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Swanage Railway General Discussion

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

  1. Tom02

    Tom02 New Member

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    Yes so with 26% rise in passenger numbers for Easter and 'similar' for February half term surly the railway will/should be looking at if two steam service in summer can be used.
    Last summer a one steam service was too busy (i.e. 5 car so it can run around on its own) - thus needing an extra carriage and the class 33.

    If we are looking at around 25% rise for summer overall - and people flock to the steam service rather than the 2nd service - the steam would need a minimum of 6 cars all day - up to 7 or even 8. Which we all know is too much for the infrastructure.

    As stated above and in the Steam V Diesel forum - If IF all other costs are equal.. then the railway only needs an extra 7/8 people to pay for the added price of coal. 2/3 family's per return trip. Slightly less cause you also then dont need to lug around the 33 with its engines on.
     
  2. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    If those numbers are correct, both increases in demand and the rate of "walk aways" due to use of diesels. There are a lot of assumptions involved in them, and they need to be tested carefully.

    I would hope and expect that the Swanage's management are looking closely at loadings and income, and considering where the balance lies between operational savings and deterring passengers, but with a view in 2024 to ensuring that operating profits are maximised to channel cash back into the railway.
     
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  3. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    The quote in Swanning Around was:

    "The results for the four day Easter break are in and show more positive news in our recovery plan. Over
    the four days we carried 3,555 passengers and generated income of over £47,500.

    This is a consistent 26% increase compared to Easter 2023 and follows on similar results for the February
    half term "
    So in the first line it refers to both a passenger figure and an income figure, but then gives a single percentage increase. So it is not clear to me whether that 26% refers to income, passenger numbers, or something else. (And in any case, income is not the same as profit).

    So is your assertion specifically about "26% rise in passenger numbers" based on some more detailed analysis / figures somewhere?

    Don't get me wrong - it looks like a good result, and I'm sure we all want to see the Swanage Railway prosper. But there seems to be lots of detailed, and somewhat rose-tinted, calculations being carried out on the back of very few, and poorly quantified, numbers. It matters quite a lot whether the 26% rise refers to passengers, journeys, income or profit. (And it also matters quite a lot that you can't extrapolate whole-year figures off the back of four days over Easter, for reasons I gave previously).

    Tom
     
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  4. DcB

    DcB Well-Known Member

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    So with the risk of lower numbers (150,000?) and income (to pay for the increased cost of coal) again in 2024 do think the SR is right in being cautious planning a 1 diesel and 1 steam timetable this May bank holiday and the peak summer season?
    Perhaps as Tom02 says having a backup of 6 coach trains with a diesel top and tailing the steam loco again?.

    Or just take the risk and plan a 2 steam loco timetable in case numbers restore.
    Looks like the SR timetabling team have a hard choice ahead?
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2024
  5. Andy Moody

    Andy Moody Member

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    Gentleman, Have you conveyed your thoughts and solutions to the Swanage Railway management?
     
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  6. 80104

    80104 Member

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    Many leisure and transport organisations internally aggregate the figures for March and April for the purposes of comparison because of Easter being a "moveable feast".

    Likewise many of those organisations choose a small number of metrics to focus on - those they consider give the most accurate basis for the purposes of year on year comparison and thus how well the organisation is doing.

    Whilst passenger numbers are usually an acceptable metric (and one of the most readily understood by the organisation as a whole) , one of the inherent weaknesses of such comparisons is that it isnt accompanied by the number of days operated nor the number of services provided and thus an indication of costs incurred / resources expended.

    As Tom alluded to, at least it looks like a good result and give some encouragement that the darker days are receding into the past. From a macro economic point of view there is some evidence that the economy is improving (albeit still with some areas of concern) so hopefully this will filter through into better passenger numbers for 2024.
     
  7. DcB

    DcB Well-Known Member

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    Will send an email with concerns about the yellow timetable, but try to word it encouragingly, rather than critical. Think we all want the railway to do well this year.
     
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  8. Station Clock

    Station Clock New Member

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    Interesting discussion around how many steam vs diesel SR should run. I've travelled on the line for over 20 years (most recently T3 launch) but will not be doing so this year - and possibly longer - while they experiment with not allowing people to purchase tickets with cash. Given other factors contributing to the numbers I'm not sure how they will judge cashless only to be a success or not....? Also slightly cock-eyed policy, I think I read that you can still donate cash in the collecting boxes for various projects, but if if you didn't bring any cash because you thought you were going to pay by card, you won't have any loose change to throw in the box...! Other railways here I come..
     
  9. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Resident of Nat Pres

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    It really is little different to a lot of the world at large.
    I always keep some cash, coins and notes for things like magazines from the hut at Norden, or tipping the hairdresser, where tips are not allowed to be put on a card.
    Also technology is not 100% reliable as we have all found out so I always have a small amount of cash. I cannot believe folks are prepared to go any distance without some cash.
    I walked past Morrisons in Swanage back around January time when they had "card machines down cash only" on the door.
    What is unclear to me for the railway is what happens on a day all their machines go down due to the "benefit" of some upgrade by a bank or card company. Maybe a good day for free rideso_O
     
  10. 5914

    5914 New Member

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    With no banks in Swanage (meaning that cash cannot just be paid in/withdrawn by railway staff in person), I suspect that the problem is that servicing cash customers has become impractical and unsustainable - not uncommon for businesses in rural areas with little access to banking facilities (although smaller businesses that do not bank all their cash may prefer cash over card - though that indicates other issues may be at play...).
    Whilst a donations pot just requires someone to have cash in their pocket, servicing cash transactions requires having sufficient cash in the correct denominations to provide change. There are also the additional costs of requiring staff time to do the banking and prepare floats, together with paying the transaction charges for cash banking and paying for secure collection and delivery of cash.
    During the summer season, and going back some years, it was certainly the case that a single member of staff needed to be devoted to managing cash - making sure that each outlet/booking office had sufficient change, that cash was removed so that individual sales locations did not go over insurance limits, banking cash, and undertaking reconciliations. There has been a huge change in the way people generally make payments, and, now that card/contactless payments are so dominant in general for transactions, my hunch would be that it would take a great many passengers to decide not to travel at all before the savings (of staff time and charges) of going cashless are wiped out.
     
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  11. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    @5914 gives clear reasons. I'll just add that when I looked at the cost of cash deliveries for an event, the price and terms were simply ridiculous for the sums involved. If there's more than can be banked through the local Post Office, then it's a perfectly logical decision.
     
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  12. Daddsie71b

    Daddsie71b Member Friend

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    Absolutely agree, lets drop the fare to £2 a head,. Most probably break the 300k barrier, but the railway will go bust.
    Think run less days, charge more, enlarge the specialist days etc.
    My daughter worked in Brockley, south London a few years ago, the local coffee shop went cashless then. they could reduce the cost of their products by 10% and still made a bigger profit.
     
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  13. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    And that's where it gets tricky, as reducing availability and charging more may not work well either - the sweet spot can be hard to find.
    Precisely
     
  14. gricerdon

    gricerdon Well-Known Member

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    Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity, cash is reality.

    25 years ago I forgot that business basic and it cost me my £1 m turnover transport business at great personal loss despite being a limited company.
     
  15. Station Clock

    Station Clock New Member

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    ....although not universally the case, I was at a coffee shop in Holborn (central London) this morning.. 'We only accept Cash'. Returning to SR, good points made by 5914, but if it required a member of staff devoted to managing cash as recently as last summer, it follows that a significant proportion of passengers actually prefer cash payment. If the assumption is that most of these passengers will nevertheless easily switch to card/contactless rather than walking away, why not simply put a sign up saying 'please pay by card if at all possible'. The residual grumps like myself who refuse to pay by card will then constitute such a tiny number that cash handling and storage becomes insignificant - you could always ask me to 'please provide the right change if you insist on paying cash'. Perhaps the appeal to 'save our railway' was directed at lottery winners rather than me with my pennies... not so cash-strapped after all?
     
  16. WishIHadAName

    WishIHadAName New Member

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    Is it really that difficult to use the card you withdraw cash with to support the railway? Of the small amount of people who don’t have, or won’t use a bank card I doubt they contribute £10k to the railway. Thats why it’s a trial I guess!
     
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  17. Dan Bennett

    Dan Bennett Member

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    Swanage’s nearest branch of Barclays (with whom we bank) is now in Dorchester. So that’s a 60 mile/1.5 hours (on a good day) round trip for someone carrying potentially 10s of thousands of pounds in their car. Or we pay a security company £10k+ a year to collect the cash.

    Over 90% of transactions were already cashless anyway…
     
  18. MuzTrem

    MuzTrem Member

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    The problem is that the amount of administration involved in handling cash remains the same, regardless of how much cash you actually handle. I see this in my current day job...every day our front of house staff have to count out the float, then check it at the end of the day, and then count the takings, verifying that everything is correct and filling out forms to say so. That cash then has to be banked, more coins obtained to top up the float if necessary...all this effort, and yet I would estimate that 90% of our transactions are by card now. The time spent on these tasks is basically the same, regardless of whether the actual takings you're counting up are £5 or £500.

    I assume most heritage railways have volunteer TOs, so perhaps it's not such an issue for them, provided you can find volunteers who are willing to do that work. But certainly, for any organisation (like mine) which has to pay staff to do all this work, I'd seriously question whether the costs to the organisation, purely in the form of staff time wasted, outweigh the income taken through cash transactions.

    I would agree, however, that it's not really a satisfactory situation if cash remains legal tender, and yet customers are not able to rely on it being accepted wherever they go. This is where I think we really need action from central government: time to bite the bullet, accept that a cashless society is the future, and make it a policy to phase out cash, with targeted support and subsidies to help those individuals/businesses who are still struggling to make the switch.

    Sent from my SM-A125F using Tapatalk
     
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  19. Jupiter

    Jupiter New Member

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    Interesting arguement. You’re saying you handle 10s of thousands of pounds of cash which is why you no longer want to handle cash.

    Just hoping all or most will switch to card? Rather large gamble.
     
  20. 5944

    5944 Resident of Nat Pres

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    He said "potentially". Income appears to be about £3m/yr. So 10% of that is £300,000. Spread over, what, 250 operating days, that's £1200/day. A significant sum, but still only 10% of the daily takings.
     
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