me too. The odd thing is I distinctly recall being on DMMU workings (3x2car, Cl.101/103) which crossed in places which according to Wikipedia had lost their passing loops some years earlier. Aberdovey (as then spelled) add Dyffryn Ardudwy for two.
     
    ilvaporista likes this.
  16. M59137

    M59137 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2009
    Messages:
    1,228
    Likes Received:
    1,816
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Carriage & Wagon
    Location:
    Sheringham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Many larger railways are now paying staff to fill increasing gaps in the operating rosters that they are unable to cover with volunteers. The North Norfolk has now also introduced mileage claiming for all volunteers to help with rising petrol costs.

    If a railway is still 100% volunteer then fair enough, but from my perspective the days of treating volunteer labour as completely zero cost are over.

    Sent from my moto g(8) power using Tapatalk
     
    MattA, 47472, Johnme101 and 3 others like this.
  17. brennan

    brennan New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2016
    Messages:
    153
    Likes Received:
    168
    Location:
    Gloucester
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Any news on 3802? I thought it was supposed to have returned to service by now.
     
  18. ady

    ady Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2006
    Messages:
    2,264
    Likes Received:
    225
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Post office
    Location:
    South
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Flying Scotsman, Fenchurch and Manston all meant to be back in service by now. I wondering if everything is getting done over by 'supply issues'
     
  19. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    Messages:
    23,857
    Likes Received:
    48,239
    Location:
    LBSC 215
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Supply chain is one thing, but it is compounding other issues, notably a disruption to overhauls by Covid, and cash problems across the sector. For example, if you know supply chains are an issue, you might compensate by ordering items earlier or "on spec"; but you might be loathe to do that if cash flow is also an issue. For example, suppose you have a loco that needs a P&V exam. You know you'll need new piston rings, but don't know what size until you have stripped it down and assessed whether a rebore of the cylinders is needed or not. In the past, piston rings would have been on a two week lead time and it wouldn't have mattered. Now it is three months and the clock only starts when you strip it down and make your decision. Of course, you could pre-emptively had bought larger ones on the off-chance, and known if you didn't;t use them this time, they'd be good for a future overhaul, but cash-flow might suggest against doing that. Every situation will be different, but supply chain issues are compounding other issues.

    The year of covid, in which boiler tickets ebbed away but comparatively little overhaul work for replacement locos was done, hasn't;t helped either. I figure the whole industry is about a year behind on overhauls, and therefore everyone is in a more precarious state for locos. It will take years to recover, if at all.

    Tom
     
    Paul42, Steve and ilvaporista like this.
  20. Johnb

    Johnb Resident of Nat Pres

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2014
    Messages:
    12,706
    Likes Received:
    13,520
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired, best job I've ever had
    Location:
    Buckinghamshire
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    If you look back I think you will find its very rare that anything has been finished in the specified timescale. All railway preservationists are born optimists, if they weren't they would have taken up some other pastime
     
    toplight, ghost, Paul42 and 2 others like this.

Share This Page