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Snowdon Mountain Railway

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Railways' started by acw71000, Jun 15, 2017.

  1. MuzTrem

    MuzTrem Member

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    Admittedly, personally I have always balked at their fares, especially since they added a surcharge for steam. I keep promising myself that I will do it one day when I can be sure of good weather, as the views will then be worth it. However, I have never yet managed to time a visit to Llanberis on a suitable day (this is Wales after all!).

    However, I am a pragmatist and I take the view that they seem to be getting by just fine without my custom, so who can blame them?
     
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  2. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    I agree about the NRM, although I'd point out that 'railways as tourism' are under represented. There is the L&B carriage, Livingstone Thompson, and tbh, tourism is a really important story in terms of the re-orientation of railways. It is a bit of the 'missing chapter' to me.

    Time, money and space is an obvious problem for any location. A shame collection X isn't taking on more cases.

    Paradoxically, the uniqueness of the SMR means that it isn't as if the locos can go and run on another line somewhere. Static, cosmetic overhaul and conservation is the best that can be hopped for and no doubt more than they are getting elsewhere.

    It just seems to me that the people who own the SMR don't really care about their heritage. They are a business who happen to be running a railway. Looking at their portfolio of other businesses, it is just another part of the business porfolio.
     
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  3. kscanes

    kscanes Resident of Nat Pres

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    That is the first time I have ever heard sorrow expressed that more locos are not being locked up out of sight!
     
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  4. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    In the dry, secure and in one piece is better than being in pieces, insecure and out in the open no?
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2020
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  5. bantamd14

    bantamd14 New Member

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    I thought the stored SMR locos were secured and undercover, at the other side of Llanberis Town?
     
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  6. meeee

    meeee Member

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    If they are being robbed to keep the others going, they might be under cover but they aren't safe or secure. They will slowly disappear until what is left isn't worth keeping.

    Tim
     
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  7. kscanes

    kscanes Resident of Nat Pres

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    If they are being robbed to keep the others going, that's good isn't it? Or would it be better if all seven were non runners safely stored out of sight?
     
  8. meeee

    meeee Member

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    It's ok as a short term solution, but in the long term it is a disaster. It's not like the engines you are robbing bits off are new. You are replacing worn out parts with slightly less worn out parts. How long can that continue for before you end up in the same place. A shed full of broken engines.

    Much better to have a progressive program to replace the worn out bits with new. That way you don't end up with 7 engines all needing a mountain of money spending on them all at once. It's also a good way of maintaing knowledge of how these parts are manufactured and maintained.

    Tim
     
  9. Christopher125

    Christopher125 Part of the furniture

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    What's with all the negativity? In recent years they've created and marketed a regular dedicated steam service with bespoke carriages (and no annoying commentary), a big commitment to giving steam on the mountain a viable future.

    Given the costs and practicalities steam could so easily have become relegated to special events or faded away entirely so IMO we've been very fortunate that SMR management have tried to make it work.
     
  10. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    It's a discussion forum and people are allowed to be critical. People are also allowed to call into question the wisdom of decisions that are being made for the short and long term running of steam.

    As @meeee points out robbing parts from engines is not a good long term strategy for maintaining steam.
     
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  11. pmh_74

    pmh_74 Well-Known Member

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    Their fares have always been at the extreme end of high (which is why I’ve only done it twice) but it’s so worth it.

    The view is a bonus but having been up the Rothorn in freezing fog I have to say it isn’t essential! That ranks as one of the most memorable steam trips I’ve done - it was basically just me and the crew on the last trip of the day, and the layover at the top was spent in their mess room having a chat (in broken English and even more broken German) over a cup of tea - and then a personal guided tour of the workshops back at Brienz. Lovely people.


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  12. meeee

    meeee Member

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    I'm grateful that there is still steam on the mountain but the situation still seems quite precarious to me. 3 locos in service, one stopped with some undisclosed expensive problem, and a pile of worn out bits in a warehouse.

    If major investment is needed to replace the diesel fleet, and steam isn't seen as key to the business. What will happen in the long term?

    Personally I've found the idea that people don't care what is moving the train somewhat outdated and dismissive. Especially if you are running both alongside each other. There are plenty of railways in the area that show the opposite is true. The SMR seems to do well out of being the railway that goes up Snowdon. There is a lot of competition in the area, and in the world of TripAdvisor people are more aware of what they are buying. It likely people will have less disposable income post Covid and Brexit. At what point will the experience of being crammed in a slow plastic bus make people look elsewhere?

    I appreciate there are unique difficulties for the SMR, particularly to do with number of passengers per train. There are other mountain railways with the same constraints that have managed to made steam work though.

    Tim
     
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  13. kscanes

    kscanes Resident of Nat Pres

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    SMR operates steam trains - is that not making steam work? Or does it need 100% steam to "work"?

    It is mostly accepted in this sort of discussion that the SMR does not bear much comparison with other local narrow gauge lines. On the others customers go for a ride on a steam train. On the SMR customers go for a ride up a mountain.

    Could you provide examples of mountain railways with the same constraints that have managed to made steam work? It will be interesting to compare percentage of steam and amount of subsidy with the SMR.

    By the by, I note that Achenseebahn in Austria (100% steam worked) has been declared insolvent despite receiving government subsidy in recent years to keep it going.
     
  14. pmh_74

    pmh_74 Well-Known Member

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    Achenseebahn in Austria is quite different from the SMR, and also possibly suffers by being overshadowed by the Zillertalbahn which starts from the same place. The Brienz-Rothorn Bahn in Switzerland is a much more similar railway, and is 100% steam. Many of the steam locos are modern, high-tech ones which run on oil, have a single crew member, can be pre-heated remotely so that they are ready to go when the driver arrives, and because they can essentially coast downhill the running costs are apparently comparable to a diesel loco. (I was lucky to have one of the original coal-fired engines on my visit, but they are not all in traffic, one is plinthed by Brienz station and another is dumped in the back of the shed. But at least the 'modern substitutes' are still steam engines.)
     
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  15. marshall5

    marshall5 Well-Known Member

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    Unless something has changed since I was last on the BRB in July 2018 it isn't (or wasn't) "100% steam". They have 3 diesels which certainly seemed to be in regular use. On the day I was there only one of the 'conventional' steam locos, No7, was out but three of the four 'modern' ones Nos 14,15, & 16,were out. I can't, now, be certain whether it was No3 or No4 which used to be plinthed at the station but No3 is now in the Lucerne Transport Museum and No4 is stored oou.
    Ray.
     
  16. richards

    richards Part of the furniture

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    Standard practice on the mainline, wasn't it? Also, parts for 125-year-old steam locos aren't available easily. If you have an unused, unneeded identical loco nearby, why not use the parts? Whose to say the parts couldn't be swapped back later? They don't need all of them in steam at once.
     
  17. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    See post 28
     
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  18. kscanes

    kscanes Resident of Nat Pres

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    Not disputing the efficiency of these (1992 Brienz-Rothorn Bahn) locos, but do they really coast downhill? How do they control speed downhill, what do they use for braking?

    The Snowdon locos essentially use the cylinders as air brakes, and require no steam on the way down apart from the last few yards into Llanberis Station. Theoretically you could safely descend from Summit almost to Llanberis with no steam, fire out. (Open to correction, I'm quoting what I've read.)
     
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  19. pmh_74

    pmh_74 Well-Known Member

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    Something similar I think. I have a technical paper on these locos somewhere, but it will be buried in the loft.

    Yes, the BRB do have diesels and the timetable says one may be substituted if a steam loco is unavailable. That’s 100% timetabled steam anyway, which is pretty good in my view.


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  20. Nigel Day

    Nigel Day Member

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    When I had No 4 on oil firing we put plenty of water in the boiler and the pressure to 200psi at the summit. We turned the burners of and shut the damper on the chimney. We could make it back to Llanberis with sufficient steam for the steam brake and to the point of relighting the burners for the next trip. I could coast all the way into the station from the viaduct without using steam.
     
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