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Swanage Railway General Discussion

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

  1. MAPLE CHRIS

    MAPLE CHRIS Member

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    if we want the railway to survive then prices have to go up the tricky part is pitching at a figure that the general public feel are still value for money
     
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  2. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Resident of Nat Pres

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    I am planning to renew my annual pass shortly, firstly it means I dont have to think about the cost buying a ticket each time I go, and secondly its a donation to the railway.
     
  3. Alan Kebby

    Alan Kebby Well-Known Member

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    Indeed you need to get the balance right. Otherwise increasing prices can actually reduce revenue.
     
  4. Johnb

    Johnb Nat Pres stalwart

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    It’s called price saturation, increase the price by 10% and lose 10% or more of your customers is the danger. Royal Mail have already gone past that point. The best way is to offer something extra for the money but the Swanage is in difficult position, a train ride is about the only thing they can offer, there’s no museum, no intermediate stations that are an attraction in themselves such as Horsted Keynes or Bewdley. The Bluebell are putting on special themed days to attract extra custom but they have a densely populated catchment area and I’m not sure that would work at Swanage off season.
     
  5. free2grice

    free2grice Part of the furniture Friend

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    I'm not so sure about that. Don't forget that they have the very popular Corfe Castle and it's delightful village. <BJ>
     
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  6. Johnb

    Johnb Nat Pres stalwart

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    That doesn’t necessarily bring people to the railway and spend money there, most people drive to it and the bus is a fraction of the cost of the train
     
  7. free2grice

    free2grice Part of the furniture Friend

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    Many families join the train at Swanage to travel to Corfe for it's castle and village. Occasionally I watch the railcam and am pleasantly surprised at the many families that leave the train at Corfe. [BJ]
     
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  8. Alan Kebby

    Alan Kebby Well-Known Member

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    Many people come for a day out in the area. The Castle or Railway alone aren’t sufficient for a full day out, so people combine attractions - Railway, Castle, beach, Durslton country park, model village etc. It could be argued that the range of attractions in the area attract more visitors than the railway would on its own.
     
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  9. gricerdon

    gricerdon Well-Known Member

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    From many visits I can confirm that is correct.
     
  10. 3ABescot

    3ABescot Member

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    Most people may arrive by car but we've done a full day at Corfe Castle, village, castle, National Trust shop, pubs, plus Swanage shops seafront & restaurant after parking at Norden and we certainly weren't alone on the day. Indeed, the planners wouldn't let Norden Station open until the parking was in place to reduce the traffic pressure on Corfe.

    (Editted to correct Norden from Morden! Don't we just love autocorrect...)
     
  11. bishdunster

    bishdunster New Member

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    Actually the planners wouldnt allow Corfe Castle station to open until both the station and car park at Norden were complete and open as it was deemed that there would not be enough car parking in Corfe to serve the railways passengers (NOT "customers" !!!) .
     
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  12. Daddsie71b

    Daddsie71b Member Friend

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    Plus they didn't want cars using station road with it's blind junction.
     
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  13. Down_the_pan

    Down_the_pan New Member

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  14. 21B

    21B Part of the furniture

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    I’d disagree with that. The railway probably needs to increase the surplus it generates. It can do that by increasing prices, but depending on the price elasticity which will be related to what’s in the pocket of the target customer base and their perception of value for money which is driven by lots of things, perhaps in the Swanage’s case mostly by other attractions entrance fees, it may find that quite hard.

    It has two other strategic options it can consider (among others) 1) reduce costs significantly or 2) target a different customer base and increase prices very significantly. Generally that also means increasing the perceived value of the service in some way, with the trick being to increase perceived value more than actual cost. Light trains etc for example.

    It can be the case that massive hikes in prices have the effect of throttling demand to the point where providing people (some) will still buy, the costs reduce and the profits increase.

    the scary part is that there is no really good way to “test” these strategies. I’d like to see a heritage railway set out to attract premium prices and justify them, but the only one I think has come close really is the FR WHR which has both length of ride and scenery on its side in a way that the Swanage does not.

    My thought is that small price increases alone (I mean less than 15%) with no change to perceived value will make the situation worse not better. Driving down customers by more than the price increase ofsets. That means that serious cost saving is likely to be needed and that might actually reduce the perceived value. A vicious cycle that has doomed many companies outside the heritage industry and maybe some within.
     
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  15. alexl102

    alexl102 Member

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    Whilst I totally get that Heritage Lines need to increase their surplus, and that premium offerings are one way to do that, I’d much rather see that be through certain ‘experiences’ like first-class dining trains amongst their regular service trains. These have been a fabulous success at Embsay for example.

    I’m really concerned that the search for increased income is going to result in railways putting their prices up to a point where they’re just totally unaffordable for ordinary families unless you’re getting something like a year pass in return like NYMR.

    Its not just railways that have this problem. We took our kid to The Deep in Hull last May. It was good, but at the price, if the ticket hadn’t been valid for a year we certainly wouldn’t have gone back because good as it is, it isn’t that good. I think some people would say the same about some of our railways.
     
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  16. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    I think the danger on a lot of railways - and I suspect Swanage to a degree fits this model - is that they are very dependent on a single revenue market. In the Swanage case "take family to beach". Which is great if that market does well (and prices don't have to be especially high if you are really doing a big volume) but it leaves you very susceptible to changes in market demand, which can be driven by many things. In a cost of living crisis which is disproportionately affecting those at the low to middling income scales, it hurts if your core market is disproportionately drawn from the same groups - and those groups might also be more price-sensitive.

    The difficulty is that it generally requires significant up front investment to break into new markets. Premium dining is a case in point - you need the prestige vehicles, an expensive kitchen car etc., then a chef; and then you need to promote it. That's a lot of capital and revenue investment up front; and probably only makes sense if you can also run a considerable number of trains each year with a reasonable number of covers. (Witness the discussion s some years back about the Quantock Belle on the WSR, which only sat 50-odd people and ran a handful of times each year. It was an illusion to believe that it was doing anything other than using the railway's funds to subsidise nice meals for a handful of people).

    There are no easy answers I can see - if they were easy or obvious, they'd already have been done.

    Tom
     
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  17. RLinkinS

    RLinkinS Member

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    The memory I have of the KESR visit is of Esmonde Lewis-Evans looking out of a coach window as 65 romped up the bank to Tenderden in the gathering dusk

    Sent from my SM-A105FN using Tapatalk
     
  18. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I'm past the take kids for day trips stage, but what I'm seeing is that all attractions are pushing prices up to a level that makes a day out feel like a big treat, not a part of normal life. We should see our hobby as facing a general trend, and not uniquely affected.

    From my experience at my church, the challenge is on two fronts. One is rising costs, which are very hard to mitigate or reduce. The other is about the amount of income that can be generated, and how that can be sustained and increased. The idea of doing new, "better", is great. However, for an organisation that's got a challenge because it's got no spare cash, the options for investment to make that change are limited.
     
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  19. free2grice

    free2grice Part of the furniture Friend

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    Does any kind soul know which loco is likely to be in service this weekend please? <BJ>
     
  20. goldfish

    goldfish Nat Pres stalwart

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    I expect demand will go up if you get them out of their dayglo colour scheme and into BR black… ;)

    Simon
     

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