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Swanage Railway General Discussion

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by Rumpole, Oct 10, 2012.

  1. 5944

    5944 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Having covered space at Sheffield Park and a field at Kingscote is a godsend for providing additional entertainment. Some of the family events must cost very little to put on (petting zoo, teddy bears picnic, etc) and don't require a lot of staff input on the day, but can bring in extra visitors. Sadly most railways don't have that luxury of extra space available to them.
     
  2. D7076

    D7076 Well-Known Member

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    And when they can’t find the better use for the covered space at SP they can use it to store locos in …almost as if it was built as a loco shed…
     
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  3. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Indeed, and in years past considerable effort of fundraising went into ensuring we were able to buy that land!

    Tom
     
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  4. 80104

    80104 Member

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    Chapeau - Fund raising to buy useable assets which in turn generate revenue rather than making good trading losses partly caused by unwise decisions.
     
  5. Cuckoo Line

    Cuckoo Line Member

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    At least it keeps the wheels from seizing up if you have to move them in and out occasionally!
     
  6. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    That end of the shed is generally used for the operational fleet. For a couple of weeks of the year it means the locos remain outside over night; for the rest of the year it is available, and particularly through the winter when it is most needed.

    Tom
     
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  7. paul1609

    paul1609 New Member

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    Whilst its fair to highlight that some railways have problems, the feedback Im getting is that it by no means universal. Everybody is finding the coal and utility costs difficult but some railways are dealing with it adequately. Lets not be too pessimistic.
     
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  8. 80104

    80104 Member

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    Not being too pessimistic but it would be good to see some positive actions by SR to address the issues. SRCs knee jerk reaction seems to be to appeal for funds but this will not address the long term issues and perhaps more worryingly at what point will (a) individual donors cease to support appeals (b) Dorset Council's hitherto positive view of the railway begin to change.
     
  9. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    What's been presented seems a reasonable response at a strategic level. The question is how it's underpinned, and how effectively changes can be made.
     
  10. Jupiter

    Jupiter New Member

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    It seems to be getting worse. From the SR website, so fully public domain:

    "We at the Swanage Railway urgently need to raise £450,000 to overcome the changes in the financial climate and help us build a sustainable railway for the future. Without your help, the Swanage Railway may not survive this coming Winter."
     
  11. Alan Kebby

    Alan Kebby Well-Known Member

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    ‘Reinventing the railway into a broader and more commercial visitor experience’

    I wonder what they have in mind exactly? Hosting the polar express, rather than the more traditional Santa specials this year is probably a first step towards this.
     
  12. Enterprise

    Enterprise Part of the furniture

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    As a child, I first visited the Swanage line in 1953 and have enjoyed regular visits, particularly since I retired 15 years ago. It is a charming line and over the years I have contributed to many of its appeals, most recently the T3, which I have yet to see steaming. However that phrase, "This will involve reinventing the railway into a broader and more commercial visitor experience," worries me. To be blunt, I am unlikely to contribute without knowing what the proposed reinvention actually involves.
     
  13. Jupiter

    Jupiter New Member

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    I don’t know what it looks like either, but I hope they aren’t waiting until next season to do it.
     
  14. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Not sure if the original wording which fortunately was copied by @free2grice in post # 9267 was in error or if suddenly overnight someone has decided an extra £200K is required for the winter.
    I have no problem with the message changing when things become clearer but to just drop another number in without any reference to the earlier request seems strange.
    I would not like to see this turning into a WSR type "give us some large sum of money" that never gets fully explained.
    Personally I am less concerned about the phrase ‘Reinventing the railway into a broader and more commercial visitor experience’ because it is clear to me, how ever much it may move away form the HR model that most on here hope for, that is a model for a bygone age.
    Now this is where I think it becomes very difficult, not just for the SR but many lines. Swanage has almost no opportunity to expand its real estate footprint, in somewhere that is usable for that aim, as say the Bluebell with SP, HK and Kingscote, or the GCR with the yard at Quorn does. Therefore that sort of forces the "experience" to something on train. Yes the field at Norden is used for the Road Rail event, but it is also used for many non railway events during the summer, and something at that end of the line is unlikely to guarantee much extra ridership I venture if you have logically arrived by car.
    Now in post #9307 @paul1609, obviously a glass half full man, may be correct that some lines are struggling less, but there are so many variables, length of line, size of loos etc. that comparisons are difficult. If there is actually a golden bullet then perhaps those lines could share with the rest the answer, as it is not really like say full competing commercial operations wanting to keep market share. In most cases HR lines to not compete with each other as far as Joe Public is concerned for day to day operation
     
  15. 80104

    80104 Member

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    SRT SRC are very good at identifying the problem, excellent at the broad brush strategy but do not seem able to actually articulate what specific actions they will take?

    What will the operating days be next year, what will the timetable(s) be, what will the fares be?

    What is the target gross fare revenue? What are the direct operating costs going to be for that operating programme

    What events do they plan to run? What will the target net profit after cost for these events be?

    How many steam locos do they require, how many diesels do they require? Can they terminate the leases of excess traction? Could they sell the DMU and operate the wareham (if there is to be a wareham) with the Class 33 and a set of mainline registered carriages?

    Can they sell any unwanted / under used assets for example the Wessex Belle Dining Set?

    Can they relocate all the administration activities at Purbeck Business Park to the two Station Houses instead?

    Can they cut the wage bill by 10%? What do all the staff do on non running days?

    What are they going to do about static catering? What are they going to do about the shop?

    Everything and anything needs to be in the mix if the situation is as bad as £250K / £450K implies.
     
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  16. martin1656

    martin1656 Nat Pres stalwart Friend

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    Clearly the first priority as to be to ensure the railway survives to operate in 2024, that has to mean, cutting costs, that will involve having discussions with owners of engines, if the hire fees and leases are not affordable, to maybe reduce terms in the short term, or to move their engines on, if terms can not be altered, reduce all overheads where possible, it might be possible to obtain lower costs for fuel, coal etc, if you can get together with other railways and have bulk orders placed with delivery to each partners site, staffing, this is a big problem, most railways need staff especially in engineering etc, can they get government grants to cover wage costs etc?
     
  17. 80104

    80104 Member

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    At the AGM it was stated that (a) Swanage Railway are already part of a coal buying consortium (b) they have been in discussion with some loco owners and will have dialogue with other loco owners, (c)they were in dialogue with staff regarding voluntary redundancies.

    The problem seems to be is that this is the third "crisis" in four years and it appears that all these measures have already been implemented.

    As has been stated upthread staff costs are the single biggest cost by a very significant margin C£1M+ per annum. That realistically has to be where some savings can be made.
     
  18. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    As others have said, it's an easy assumption to make but needs to be approached with care - it's very easy to displace staff costs with others, to no net gain on the bottom line.

    No cost line should be immune, but changes need to considered for unintended consequences - and just because a line has large numbers doesn't automatically mean that it's where the cuts can most effectively be made.
     
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  19. 80104

    80104 Member

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    Yes it does need to be approached with care and thought but the current business model is unsustainable and the longer it persists with no action the greater reliance will be placed on a crisis fund raiser and the greater the risk of failing to fill the financial void.
     
  20. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Not sure the third crisis in four years is necessarily all or even partially down to the railway as implied there.
    There have been too many external factors that have influenced SR and other lines in the past 3 or 4 years.
    Covid
    After effects of Covid on pax and staff willingness to be involved
    War In Ukraine
    Global Inflation
    Cost of Living Crisis
    Fuel Cost Rises for operation which include energy prices for both the railway and potential passengers
    War in the Middle East?

    Every industry (which of course HR's have differing external pressures) but these days 3 crisis in 4 years seems little different to what I experienced in the last decade of my work life.
    To answer your Wareham point, no you could not use a 33 with mainline registered coaches unless you have them fitted with CDL, or lock out the toilets (is this what the NYMR do to Whitby or are they TRT fitted?) or hire in some mainline coaches form someone with them spare, which gives few options and who knows what the mainline CDL situation may be by next summer anyway. All that assumes SR would have become a TOC in its on right (at what cost) or you have the same crew issues as this year. If SR did become a TOC I would not see the ORROR granting a CDL derogation to use stewards.
     

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