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Llangollen Railway

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

  1. Wozzy18

    Wozzy18 New Member

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    According to the latest B17 Spirit of Sandringham new build newsletter -

    "Yesterday when in conversation with the Chairman of the Llangollen Railway, we were informed that a restructuring of the business had been announced, to be effective immediately given their previous financial difficulties of the last two years and the restrictive nature for Wales in relation to the pandemic. Although ‘Engineering’ work had looked promising with the arrival of 9F No. 92212 for major overhaul at the end of March, this engine has since been removed from site. As a consequence four members of the Engineering Team were unfortunately made redundant as of the end of last week. These same people are also certified to work on Spirit of Sandringham. Thus it was explained that Llangollen Engineering can no longer provide people with the appropriate skills and competencies to work on B17 contracts. Retained staff (3) will only be assigned to boiler checks/maintenance and loco servicing for the railway’s own fleet of engines. The Llangollen Railway have expressed their sadness and apologised for this outcome. Therefore B17SLT are left with no other choice than to arrange transfer of the mainframe structure and associated items to another site where construction can eventually continue. A survey of possible sites in the East of England and further afield is being made including colleagues advice involved with Tornado and the P2 projects. Heavy haulage contractors, S.A. Smith of Biggleswade (Beds) have indicated a willingness to collect and move our assets from Llangollen to another site when one is identified and appropriate agreement reached with the host/owner. This is a priority. As we know, work at Llangollen was complete with no outstanding items to be delivered. Timing wise we are preparing to commence ordering first steel castings from William Cooks of Sheffield for the rolling chassis but delivery is to be the end of the year which allows time to relocate assuming a suitable site is found. Details about these issues will appear in the August edition of Steam Railway."
     
  2. Johnb

    Johnb Resident of Nat Pres

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    Haven't most of the board also resigned? It looks as if the Railway is in very deep trouble.
     
  3. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    there was a strategic review recently done which highlighted the existing structure created conflicts of interest which was best resolved with a newly constituted board . Now whether the resignations are as a direct result of this or a broader economic turmoil I cannot say
     
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  4. Thompson1706

    Thompson1706 Well-Known Member

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    In response to the usual speculation found on this forum, I have just finished a Zoom board meeting with all of our other directors present. We are not in deep trouble, although the covid 19 has obviously affected us in the same way as other railways. We have made a decision to discontinue contract engineering on the locomotive side, but will be completing several jobs already started.
    Some directors have resigned recently, two of whom were 70 plus, and two new directors appointed.
    Work is under way to get the railway ready to open on 1st August , with paid staff gradually returning from furlough.

    Bob.
     
  5. Johnb

    Johnb Resident of Nat Pres

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    Thank you. I’ve seen some speculation on another forum and my post was not meant to add to it. It was to hopefully provoke this response from someone in the know. Hopefully if there is still any uninformed nonsense out there it’s now been knocked on the head
     
  6. jonathonag

    jonathonag Well-Known Member

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    Possibly a confirmation on the speculation regarding the Board situation? From the outside, a large resignation suggests there are difficulties that have been experienced. If so, have these been overcome?

    I also suspect it would be in the best interest of the railway to issue some sort of clarification to the events that are taking place. You suggest that the railway will be completing all jobs it has started, however is the confidence there in the railway to fulfill that and to a suitable standard?

    The Patriot group has claimed of issues with work undertaken, the D49 has been evicted and several other projects moving away (one of which only just arrived). Sorry to sound gloomy, but any third parties must surely be questioning if their project will actually be seen through (if there are any left?).
     
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  7. torgormaig

    torgormaig Part of the furniture Friend

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    How do we know that the problems with both groups was not one of proper project management?

    Peter
     
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  8. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    There seem to be too many stories emerging from a variety different groups for that to be the case, although they are all no doubt regretting not keeping a closer eye on their respective projects in hindsight.
    I really must have a ride on the Llangollen Railway soon by the looks of things, every time I've been in past it's been a damned Thomas weekend.
     
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  9. The Dainton Banker

    The Dainton Banker Well-Known Member

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    That was my reading, too. Engineering contracts mis-calculated resulting in cost over-runs and attempts to reduce costs by short-cutting quality / work done. ?

    One thing does puzzle me : the claim that D49 was "evicted". How can that be legal if there is a contract ? And how do you "eject" a locomotive - tow it up the road and leave it out in the snow and ice with its bairns ?? Pictures of the Highland and Irish clearances come to mind :(:(:D
     
  10. jonathonag

    jonathonag Well-Known Member

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    Sadly I cannot link to articles in Steam Railway magazine, but there has been at least one detailed response from an SRPS representative regarding the issues of the D49 overhaul. The SRPS social feeds have also shared the following tonight, as part of a renewed appeal for funds to complete the overhaul of No. 246 :

    "
    Morayshire – ‘Back on the Rails’ Fundraising Appeal - Donate here: www.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/246Morayshire

    D49 No. 246 (62712) ‘Morayshire’ came out of service for her 10-year overhaul in 2015. In 2016 the SRPS agreed a fixed price contract with the Llangollen Railway Company PLC, with a completion expected in March 2018. Additional boiler work was agreed and this extended the completion date into 2019.

    Despite the contract starting well, during 2019 issues emerged with the price and meeting target dates on the contract. The SRPS worked with the Llangollen Railway to reach agreement on how the contract could be completed, to no avail.

    In February 2020, with two weeks’ notice and without the agreement of the SRPS, ‘Morayshire’ - completely dismantled and with an incomplete boiler - was evicted from Llangollen to avoid the Llangollen Railway PLC from going into administration.
    The locomotive is now in storage in the Midlands until work can recommence. The SRPS have engaged with the Llangollen Railway to understand their proposals around this dispute and how it can be resolved but have also taken legal advice in the instance that the matter cannot be resolved by negotiation.

    With the SRPS’s finances fully committed before the demands of the Covid-19 closure and under even greater strain now, we are launching the ‘Back on the Rails’ appeal to help fund the completion of Morayshire’s overhaul. It is estimated that in excess of £100,000 is needed to complete the locomotive, with work being completed both by contractors and by staff and volunteers at Bo’ness. Once complete the ‘Shire’ will run at Bo’ness and also be made available for hire by other heritage railways".

    I also refer to this rather detailed account from the Patriot group regarding their departure from Llangollen and the quality of work involved :

    https://www.lms-patriot.org.uk/engineering/2018-12-20/engineering-date-december-2018
     
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  11. jonathonag

    jonathonag Well-Known Member

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    Please see above. The SRPS were given two weeks notice to remove the locomotive and materials from the site, with no prior warning or agreement. No agreement was made about how to complete the contract either.
     
  12. The Dainton Banker

    The Dainton Banker Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I read that report too. I still cannot understand how this was possible. If, as they claim, SRPS were meeting their side of the conditions of the contract but Llandudno were unable to meet theirs then a legal dispute arises. I can't see how Llandudno had any authority to demand removal; if SRPS refused to move pending settlement of the dispute what could Llandudno do, legally ?
     
  13. jonathonag

    jonathonag Well-Known Member

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    I refer to Jim Verth, of the SRPS, in SR 307 (for clarity of those who haven't managed to read it)-

    "There have been problems about how much repairs should cost, the quality of some of the work and changes at Llangollen, that have significantly delayed it's return.

    The locomotive and tender had been largely assembled while work on the boiler continued. Llangollen Railway Company's new chief mechanical engineer felt the records and evidence of the work done on the locomotive and tender were not satisfactory and had them dismantled for that recording and evidence to be collected. That process identified work that had not been done to a satisfactory standard.

    Last week (early February) Llangollen said that, to avoid going into administration, they will return Morayshire to us in two weeks. This is a measure of just how serious Llangollen's financial problems are. Given this position, our reluctant decision is that we should go ahead with the plan to move her.

    We are in discussions with a company who may be able to store the 'Shire', in a secure place, until we are in a position to bring her back to Bo'ness - perhaps straight into the new shed.

    There are many questions to be sorted, not least on the money we have paid and how the contract has gotten into this position. We are getting legal advice and have kept National Museums Of Scotland up to date with developments.

    The (overhaul) costs were broadly in the original range. The actual costs are commercially sensitive."

    Apologies to SR and happy to remove if required.

    From reading the above, it appears very much that the eviction was ordered and the SRPS felt it best to have the engine moved to a location where it was deemed secure, and that a consolidation of all work done and materials could be taken to assess the situation before proceeding with the legal enquiries. Better to have the engine stored safely somewhere and then taking on the legal battle, than to perhaps hope Llangollen would act in good faith while legal proceedings were drawn up?

    Indeed, if removing the Shire was pivotal to avoiding administration and with the examples above to how Llangollen treated some of the Patriot materials while on site without permission, it isn't surprising that SRPS took the eviction seriously.
     
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  14. The Dainton Banker

    The Dainton Banker Well-Known Member

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    I can quite understand SRPS wishing to remove the loco to protect their own interests, but that is not what is claimed : they say they were evicted. In particular the bit I don't get is the statement "removing the Shire was pivotal to avoiding (Llangollen's) administration". I can't see how this made any sense : if there was a dispute over the liabilities remaining under the contract then Llangollen would have to make a provision for that potential liability in their books and physically removing the loco would have no effect on that.
    Looking at the comments above it appears that it was a very poorly drawn up contract from both party's point of view.
     
  15. jonathonag

    jonathonag Well-Known Member

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    I fear you misunderstand. Llangollen ordered the locomotives eviction, and it would appear that the SRPS did not fight it in the interests of the locomotive's security. That does not null the eviction and suddenly make it an amicable moving out. Instead, that perhaps gives concerns to the SRPS about any security of the locomotive should they have fought the eviction there and then, instead of following the legal proceedings after the 'Shire' was out of Llangollen's hands.

    I do agree that the removal of Morayshire appears debatable to the avoidance of administration, especially if any legal proceedings prove in the SRPS favour.
     
  16. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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    A point to note is that "going to law" costs money hence it is sometimes cheaper to take action and negotiate a financial settlement between the contracting parties. There are many cases where legal action over the distribution of assets left in a will or resulting from divorce have seen legal fees eat up the principal and the contesting parties have literally been left with nothing. Given that many preservation bodies are charities the expense of going to law may establish a right to damages but if there is no monies to pay them .... then a negotiated settlement may be the best option available to minimise the "cost of failure". I am sure the trustees of both the Patriot and the D49 will be well aware of the best options to protect the interests of the locomotive and their respective financial futures.
     
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  17. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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    Not necessarily; as Thompson 1706 explains the Llangollen Railway recognises that it needs to change and 2 directors have simply decided that their age renders their resignation to be a helpful gesture to allow younger directors with more time to make the necessary changes. It is a wise man who knows when it is time to allow younger men to take up the reins hence the resignations may not be a sign of desperation but more a sign of wisdom.
     
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  18. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    Looking at the report on the Patriot, it looks as though a lot of perfectly avoidable errors were made which must cast significant doubt on the quality of the work done, its not as if one or two minor items were adrift in rather obscure places
     
  19. Matt78

    Matt78 Well-Known Member

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    Whatever the ins and outs of the various contracts it must be regarded as a sad day to see the Engineering business close its doors. Just think of some of the locos that have been restored as contract jobs, 2807 and the rail-motor spring to mind immediately, there will be others, both home fleet and visitors.

    at its height the engineering business made a useful contribution to the railway’s coffers. I guess the challenge now is to rebuild the business model without it. Hopefully more positive times for the railway ahead.

    regards

    Matt
     
  20. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    one case you can put down possibly to project management . two starts to hint at a problem , The grapevine has been rife with rumour about other cases . The decision as well to remove the 9F which again if conjecture is correct went at the behest of the railways benefactor from when it teetered on the brink of administration again does not reflect well especially as that step appears to being credited as the catalyst for the cessation of the B17

    Credit that so far we only have a 12 page thread and not a 1380 one . The trouble is in the closely knitted incestuous world of railway preservation, word spreads like wildfire and like Somerset the fickle fingers of fate are being repeatedly pointed at individuals .

    I have to challenge @Thompson1706 assertion that you will be completing several jobs already started .To the outsider it reads . 246 Evicted , 5551 left under a cloud , 4709 relocated, 92212 removed , b17 work terminated . I'm sure even Bob will agree that , this makes pretty uneasy reading . The grapevine says one job will be completed . Reading the list above plus 60007 along with the Corwen Extension was there just too much to properly manage ?

    I wish the Llangollen all the best on sorting itself . The preservation world does not need lines competing for the basket case award . A run from Llangollen to Corwen with a Manor, Small Prairie or Pannier is as close to a time machine as you could wish for. I know I will be challenged that Somerset is so similar but I just don't feel the same way about it . So much so I have contributed to 7754 and supported 5532 in recent weeks .
     

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