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Swanage Railway General Discussion

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

  1. Lineisclear

    Lineisclear Member

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    Very true that one size doesn't fit all but there 's ample evidence that for some the financial pressures of the traditional financial model are becoming unbearable.

    I agree with your point about young or financially challenged volunteers which the main reason that the railway on which I volunteer most has recently de- coupled volunteering from membership. There's no longer a requirement to be a member to volunteer.

    However it doesn't alter the fact that the price of a few pints a month is not unreasonable if it sustains the railway you want to see survive. Ideally monthly contributions would be related to ability to afford. For instance there are some very comfortably off pensioners on index linked income whilst others are undoubtedly struggling so perhaps "one size fits all" should not apply to members just as much as it doesn't to their railways?
     
  2. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    The problem with that is that diesel services cost far more than 1/3 to 1/2 a steam service to operate. The carriages - the same. The p/way - same. Signalling - the same. Contribution to business overheads - the same. It's only the traction costs that might be lower, and even there I am a little sceptical, given that the real driver of traction costs are overhauls, not fuel - even now.

    The risk of your scheme is that, in the best case, such services would run at a big loss. At worst - they'd run at a big loss and hollow out demand for the steam services.

    Tom
     
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  3. Kingscross

    Kingscross Member

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    A big issue at Swanage, it seems, is the lack of secondary spend. Although the stations, are bang in the centre of major tourist destinations that’s also a disadvantage with many competitors literally on the doorstep. I’m surprised at the failure of the bird’s nest cafe at Swanage, but it must be said the buildings and platform at Swanage feel quite institutional. Some thought on how to better make it a place to linger would help. But the bigger opportunities I think lot at Corfe. The station itself is lovely but much more could be done with the forecourt and yard. Turn the forecourt into a beer garden, turn the goods shed into a pub, relocate the museum to the mining exhibits area at Nordon, and à la Havenstreet, make the place gated and charge an entry fee to Corfe. I’m as guilty as the next man in just turning up to Corfe and taking in the atmosphere without riding.
     
  4. 80104

    80104 Member

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    The Birds Nest Cafe at Swanage did not fail. It faced a number of challenges: it was staffed principally by full time year round paid staff, offering a wide variety of hot food was challenging, patronage in the winter was very low, the opening of Greggs in Swanage had a significant impact on its takings. By comparison the Norden Nest staffed by a volunteer , open during the season only returned a significantly better financial result. Hence the decision was taken to experiment by providing a similar offering in the booking hall at Swanage. One of, if not the, single biggest factors in the level of profitability of any catering outlet is the amount of paid labour required.

    A number of ideas have been put forward to improve the customer experience at Swanage and increase secondary spend. Unfortunately the SRT SRC prefer to prioritise projects related to locomotives and carriages.

    As I have indicated before much could be done at Corfe Castle - it is the jewel in the crown - but it would require the buy in of the staff at Corfe Castle who are resistant to change.
     
  5. Andy Moody

    Andy Moody Member

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    Obviously not very well thought through!
    For a start there is the Banks Arms complete with beer garden is right next to the station with another pub in the village square.
    The station forecourt is occupied by car parking spaces for local residents. And why on earth would you even want to think of relocating the museum to
    Norden mining museum?
     
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  6. Cuckoo Line

    Cuckoo Line Member

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    One problem I have with the appeal is that it is not particularly specific how the money will be spent, just we are building a new business model - some idea of the model would be good if you want people to donate. Just feels a bit to me that even if a donation was made how can I be certain that it will be wisely used and what does success ideally look like.
     
  7. Brockenman

    Brockenman New Member

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    Ref your Corfe ideas,if the wonderful guys and gals who look after and run the museum read your suggestion of turning the goods shed into a pub they would be horrified as would many of the visitors that really enjoy going round it and sitting in the viewing coach.There are enough pubs in Corfe without adding another and all it would achieve is alienating them and causing bad feelings.The museum at Norden is the mining museum for the very reason its there,the Purbeck mining industry past.Lastly you can never gate Corfe station and charge a fee because its a public right of way from one side to the other.When the Scotsman was on view in Corfe they wanted to gate it but could not because of the right of way.What ever some posters on here might think Corfe station should stay as it is,a part of the past on a country branch line,thats why the many many holiday makers and travellers who pass through the station coo over place just oozing charm.The comments recently when the porters had the coal fire going speak for themselves.What ever happens in the near future Corfe station will im sure stay as it is and so it should.
     
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  8. 80104

    80104 Member

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    Please can you point to proof of the right of way? It doesnt appear to be on the dorset.gov.uk right of way map. TIA.
     
  9. Kingscross

    Kingscross Member

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    I’m not sure that citing the success of other beer gardens is a reason for the railway not seeking a bit of that action.

    Moving the museum to Norden would add an attraction there, and give more to do while awaiting a train.

    Car parking for local residents or events space/beer garden/open air museum to keep people spending their money at the station?

    only ideas, but that’s where I’d be looking.
     
  10. lancahsirelad

    lancahsirelad New Member

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    It would be very difficult to make a change at the CC Museum as they have just completed a superb update that has been financed by grants which I guess would have to be reimbursed if the museum closed. Also this is a museum which highlights the history of the railway which is part of the Trust's raison d'être. If any of you haven't been there recently I suggest you make a visit.
     
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  11. Kingscross

    Kingscross Member

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    It’s a bit mad you can just wander round it without paying a penny though.
     
  12. Brockenman

    Brockenman New Member

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    I have no idea if its on a map or not, but its been a right of way for villagers for many moons now, before the line closed,after the line closed and when it has since reopened.When the trains arent running the gates on the barrow crossing are left open for any persons who cannot manage the bridge.There used to be a barrow crossing at the Swanage end of the station for this very reason.
     
  13. 80104

    80104 Member

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    Donations are requested.
     
  14. Daddsie71b

    Daddsie71b Member Friend

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    But this is the key, when people question the price of the ticket, I always say; did you go to the mining museum, did you go to the railways museum at Corfe, did you wander round Corfe and visit the town's museum?
    Most say no, just went up and back.

    So that points to marketing, or lack of.

    We have an almost perfect railway, Park n Ride at Norden, Corfe, nuff said, Harmans Cross, lots of camp sites and of course Swanage.

    I have studied the railways passenger count.

    Only on 16 trains this year were trains full and standing, 9 of those from Norden.

    All of the busiest days were in July and August.

    So, just run at weekends and daily during the school holidays?
    Would save a colossal amount of maintenance money, would have enough volunteers to cover duties, plus volunteers could divert their hours from operations to maintenance therefore reducing the wage bill.
    Back to very basics
     
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  15. martin1656

    martin1656 Nat Pres stalwart Friend

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    and if you do decide to run during the week in the peak, , just have a one train service,
     
  16. Sim

    Sim Member

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    I think it is not a public right of way, just a right of way for the occupants of the properties behind the down platform. A right of way, nonetheless. Where the confusion starts is where the public at large use the approach road behind the signal box as a right of way, when it is not. The roadway is partly owned by the National Trust and partly by the properties concerned and is not a public right of way. I now expect someone to contradict me!
    This is what I have understood for many years, but it doesn't stop the organisers of some running festivals using the roadway and the station platforms as part of their route!
     
  17. 80104

    80104 Member

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    You have to be a bit careful because the mining museum isnt always open on running days.

    The point though is well founded that you get more for your money than a simple train ride between two points and back again. This does need to be communicated to the passenger / customer which again is why it is frustrating that the timetable leaflet has been discontinued because it listed the "attractions" at each stop.

    It is also noteworthy that some have commented that Swanage has had fewer visitors which resulted in fewer passengers on the railway. But what if it is in fact the other way round. Swanage (town) had fewer visitors because Swanage Railway had fewer passengers ie it is the railway which is a prime driver of bringing (literally and metaphorically) people to Swanage. OR is that because people see Swanage Railway marketing, decide to visit Swanage but do not in fact use the railway?

    Many say that visitor / passenger numbers are down due to the general economic situation. However airline passenger numbers in 2023 are forecast be very close to the 2019 figure and will exceed that figure in 2024. That would suggest that consumers are prioritising holidays and travel over other expenditures. So why hasnt Swanage Railways passenger numbers gone back to the 2019 figure? I would venture to suggest that is due to three reasons (1) a lack of marketing activity (2) a sub optimal timetable putting consumers off (3) fare increases.

    Thank you. A definitive answer would be helpful though because it could inform what actions could or could not be considered.
     
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  18. Andy Moody

    Andy Moody Member

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    Correct Sir.
    The gates at the London end of the platforms have to be kept unlocked when there are no trains running.
     
  19. paul1609

    paul1609 New Member

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    Whilst you're right in what you say. On a heritage railway the marginal cost of running an extra train in terms of pway or signalling is very low so in effect you incur the same costs running no trains as a diesel train or steam train so with our budget model we only look at the marginal costs which are much lower for a diesel train especially a multiple unit. We try therefore to match expected passenger numbers (income) to type of traction (marginal costs)
     
  20. lil Bear

    lil Bear Part of the furniture

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    You don't need a full train to make money, and there's more to services than pulling passengers. Plus fixed costings still need to be paid whether there is a train or not. Further there's more to punters than families on holiday - CVR our midweeks in June/September are some of the busiest because people with no school-age kids are getting in cheaper holidays before/after the "main seasons". So you're selling yourself a lie with such a dramatic idea.

    Swanage Railway is attractive enough as a railway to operate midweek Easter - September services. Whether all of those services need to be steam though is the big question... Was it last year or this, Mondays/Fridays were closed and focus made on Driver Exp? Maybe some days copy Llangollen new model, and run the DMU on perceived quieter days? Back to basics maybe, but don't strip to the bare bones as this year timetable has shown an unattractive timetable will soon put people off before they've even stepped on the platform.
     
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