Discussion in 'What's Going On' started by 61994, Jul 21, 2020.
RTC website reckons Guardsman.
Thanks for that information.
And the fireman before Chris Yates took over was Fraser Birrell, I believe. Busy for him as on the following day I think he was on the S&C!
It certain did run:
You did well to get to all those places! I just went to Winchfield in the morning and Fleet in the evening:
It seems to me that when it comes to a shortage of locos, the DCEs seem to be regarded as the most expendable if something has to be chopped. There may well be a good financial reason for this - i.e., poor ticket sales - although I'm not privy to such information. However, it's a shame that when Leander was booked to come down south, both Royal Duchies were deemed worth allocating to it rather than perhaps just one along with one DCE instead. It will be interesting to find out what engine will be allocated to the Swanage Belle, or whether this too will face the chop.
For those of us who live south of London and want a day out behind steam, all I can say is thank goodness for Clan Line. I couldn't make the John Farrow special this month nor can I make the Pathfinder run to Margate next month, but in a recent interview with Steam Railway, Liz Morris of UKRT expressed a desire to run trains in 2022 featuring 35028 and thus keeping the close relationship which her father had started when he ran UKRT.
Apart from this, I am almost tempted to despair with the other operators. They seem to ignore the south of England completely until about June, virtually everything when it does run has a diesel on the back, the choice of the summer months for the DCE/Swanage Belle means that there is always the potential for fire risk problems in the New Forest and cancellations seem to be endemic. While not denying that there is a loco shortage at the moment (and the plans to run 31806 from Weymouth to Southampton have been scuppered because motive power is tighter than had been anticipated at Swanage), I'm sure there is the potential for more and better specials in the south of England. Just look at 35028's run to Sherborne last week to see how it should be done.
Perhaps things will be better in 2022, but I'm not holding my breath.
With regard the Duchys it is probably what the owner and support crews are prepared and/or able to do. If they have to take time off work it will be less days for a weekend trip.The loco is likely to be based at Bishop's Lydeard which is a lot nicer than being next to the GW mainline on Southall.
With so few Southern based locos the promoters have to rely on some coming down from the North, and they are more likely to be in the summer months since the supports crew will be sleeping in the support coach.
With regard the DCE's. Someone from Swanage stated 31806 was available, likewise the Colchester to Bury St Edmonds trips Mayflower and 76084 which ended up being Mayflower and a 47, someone from the owners apparently stated76084 was available. It appears lack of crews could be the issue.
RTC and SD in the south are usually not on the same day.
The other issue (perhaps i do not know) is that the DCE has around 63.5 miles (the Belle less of course) of the steam loco being towed at around 60 mph on the back of the stock. I have no idea if all loco owners are happy with that to happen or not. Long gone are tha days of sufficent locos to have one each way.
I also noticed yesterday that the day the Belle is due to operate is still a two train service at Swanage. I can think of ways that a tour and a tour train service could operate, but I think it would need 3 steam loco for the two trains. The opportunity for seroius delays to the Swanage services would be great however.
I do not know if WCRC or the loco owner provides support crews for Leander but 4 tours in 15 days plus the two positioning moves seems rather too many I suspect, especially if those folks have day jobs.
I suspect last week Sherborne tour had a high percenatge of enthusiasts, plus it was "an event" as well. I checked the RTC site last Friday for the Clan Worcester trip and it said seats were still available so even a "rare" loco may have been enough. Rememeber the main market is no longer enthusiasts.
This post on wnxx about the SD Sunset Express did not surprise me but obviously did the poster.
"I did the evening trip this week around the surrey hills and was a bit surprised at the clientele..
Not your usual railtour crowd.
Most passengers were in dining, dressed up in tux / suit / dresses. Quite a number of city types, younger age groups, probably wouldnt know the difference between
the 33 and the B1.
I’d say the front 4/5 were pretty much full, the cheap seats at the back were largely empty."
I take your point that enthusiasts are a minority among the passengers in many trains operated by RTC or Steam Dreams - and, indeed, Saphos. I have no criticism of these operators for growing the market and thus providing more work for loco owners. My gripe is essentially that the enthusiast, certainly if he (or she) lives in the South of England and doesn't fancy trekking hundreds of miles up north to join a main line special, seems to have been overlooked. I have very few trips to choose from apart from the occasional UKRT/Clan Line trains, which are always excellent. but not always running on days when I'm free. By all means earn your dosh dragging diners and a 47 round the Surrey Hills every week but just the occasional full-blooded diesel free train to Canterbury, Salisbury or Sherborne out of the main fire risk season would be most welcome. I have actually contacted RTC in both the last couple of years begging them to do this, but so far, my appeal has fallen on deaf ears.
I feel these things come in phases, either due to market demand or locomotive availability.
The South has had it rather well for many years, and only in the last 5 or so has it began to suffer due to the vast reduction in Torbay Express programme, combined with what appears to be a scaling back of DB Steam Operations and Didcot no longer looking to send locomotives onto the mainline.
We all go through dry spells of any activity, and it shouldn't be seen as the end of any opportunity. I'm sure once No. 6024 and 5029 return, attractive experiences in the South will return as both locomotives have previously enjoyed much work in the area. It all just comes down to the misfortune that suitably based locomotives have had their time out for maintenance coinciding.
I can bring up Scotland as a brilliant example. Between the millennium and 2006/7, there was a severe drought outside of 'The Jacobite'. I can't recall many, if any, railtours originating from within Scotland and cross border tours from England were hardly annual either.
Over a decade later, we are experiencing a rather drastic change. 6 Aberdonians, a Forth Circle and a few cross border railtours in a year where a third was written off by a pandemic so far. It can get better.
Is it not also a question of how easy it is to find paths that work, particularly out of and into the London termini that serve the south. Pathing over the S&C seems just a little easier.
Yes. Services have increased over the years, and have got faster which makes it move difficult.
We were also spolit on the number of destinations from London over the years, so some have fallen out of favour because they have less to offer once you have been to them a number of times.
The other thing is due to high fixed costs and that going further does not cost that much more , long trips offer better value for money.
Unfortunately the reality of economics these days suggests that RTC would not be able to run a trip such as you crave without making a substantial loss. Take Premier dining out of the equation and the economics just do not add up. There is no one in the steam railtour business who is not an enthusiast and they would love to run such trains but costs have to be covered and those costs are substantial. Were that not the case they would be running.
Will Tangmere work in the south again post overhaul?
Maybe very occasionally, I’m not a party to West Coast’s intentions but it’s needed for the airbraked Northern Belle
I appear not to have expressed myself clearly. Apologies for this. I'm not suggesting that my hypothetical diesel-free, springtime run to Canterbury, Salisbury or Sherborne should exclude premier dining (indeed, I often like go premier dining and take my wife on main line steam trips) but rather that itineraries should be devised that don't just cater for people wanting a nice meal on a train - i.e., it would be good to see trips advertised that enthusiasts who are a bit fussier about what is up front (and more importantly, what isn't on the rear) can enjoy as well. Hopefully the likely permanent reduction of frequency of service trains in & out of the London termini as a result of less people commuting to work, the return of 6024 and the prospect of a main line 34007 will see an improvement in the situation for people living down here - eventually!
I'm at a bit of a loss with the Premier Dining thing. It's so expensive these days. We used to dine a few times a year but eating at destinations is to our mind a much better choice. We do 'spoons if time is limited for the real ale as well as the nosh, but if we have time, we eat properly. The seafood in the West Country and Cornwall; different types of steak nationwide; there's such a huge variety of local food everywhere to try. You get no choice on the train and you're stuck in a stuffy railway carriage. On train can't come close on value for money. Last Saturday, as a party of 6, we went to a superb place in Worcester, The old Rectifying House down by the river. Sort of posh nosh but we had 6 drinks on arrival; then 2 Mussel Starters; 2 Pan Seared Sea Bass meals; 3 Tempura Battered haddock fillets; one Chicken Kiev; superb quality and beautifully prepared - you could actually watch the chefs at work in the open kitchen area. We also had a bottle and a half of an excellent NZ Sauvignon Blanc with. For dessert we had a couple of sticky toffee puddings and ice cream and 4 just ice creams, but local ice cream, all for the grand sum of a little over £200. Lovely airy old pub with rustic tables and flagstone floors. If we'd gone Premier Dining we'd have paid £960 over our Standard Class Fares. Seriously?
While I can see what you're saying, booking levels of Dining/Premier dining over other classes suggest that your view is not shared by everyone. Chalk it up to people wanting it as part of the package experience and also no need to go researching your own dining requirements at the destination.
I have to preface this with the fact that I am not a foodie and if I never had to eat in a restaurant again it would be too soon. I do quite however enjoy the experience on a train.
However I do think that eating on a train is quite a unique experience for most (especially as it declines on service trains) and I do not think that comparing Premier to Standard is valid. Seating and comfort is far greater in First & Premier and there is also less passing foot traffic from other passenegrs heading to the buffet, so Premier should be compared to First. The Royal Duchy on Sunday is £169 for First, £269 for Premier Dining. Is £100 for a full breakfast and a dinner good value? I suspect everyone would have their own view but even at a Premier Inn those two will cost around £40 I guess with desert coffee etc.
It will also depend of course of how many extras you have such as wine or beer to impact on any price difference.
The market however does seem to show the has the leat elasticity in demand over the last few years.
My partner and I have done a mixture of Standard, First and Premier Dining on tours over the last couple of years.
For long journeys (such as the full trips on a Royal Duchy or CME), the extra width and leg room of a First Class seat really does make the day a lot more comfortable, especially for my partner who has mobility issues.
This is even more important now that Covid has meant people are being discouraged from moving around the train, and you're no longer allowed to stretch your legs by standing in a vestibule and 'sampling the fresh air'.
Even though we're both enthusiasts, we really enjoy the dining 'experience' (and will be doing so on Sunday's Duchy).
We see it as a special treat, and partly a replacement for the meals out and holidays we've missed over the last 18 months.
On a long journey, it does mean you don't have to worry about where you're going to get a lunch or an evening meal, especially if the train gets delayed and you end up with a late arrival and/or a truncated stay at destination.
My partner's parents and their friends (who did the Tornado-hauled Duchy a few weeks ago), were very glad of not having to try to hunt down some lunch in Par or Charlestown in the one hour they had there, after the extremely late arrival.
Personally, I thought the First Class offering on the Waverley very good value as well. £60ish extra for the extra comfort, morning/afternoon food, and unlimited tea and coffee seemed very reasonable.
Only thing I do think is a bit steep is the £25/person (more on Saphos) supplements for a 'table for two'.
Would prefer it if they were just allocated to whichever parties of two booked the earliest, once all the 'parties of 6' etc had been allocated.
However, if people are willing to pay it, and the operators are getting additional revenue, then I don't expect that changing.
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