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Spa Valley Railway - Latest News

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by matt41312, Jan 15, 2014.

  1. OldSchoolTrains2

    OldSchoolTrains2 New Member

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    Yeah I was surprised to read that too, I've always had the same experience at Ropley! And seen other people turned away if they weren't willing to pay for rovers (my dad included at a diesel gala!). There are at least three MHR galas over the last 10 years where I've paid the full rover fare just to access Ropley for a couple of hours of atmosphere if that's all my work schedule's allowed me to experience of that gala.
     
  2. ruddingtonrsh56

    ruddingtonrsh56 Well-Known Member

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    Cue speculation as to which galas between Strictly Bulleid and the 12th of July 257 could be operating at!!
     
  3. JR4489

    JR4489 New Member

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    All is revealed in the 'Latest News' section of the Southern Locomotives Ltd website (I assume they have permission from the relevant railways to announce 34072's visits)
     
  4. Paul42

    Paul42 Part of the furniture

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    https://southern-locomotives.co.uk/News/news.html
     
  5. WesternRegionHampshireman

    WesternRegionHampshireman Well-Known Member

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  6. ruddingtonrsh56

    ruddingtonrsh56 Well-Known Member

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    Well if it's staying at Ropley until the New Year, it would be very unusual for it not to make an appearance at the autumn event...
     
  7. Jonnie

    Jonnie Member

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    Apologies for the lack of updates on here recently, it has been somewhat rather busy for us at Spa Valley.

    The return of Thomas the Tank Engine to Tunbridge Wells was very good for us and it was fantastic to see the railway so busy. The final passenger count came to 5,688, I have not yet calculated the exact profit for this event as I'm waiting on some outstanding invoices but I anticipate it to be between £30,000 and £40,000 after all costs, including the need to pay royalties etc.

    More generally, the total number of visitors to the railway so far this financial year (from 1st February) is now 18,160 and a total ticket revenue year to date of £313,110.50. Secondary spend year to date comes to £76,445.22 which is a combination of the Shop, Kate, RMB, Groombridge Kiosk and the PMV at Eridge so we're doing ok in the current situation.

    Our struggle is the lack of people to do everything, we've seen people disappear for personal circumstances (believe me, a heritage railway can be rather like EastEnders or Emmerdale and a number of you on here probably know what I mean...) or they've moved on for other reasons such as age or started jobs/university so running the railway is becoming quite difficult.

    Last Saturday I was meant to be assessing a steam driver but due to no Guard, we had to cancel the steam assessment and I had to Guard the train, which was ok but we didn't get a replacement steam driver so we had to run diesel until the originally planned late turn steam driver could come in earlier, and that is just one minor headache we face!

    If anyone reading this is a civil engineer and wants to take on some of the things we need seeing through to conclusion, please get in touch... We do have limited paid opportunities on occasion for this sort of work.
     
    MuzTrem, black5, mdewell and 7 others like this.
  8. mdewell

    mdewell Well-Known Member Friend

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    I'm sure Spa Valley are not the only railway that are having to compromise on their services due to shortages of appropriately trained staff to run the desired full steam train service. I know from personal experience of one that runs DMU far more often that they would really like.
     
  9. Jonnie

    Jonnie Member

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    Just an update on various things engine wise, which I think is what a lot of people are interested in.

    Steam Locomotives

    Bulleid Pacific 34072 '257 Squadron'
    The Original BoB is heading off to Swanage next week, lorry coming on Tuesday/Wednesday for their Strictly Bulleid 2 Gala. It is then heading to the Mid Norfolk Railway for their Steam Gala at the end of June, if you like Bullied's please go and support them, the Standard 4MT 80078 and another loco should be running. 78s owner is very helpful and good to us and and we're more than happy to support them in Norfolk too. After this 34072 is coming back to us for our Steam Gala on 12th, 13th and 14th July and is then heading to Hampshire for the rest of the year. After that the loco will return via Herston Works sometime in early 2025.

    Bulleid Pacific 34053 'Sir Keith Park/303 Squadron'
    The Rebuilt BoB returned to Swanage yesterday/today and will undergo final testing/steaming ahead of Strictly Bullied 2 and then head to Spa Valley after their event. It will see public service for the first time on 12th, 13th and 14th July alongside 34072. This will be the only time in 2024 (and also the first time!) you can see both the Bulleid's operating alongside each other so get the date in your diaries if you love these magnificent machines. After this event 34053 will operate our trains as required and be with us for the next 10yrs. The locomotive is being renamed on Sunday 1st September for one year to '303 Squadron'.

    GWR Large Prairie 4144 - Visiting courtesy of the Didcot Railway Centre
    The 2-6-2 will be the first Large Prairie to visit us, we've had 5521 and 5526 the smaller 4575 Prairies before. The locomotive is operating 12th, 13th and 14th July at our Summer Steam Gala and will then share duties until after the August Bank Holiday with 828 and 34053.

    Caledonian Railway No. 828
    A personal favourite of mine, I absolutely love this engine and have a big soft spot for her. She has so much character and really is a magnificent engine. If you came to our Winter Steam Gala we showed what she could do and there is something very special about the bark of a Caledonian engine when they get into their stride, more so at night than anything else! She is due a water change this week and is planned to be our main steam locomotive up to our Summer Steam Gala when she is due a washout and the annual exam is due in August. After that she'll continue operating trains until the end of the year.

    Summer Steam Gala - click here for details, subject to crews I hope to run late into the Friday and Saturday evening too but the usual two train service will be running, hopefully with all 4 locos – 828, 4144, 34053 and 34072, if 2315 is still there and we can crew it we'll run it. 2315 remains up for sale.

    The Jinty is progressing when we can, as is Sutton and Newstead.

    Diesel Locomotives

    Class 08 08922

    Air only so isn't used much on anything other than works trains or yard shunts but is kept very busy doing just that.

    Class 09 09026
    A space is being made in the shed to get it inside and finally get it done, work is underway on the body already in the yard. The engine and generator need realigning and we are working a plan to get this done asap. Initially it'll return to service air only but the exhausters came with it and these will go back on as soon as the loco has settled down.

    Class 12 15224
    Stored currently, we hope to come up with a plan to get this loco in the shed in the near future too and facilitate a return to service in the future.

    Class 25 D7535
    This loco is holding the fort alongside 73140 on our diesel front, recent work has seen the fire alarm circuit repaired after some wiring failed and the loco remains available for service. She is due to run a bit over the May Bank Holiday we hope if the drivers are available. On loan at least until the end of the year.

    Class 31 31430
    In the shed undergoing some bodywork repairs and a repaint into BR Blue, will be out shopped as soon as possible, it could be available for service if it really came to it and some work done to tidy up areas but we want to avoid that!

    Class 33 33063
    Withdrawn from service for now undergoing a bodywork overhaul which SELG (the owners) have got well underway with, due to enter the shed as soon as 31430's repaint is complete. The Crompton should be back in service for the Beer Festival that is the aim.

    Class 33 33065
    Under overhaul, the bodywork on this loco has progressed well over the years and the group once they've finished 063 will go back onto 065 although they did bar the engine over and run the triple pump last week for the first time in a number of years using 063s batteries. The triple pump does water, fuel and lubricating oil, its correct name is 'Combined Pump Set'.

    Class 73 73140
    Holding the fort alongside D7535, has operated the last few Green days giving the 25 a rest.

    Class 207 DEMU 1317
    Available for service running on 28th May, the Centre Coach should be returning to the yard shortly for we hope the final time to get it finished!

    Those are the main locos, our Drewry 2591 'Southerham' needs some minor work so it is out of service and the Dalek (Thomas Hill Vanguard) is available for use at Tunbridge Wells West. Visiting us this Summer is Class 33/2 33202 courtesy of Stewart Robinson, it will be running at our Summer Diesel Gala alongside visiting Class 50 50021 'Rodney' which is coming on loan for a period, the 50 is actually the 3rd one to visit us in preservation, 50019 was based at Eridge in the 90s and 50026 visited in 2017.

    If you want to know about carriages you'll need to give me a bit more time but most are available for use. Emily Buffet (pronounced Bouffet) is up for sale as it is no longer required.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2024
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  10. ruddingtonrsh56

    ruddingtonrsh56 Well-Known Member

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    Thank you, as ever, for your detailed and regular updates Jonny

    I appreciate you may not be in a position to answer this, but what is the situation with 828 - how long are you expecting her to stay at TWW beyond the end of the year?
     
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  11. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

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    A fine selection of steam locomotives, Jonnie. I like the inclusion of 4144, having lived within the sound of GWR whistles most of my life I still hear DSR locos, providing the wind is in a favourable direction. ;) The two Southern loco are a reminder of my former RAF service.
     
  12. Jonnie

    Jonnie Member

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    It isn't known yet, we'll carry on continuing to hire, use and look after 828 all the while she's not required at home. We've got to know her quite well having undertaken some quite heavy engineering tasks such as the axle box repairs and repairs to the right hand big end bearing along with various smaller tasks including the routine sort of thing.
     
  13. Jonnie

    Jonnie Member

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    Paul42, 5944 and The Gricing Owl like this.
  14. Jonnie

    Jonnie Member

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    If you want a late Summer break to 'Sunny Tunny' as us locals call it (we're not all that posh really, despite the whole Royal name etc) then 31st August the Caley is celebrating her 125th birthday so subject to all being well you'll get a more steam filled day as she's planned to do most of the Green timetable. https://www.spavalleyrailway.co.uk/product.php/7122/caledonian-railway-no-828-125th-birthday and then on Sunday 1st September we've of course the naming of '303 Squadron' so quite a steam filled weekend.

    We'll work on a timetable for the Steam Gala soon, we're just trying to establish what numbers of volunteers we'll have to run the event.
     
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  15. Jonnie

    Jonnie Member

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    34072 left earlier in the week for Swanage, it is fresh into its next 14 month ticket and is due back for a weekend in July operating alongside 34053.

    The last three days have been very busy and varied for our railway so it's been a positive half term so far which is great to see.
     
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  16. Jonnie

    Jonnie Member

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    A bit of an update in the world of Spa Valley.

    We've had a very busy year so far, albeit compared to some attractions or other railways these figures aren't quite as large. So far this year we've carried 20,596 visitors and that has resulted in ticket revenue of £246,594.50 in addition Thomas generated £102,421.50, which after costs for that event left us in the region of £35,000 profit, all of which has been put into savings to put towards the necessary infrastructure works we need to do at places like Cold Bath, the Landslip and Broom Lane Bridge and this joined the profit/income from Polar Express to further bolster our savings. This is the Wealden Railway Company doing this through income so we are trying our best to stand up on our own two feet.

    Something that concerns me as a fan of heritage railways and greatly in preservation is the number of appeals to just keep on surviving, paying bills and the day-to-day stuff without taking into account our aging infrastructure and the need to overhaul locomotives. If you raise that magic number does that solve all the issues or do you just pause pending the next appeal.

    I've had to adapt and constantly change the way we do things at Spa Valley to try and keep ahead of the game, we are by no means pioneering or the solution by a long way but when I say constantly I mean I am looking at our income/spend and operations everyday and making adjustments to suit. Our website, Facebook and Instagrams are updated and fed information everyday and we're always looking at new ways of bringing people onto the train.

    Our railway isn't the place to go for a train ride back in time, none of the stations other than Eridge are original, which is done up as best as it can be in the BR(S) scheme, albeit the station isn't ours so we're limited on what we can do. We operate MK1s and a MK2, mostly all green now but occasionally we go Western with the two Choc & Cream TSO's and the steam engine or diesel varies from week to week but the public don't seem to mind. They do want more for their money though, pre-COVID we could lay-on a Saturday night dining experience, nothing more than just a train ride with dinner on the move, fast forward to 2024 and if we try that we get very limited update, throw on a Fawlty Towers night and bang the tickets are sold and we carry over 90 people.

    June is always a quieter month for us, we've just got the Green timetable running on Saturdays and Sundays but there is a dining train every Saturday evening and dining experiences both days to further bolster our income. July and August become busier but as a tourist attraction/business goes we find most of our income is from the large events at the end and beginning of each year.

    Caledonian Railway No. 828 is holding the fort steam wise pending 34053 arriving (as I understand it) later this month and then GWR Large Prairie 4144 will be with us for around 6-8 weeks with a short stint back in Mid Norfolk at the beginning of August whilst we have our Diesel Gala.
     
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  17. ruddingtonrsh56

    ruddingtonrsh56 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for your update Jonny, I love your transparency around what is happening and how you respond - many more railways could benefit from such an approach.

    Exciting that you have diner trains every Saturday evening - are your dining staff all volunteers or do you have some paid staff who cover it?
     
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  18. WesternRegionHampshireman

    WesternRegionHampshireman Well-Known Member

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    Not all bad then. :)
    Perhaps the summer steam gala might generate some more revenue, or just bring nice weather, either way, still a bonus.
     
  19. Jonnie

    Jonnie Member

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    A rather busy weekend last Saturday and Sunday. I spent it on 828 on the Saturday and it gave me the opportunity to let the Fireman drive all day and the Cleaner fire.

    Something very positive and a joy to watch was the Cleaner who had his Passed Cleaners assessment planned later this month do everything with confidence and demonstrating great skill. I had a look at our roster and saw his next turn was going to be his Passed Cleaners assessment but having observed everything that day already I wasn't going to drag the process out so undertook the necessary theory elements and was delighted to deem him competent by the end of the day. This motivated the volunteer no end, he's put his heart and soul into it and after a fair bit of training over the years we've got him there.

    The Fireman equally had picked up a lot over the last couple of years and was doing very well at driving and will continue on the path to Driver.

    My professional background outside of managing a heritage railway is training and assessing so this sort of thing is second nature and it's always a pleasure to reward someone.

    Unfortunately, 828 broke two leaves on the right hand leading driving spring on Saturday so missed out running Sunday whilst we replaced it. All is good and the loco is back ready for this weekends visit of the Dinosaurs, which if it makes money which it's on track to do, I'm quite happy.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2024
  20. Daddsie71b

    Daddsie71b Member Friend

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    You had mentioned previously that you were going to Swanage, did you not make it in the end?
     

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