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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by gwr4090, Nov 15, 2007.

  1. Mike Birch

    Mike Birch New Member

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    And many other challenges too - it was good to see the WSR represented at the HRA Ministerial meeting in Westminster yesterday https://www.facebook.com/179809878728365/posts/3680132245362760/
     
  2. Jim O'Brien

    Jim O'Brien New Member

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    A possibly relevant factor. Please remember that a significant proportion of the fare-paying visitors who visit heritage railways, are of the older generation, who regard themselves as fortunate to have the free time and the money to support heritage railways by visits and photography. Unfortunately those in the 60 to 80 bracket, and even more so those of us over 80 years, including myself, are being advised to keep away from possible contact with confined spaces holding large numbers of people, to avoid infection. The older we get, the more vulnerable we are, it seems. and life is precious.

    So I am avoiding the full passenger aircraft from Inverness to Bristol (85 minutes) this year, and the busy trains from Moray to Taunton (14 hours) too, in the hope of being here to make the trip in future years, after the future life-saving vaccine has been discovered. I would like to be able to drive down, but I don't enjoy the A9, M74, the M6 and the M5 for 15 hours any more.

    It seems that the airlines are cancelling many future flights because of a lack of passengers. Sadly, FlyBe of Exeter have ceased operations, and London commuters are finding that they can actually board a train at peak times, and find a seat waiting for them.

    So heritage railways may find the fare box takings much reduced this year. I can only hope that most survive to be here in the future,


    Jim O'Brien
     
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  3. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Forget the passengers, start worrying about the volunteers! An even higher proportion of volunteers are in that age bracket, and if the WSR is anything like the GWSR you only need a few people to suddenly disappear at the same time before you start noticing holes in your rosters.
     
  4. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    I would agree. Ironically, for once I actually booked my SSG accommodation well in advance <g>, yet now instead of just wondering what the weather might be like at the end of April I have to consider whether (a) I will be in a fit state to travel or (b) will it actually be safe - or even posssible - to travel at all?
     
  5. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    I can't speak for the recent situation, but certainly that was a common observation a few years ago. A common occurrence then was for people to come into the shop to 'pass the time' while waiting for a train (usually to MD). You would tell them about the Museum, and they might express interest, until they discovered that (a) they had to pay an admission fee (£2 IIRC) and (b) it needed a reasonable length of time to see around it all properly and get 'value for money', which they weren't going to fit into the 10-15 minutes waiting for the train. They might talk about going round it when they came back, but I'm not sure that many ever did. Without being unkind to the good folk of Washford village, but apart from (say) the station + S&DRT (for the time being), the pub(s) or Cleeve Abbey, what is there to attract them to come to WD as a visitor destination?
     
  6. Maunsell907

    Maunsell907 Well-Known Member

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    May 5 2017 ( No. 4849 ) You, Andy wrote " Money for improvements from unallocated reserves " and
    later "speculate to accumulate "

    Michael Rowe (4855) wrote "I think if you look at the PLC's balance sheet and P&L you will appreciate
    there are no unallocated reserves" ( this referred to the published 2016 accounts.

    You replied (4857) "Of course you have more knowledge than me about the WSR. I've only been
    around a short time "

    I interpreted this as implying you were not familiar with Company Accounts ?

    The decline in PLC cash reserves since 2015 has been well documented , including on this forum.


    Jan 2018 Rebudgetting exercise. Even with an increase in pax by 5% best position year end
    break even.
    March 2018 FD stated that " with careful management cash just held out until operating
    season " ( In practice I suspect by judicious cash control )
    2018 Season. Pax Shortfall against budget of c.5%.
    Result : Insufficient cash to cover winter overheads.

    ( I do not know exact figures as I was not involved after the January budget exercise. )

    The actions of the Chairman undoubtedly saved the Plc from running out of cash. You
    can question whether selling 4110, borrowing against 7828 etc was appropriate but that
    action was required is unarguable. (Personally I can see scant alternatives as cash need was
    urgent )

    Subsequent to this the Auditors would not AFAIK sign off the accounts as representing a "going concern "
    As a very concerned shareholder, with the Chairman's knowledge,
    I communicated with the Auditors. Essentially they said "we are waiting for the
    operating season to commence." As is well known, the AGM was delayed six months,,
    and the accounts were signed off, albeit with a statement (twice) to the effect that the
    Auditors still had concerns wrt the PLC being a 'going concern '.

    The Railway has it appears also weathered this winters shut although the shortfall
    against budget for the Santas cannot have made life easy.

    I, as with many others found the statement concerning the S&D an appalling piece
    of Public Relations. I find the occasional misleading snippets of financial information
    irritating, I am concerned at the as of yet apparent lack of both vision or planning.
    But do not forget the Chairman saved the Railway ( as my good friend Rodders posted
    some time past "he's the only game in town ")

    It is now time for him to revert to a traditional Chair role. There is a new General Manager
    appointed ( one with an excellent history with the WSR and experience with the 'big'
    Railway. ) He is in the fortunate position that he will be able to appoint his own CME and
    Head of Infrastructure.

    I do hope that all of you who post on this Forum have the best interests of the WSR at
    heart and will support the new management team. It is the Railway that matters.

    There has been too much nastiness, not helped by misinformation.

    And referring to a recent slur my only current involvement with the Railway is as a TTI,
    I shall be at the Guards/TTI training day Saturday week. In my octogenarian year I
    look forward to another operating season and hope under new management the Railway
    can adapt to changing market conditions.

    Michael Rowe
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2020
  7. jnc

    jnc Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the background; so my vague recollection that his connection is very recent is somewhat incorrect.

    I do hope that the concerns expressed in a prior post (apparently now-deleted) about him don't prove to be prescient. The WSR could really use a break, and a period of peace and quiet.

    Noel

    PS: It was in fact still there, I just couldn't find it when I looked for it; just ran across it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2020
  8. Keith Sims

    Keith Sims Member

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    Having read many pages of comment we have decided that it is time for a different approach! Direct action! We have today posted letters to the WSR board members. Keith and Joyce Sims
     
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  9. Steamage

    Steamage Member

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    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence? ;-)
     
  10. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    An undeniably correct statement.
     
  11. AnthonyTrains2017

    AnthonyTrains2017 Member

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    Ive been getting steam fix at south devon and dartmouth railways recently can not wait till my local line is back open.
     
  12. Steamage

    Steamage Member

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    Why not pop into the L&B at Woody Bay instead? Not far from Minhead, IIRC?
     
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  13. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Part of the furniture

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    Thank you for pulling me up on a one word error I made in 2017, I’ve copied the post I made below to put the context around it. I did indeed say “Money for Improvements from Unallocated reserves”. What I should have said is “Money for improvements from Unallocated Donations (to the PLC) held in reserves” I’m not sure that demonstrates that I don’t know about company accounts as you claim? I re-read my post with some interest, especially the last paragraph. Regarding the PLC just sitting back and waiting for revenue from more customers and not looking at other ways of gaining revenue.

    Post #4849, 5th May 2017, Andy Norman: “Whilst I agree that the line needs maintenance I also agree with Robin’s thoughts regarding pushing all things forward together not sitting back waiting for more customers to come in by themselves to pay for improvements. I don’t know the WSR business model so only have an opinion but a good business model would fund things this way and I would expect the WSR’s to follow this rationale.

    For the WSR or any other preserved railway to have a sustainable ongoing future the normal annual income needs to cover and be used to keep what there is going, this includes of course the track and infrastructure maintained to the required standard ongoing, in other words the income must keep up with the maintenance otherwise you are going to over stretch the business model and burn the reserves until you go bust.

    Money for improvements, new loops, etc. needs to come from either unallocated reserves, fund raising, share issues or donations as one off costs, the ongoing maintenance then dropping into the overall ‘on costs’ of the business so these projects don’t get done at the expense of maintaining the track or anything else but also happen rather than wait for more income first, the phrase ‘speculate to accumulate’ comes to mind.

    As has been said pushing all elements forward together not one at the expense of another, if we sit back and wait for more customers to arrive to pay for upgrades it will be a long wait. I believe the PLC is planning a better fund raising capacity for the WSR from what little I know, this is the way forward to take the WSR to the next step. It then leaves the question of in what order do we improve the railway as there is huge potential currently, this debate needs people to consider how the Southern Gateway Project is structured, its the key to the future currently.”


    In your next comment you say:

    “You replied (meaning Andy Norman) (4857) "Of course you have more knowledge than me about the WSR. I've only been around a short time".

    I interpreted this as implying you were not familiar with Company Accounts ?


    Again I'm not sure that demonstrates I don't know much about company accounts. Indeed in 2017 I did not know much about the PLC’s accounts. As I was clear in my recent post my close knowledge of the PLC’s Accounts was during the HPC external audit on the PLC, its finances and its governance, (including its HR Policies ironically) during Sept, Oct & Nov 2018 which was a month before the current PLC Chairman began to state the PLC was near bankrupt. As you correctly point out I did not know much about the PLC’s accounts in 2017 because I agree then I didn’t my involvement was a year later.

    Your last point refers to somebody who seems to have said your only involvement with the WSR is as a TTI only. I didn’t see the post as I must have missed it so can’t comment other than to say that’s unfair to you. You have as many know also been a part of the WSR Leadership during the last 5-6 years and seen first-hand its decline.
     
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  14. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    I should have been clearer and made clear that I meant between BL and Minehead.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
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  15. jma1009

    jma1009 Well-Known Member

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    Ian Coleby, long serving trustee of the WSSRT, and others, might like to enlighten us as to how they, the WSSRT could give a 'free and gratis' donation to the WSR PLC in January, after receiving HLF of some £40,000. I make no aspersions; I would just like to know from Ian Coleby and the WSSRT what all this was about.

    Cheers,

    Julian
     
  16. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    One presumes that was the donations that the WSSRT collected for the track renewal fund no? Assuming so, given they were donated to the Trust with that intention, it seems quite proper.
     
  17. Mike Birch

    Mike Birch New Member

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    https://www.facebook.com/144955566307085/posts/609580006511303/

    "The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust Chairman, Chris Austin, presenting the West Somerset Railway Chairman, Jonathan Jones-Pratt, with a cheque for £35,000 as a contribution towards the WSR Track Appeal. The Trust has to date donated over £40,000. The contribution is for the purchase of heritage track components, particularly for Blue Anchor and falls within the WSSRT objects and Powers".
     
  18. AnthonyTrains2017

    AnthonyTrains2017 Member

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  19. DragonHandler

    DragonHandler Well-Known Member

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    The time has come for me to "unwatch" this thread.
    In my opinion the postings over the past few days have become tedious, repetitive and boring.

    Over the past few months I have formed the view that there are some here that appear to take delight in presenting the WSR in a negative way, this may not be their intention but it's how quite a lot of the postings here come across to me.
     
  20. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Part of the furniture

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    I think the WSR without help from others is doing a pretty good job of presenting itself in a negative way.
     

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