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The future of narrow gauge railways

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Railways' started by BiggerBob, Mar 3, 2023.

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  1. BiggerBob

    BiggerBob New Member

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    Given that over sixty years ago,, narrow gauge railways in this country tottered on the edge of extinction, it is quite remarkable just how many exist today. There have been distinct phases:. rescuing extant but moribund railways, recreating lines on former narrow-gauge .routes, recreating lines on former standard gauge formations , building new lines from scratch and converting industrial railways to passenger use. A backing group of engineering companies, both in house and commercial, has arisen capable of building rolling stock , track components etc. It is by any standards a considerable achievement.

    My questions are:

    Have we/are we reaching market saturation whereby further expansion cannibalises existing markets and resources?

    How much more of this is there to do? Which extensions of expansions do you expect to see t?

    As the baby boomers who cut their teeth on Thomas the Tank Engine now start to fall away is there a younger generation that will take over?
     
  2. John Williams

    John Williams New Member

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    Other than a couple of significant lines, most NG operations are small, so the cost to develop, operate and maintain are smaller than similar length standard gauge sites. Not that any of this is 'cheap', especially with the various constraints at present.

    Developments on various NG lines seem to be well supported, both by hands and feet on the ground and by funding. Corris seem to keep steadily developing both infrastructure and rolling stock. The recent re-emergence of efforts on the Glyn Valley obviously have some way to go but appear to be gearing up well enough. Development plans and associated funding at both the Ffesti and Talyllyn are substantial by any standards. Bala extension looks to be well advanced too.

    In terms of 'cannibalising existing markets', perhaps there's a risk that Standard Gauge lines with relatively high fares will start to lose some custom to the less expensive NG lines? Clearly that depends on where the potential customer is located and what they want from a train ride.
     
  3. gwralatea

    gwralatea Member

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  4. MellishR

    MellishR Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Well over sixty years ago the Talyllyn was already doing OK in preservation. But were any narrow gauge lines still running in Britain pre-preservation?
     
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  5. lynbarn

    lynbarn Well-Known Member

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    I think you had Leighton Buzzard and Bowater's in Kent, Penlee in Cornwall and the Ironstone lines in the Midlands for starters
     
  6. Ploughman

    Ploughman Part of the furniture

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    Various Military depots.
     
  7. I. Cooper

    I. Cooper Member

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    at least on paper I understood the Talyllyn preservation society took over a running (ok, perhaps that's a bit of a loose term - some days it ran) railway
     
  8. bluetrain

    bluetrain Well-Known Member

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    In some cases, the answer may depend on what one defines as "preservation". The Vale of Rheidol continued in operation by British Rail until 1988, after which it was taken over by a private company. Was that "preservation"? The original 3-ft gauge Ravenglass & Eskdale had closed before WW1, was then rebuilt as a 15-in gauge line by a private company and operated until taken over by a preservation society in 1960. I believe that the Isle of Man lines ceased operation for only a short time before re-starting under IoM gvernment ownership.

    And of course, the Talyllyn itself had continued in at least nominal operation until the preservationists arrived to rescue it.
     
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  9. Steve B

    Steve B Well-Known Member

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    The Welshpool and Llanfair ran (freight only) until 1956
    Padarn Railway closed 1961
    Penrhyn Quarry Railway closed 1962

    Steve B
     
  10. Steve B

    Steve B Well-Known Member

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    Nantlle Railway closed 1963 - last horse-drawn section of British Railways

    Steve B
     
  11. gwralatea

    gwralatea Member

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    Snowdon never closed, neither did the RH&D (maybe stretching a point on the latter but I'd count it). Sittingbourne and Kemsley moved from freight to passengers (relatively?) seamlessly from the late 1960s.
     
  12. gwralatea

    gwralatea Member

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    Of course, I should have looked closer to home - apparently well into the 1960s there were over 30 industrial narrow gauge systems between 2 foot and metre gauge operating just in Northamptonshire!
     
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  13. MellishR

    MellishR Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Thanks for the reminders of how much NG was still operating 60-odd years ago, and how many lines either never ceased or ceased only temporarily between commercial operation and preservation.
     
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  14. GHWood

    GHWood Member

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    The Isle of Man Railway was still run by the original independent railway company until it was taken over by the Manx Government in 1978. However, I suppose you would have to say it was run as a ‘tourist attraction’ from 1967 onwards (despite competing for some freight traffic during the early years of Lord Alisa running railway).
     
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  15. hoffman

    hoffman New Member

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    Not quite - a horse named "Charlie" was the last shunting horse employed on British Railways and worked at Newmarket until 1967.
     
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  16. pmh_74

    pmh_74 Well-Known Member

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    A shunting horse would be used to move wagons around in a yard. That's not the same as a horse-drawn railway.
    (Not knowing the history of either the Nantille Railway or Newmarket I couldn't say which statement is correct, maybe they both are. [And maybe the Wikipedia statement about "the last recorded use of horses by BR" being at Nantille isn't.])
     

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