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North Yorkshire Moors Railway General Discussion

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by The Black Hat, Feb 13, 2011.

  1. MarkinDurham

    MarkinDurham Well-Known Member

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    Well, if it's accepted that morning flow is towards Whitby, extolling the virtues of taking the train from Whitby/Grosmont to Goathland, then having a look round <Aidensfield> before walking down the incline to Beck Hole & onwards back to Grosmont might well go some way towards balance?
     
  2. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    They aren’t. But they do raise a question about retrenching into a core customer strategy, and pulling out of being able to effectively service a wider audience.


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  3. ruddingtonrsh56

    ruddingtonrsh56 Member

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    My suspicion is that unless walkers are enthusiasts themselves, they're unlikely to plan a day around a train ride and walk. They may plan a walk around the railway and enjoy seeing the trains go by a couple of times during the course of that walk, but I doubt many non-enthusiast walkers would do more than that. The train and walk combo is perhaps more likely to be an individual/group that enjoys trains and walking. Maybe they do a Pickering - Grosmont Round Trip, but get off at Goathland on the northbound journey and walk from there to Grosmont, or get off at Newtondale on the way South and walk from there to Levisham, to fit a walk in and maybe get haulage behind a couple of different engines. (Something my family did on holidays there 20 years ago...). Of course that isn't going to happen if the timetable doesn't allow it, but my suspicion is that there aren't enough groups who would the sufficient shared interests to want an itinerary like the ones outlined above that the NYMR should factor it in to their timetabling decisions.
     
  4. Enterprise

    Enterprise Part of the furniture

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    My wife and I have been visiting the NYMR for decades. We usually take our motorhome to Pickering or Goathland but occasionally Whitby. We are walkers but not exclusively to other activities. We use the local buses as well as the railway, including the Esk valley line. The present timetable options are not particulary suited to our activities and our next visit is likely to be for the gala when we can hop on any train that suits. We have often met other walkers who are steam enthusiasts on the Goathland campsites. The Welsh Highland and Ffestiniog Railways' timetables appear even more inflexible and unsuited to walking but we have no plans to visit until next year and I have not properly researched the possibilities.
     
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  5. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I've always been surprised how many walkers I've seen. Not a dominant flow, but enough that I wonder that NYMR can afford to alienate them as part of a focus on the fixed timetable model.

    I'll also add to this that I commented about walkers as a group who would be willing to use the intermediate stops.
     
  6. Musket The Dog

    Musket The Dog New Member

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    It's not a change I feel particularly good about but I will settle for what the management feels it needs to do in order to help the railway survive the next few years and hopefully thrive afterwards.

    I've only visited the NYMR once, pre-pandemic and must admit being guilty to serving the 'day trip to Whitby' style of operation. The friends I holiday with aren't railway enthusiasts but they could be convinced of a trip to from Grosmont to Whitby, avoiding having to drive into the town and park up there. Whitby had enough to entertain us all until the last train home, (this isn't specific to the NYMR) that group would not have been entertained getting on/off the train all day to explore all the stations/ride all the motive power. In that sense it's worth remembering most tourists to the York Moors aren't railway enthusiasts, but a trip out and back to wherever on a steam train is probably a justifiable day's worth of entertainment.

    We didn't have much choice otherwise when we visited North Wales last year and I swung a trip on the Ffestiniog, but the idea of a ride into the mountains and back as a scenic spectacle, with a good stop for lunch was more appealing to them then an extended trip, stopping at all halts. In reality that sort of passenger was never going to get on or off anyway. It might be worth saying, but this particular group are all walkers. Just in their opinion a train ride to start a walk, would just be less time spent walking (pretty much what Ruddington was describing about non-enthusiasts).

    Back to Yorkshire though, looking through the current timetables on the website I'm not sure who is completely alienated? Even the passengers on the more restrictive 'Seaside Special' and 'Yorkshire Express' are free to get off at whatever station they like, as long as the only version of those trains they go home on is the one they've booked on. They can even ride any of the other trains during the day. The annoyance I can see is that you can't book a single, whatever you do or however far you go it's going to cost you at least £30 on the Moors Explorer. I can understand that is the railway's prerogative at a time when cash flow is tight. Would the cash you gain from offering singles to walkers be more then what will be lost from the people put off that they have to buy a day rover or who absolutely can't commit to an arrival time? Even then, if there's availability the website states you can still turn up at the booking office on the day and book a shorter return.
     
  7. 61624

    61624 Part of the furniture

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    This is an interesting discussion, given that the railway was supported by the National Park and County Council precisely because of the opportunities it offered for increasing access to more of the national park without increasing use of cars. In recent years it has morphed into a Park and Ride facility for Whitby and rather lost sight of this important reason for its survival. It is for this reason that I feel that abandoning Whitby services, with their related crippling costs, and focusing on the Grosmont-Pickering line would not be the disaster that some believe A new relationship with the national park, and more encouragement to access and use it as part of an integration plan could well be a viable alternative.
     
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  8. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    My issue is about turn up and go, and the flexibility to plan (I had the same issue in North Wales last year, so it's not NYMR specific). I can see the case for, but from experience of staying in Pickering, the constraint of fixed times and some wide timetable gaps would have made previous years' family days impractical.

    I agree that railways must focus on what maximises their return at the moment, but my concern is that of @Jamessquared - that some (including NYMR) are retreating into a very restrictive model, that leaves little leeway for marginal traffic.
     
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  9. Lineisclear

    Lineisclear Member

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    The relationship with the National Park is an important and valuable one which the NYMR wants to encourage. For instance it's manifest currently in the collaborative arrangements for the employment and training of countryside apprentices. The suggestion that Whitby involves "crippling costs" is an easy soundbite but unsubstantiated. Rising costs are indeed a huge burden but most would still be there if the Whitby services were jettisoned as suggested. In common with many other heritage lines the NYMR does not generate a high enough surplus to anywhere near cover the essential annual spend, principally on its infrastructure, necessary to maintain a viable railway. It relies on fundraising, and the confidence and support of its bank, to cover the shortfall. Much of that successful fundraising is from external sources .....around £10million in recent years. It was predicated on the charity delivering outcomes desired by the third party funding bodies including over £2million invested in Whitby station to enable the NYMR to operate more services. The recent NLHF/RPA grants over over £6million have helped avoid the railway closing because of unusable bridges but the purpose of the grants was in large measure to encourage the Whitby tourist business.
    Those that hark back to an illusory pre Whitby nirvana would need to explain how abandoning the purposes for which life saving funding has been provided would leave the NYMR with any credibility when it came to securing further funding? It's far from clear that with the current regulatory cost burden a business that abandons its most popular product could hope to survive. The objective of encouraging car free access to the Moors is laudable but, apart from the Goathland honey pot and determined walkers, it's easy to overestimate the potential for car substitution. There's nothing to suggest it could anyway near compensate for the loss of Whitby.
     
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  10. D7076

    D7076 Well-Known Member

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    For decades the NYMR was the attraction !
    Visit the Heartbeat line etc …
    Now it’s just a park and ride for Whitby.
    Such a shame because on a non farce day ,it’s hard to beat a day out at NYMR for entertainment.
    How much of the perceived demand is down to who you ask and what you ask ?For example if you ask those on the 0920 to Whitby do they prefer a booked seat and sat together ,you’re unlikely to get many negatives .However if you ask would they prefer a booked seat or freedom to return on a train of their choice the positives may be reduced .
    And in both cases you’re not likely to get many positives about breaking journey ,visiting Goathland etc as that’s not the market of those you’re asking .Unfortunately many of those customers have gone elsewhere over the last two years to railways more flexible in their offering .
     
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  11. chrishallam

    chrishallam Member

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    I have to say, speaking as someone currently holidaying in the area, even before the current fire situation, which can't be helped, the lack of flexibility had put us off.

    £40+ per adult on set trains to and from Whitby with a high probability of diesel haulage for some or all of the journey, and no option of a different steam service was enough to put off the non enthusiast members of our group.

    I fully understand the costs of running a heritage railway, but compared to other nearby attractions it is a very expensive day out. Castle Howard nearby is £15-25 depending on the ticket. The Scarborough vintage fairground and Rydal country living museum are both around £10 to get in each. Competing for the tourist pound it really needs to offer a premium, which the lack of flexibility and diesel risk was too high in our case, and I wonder if it is the same for others.

    The big services gaps in the Moors explorer services having to fit around the two whitby services also was unattractive.

    As it is, the 3 enthusiasts in the family will visit Pickering and Grosmont, spend a few pounds at each, and hopefully get a short fare to Gothland, rather than 7 of us all day
     
  12. garth manor

    garth manor Well-Known Member

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    Aidensfield is history and increasingly losing its appeal, those who enjoyed it will have been, the coming generations will have little or no knowledge and to many Goathland is not a significant attraction.
     
  13. 5944

    5944 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Aidensfield may not be the attraction it once was, but Hogsmeade could be, if marketed properly. Oddly the NYMR web page for Goathland, while including mention of Hogsmeade, actually lists itineraries starting from Goathland rather than ones to get you there to visit the station and village.
     
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  14. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Mind if I just reiterate that point?

    the lack of flexibility had put us off

    Kindly recall that comment came from a fellow forum member i.e. someone by definition well disposed to heritage lines and who's taken the trouble to share their thoughts with us. That's a ways from a casual visitor who might well think the same, but leave without telling anyone on the railway, never to be seen again.
     
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  15. Sidmouth4me

    Sidmouth4me New Member

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    Yes you can book single fares from the booking office for any journey subject to availability. Note that Carriage A on the Whitby services are only released on the day to ensure people can always turn up on the day, though once the seats are then gone they are gone. Single fares are slightly higher than return, so for example the sum of the single fares Pickering to Goathland and return Grosmont to Pickering is the same as a Pickering to Grosmont Return.

    Many people do buy singles on the day whether travelling on the Moors Explorer or Seaside Special etc, either to walk back, or to return as a car or bus passengers (eg Coastliner).

    ps the return fare Pickering to Goathland is £20.50 (£43 for a 2+2 family of 4) with Goathland an attractive destination for both the walker and non-walker (and not just because of Heartbeat).
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2022
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  16. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Part of the furniture

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    Is not the very debate we had about the WSR though.
    I have just had a look at the website and I can see no mention (at least in an obvious manner because it is buried deep with in the Moors Explorer) that tells me there is any product offered other than Seaside Special, Moors Explorer & Yorkshire Express. If I look at the screenshot below why would I bother with the fare chart when "the fares"
    are shown below the timetables. I just do not think it is intuitive.


    upload_2022-7-12_11-34-33.png
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2022
  17. LMarsh1987

    LMarsh1987 Part of the furniture

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    We're on the 14.30 behind the 9F and we return from Pickering on the 16.00 with the 9F/37 ! Pay on the day is available.
     
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  18. LMarsh1987

    LMarsh1987 Part of the furniture

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    deleted
     
  19. 61624

    61624 Part of the furniture

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    The suggestion that the NYMR would lose the support of funding bodies and fail if it retrenched to Grosmont-Pickering is risible. Before extending to Whitby it was by far the most popular standard gauge line in the UK and was already an important local employer. The reality is that Whitby hasn't added much to that - some station staff at Whitby and Grosmont and perhaps some additional engineering and management roles. Retrenchment would most probably cost some posts, but probably not that many, but would probably greatly reduce the strain on both volunteer and full time staff. Much of the infrastructure work needed to keep the railway open has now been tackled and if the argument is that further works are needed to safeguard the future of the line and whatever employment opportunities it offers then I can see no argument why funding bodies would not continue to support it. If Whitby has failed because it has left the railway in a financially worse position than before, running harder to stand still*, then it would be hard to argue against

    Any well-run business should periodically review what it does, along the lines of a SWOT analysis, and the NYMR is virtually unique among heritage railways in having some specific threats. Who knows whether NR will continue to permit vacuum braked trains or slam door stock to work over its metals in the longer, or even medium, term? Routine passenger services on the EVL have created problems with pathing for the NYMR's services and more or less eliminated opportunities to run to Battersby - perhaps they will be successful and further expanded, increasing the squeeze on NYMR services.

    As I said above, a properly run business should be recognizing those threats and should be looking hard at the "opportunities" section of the SWOT analysis going forward to try to develop more emphasis on its own interests, rather than those of Whitby businesses.

    *The NYMR is running at an annual surplus that is not dissimilar to what it was achieving prior to extending to Whitby but carrying more passengers and running more train-miles - if that isn't running harder to stand still, what is?
     
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  20. Lineisclear

    Lineisclear Member

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    Like any well managed business the NYMR has a constantly updated risk register and does SWOT analyses. Those indicate that its Whitby tourist traffic fits the S element of SWOT and in terms of ability to attract funding the O element too!

    As pointed out before grant funding bodies conduct post award audits to establish the extent to which the purposes for which grants were given have been achieved. You may consider the issue risible but if grants are given for purposes which the recipient quickly decides to abandon it’s self evident that the audit is not going to be complimentary or reassuring for potential future grant funders.

    Earning a reputation for accepting funds that enable play to continue but then shifting the goal posts is not a responsible way to manage the charity
     

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