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SVR General Discussion

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

  1. JBTEvans

    JBTEvans Part of the furniture

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    Had an enjoyable day out on Saturday, poured down in the morning but was a sunny afternoon. Some good ales on offer at Highley. Great to see 4930 in steam for the first time, and also to ride behind 37263 after watching progress on its overhaul over the years at Lydney Jcn. The GWR carriages are a joy and spent quite a bit of time on them until the final service.

    Feel like this event could expand next year, and hopefully have some better weather!



     
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  2. acorb

    acorb Part of the furniture

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    Suprised nobody has mentioned the complimentary Supporters Day that was held on Friday 21st, a welcome and exceptionally generous act by SVR management. 3 steam locos and 3 diesels is a full on gala anywhere else, along with a timetable that ran well into the evening. Many areas normally off limits were available for inspection and even parking charges were waived.
    Unsuprisingly, the event was very well attended and aside from some envelopes left on tables for the Resilience fund, there was no hard sell for the latest appeal, it felt like a genuine gesture of thanks to close supporters, many who have felt have been ignored or taken for granted in recent years.
    This member of 30 years standing very much appreciated the day and the atmosphere on the trains was excellent.
    Given the vocal & at times fiercely critical debate on this thread about how the SVR has treated Shareholders, I am suprised I am the first to mention this event, over a week after it occurred!! ;)
     
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  3. Southernman99

    Southernman99 Member Friend

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    It has been suggested that we scrap the Open house ( case the joint) weekend and do one or two more supporters only days. There by giving an incentive to non members/ shareholders to sign up to be able to see behind the scenes.
     
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  4. ruddingtonrsh56

    ruddingtonrsh56 Well-Known Member

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    So on Supporters days are tickets only available for volunteers / members / shareholders etc, or are there certain aspects of the railway that you can look at but only if you can prove you are classed as a 'supporter'?
     
  5. acorb

    acorb Part of the furniture

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    This day was only available to members and shareholders of the railway, we were emailed a specific link to pre-book tickets on a specific train from either Kidderminster or Bridgnorth. You were able to change trains after catching the initial train.
    Each person was able to bring 1 non-member / shareholder. There was a limited number of tickets to ensure there was sufficient seats on the initial trains. The railway was otherwise closed to non-members (the event wasn't publicised in the public timetable or online where it was listed as a non-operating day).
    Interesting proposal to replace the Open House event, I guess it would come down to economics or what the railway is looking to gain from the day. I must admit the day must have come at some cost to the railway, but there must be long term gains in soldifying / expanding membership and shareholdings.
     
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  6. Fish Plate

    Fish Plate New Member

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    No, it isn't. For the six weeks of the main summer sesason on the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland, there will be seven locomotives in steam plus a diesel shunter on at least two days every week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) to simply run the public timetable.
     
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  7. Johnb

    Johnb Nat Pres stalwart

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    It was probably a calculated gamble and I hope it paid off. I can’t remember which one it was but a Cathedral decided to abolish its entry charges one weekend and invite donations. They actually took more money than they did in a normal weekend. That tactic wouldn’t work long term but I suspect the Valley may have been working on the same basis
     
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  8. acorb

    acorb Part of the furniture

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    There's always one isn't there!
    As a proud FR member I have spent more than just few hours at Harbour Station and lunchtime there is indeed one of the best steam spectacles anywhere.
    Indeed, it reminds me of the SVR of old - where 3 steam locos were needed for a weekday and 6 or 7 at the weekend. Sadly those days are long gone and with the cost of running one steam loco for a day now well into 4 figures, I doubt we will see those days again.
    The FR is a very different beast with Mr Lewin masterminding a strategy that ensures every train run pays it's way. They still push the 'Excursion' type of experience and with premium fares to match. It's not a methodology many other railways have followed, indeed many have argued the FR's circumstances are unique and this style of operation wouldn't work anywhere else. But it certainly works in this corner of Snowdonia, is keeping the FR more than profitable & enables them to run a spectacular fleet of locos.
    I still maintain the SVR's 6 locos and a 12 hour timetable is still a pretty generous offer, especially when being offered for free! I have indeed attended galas this year which have offered just half that... AND if you want to be really pedantic, at 40 miles isn't the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland technically 2 railways?! ;)
     
  9. Chris86

    Chris86 Well-Known Member

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    The miniature railway I volunteer at uses a similar strategy.

    It is very hit and miss, some days the takings significantly exceed what would be expected if we charged a small amount- other days are busy but takings are very low.
     
  10. lostlogin

    lostlogin Member

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    Post Covid the FR&WHR have really focused on having pre booked passengers only releasing additional train services when levels of booking determine. I appreciate that is a slight over simplification.

    I don't know for certain but the FR & WHR always had a lot of coach party traffic and I think that is still the case and so again they can set their timetable around that. They are therefore less affected by the impact of the weather putting people of on any given day.

    Newspapers when they reported circulations used to report numbers of full price sales, discounted ones and bulk ones where a hotel group might have available to any guests at reception. I would be very interested in seeing the mix on some railways of those paying full price and those on large party bookings.
     
  11. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    It was an initiative to reconnect with the railways support base and say thank you to all who have stayed with the railway over the last few years and as has been seen a very well received idea from Gus and the holdings board . Donations made were gratefully received but that was not the point of the day

    The majority of the board (holdings and guarantee) were in attendance and around the railway to also meet supporters
     
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  12. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    Post covid the SVR continued the fixed iteniary tours despite cries that what was wanted was a return to hop on hop off trains . Part of the joy of the SVR is there is something to do and enjoy at every station, and that is hard to build a planned journey around and certainly in covid the intermediate stations , Bewdley, Arley and Hampton Loade struggled with donations needed to support their ongoing maintenance
     
  13. Southernman99

    Southernman99 Member Friend

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    Martin.

    Part of me wishes we had made more of an effort to blend both hop on/ hop off and the fixed iteniary days out. The one advantage of the prebook/ fixed day out was we knew how many passengers we were going to have. Each train had a break even point. Paul and the Fest have been very open in saying that if the service doesnt reach a certain amount of bookings, it doesnt run. We did the same.


    There were too many minority voices who shouted the loudest and got their way.
     
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  14. Johnb

    Johnb Nat Pres stalwart

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    It’s good to see that the railway is getting back to how it was before the last CEO did so much damage. I’ve moved on to support a couple of other railways. A shame rally as I was there on the day the line opened but I’m still a shareholder.
     
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  15. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    trouble with cancelling trains is it erodes visitor confidence and can leave you with frustrated customers . There is, I suspect an element of russian roulette and I know of main line trips that a couple of weeks before should have been cancelled but on the day ran comfortably full . With people watching cash, bookings are probably a lot more last minute . Ffestiniog works a lot better as planned days out than maybe the SVR does giving its length . long sections and scenery being the attraction .

    I can though foresee a scenario across the movement where all steam hauled workings become pre book and planned to maximise the return on the coal spend and differential pricing between steam and diesel working
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2024
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  16. used2be

    used2be New Member

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    Reading the SVR Co Ltd annual report
    that membership is down from peak 11,100 during 2022 to 10,450 at end 2023
    main reason seems to be ageing members passing away.
    SVR News summer 2024 says membership 10,172 ,at 30 April.
    Something to think about ?

    .
     
  17. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    Suggestions as to how to encourage and retain members welcomed. What would tempt those not already members to become one ?
     
  18. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Resident of Nat Pres

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    I guess that is a very interesting question that is applicable to any line.
    Membership can be viewed purely as a donation I guess, and at some lines it may give you some travel benefit and at most lines I guess a magazine.
    But from an SVR perspective I am unsure what would make me become a member there any more than say the GWSR or GCR to pick two lines a reasonable distance away that I rarely visit, having not been to either the SVR or GCR since 2017 or the GWSR since 2019 (and then only to take my dad for his birthday).
    Interestingly I may now, being a 3 hour drive away, be more inclined to visit the Bluebell as the travel concession at least pays for some of the associated hotel bill that comes with it, as I am no longer prepared to drive 6 hours in one day.
    So whilst some may argue members discounts lose money, it could be it gets a membership and more visits and hence more fares.
    Beyond that I am not sure.
     
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  19. Johnb

    Johnb Nat Pres stalwart

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    The railway will retain membership by offering value for money and that's not just the house magazines four times a year. Its about keeping in touch and making them feel valued. I'm now a member of the Bluebell, in addition to the house journal I get a weekly email update on what's happening and a monthly email newsletter. I would think that can be done at no cost apart from using up a couple of volunteer's time but that's what we volunteer for. It's very easy for the the want of a better word for the business side of a large railway like the SVR to take over and the members then feel they are ignored. I'm also a member of the Worth Valley railway but I don't think there is a comparison as its a totally different organisation, more a community railway with a high content of volunteers, I've never seen much of a connection between the Valley and the local communities, perhaps that's something that can looked into, the railway brings a lot of business into the area.
    I'm not sure what the latest funding appeal is giving away but at a certain level of donation and above why not give a year's free membership? It costs little more than sending out four issues of the magazine and how many are going to renew the following year?
    People fail to renew for one of two reasons, either because they don't like the way the railway is heading, as in my case with the SVR, or because the forget. Getting renewals onto standing order/direct debit will deal with the second of those. The Bluebell offer a small discount to renew by direct debit.
    Finally, find out why people don't renew, when I cancelled my membership I was not contacted at all and neither were a couple of others who I know left at the same time. As long standing member I did email the then MD expressing regret at the way the railway was going and my feeling that there appeared to be a demoralised and hostile attitude among a lot of the volunteers but got no response. Communication, particularly to armchair members is vital. I know the membership fee doesn't do much more than cover sending the house journals but another organisation I subscribe to received a very substantial legacy from one such member.
     
  20. gios

    gios Member

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    I am also a disillusioned SVR member from the previous MDs unfortunate tenure, who has also allowed membership to lapse. Again no communication to find out why I had stopped volunteering.

    It is really fantastic to see the new MD is approachable, professional, on the ball and popular with volunteers. Lets hope lessons have been learned about the type, background and quality of appointments in the future
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2024

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