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SVR General Discussion

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

  1. D1039

    D1039 Part of the furniture

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    The answer is below. Which SVR general manager said: "Looking only to a much shorter period of time it may be that some preserved lines disappear with only a relatively small number of the ones we see now operating managing to remain in business. That total could maybe only just reach double figures."




    No, the other one! Alun Rees, apparently channelling his inner Michael Draper. I found the quote (from an article in Heritage Railway magazine, December 1983) when looking for something else.
     
  2. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    I doubt though that this particular esteemed gentleman had the SVR leading the charge downhill and contracting operation, fleet size and risking a spiralling decline
     
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  3. D1039

    D1039 Part of the furniture

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    Martin, I’m not sure how you get to that from a Rees/Draper viewpoint on numbers of heritage railways.

    As it happens I was reading Draper’s 2018 interview advocating retrenchment in an uncannily similar way to 2023. I can dig out the quotes later if you wish.
     
  4. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    in a broader context it seems to be the larger more established lines which are sounding most negative currently , reducing operation, etc . Many may question historically whether the smaller , more niche lines could survive , however the larger ones , with larger fixed cost bases seems to be the ones most affected by the many shocks . SVR has been a little more public in its assessment but other larger lines are sharing very similar themes
     
  5. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Part of the furniture

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    The larger lines tend to run historically every day during the summer, hence need some paid staff, more loco etc.
    I think the NYMR, Swanage, Bluebell and both the WHR/Festiniog have all mentioned cutting service to demand, either already or for next year. I am sure there are probably others.
     
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  6. Johnb

    Johnb Resident of Nat Pres

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  7. jsm8b

    jsm8b Part of the furniture

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    Last seen 29th May 1977 -- where did those years go ?
     
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  8. 21B

    21B Well-Known Member

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    In the immediate term the larger lines face the harder decisions. With bigger costs and staff it is inevitable they will cut back first.
     
  9. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    I think it is sadly true. Lines with relatively large numbers of paid staff have very limited options to cut costs if income declines. Cutting services is about the only thing you can do in a hurry, but the cost-saving opportunities directly attributable to running a specific train are only a small part of the overall picture of costs. (A line like the SVR could slash its mileage in half and still only save a few percent of its overall budget in saved coal - at the risk of a decline in income if the service looks too unappealing for discretionary visits).

    Tom
     
  10. Lineisclear

    Lineisclear Member

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    Conversely heritage railways with high wage bills can, in extremis, take steps to reduce their costs even if the result is draconian in terms of operational capacity and even, possibly, the length of their lines. Those wholly or substantially dependent on volunteers do not have that cost reduction option.
     
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  11. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Conversely, those railways that rely on volunteers and don't have to pay staff aren't faced with the problem of high wage bills and redundancies. The Middleton Railway is only a small organisation but is sitting well placed to weather the storm with nearly two years turnover in the bank and, once the books have been cooked, likely to show an excess over expenditure of over £30K in 2022. We also have the advantage of still having a stock of Scottish coal bought at about £200/ton to see us through a good part of 2023. We look after the pennies here in our part of Yorkshire.
     
  12. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    Such cost cuts may well, however cut into the bone of what the railway can earn, creating a spiral of decline. Less dependence on paid staff mitigates the impact of cost increases elsewhere, and leaves more potential for redistribution of work - and without the potential legal complications of redundancy being contradicted by use of volunteer labour to do the same work.
     
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  13. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Nat Pres stalwart

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    I feel you are possibly comparing apples with oranges though Steve, there’s a fair old difference with what goes on in Leeds compared to what goes between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth.
     
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  14. Mrcow

    Mrcow New Member

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    Does the message coming out of the larger operators and the potentional effects of some railways reactions remind anyone of anything? "The Re-shaping of British Railways" and the BL/Rover Group retrenchment are huge but still relevent examples. The decline spiral mentioned here is a very real effect of saving your way out of a crisis.

    That doesn't mean you shouldn't constrain your costs, but don't cripple your earning potential by retreating because a spreadsheet told you to.
     
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  15. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I'm not sure I agree with you on Beeching in this context - that report also focused on ways to improve the business, which included things like InterCity and Freightliner. The question - and issue - is whether there's enough scope for revenue growing initiatives in parallel with cost cuts, given the nature of heritage railway businesses.
     
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  16. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    if you cut services and for example steam usage , then volunteers may not get enough turns to remain in compliance or the motivation to continue to volunteer which then restricts ability to have the high days and gala's . Worst case is you just create a spiral of decline and customers are put off by a restricted offering , volunteers lost which creates more cuts or worse
     
  17. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    Completely agree - and have supported @Jamessquared etc. when he's been making this point, with evidence.
     
  18. Johnb

    Johnb Resident of Nat Pres

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    Agreed but the morale of SVR volunteers doesn’t appear to be high now and that’s nothing to do with service cuts.
     
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  19. Lineisclear

    Lineisclear Member

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    I also agree! No one's fooled by the idea that you can cut costs drastically and somehow magically carry on running the same level of services or operating the same length of line. Volunteers would indeed drift away of the level of activity drops. It's no fun turning up for a shift with long boring gaps between trains.

    Surely the point is that cost increases for basics like coal, electricity, gas etc. impact regardless of whether the railway is predominantly operated by volunteer or paid staff. Either those costs increases ( currently in the multiple 100's of percent) can be absorbed or they can't. If not the choice may be between the devil and the deep blue sea. Cutting back could leave the railway unattractive to volunteers and quite possibly having to abandon or mothball sections of its track. Horribly unattractive, but it could be the only alternative to insolvency and complete closure.

    The ideal is to find new sources of income to subsidise the traditional business model which looks more and more unsustainable.
     
  20. Ploughman

    Ploughman Part of the furniture

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    Would there be any benefit in merging the Admin / Management of 2 or more railways?
    Especially those closer together.
     
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