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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. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    Fair comments, but perhaps the issue is less with the paid staff as individuals, and more with the proportion of them as a total of the headcount and budget.

    As for the question of competence and cover, I personally regard the inability to run a service to the main joining point as a "never event", of such magnitude as to suggest that the cost/benefit analysis referred to is actively misleading.
     
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  2. MrDibbs

    MrDibbs New Member

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    We currently have one member of paid staff being trained as a signaller (they already have Guarding Competence) and there is the intention to train some more shed staff as footplate crew so that they can work turns in an emergency. Not ideal of course as it's pulling them away from their jobs, but it happens often enough that it's thought worthwhile.
     
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  3. andykeithharris

    andykeithharris New Member

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    Does anyone know if the railway is opening for the Feb half term as they have some years.

    If not what is the first running day 0f 2023

    Thanks
     
  4. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    AFAIK there are no plans to run at February half term. This running period was abandoned before Covid appeared. Doing so allowed PW to have an extended period for track renewals and also meant that the loco and C&W departments didn't have to put things back into operational condition. The costs of doing this additional work largely offset the 'profit' from the weeks operation.

    Next years WTT has not been published yet. If I was betting man, I'd put my Mars Bar on Saturday, 1st April but I'm not a betting man and wouldn't want to risk losing my Mars Bar, in any case.
     
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  5. andykeithharris

    andykeithharris New Member

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    Thank you. It's a shame as it was somewhere interesting to go at a time when most things are shut, but I understand the logic

    Cheers
     
  6. YorkyLad

    YorkyLad New Member

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    Looks like no running again Christmas week either.
     
  7. 61624

    61624 Part of the furniture

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    Harder to understand the logic for that one - exhaustion of staff might be offered, but I would have thought that the operating staff will have had a few weeks beforehand to recover, and its a different group of people who bear the brunt of the Santa influx. I'd have thought that NewYear "train of Lights" diner specials might well be popular and could command a serious premium.
     
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  8. MuzTrem

    MuzTrem Member

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    Other railways (and other visitor attractions) certainly seem to do well out of people desperate to get out of the house during the "Crimbo limbo". I remember going to Chinnor last year or the year before - admittedly this was during social distancing restrictions - but every table on the train had been booked, and there were lots of big family groups. Plenty of demand for tea and cakes, too...

    Sent from my SM-A125F using Tapatalk
     
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  9. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Why do you think it's a different group of people who bear the brunt of the Santa influx? It's the same group of people who keep the trains running throughout the year and, strangely enough, a significant number of them want to spend Christmas doing what sane people do and not await the inevitable phone call asking if you can cover such and such a turn as no one has volunteered for it. at the moment, we're having to find eight footplate crews/day instead of the normal four because someone had the bright idea of running the Light Spectacular Express at the same time as running a normal service and dining trains. We may have 65 drivers on the books but with some of those living in Holland, Cornwall and Kent many aren't available at the drop of a hat to fill turns.

    There's also the question of weather. We may have had some mild winters in the last few years but that's not always the case and, if you've ever tried getting over the Moors and into Grosmont when it's snowing, you'll think twice about putting your name down for a winter turn. I've done it in the past but have a bit more sense these days.
     
  10. 21B

    21B Well-Known Member

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    Running a heritage railway today is difficult. It is perhaps trending toward impossible.

    I have just reread Railway Adventure. It reminded me that in 1952 the railway was open from Whitsunday until end of September. It ran Monday to Friday initially and carried 15,000 passengers. A very small group of volunteers was able to maintain the service of 2 trains per day. PW work tool place at weekends.

    The constant effort to become and be sustainable (I don't mean environmental) has driven ever more services in order to feed the resources and the equipment needed. When the TR started, a retube was a major issue. Today a new boiler is not at all scary.

    What we now have though is a triple challenge. Firstly volunteers. Fewer young people in the population (relatively) higher expectations, declining free time and a skill set from working life which is now light years from many practical railway jobs

    Secondly, our infrastructure is wearing out in much the same way that we have previously had to deal with rolling stock and locos wearing out. This is monumentally expensive.

    Thirdly, economy. Money is tight and going to get tighter.

    The railways we have today are often too big and too complex to be run entirely by volunteers for the reasons above. There are some exceptions to this rule. As an aside that's the thing about heritage railways, every one is different.

    The coming reality is that reducing the service levels is pretty much inevitable. The only way to survive is to run fewer, fuller services. What that looks like will be different for different places. What I mean is that the FR might want to run Mon to Thurs, and the NYMR might run only Tuesday to Sunday, and another line might only run special events.and a few weekends.

    The trick will be to hold together volunteer interest, reduce costs and continue to attract enough people to ride the remaining services. Cutting cost without becoming unsustainable will be very difficult, but the model of constantly growing (or attempting to grow) out of the resource shortfall is not going to work.
     
  11. 61624

    61624 Part of the furniture

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    Traditionally the NYMR post-Xmas services have been walk-ups, but with the advent of pre-booking I'm surprised that it hasn't occurred to the marketeers that it's an opportunity to use the process to upsell these trains as premium services - say a morning and afternoon diner from one end using the Pullman set and the same but different dining experience from the other, using the teak train (because of the kitchen in the Gresley RB).
    I appreciate and understand and agree with most of what you say, but I'm just a bit puzzled by the "everyone's exhausted" at that time of year, after the santas. The people with the front of house jobs, dealing with excited kids and exasperated parents, are the ones who really bear the brunt of the Santa onslaught, for the rest its very similar to any other day on the railway, and as others have said, perhaps there are too many of those. Maybe it is a further manifestation of "Whitby fatigue", because it seems to have become a problem only in recent times.
     
  12. 21B

    21B Well-Known Member

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    Don't take this as me shooting you down, but do you / have you volunteered on a railway? If so were you a safety critical grade? It makes a difference as to how to explain why people might be fed up with running trains.
     
  13. 61624

    61624 Part of the furniture

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    I am a 45 year NYMR volunteer and have worked also in the LNERCA and NELPG, as well as owning and running the Fairbourne Railway for 10 years. Most that time has been as a carriage restorer, but I am a driver at Fairbourne as well, so I do understand that some days turning up at the railway is at the bottom of my priorities for the day. But, having made the committment in the first place, I also believe that I should honour it if I'm able to. At theb same time, I also recognise that the treatment I experience whilst I'm at work there can colour my judgement to a very great extent. I'm a firm believer that heritage railways need to work at retaining their volunteers as much as possible. That means a friendly atmosphere, plenty of free tea, somewhere reasonably clean and comfortable to eat and sleep and reasonable washing facilities for the end of the day.
     
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  14. 21B

    21B Well-Known Member

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    I agree completely about atmosphere etc for volunteers. I have had a few arguments over the years with different people, but my belief is that volunteers are the most important customer. That doesn't mean that their needs always completely trump those of the fare paying customer, nor does it mean that railway management will always be able to please them, or should worry if it can't. I think it means that in addition to the tea and something in which to drink it volunteers have to be kept enthused.

    My own experience is that communication is the most important part of enthusing volunteers. They want to know what is happening and why. They want to feel they have some opportunity to be heard and listened to, both as individuals and as a group. They will do anything (pretty much) in the short term if these needs are met.

    It is important not to take the p. Someone (probably the GM) needs to push the railway to develop its offering to customers and to be safe and commercial etc. But, they also need to know when to back off the pace a little to allow recovery. To stretch without ever over stretching, and that's a difficult judgement.
     
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  15. MuzTrem

    MuzTrem Member

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    That's an excellent summary - and I say that as someone with professional experience of managing volunteers! (And, for that matter, as someone who has many years experience of volunteer work on heritage railways...so I have seen both sides of the coin.)
     
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  16. 21B

    21B Well-Known Member

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    Thank you, that's kind. I've been both volunteer and paid too. Each needs the other, and doesn't always appreciate that fact.
     
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  17. Sidmouth4me

    Sidmouth4me New Member

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  18. 61624

    61624 Part of the furniture

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    There is no doubting that the NYMR has some of the best grant application writers around, who have worked miracles in the last few years. My fear is that the railway as it is presently run (increasing as a tourist attraction rather than a heritage destination [imho, also by their own admission]) i at odds with many of the outcomes sought by the grant awarding body. I just hope that they can deliver!
     
  19. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Part of the furniture

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    I think we all need to understand railways are going to be running fewer days and fewer services in the future.
    Off the back of this I checked Swanage and they are not running post Christmas this year, WSR seem only to be running lights trains.
    Even if you initiate a pre book offering if you do not get a break even number you than have to refund all the money, and maybe annoy a few customers in the process.
    Do not expect folks to be awash with money post Christmas, if a lot are already saying how difficult it will all be.
     
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  20. 61624

    61624 Part of the furniture

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    That may be true, and I pointed out before the first foray into "Train of Lights" services a couple of years ago that it is asking a lot for parents to fork out for both those and Santas at what is in any case an expensive time of year. The post-Xmas services, though, are aimed much less at families and the real scale of the financial crisis has only really come to light since the disastrous "mini-budget" of Kasi Kwarteng and the decision not to run over the Xmas/New Year period was taken well before then, I suspect.
     

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