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Watercress Line Spring Steam Gala 29th April - 2 May 2022

Discussion in 'Galas and Events' started by WesternRegionHampshireman, Mar 6, 2022.

  1. green five

    green five Resident of Nat Pres

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    Worryingly I did notice on the MHR Website that Gala tickets have not been selling very well this time compared to the last few Galas during the new Covid era. Monday looks like it will be very quiet with the most tickets left at the moment. I was hoping to visit on Monday but not sure if I can now due to some family health issues arising during the past week.
    There could be a number of factors keeping people away this time; the price of the tickets when many people are now struggling in the current financial situation, the absence of a "Big Name" visiting loco on this occasion which would entice the general public, people going away for the weekend now that Covid restrictions have been removed, or people concerned about Covid which is still very much in circulation in the community.
    It is a challenging time for everyone at the moment and I hope that visitor numbers do pick up over the weekend.

    Sent from my XQ-BT52 using Tapatalk
     
  2. gricerdon

    gricerdon Well-Known Member

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    Yes a stupid timetable and although we are going we will spend most of our time lineside.
     
  3. Ben Jenden

    Ben Jenden Member

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    I see both sides to an extent. I'm going to the gala today and maybe tomorrow so I'll hopefully come to a personal conclusion later on. But I seen many people not visit the weekend due to other events elsewhere, travel ticket prices, MHR gala ticket prices and the timetable. I did say my piece about the gala fares a while ago elsewhere.
     
  4. gricerdon

    gricerdon Well-Known Member

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    As predicted late running at around 25 minutes and trains quieter than I have ever seen them at a Gala. Milepost seats available through all trains . We are at the front of the nearly empty 1300 Alton. People do not want to sit outside Alton looking at ducks and swans. It was busier for 1001 four weeks ago. Still it’s a beautiful day and we have bagged some nice shots plus runs with 53808, 2857, 48305 and hopefully 506 when it eventually appears from Alresford. I think the cost and stupid timetable has put people off.
     
  5. gricerdon

    gricerdon Well-Known Member

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    Just had a brilliant climb from Alton Not often you get less than 13 minutes to Medstead. I have noticed before how strong this loco is
     
  6. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Part of the furniture

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    I have not ridden on the Alton to Medstead section of the MHR since 2016 but of the 9 times I have recorded from Alton to the fixed distant near the pedestrian/farm bridge near the top of the climb all bar one were under 10 minutes 49 secs, (the quickest time by far being Tornado), does it take another two minutes into the station I have never timed all the way to the station Don?
     
  7. gricerdon

    gricerdon Well-Known Member

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    Our time today was 9 mins 54 secs to Hants Hunt bridge and 10 mins 33 secs to MP 53 which I think is just beyond the fixed distant. The last bit to the stop is always very slow. Overall today was 12 mins 36 secs. Not my fastest which from memory was with two GWT 4-4-0 s some years ago. Everything has to be right to beat 13 minutes
     
  8. Martin

    Martin New Member

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    But do these timings actually have much meaning when the line speed is 25mph? How much of those times is determined by the capability of the engine, and how much by the driver's "interpretation" of the speed limit? I'll add my vote for 506 by the way, after a spectacular climb from Alton yesterday afternoon, which I was able to enjoy from the second table in the front coach, thanks to the train being so empty.
     
  9. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Part of the furniture

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    They can certainly add to the enjoyment, especially if is a line you travel a lot. For example here at Swanage I have around 120 runs recorded for various parts of the line. Load, weather, rail conditions all come into play and for me are great to look back on. For example just on Swanage to Victoria Avenue Bridge the gap between the quickest and slowest steam time is 3 mins 1 second and that is only a distance of just over half a mile!
     
  10. gricerdon

    gricerdon Well-Known Member

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    There’s more to it than speed and up the 1 in 60 climbs here 25 is about what the locos will do. Or sort of!
     
  11. John Petley

    John Petley Part of the furniture

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    Good to see you again on the bridge at Ropley, Don. I don't have any complaints about the day. Had a ride, took a few photos. Weather was very good particularly this morning and both the home fleet locos and the visitors were impressive. Well done Mid Hants for another excellent gala. My only concern, as Green Five pointed out and one of the volunteers on car park duties at Ropley also mentioned to me, is that numbers did seem a bit down. compared with some previous events. Hopefully the event will at least break even ,or better still, make a small profit.
     
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  12. gricerdon

    gricerdon Well-Known Member

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    Yes good to see you again after so many years. I am a bit of a whinger now but put it down to my age and my lifelong quest for perfection. It was actually a very good day , one of the best but I think the timetable and cost affected attendance which for a Gala was very poor. Yes I hope they made some money but would not have done from the many lineside freeloaders. When I spoke to some they were amazed we had been on the trains as well as walking a long way to lineside spots. Shame on them. Thank you all at MHR for our exceedingly good diesel free day out
     
  13. 6026 King John

    6026 King John Well-Known Member

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    Really enjoyable day at the Mid-Hants today. Five great locos all in good form, bright sunshine and the line looking great. Things generally went well although the timetable did slip due apparently to problems with the points at Alton. I'm not sure that the timetable had anything to do with it but I must say I'm not a fan of this business of parking the train outside Alton while the loco goes off to take the next down train and you wait for something to come and rescue you. I managed to avoid that - just had to wait a few minutes for another train to leave Alton. Someone said "this bit isn't exactly scenic" while contemplating the half demolished brewery!

    A lot has been said about numbers being down - I would say yes they were but not drastically so. Mid-Hants galas always seem to have room for everyone and are not rammed full like the Severn Valley last week. Personally I think £40 is good value - if you spend 8 hours there like me, and compares very well to other forms of entertainment. We just have to accept that the cost of everything (especially coal) is going up and we will have to pay more to pursue our hobby.

    Maybe the loco lineup was unattractive to some, but on a railway like the Mid-Hants I'd rather see steam workhorses at work than huge Pacifics that are better doing what they do best on the main line. I thought they got the lineup just right - nice combination of Southern, LMS, GWR and S&D!
    P1010555.JPG P1010560.JPG P1010567.JPG P1010569.JPG P1010571.JPG
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2022
  14. Ganger

    Ganger Member

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    Visited on Friday - well worth the drive up from Devon (not quite so much fun on the drive home with the holiday traffic). I thought the loco line up was fine and suited the line well, giving some nice variety with GW, LMS and Southern examples to enjoy, plus a nice flavour of the S&D too.

    The timetable was well thought out and the criticism of it is I would suggest a little harsh, more so given the challenging times heritage railways at present face.

    The loco changes outside Alton only took place on a few selected trips, and could easily be avoided if anybody had a real dislike for them. It appears these took place to help ensure for the majority of the day (one Ropley to Alresford working aside) the demonstration goods trains were worked by loco's running smokebox first, something I and am sure others who took the chance to record them on film / video very much welcomed. I'm sure cutting out the change-overs but then maybe having to see a number of the goods trains worked by loco's running tender first would create just as much criticism, if not more.

    Of course by steaming a sixth loco maybe the changes outside Alton could have been avoided, however the rising cost of coal, and indeed its availability has to be factored in, so in my own opinion using just the 5 loco's was very much the right thing to do.

    As for the ticket price, yes it was more than I would have expected to have paid a couple or three years ago, however times change. Cost of coal has gone up, cost of diesel has gone up which in turn means the cost of road transport will also have increased (four lorry moves before and again after this event), costs generally have increased big time. The very fact the MHR took the decision to stage the event with two large visiting loco's is to be applauded. It takes a lot of behind the scenes effort to plan and execute an event like this (I have had plenty of experience in doing similar on more than one line in the past) so thanks to all those who worked hard before, are working during, and indeed will do so after the event, for providing myself with a thoroughly great day out.

    Hopefully the rest of the gala is well supported and I look forward to visiting again soon.
     
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  15. Wagoniester

    Wagoniester Member

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    Spent the day as marshal on the Queen Mary and once the weather warmed up a bit, it was a thoroughly enjoyable day.

    Passenger numbers on the brake van were fairly low for the full-line trips and based on what people said during the day, I think part of this is down to the not being allowed off at intermediate stations, resulting in either a long wait to join the freight or for the next passenger train out of Alton. Compare that with the short run to Ropley and back which was full to bursting! The loco situation at Alton appeared to be, as people said, so each loco was smokebox first, but also meant every freight loco had a turn on it. Highlight for me was the 7F out of Alton, although the 28xx was pretty close second.

    Takings-wise on the brake van it seemed very low. I think the high Gala ticket fare has also put people off additional 'luxuries' such as the brake van ride which may have also led to the low patronage for the full line runs; some of those who did join these runs were hesitant to pay a £10 donation in addition to the £40 day ticket. Sadly with all the rising costs I suspect we will be entering a phase of Galas being reviewed; can they be run but with an increased ticket fare or will they be cut because they know people have a spending cap?

    I hope overall this weekend has worked out well for the MHR - everyone who I spoke to was enjoying it.
     
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  16. Ben Jenden

    Ben Jenden Member

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    Saturday sitrep.

    So it's not hard to note that the trains were not that full. Lot of empty tables on a few trains. As for the timetable - it was fine but slipped by about 20-30 mins at one point and was pretty much like it for most of the day.

    The "leave train at loop, pulled in by another" was relatively easier to avoid if one remained at a station and change at Medstead. I thought the timetable was good.

    If there was something I did have a relatively minor-ish gripe about was that I wasn't entirely sure of the decision at Ropley at least for those who prebooked at least given a wristband but had to go in to the little ticket van to get "a proper ticket" in addition. At the same time the person behind the desk ended up taking several minutes finding my details. Surely just a wristband (like SVR/GWSR do) and a mark of the booking reference number will do instead of getting "an additional ticket"

    On the loco side, the 7F was probably my star of the show yesterday but everything else also sounded great.

    I really hope the gala has landed a profit for the MHR team though. Back for more again today (call that commitment or whatever )
     
  17. gricerdon

    gricerdon Well-Known Member

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    We had wrist bands and that was it. No ticket checks on train at all
     
  18. Andy B

    Andy B Member

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    Not having an insiders knowledge of the mhr decisions on pricing, but with my several years Experience of putting on a gala, I find it diffulcult to see how £40 advance and £45 on the day can be justified, yes I did drive 2 hours and paid the full fare by I know several people who chose not to go due to the cost and also a perceived lack of star guests. It’s very difficult to get pricing correct as they will have worked out roughly how many they need to carry to cover costs. But to put into comparison, the gwsr gala (In which I have involvement) will have 9 std gauge steam plus the narrow gauge steam and we’re asking £31 for advance online tickets. .
     
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  19. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Part of the furniture

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    Which to me would seem to cheap in the current climate, but hope it works out for you.
    Swanage Diesel Gala is £40 on the day with 6 visitors (& 2 residents) although of course 5 will be, or already have, arrived by rail movements. Only real price discussion I have seen about that on other (mainly diesel) forums is if they will get a priv discount or not. It is of course only £15 more than a day rover and the MHR price is only £21 more for the gala compared to a normal day rover for a lot more trains and locos in steam.
    I can not attend as my wife had a thyroidectomy on Thursday and I am nurse, general gofer and chauffeur at the moment as she keeps needing to go back to the hospital for checks. But I would have gone as I would find an 8F and a 28xx way more interesting than say SNG and Lady of Legend at the SVR Gala. Proves you can't hope to please everyone.
     
  20. Wagoniester

    Wagoniester Member

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    I think "star guest" is a very difficult thing to define, and I'm sure as nice as it would be to have something like tornado etc. All the time the novelty would wear off fast, so what would replace it?

    A themed gala such as this heavy goods-centric one I think is just as good (in my eyes better.) The 8F to my knowledge doesn't go out from GC very often (when was its last foray away?) As Gladiator says above, I too prefer the visits of locos from other lines over big names as its is a chance to see a wide variety of classes and/or numbers come together in places they don't usually appear.

    Again, my opinion is that as costs rise we will need to get used to what some may perceive as 'small-scale' galas rather than ones scoring big names all the time.
     
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