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SVR General Discussion

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by threelinkdave, Aug 20, 2014.

  1. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    Judging by what my kids tell me, a trip to Alton Towers can be an education


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  2. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

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    I think it’s a case of what they should and what they need to be to survive are possibly two different things.

    Authenticity is something I appreciate and commend where possible, although I am also aware of the need for a railway to wash its face commercially and have often said that it’s not just other railways but the wider tourist market that is the competition, the enthusiast market cannot sustain the movement on its on and needs to attract visitors from outside of it. I think ultimately there needs to be a balance.
     
  3. MellishR

    MellishR Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    I agree that those two purposes can be in conflict when issues of authenticity arise, but neither of them can have automatic priority over the other. Insofar as you're a charity receiving grants you must give full weight to your educational function. And because your finances also depend on fares and secondary spend, you must provide what the customers are looking for. And don't forget the third purpose, of allowing the volunteers to do their stuff, whether that is driving locos, pulling signal levers, running websites, boiler work, carpentry, painting, or whatever. Give that insufficient attention and the volunteers will drift away.
     
  4. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Agreed.
    I don't think "authenticity" (or at least, aspiring to do more than just provide a ride) and "appealing solely to enthusiasts" are necessarily one and the same thing. Beamish has been mentioned: in 2016 they got 750,000 visitors, which is more than twice the NYMR and five times what the Bluebell gets. They can't all be enthusiasts for 1900s sweet shops.

    I think we need to take a leaf out of their book, and think of our railways as whole site attractions, not just the ride. That means paying much more attention to the overall ambience; not letting small anachronisms (like fencing, surfaces, staff uniforms) intrude into the overall picture etc.

    Tom
     
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  5. 21B

    21B Well-Known Member

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    Totally agree. It is not IMHO an either or question. Either be authentic or appeal to the general tourist. Quite the reverse in fact.

    Now I grant you that it would be a struggle to actually authentic on a regular basis, but the more we can demonstrate and interpret both the railway operations of yesterday and their context, the more I think we will have a product that appeals.

    We will still need Steam Illuminations and Thomas, and all the other events, but these should be about (in part) attracting new audiences who then might come back another day

    I use the word audience deliberately. Just like Beamish or the Black Country museum there is theatre in what we do. And unlike so many museums our theatre is built into what we do in the form of the trains, the signals and the other operations. And honestly, we waste that theatre most of the time.
     
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  6. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    There needs to be a creative tension between the two, but if the focus on fares becomes primary, then something important is lost.

    As for the third purpose, I disagree with @Lineisclear on much, but agree with him here. The purpose of a charity can’t be to benefit the volunteers, even if ensuring their satisfaction is critical to maintaining the success of the charity.


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  7. Andy Williams

    Andy Williams Member

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    And yet it is interesting that some of our more commercially successful heritage railways manage without having to resort to 'Disneyfication'. The average non-enthusiast visitor is often a lot more discerning than we give them credit for, and thus I am in complete agreement with the posts above from @Jamessquared and @21B about paying attention to the overall ambience and attention to detail whilst providing the 'theatre' of traditional railway operation.

    Over-reliance on special events, theme days or various other sales promotions is not a good recipe for long-term financial stability. Holding too many of these events in a single year may result in an increase in expenditure without the requisite increase in profit.

    Andy
     
  8. I. Cooper

    I. Cooper Member

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    Ooo, does that mean the Snowdon Mountain Railway (at 2ft 7.5") is no longer a commercial operation?
    I thought it was owned by "Heritage Great Britain" as part of their portfolio.
     
  9. 21B

    21B Well-Known Member

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  10. 21B

    21B Well-Known Member

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    The only point of clarification I'd make is that it depends on the special event.

    I would agree that too many promotions can cause issues. I recall a few years ago a railway where it was reckoned that the marketing department had got so enthusiastic that only about 20% of fares were charged at full price after all the cut coupons and the like.

    However, special events are for some lines the most important part of the revenue and profit. Not steam galas, they are typically not that profitable. But family events and things like dining trains are typically very profitable and we'll attended. If you're not a posh park and ride, you need those events to be successful.
     
  11. D1039

    D1039 Part of the furniture

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  12. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Oooh, you namedropper ;)

    Tom
     
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  13. 3ABescot

    3ABescot Member

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    Excellent read again, thanks. Explanation of the rationale behind the Taw Valley black repaint, and info on some improvements at Kidderminster, among others.
     
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  14. D7666

    D7666 New Member

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    Isn't Lakeside & Haverthwaite a commercial operation ? Privately owned ?

    Volks Electric Railway ? Council owned.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2022
  15. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Can confirm VER is owned and operated by Brighton & Hove City Council. The line enjoys support from the Volks Electric Railway Association (VERA) http://volkselectricrailway.co.uk/ . B&HCC's online presence to be found on the council's website's parking and travel pages. https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/parking-and-travel/short-history-volks-railway . I guess that's a step up from Parks & Leisure, withinn whose purview it came under for years!

    Others I can think of meeting the criteria:

    Great Orme (Tramway, was called 'Railway' between 1932 - 1977) .... Council Owned
    Snowdon Mountain Railway .... Commercial Operation
    Cairngorm Mountain Railway .... Owned by Highland & Island Enterprise (allegedly reopening 2023)
    Isle of Man Railway, Manx Electric Railway, Snaefell Mountain Railway .... Nationalised (though admittedly a different jurasdiction)
     
  16. D1039

    D1039 Part of the furniture

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  17. Kje7812

    Kje7812 Part of the furniture

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    Extracting some details from above:
    2023 season will start 4th March with the first two weekend in March being KR-HY due to work in the Alveley woods, and Bridgnorth yard works.
    Full line services restart (ed-hopefully!) 18th March, again running at weekends in March.
    The railway will be running everyday from 1st April till 16th for Easter.
    The Spring Steam Gala is 14th-16th April, and the Spring Diesel Gala is 19th-21st May.
    The 1940s weekends are planned to be 24th/25th June and 1st/2nd July.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2022
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  18. D1039

    D1039 Part of the furniture

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    There's a new video up on the Hydroshunter project

    Technical stuff is from around 1:20 . On other threads lead-acid batteries get a mention. There's one here too
     
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  19. theonlyadsrulz

    theonlyadsrulz Member

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    My video and a couple photos from Monday for 2857 and 1501's final day in service.



    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  20. GWR4707

    GWR4707 Nat Pres stalwart

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