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Recommissioning after Coronavirus

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by johnofwessex, Mar 24, 2020.

  1. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I visited one railway last year, which was the GCR for their Mountsorrel DMU shuttles. That was a nice morning out, but it was enough to confirm my view that a tightly chaperoned day out wasn’t really my cup of tea.

    There was a lot of comment on this thread about how railways were attracting customers last year with pre bookings, guaranteed seats, etc. I remember doubting the applicability of that at the time; the anecdotal evidence suggests that it isn’t a compelling enough offer to keep pace with “normal” activity levels, let alone boost business - especially at the raised prices caused by distancing.

    This spring seems to be testing that theory. Whether it has to do with the urgency of release, or the weather, or the fares, or whatever else, the anecdotes suggest demand for heritage railways isn’t as high as under the same constraints last year.

    My own view is that it’s a concatenation of all of those. In August, we have a family holiday to Snowdonia (NW edge, nr Bangor). I’ve been allowed a day doing trains by my family (not desperately interested...), and my first thoughts were to the Welsh Highland. That’s expensive, especially with Covid constraints in place, and only doing part runs. That’s enough to rule it out for me, and have me looking elsewhere for something that will give me the right blend of interest and value.

    Get it right, and they may join me; too long or too expensive, and they’ll drop me while going to do something else.

    I’m sure plenty of families are going through similar equations, and preserved railways will be subject to market demand as a a result.


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  2. Bikermike

    Bikermike Well-Known Member

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    The plural of anecdote is not data. It's interesting to note diametrically opposite responses to masks and social distancing etc in the above posts.

    It's a tricky one, but I think as enthusiasts, we need to support lines. To say the offer isn't good enough or that you don't feel wanted is missing the point. The running costs of the railways don't care. Tjlhe management needs to price to get the best return.

    Tbh, I've just made donations.
     
  3. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    The trouble is, I can think of other causes and businesses with the same challenges - do I donate to them all? Do I make visits I wouldn’t make as an act of support?

    I’ve long taken the view, initially prompted by reading a copy of “The Big Issue” which left me wondering how to get 5 minutes of my life back, that if I buy something, I do so because of the merits of the product or service, not as a quasi-donation. I apply that to my Christmas cards (used to buy from a Convent because of a connection with one of the nuns) but decided their designs no longer did it for us, I apply it to other things - why not to my hobbies too?


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  4. mdewell

    mdewell Well-Known Member Friend

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    As the HRA InterRail Coordinator I do get to hear all sorts of attitudes from card holders. At one end of the spectrum are those who want to support the HRA and heritage railways in general, and at the other are those who moan about the slightest reduction in benefits at even one railway (as you might guess there were quite a few such complaints over the last year or so :rolleyes:). I expect the latter people do consider themselves to be heritage railway supporters, but you have to wonder just how much support they offer with that sort of attitude.

    On a personal note, I will be on holiday in June and intend to travel on 2 days on the same heritage railway. Being one of the larger railways it works out relatively expensive for me and the wife to do so, so I wanted to use our InterRail card for discounted travel. However, on enquiring I found that they were only accepting InterRail for tickets on the day of travel. To do this while they were restricted on capacity due to the current Covid rules seems reasonable and fair so I didn't really mind. On further thought I decided that I didn't want to risk missing out if trains were fully booked, and as I could afford it, I was happy to book in advance at the full price (After all it's in a good cause :)).

    I suppose my point, if there is one, is that people should ask themselves if they want to do whatever they are financially and/or physically capable of to support heritage railways, or are they just out to get as much personal benefit as they can from 'their' hobby. Hopefully the answer will be a bit of both.
     
  5. Bikermike

    Bikermike Well-Known Member

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    I understand your point (I too have bought the Big Issue and regretted it). OTOH, it's as much the selling and the engagement that the vendors benefit from as the actual cash.

    My view is FWIW, I donate to a small number of causes. I could donate to many more, but the money only goes so far. I am quite willing to accept a poor "rate of return" for wider benefits. I always buy in a shop rather than Amazon even if it's cheaper - there's a benefit to shops. But it only goes so far.

    Equally, and I will say this only once, I do agree with Paul that railways aren't doing this for fun, they can only offer what is lawful and safe, so maybe there's something in how the message is put
     
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  6. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Those railways that re-opened on the 12th April did so on the technicality that we are generally classed as transport systems. The reality is that we are firmly in the leisure business and, when on a train, an indoor attraction. Joe public was generally aware that such things aren't open and that they should be minimising travel in any case so those that were abiding by the guidance would probably stay away. I'm hoping for an improvement now that we are in phase 3 of the lockdown easing but we'll just have to wait and see. The Indian variant may have a negative effect on people's willingness to mix with others.
     
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  7. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Resident of Nat Pres

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    I'm off to North Wales at the end of the month.

    I have booked the Welsh Highland, Tallylyn, Ffestiniog & Snowdon Mountain,

    1. Because its a b***y long way from home & if I dont do them it will be a while before I can manage it again.
    2. Living in Somerset its my only opportunity to get a big helping of Narrow Gauge until the L&B extends
    3. I went on the Tallylyn as a child and want to take my two youngest on it
    4. And I didnt get a Great Little Trains discount pass, firstly because you cant always use it in line , and I suggest that all the lines need the money
     
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  8. Wenlock

    Wenlock Well-Known Member Friend

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    And Quainton has apparently started running the miniature railway too (or rather VAMES have).

    A big draw for a 4 year old?
     
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  9. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    And if I had free rein, I'd be doing the same. With finite time and budget, (especially time) I want to maximise what I get from it.
     
  10. estwdjhn

    estwdjhn Member

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    For me it's the mask requirements. I hate wearing one with a passion, and I'm only doing the bare minimum essential stuff where I may have to wear one, until that's lifted.

    That's not the fault of any of the railways I might travel on, and I appreciate this is a government edict, and not their fault, but I'm afraid that's the reality of it for me, and I suspect I'm far from alone.
     
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  11. 5944

    5944 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Correct. Just over an hour's drive away so not too far to go either.
     
  12. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    You're not alone! Yesterday, my (fully vaccinated) friend ventured into Churchill Square shopping mall, for the first time since it all kicked off. His observation was that people seemed to be treating the day as less an end to lockdown than the end of the virus in toto and resulted in his rapid egress. With that sort of carefree attitude on display, I doubt it's possible to rule out further restrictions.
     
  13. jasa76

    jasa76 New Member

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    If by XC insisting on reserved seats I've not seen that actually been enforced anytime in the last 14 months and when ever I travel from Nottingham 75% of the time reservations aren't in place.

    Having travelled to London from Nottingham a few times I have to agree that for a short journey or trip to a shop there's not that bad apart from glasses fogging up, but on those longer Journeys to London I find after about an hour I need to grab a drink or my mouth dries out and I start coughing.
     
  14. AlexGWR1994

    AlexGWR1994 Member

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    Here's my footage of the West Somerset Railway's reopening to the public with 9351 the star of the show. Enjoy.
     
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  15. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Part of the furniture

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    The other issue of course is what is the take up of non heritage railway attractions. There was the perception in some areas and certainly on a certain rail forum that there was a vast wall of people just looking to rush off the moment the last easing took place. I have seen no official figures from any tourist body but my own and others observations down here in Purbeck (which of course has seaside, castle as well as railway attractions) is apart from perhaps yesterday things have been very quiet still. Nothing scientific but last week on a couple of photo sorties I got parked in the square at Corfe, twice in the free parking opposite the NT car park at Corfe, and every time the NT was at best 50% full. Normally by now (mid May) I would not be able to do that and in the middle of the day lucky to do it most of the year. The town car parks in Swanage are not more than 20% full most days despite the usual closure of 50% of the seafront for summer pedestrianisation and a lot of the street parking becoming only 1 hour from May 15. One day last week there were only 14 cars parked on the seafront, I had seen more than that in lockdown!
    If people do not want to go out for whatever reason, weather, masks etc. then no surprise I guess that railways are low on numbers as well, especially as midweek it is likely to be non enthusiast travelling. Coach tours are also sporadic, I think I saw 2 here last week, whereas pre Covid Tuesday the busiest day had up to 13 coaches at once.
     
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  16. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Resident of Nat Pres

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    Doesnt help that we have had the wettest May for many years.

    I suspect that many people are waiting for better weather.
     
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  17. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Do you mean 'waiting for warmer rain'?
     
  18. Wyreman

    Wyreman New Member

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    [Deleted - just repeated earlier points]
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2021
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  19. Kje7812

    Kje7812 Well-Known Member

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    Just wondering how railways have done this half-term week?
    The SVR's loadings have perked up a fair bit with some trains officially booked out.
     
  20. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Likewise on the GWSR, it more or less coincided with the introduction of services boarding at Cheltenham and Broadway (previously you could only start and finish at Toddington) which helped, and things have definitely been looking more healthy ever since. The bank holiday was wonderfully busy (all within safe levels of course), very satisfying to see on duty.
     

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