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Project Wareham

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by David R, Jul 31, 2015.

  1. oliversbest

    oliversbest Member

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    News Now Rail 2022/06/29
    Huge support for Rossendale to Manchester link (over ELR) shown in survey.
    note the paragraph stating that although the ELR opposes the project, interest has been shown by other HR in the process
     
  2. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    You mean the press release https://www.rossendalenews.org.uk/s...nk-in-biggest-ever-rossendale-council-survey/ linked in that news aggregator site from the council promoting the scheme which doesn’t actually state how many people responded to that survey, nor addresses the concerns of the heritage railway that will be affected, nor mentions which other HRs are interested?

    And when you read it carefully, is clear that there aren’t actually any business case numbers yet, that the scheme can’t proceed without ELR support, and tries to threaten the ELR with political interference and the hint that their budgets may dry up. Oh, and is illustrated with pictures of a train type that we know has under delivered badly wherever it’s been used elsewhere.

    Discussion of this particular scheme belongs elsewhere; we should just be glad for the Swanage Railway that Dorset council aren’t grandstanding in this way and seem to recognise the difficulties involved.

    Edit

    PS - I do not mean to decry the legitimate ambitions of campaigners to reopen branch lines as part of the national network. My issue is with those who pretend that this can be done without cost to the heritage railways whose tracks they wish to use, and who ignore the evidence of the last 60 years that the heritage railway model is viable in its own right and barely compatible with public service operation as an integrated part of the national network rather as an isolated attraction.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2022
  3. oliversbest

    oliversbest Member

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    Remember Howard Hughes famous line?
    "Its the way of the Future"
     
  4. oliversbest

    oliversbest Member

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    Same source
    BBC reports huge numbers in favour of restoring Rossendale to Manchester Rail Link
    Bring on the 2023 Rainhill(oops Wareham!!) trials
     
  5. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    You may want to read and consider these stories you post - when I found the story, it's BBC regurgitating the same press release you previously pointed at, with equally little contextual information, and on the same day that it's reported elsewhere that TfW are proposing to use their new DMUs in place of the VivaRail hybrid units illustrated in the story due to continued issues.
     
  6. oliversbest

    oliversbest Member

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    BBC. The arbiter of broadcasting truth in the UK???? used to be!
    Class 197 TFW is being assembled in Wales. Good for them because its jobs that count in the 21st century and, according to the handout these units are going to be deployed on many TFW routes not just the routes currently using the Vivarail product
    I am not familiar with who owns what up on the ELR but if local councils and politicians are gung ho then one would say that there will definitely be progression.
    The USA has a law of "eminent domain" somewhat similar to compulsory purchase and if a purchase is deemed to be necessary for the public good,then it happens
    In the case of Norden to Worgret the trackbed is owned by the DC,no purchase necessary,just good will,co-operation and results defined as being for the public good
    Let the trials commence(in 2023)!!
     
  7. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    Journalism has declined; even highly reputable publications are more than capable of just regurgitating a press release - which is all that either of the two stories you've linked to did.

    As for "eminent domain", the equivalent here is "compulsory purchase". Those powers, unlike in some parts of the US, have a very high threshold before they can be granted, following a planning process. This process includes ensuring that the organisation seeking the powers has the funds to do the project. The "evidence" of a survey run by those proposing a scheme would not get them near to the starting line for that purchase.

    You also seem to fail to distinguish between a generalised good thing (we all agree that running through trains is broadly speaking good) and that actually delivering an improvement. Which is where money comes in - these things have to be funded, and the costs considered alongside the benefits. So, in the case of preserved railways, we realists have in mind not just the cost of running these trains as through services, but also the impact of delivering a service that is useful on the heritage railway whose line will be used. And that is where UK rail regulation puts up some major obstacles, which make it very difficult to do what you regard as so straightforward.

    Which is why this observer hopes to see a trial on the Swanage in 2023, while also fearing that it will undermine teh viability of the railway you support. It's why I think ideas for through running to Minehead are either wholly unviable or threaten the WSR, and why I do not believe that Rossendale's plans are any better than pie in the sky.

    I also believe that heritage railways can and will thrive despite current challenges long after you or I are gone to the scrapyard, where they focus on doing what they do well, and do not allow themselves to be distracted into trying to fulfil the community railway chimera that was shown to have impractical when I was still in nappies.
     
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  8. Cuckoo Line

    Cuckoo Line Member

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    Getting the right visitor experience is going to be the key not reinstating services that at best will be marginal. Some of the heritage railways seem to have realised that whilst others seem to think they can just carry on as before.
     
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  9. City of truro fan

    City of truro fan Member

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    The money would of bee better put towards the narrow gage line so that they could have the runs across the bridge and take passengers it would have made it a better museum but now they have no money and the railway has wasted it all on the normal sized line
     
  10. buzby2

    buzby2 Well-Known Member

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    An explanation of the point you're trying to make would be appreciated.
    Does it have any relevance to Project Wareham which is the subject matter here?
     
  11. WishIHadAName

    WishIHadAName New Member

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    Id rather of seen the Narrow Gauge reinstated across the bridge than a DMU running to Wareham to be fair to City of Truro. Probably cost a lot less too.
     
  12. oliversbest

    oliversbest Member

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    The Trials are written in Purbeck Stone agreed to by the SRC and DC. and scheduled for 2023
    Lots of other appeals and projects to be actioned before narrow gauge railways one would hope
     
  13. Nantyglo

    Nantyglo New Member

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    To my mind the trials will only be a success if they produce a conclusive result, either one way or the other.
    An inconclusive result will be the worst of both worlds and the Swanage Railway will never hear the end of it, not least on this forum!
     
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  14. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I agree completely - and will add that this needs to be against a very clear benchmark and decision point. Personally, my view is that this is a change to the status quo and therefore the decision needs to calibrated on how the trial strengthens the railway.
     
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  15. Nantyglo

    Nantyglo New Member

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    Indeed, and if the result tends towards the "positive," the decision point may need to be set very high if there is any kind of potential public service obligation - probably the last thing that any heritage railway would wish to take on at a time of exponentially increasing costs, increasing statutory regulation, declining volunteer availability and massive economic and geopolitical uncertainty.
    Maybe things will be better by 2023 (somehow I doubt it!) but a huge amount may need to be factored in for potential risks, most of which will still be "unknown unknowns" at that time. From what I have read up-thread the cost of liability insurance alone could be sufficient to scupper the whole project.
    I sincerely hope the trials will enable the Swanage Railway to fulfill their long-held ambitions, but equally, should the result be negative, I hope that the other parties to the trials will take a reasonable and pragmatic view and either underwrite the additional costs or release the railway, temporarily or permanently, from any financial obligations that would threaten its survival.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2022
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  16. 80104

    80104 Member

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    Possibly an even bigger challenge than Project Wareham itself is to get agreement on an absolute definition of what "success" is?

    Is it financial (profit break even small loss*)? Is it number of passengers carried? Is it % of planned services operated?

    *Define a small loss!

    In financial terms two of the challenges would be defining (a) what revenue is attributable to the Wareham service (b) what costs are attributable to the Wareham service?

    The "issue" with revenue is taking into account those passengers who decide to travel to / from Wareham but would have done so from Norden if Wareham was not a choice. ie it is the incremental revenue (the difference between a Wareham fare and a Norden fare) that needs to be counted. Whilst taking £425K in Wareham fares could be seen as a success it would be very much diminished if the other fares revenue diminished by say £250K.

    Likewise defining the costs of the Wareham service will be challenging. Some are self evident: mainline insurance premium, network rail track access charges, SWR station access charges, cost of maintaining the line between Norden gates and the network rail boundary (not withstanding any costs offset against the charter income) but how do you apportion the cost of running the DMU between Swanage and Wareham?

    This is not a question of semantics or "juggling the figures". If SRC believes it has made a profit then there will be an expectation to run the service the following year, if it has made a loss then DC will want to know exactly what the loss is (and how it is arrived at) because they may well decide to use that figure as the basis for financial support for the following years service. If the railway understates the loss - for whatever reason - it could find that the following years grant is insufficient and the railway is in the financial doo dah, if the railway overstates the loss then it may not get a grant the following year thus there will be no service the following year to the detriment of both the railway and the general public.

    Does anyone know if SRT SRC and DC have agreed on what basis the Wareham service will be judged?
     
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  17. Nantyglo

    Nantyglo New Member

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    I have little doubt that your analysis is correct but it suggests a degree of financial complexity that could almost require a team of forensic accountants to unravel. Perhaps accountancy fees should also be added to your list of costs, and the amounts may not be trivial!

    In simplistic terms, to the founders of the Swanage Railway, just running scheduled services to and from Wareham would presumably be seen as a success, but the true test must be the financial one and it seems fraught with potential difficulties, including both known and unknown risks.

    I think the SR and their partners would be most unwise to embark upon this venture without a carefully considered agreement about what actually constitutes financial success. I’m sure they wouldn’t do so, but I suspect that the detailed criteria will be deemed commercially sensitive and possibly not fully revealed.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2022
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  18. 80104

    80104 Member

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    The nub of the issue is, and I accept this may be a cynical point of view, that PW is not about "success" per se but rather about meeting the specific condition (of the lease) to run 2 trial services and not placing the core heritage operation at risk financially, operationally or through being denuded of resources. Though that of course could be a definition of "success" in this specific instance.

    On the basis of the 2017 trial and the oft made comments about risks and resource issues, it seems to me that PW will place SRT SRC at risk and therefore the "way out" is for SRT SRC to run the trial and then be able to go to DC and say we have done it (as required by the condition within our lease) and we do not wish to do it again.

    Having said all of that I personally do want the trial to be a success operationally and financially.
     
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  19. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    The analysis should not be difficult, but would rely on clearly defined tests and properly documented assumptions. It would be relatively easy to compare passenger counts and fares income, and establish whether Wareham traffic is adding net new business to the railway, and if so how much income that is generating compared to when Wareham services weren't operating - both within the year of the trial, and looking across years.

    Assuming no ongoing subsidy, the minimum standard for success would be that the additional costs are covered by the additional fares income due to Wareham operations; a more sensible measure would then check that it would not reduce the overall profitability (measured as a percentage) of the railway. If there were ongoing subsidy, that would be added to the fares income to assess the profitability.
     
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  20. Nantyglo

    Nantyglo New Member

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    I too hope the trial will prove to be a “success” by whatever definition the railway (primarily) and their partners agree to adopt.

    However, none of us could have foreseen how much the economic climate would deteriorate over the last two or three years. Conditions are now very different. The up-thread comment about the railway having possibly dodged a bullet by not running the trial in 2022 comes to mind and I wonder how much the railway would have preferred to postpone the trial (possibly indefinitely) but for the obligation to run it.

    I think running the trial followed by the “way out” discussion you mention above is the most likely outcome. Few people are likely to disagree that this would be judged a “success” if the result of the trial is sufficiently clear-cut to demonstrate that the alternative for the railway would be financial ruin.
     
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