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S&D Railway Trust and Washford Matters

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by Andy Norman, Feb 24, 2020.

  1. Bayard

    Bayard Part of the furniture

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    Me neither, but I have received communications in the past.
     
  2. Muzza

    Muzza New Member

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    I have watched this issue unfold over recent months from a great distance and am saddened by developments.
    Although aware that the WSR has had problems in the past, I can say that I am largely ignorant as to the history of the issues. I do not know any of the personalities involved and certainly have no axe to grind (nor an ID card at stake).

    As I understand it, the WSR PLC have chosen not to honour a recently negotiated lease. They are also positioning themselves to not honour their part of a running agreement regarding the 7F.
    Regardless of any sensibilities that may have been offended by alleged deeds (or lack of them) by the S&DRT, on the face of it the PLC have acted without any honour.

    Any organisation that would treat their obligations so frivolously and break faith - twice - with a fellow group, is not one that will attract much in the way of sympathy - especially in this time of financial difficulty.
    No doubt they have their reasons, but they haven't made any known which, in my opinion, would justify what seems to be their untrustworthy decisions and actions in these two matters.
     
  3. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Frankly the PLC or more to the point the board, will get the response they deserve, this was ill conceived from the beginning, and could have been avoided, The S&D trust had legitimate reasons why they could not give the PLC financial help , its not that they didn't want to, their rules forbade them, and as regards the other two organisations, they have shown their real colours, in supporting the actions of the PLC, i just hope that those people reflect on backing the wrong horse because, Jones -Pratt won't be in office for very long, and you having tied your colours to his mast, will share his fate.
     
  4. Paulthehitch

    Paulthehitch Member

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    This whole sad lockdown business is actually a good opportunity to have a proper look at what it costs to put on galas. I gather that only Flying Scotsman together with, perhaps, Tornado resonates with "normals". Gricers have tended to be regarded as being as tight as the proverbial ducks rear end with diesel gricers being the worst. In future, loss making galas will be an utter no-no, so if people want them to continue they will have to ensure they buy tickets and not just stand nearby taking pictures.
     
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  5. free2grice

    free2grice Well-Known Member Friend

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    The WSR have organised excellent galas in the past and they have in turn produced healthy profits.

    Ironically, the gala that stood out from the others was the 2016 commemoration of 50 years since the closure of the Somerset & Dorset.
    A fantastic gala featuring locos 34053, 34070, 44422, 53808, 53809, 48624, 80072 and 9F 92214.

    <BJ>
     
  6. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Well-Known Member

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  7. Paulthehitch

    Paulthehitch Member

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    All I am saying is examine the facts and think without being too skewed by wishful thought. The knowledgeable and much missed @Beancounter suspected wishful thinking had rather a lot
    to do with gala planning and they had become too expensive no matter how "fantastic" they were.
     
  8. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    They have undoubtedly organised excellent galas. "Produced healthy profits" is I suspect a matter for their internal management accounts, but there are lots of ways to make the numbers come out depending how you do or don't account for things at galas.

    That is, as far as I can see, five visiting tender engines and one tank engine - 22 lorry moves in total to bring them and then return afterwards, some of them from a considerable distance. I suspect the lorry moves alone were getting towards the thick end of £100k.

    It's probably a discussion for another thread, but at the very least, "mega galas" carry a high risk - a lot of sunk cost crucially dependent on high ticket sales. I also wonder about the returns on stuffing a gala with visitors: If one of those locos above hadn't come, would it really have made much difference to the ticket sales? I suspect after a while there is diminishing returns in which additional visitors don't generate much additional footfall.

    Tom
     
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  9. 60044

    60044 Member

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    I'm not sure if either 34053 or 44422 were home-based engines at that time, 53809 could be the only home-based engine on that list, although 34053 might have arrived by rail.
     
  10. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    It was the beginning of 44422's supposed 25 year lease, so presumably those costs could be put to a different account. 53809 stayed for several months afterwards IIRC so again, cost of that transport spread over more ticket sales.
    I agree though, there's certainly diminishing return for each extra loco you hire in beyond a certain number. I reckon that number is about 3 for me personally, but can vary depending on how exciting the engines are and whether I've visited the line before.
    Equally, as long as you're at least making a modest profit and all the volunteers enjoy it, does I matter if you're not taking in heaps and heaps of pure profit? Is it not expected that premier lines put on a decent gala? Heritage railways are supposed to be fun, and galas are fun.
     
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  11. granmaree

    granmaree Member

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    So a ticket to ride is worth far more than the amount of money I spend in the shops and cafes? A ticket to ride would be a heck of a lot cheaper than books, models, food and drink at near enough every station along the line each day whilst I'm taking photos!
     
  12. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    But a ticket to ride contributes 100% to the running of the gala. Money spent in cafes and shops probably only contributes 33%.
     
  13. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    It depends on whether the railway has cash to spare for fun. My own view is that a gala should absolutely make no less profit (measured in cash) than the equivalent days on a normal seasonal timetable, and should only be considered “profitable” if the margin on the event is higher than for that equivalent week.

    Some adjustment on these raw figures may be valid if some of the event costs are treated as marketing and/or goodwill for volunteers, but I’d contend the principal remains intact.

    Otherwise, the railway is sinking money not into preservation, but subsidising the entertainment of others*, at the cost of its own sustainability. That is debatable when a railway is running adequately with support from its linked charities; unethical if it is simultaneously running an appeal seeking donations.

    * nb - this is not a comment on whether photographers pay their way; the subsidy I refer to is of those who pay less than the ticket price necessary to achieve that result.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  14. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    That's fair enough.

    So what are all these galas which don't make any more money than the equivalent normal operating day - especially bearing in mind many galas are held on ordinary non-busy days? It sounds endemic from some posts here, so surely they must be able to give some examples?
     
  15. Forestpines

    Forestpines Part of the furniture

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    I doubt most railways publish precise enough figures to be able to say what a typical normal day's operating profit is.

    However - @Jamessquared estimated the WSR was running up transport costs of £100K getting locos to visit for a gala.

    Let's be generous and assume that's at the high end. If you spend £60k bringing locos in, and you charge £20 more for a gala ticket then a regular day ticket, then you need 3,000 visitor-days to clear those transport costs (more if you offer multi-day tickets) That sounds like a high number of visitors to my mind.
     
  16. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    But to be fair the S&D gala was a "one-off". I think it was also spread over a couple of weekends, with some photo charters as well, so further spreading the costs.
    I agree that kind of gala probably isn't sustainable, but the more run of the mill ones we see each year I really find it hard to believe are costing the railways that hold them money, for the simple reason that generally, most railways don't seem to be scaling things back, and if they were losing money, I'd expect that to be the case. Most railway management are not stupid, and if they can point to figures showing galas are loss makers I can't see how many amount of enthusiast bottom-lip wobbling would persuade them to hold another.
     
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  17. Forestpines

    Forestpines Part of the furniture

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    That's true, but I think the real point is that there's a difference between making a loss and making less profit than normal operations
     
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  18. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Indeed, and I get that. but if we're looking at the "loss" in terms of a slightly lower profit than a normal day, and the fact that your average gala is only one weekend, that's hardly going to be a huge amount of money. In return for that reduction in profit, you'll be attracting a higher number of visitors, a higher proportion than normal of whom won't have visited before but might again, more people generally spreading the word, maybe someone who hadn't visited before heard about it from the increased advertising afforded for a gala and subsequently enjoys it so much they join as a member/volunteer, a page or two in the next month's railway magazines, it all adds up. I accept that none of that would make up for an operating loss, but if it's a case of a slightly reduced profit, then I think a reasonable argument could be made that it is worthwhile once or twice a year.
    Oh, and in the case of diesel galas, it keeps the diesel boys happy so they stay on the railway just for quiet trains the rest of the year. :)
     
  19. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    But who charges even £20 more for a ticket at a gala? There were complaints about this spring's gala (before it got cancelled) of a £35 ticket, a premium of £7 over a WSR normal rover ticket of £28. And then of course you get the annual squabble for one gala or another over having to pay for an event guide ...

    At the very least, as enthusiasts we probably need to understand that if we want big galas to continue, it is "use it or lose it" - which may of course be completely blown out of the water anyway by COVID-19.

    Tom
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2020
  20. Forestpines

    Forestpines Part of the furniture

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    True. I was trying to show that even if you tweak the numbers to your advantage - lowball the transport costs and really hike up the ticket price - you still need a lot of visitors to soak those transport costs up. I admit I didn't really explain my thinking though!
     
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