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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

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

  1. Blackdown Boy

    Blackdown Boy New Member

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    The only place to see some real common sense. I recommend it.
     
  2. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    There is a school of thought which has a number of proponents , that for the long term good of the preservation movement , a railway needs to fall

    I appreciate a little controversial but the logic is the movement has been bailed out in times of need it has become addicted to this. A major failure would trigger a structural reappraisal that enables a more sustainable long term future that really is required

    whether you agree is of course a topic for discussion
     
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  3. Bifur01

    Bifur01 Member

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    Jesus, this place has become quite the circlejerk.

    I’ve been reading this thread for months (as someone not connected with the WSR besides having visited a few times in the past, though not since maybe 2017) and of course agree that several decisions made on the WSR in the past year haven’t been up to scratch, but this is probably as much of an echo chamber as any WSR FB page is.

    It’s rather embarrassing when a WSR volunteer sticks their head above the parapet by posting on here and they’re bombarded with endless questions from endless individuals who do nothing but belittle their efforts, it must feel horrible, and will absolutely not encourage anyone to keep volunteering.

    Grow some empathy.
     
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  4. Bayard

    Bayard Well-Known Member

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    Your post is very much the zeitgeist. No-one must disagree with anyone, no criticism is valid, we must all be allowed to inhabit our own portable safe space.
    If people post things on here and other posters disagree with them and ask them to justify their views, why is that "belittling their efforts"? What efforts are we talking about, the effort to come on here, have an inaccurate and impolite rant and then say that they are going away and not even going to attempt to justify the abuse hurled at posters on here?
    If you are not just trolling, perhaps you could tell me what you find embarrassing about post 29129 for example.
     
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  5. Piggy

    Piggy Member

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    Surely, it's up to the wider membership of WSR to tell their board that the current holders of those posts are just not up to the job. " Just move aside and let other, more capable and experienced members show you how to do it" ....
     
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  6. Snifter

    Snifter Well-Known Member

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    I think the webcams at BL and WN show sufficient carriages to run an effective service including towing a diesel at the tail end in either direction. I don't know the state of the diesels but hope that both 33's and both Hymeks are fully serviceable. Whether it is cost effective is a good question but I am sure that a "determined and energetic" board would do their utmost to make the public aware of services being run. There are diesel fans out there otherwise we would never have a diesel gala. The DEPG may be open to a share of the revenues to spread the risk but that's for them to discuss and agree on. The shop and cafe at BL would have some trade instead of the current guarantee of zero, nil, nothing at present.

    I find the current efforts lack ambition and seem to just about tick the box marked "we tried". I don't know if the advertised burger van in the station car park turned up at MD last weekend but the cafe has a serving hatch. A "determined and energetic" board must surely have thought about using it and cutting out the middle man.

    Do we still lease out the pavement on which the ice cream concession sits ? Cancel the lease (legally and nicely) and bring it in house as someone else is eating our lunch.

    Elsewhere, businesses are trying everything to turn a dollar. I was on the golf course last weekend and the club sent out buggies selling everything from bacon rolls to chilled beers. Now there is a business doing everything possible to survive and recover. While pulling weeds is laudable, it does nothing to improve the cash situation if there's no paying public to see the end result. You may as well wire brush the rust off the rails.

    For the avoidance of doubt, I see the railway failing to do the obvious things and wonder if there is a hidden agenda that will end with "well, we tried but if it wasn't for Covid and people who disagreed with our approach, everything would be rosy" ? Some people see this as a real issue (as it would appear do 95% of other preserved lines) while others who now sit in a walled garden with total censorship and deny that there's a problem with not exploiting every opportunity. Time will tell.
     
  7. D1039

    D1039 Part of the furniture

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  8. alastair

    alastair Well-Known Member

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    You make excellent points. Also why on earth can't the shop, reader's halt and cafe at Minehead be open 7 days a week, staffed by a few of the 1000-odd volunteers who have been mentioned. Obviously (like every other retailer) a few Covid changes would be needed but is that not achievable? Combined with an eye-catching display of some sort on the platform to highlight why the railway cannot run trains, there could be scope for some good fundraising activity.

    It just seems completely crazy when the railway has a site right in the middle of town with hundreds of people walking past every hour for the station to be locked and barred with the exception of the special weekend events.
     
  9. nine elms fan

    nine elms fan Part of the furniture

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    And all those potential bacon sandwiches going to waste, now thats an offence in itself. :rolleyes:
     
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  10. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    While I agree with @Bayard about the zeitgeist, I also think @Bifur01 is entitled to his views on empathy. Where we are actively involved with and committed to an organisation, it can be very difficult to draw a line between criticism of how that organisation is being led and criticism of the organisation itself. I include within that the feelings of those who choose (legitimately, as the likes of @Steve Edge do) to try to work within existing structures to support the WSR rather than (as I freely admit that I do) choosing to stand back because of our profound concerns about supporting even indirectly the current manner of the leadership of the plc.

    Those of us who find the failure to complete work required to enable train running unconscionable, detest the evasiveness about the relationship of that incomplete work to the continued closure of the railway, are disgusted by the high handed manner of the plc's conduct over contracts in general and Washford in particular, and are more generally appalled at the way in which the current plc management are running the WSR, would do well to remember the impact our comments may have on those who, even vicariously, feel themselves insulted.
     
  11. Triumph 2500S

    Triumph 2500S Well-Known Member

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    A lot more reading but thank you Geoff for drawing it to our attention and a bigger one to Steve Edge for hosting it!
     
  12. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Resident of Nat Pres

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    I think until Covid the Railwaymans Arms on Bridgenorth station's proud boast was 'we never closed' how true this is I don't know, but even when the SVRs not running it's pubs are open and giving it a revenue stream, are the pubs at the East Lancs doing something similar?
    Is it really that difficult to open the shop and Cafe at Minehead to do something similar? Or is this just a shrug of the shoulders and 'it's to difficult?'
     
  13. echap

    echap New Member

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    Interesting that the news item about Salvage Hunters being at Minehead has now disappeared from Steve Edge's site. I am a little puzzled why.
     
  14. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    It could just be that a lot of people have looked at the evidence and come to the same conclusion about the behaviour of the PLC board.

    I find it ironic that you throw around accusations and then demand empathy. I am wondering where the empathy and support is for the organisations that have been evicted, the volunteers run off the railway etc etc. I don’t recall much empathy being shown towards Paul Whitehouse for example.

    I note you ignore the belittling of the S&DRT, of dissenting volunteers etc etc.

    As with respect, you can demand it all you like but you have to show it to get it back. Demanding empathy while refusing to show empathy is perverse.

    There is continuous conflation of volunteers with the PLC board. That somehow because you disagree with board you are somehow insulting all the volunteers on the line, their close relatives and their pets.

    The WSR, if it survives, will do so because of the efforts of its volunteers and donors. It will not be because of the board. In fact, if the WSR survives, it will be despite the board.

    What concerns me long term is that the board and their supporters will learn the wrong lessons from survival, (they show no interest in learning or changing their approach) and will treat it as validation of their approach to managing people, groups and the railway. The S&DRT, the volunteers run off line etc, will not be the last but will in fact simply be the first of many.

    In short, like the WSR, dislike the PLC board.
     
  15. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    You may want to consider that @Bifur01 is a neutral in this, observing how he finds this discussion from outside. I think this post - while I agree with it's substance - is a tad harsh as a response to his post.
     
  16. gwilialan

    gwilialan Well-Known Member

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    If nothing else is happening a few tables on the platform would help with distancing and people might even enjoy the scenery...
     
  17. Maunsell907

    Maunsell907 Member

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    I am in no way involved with any decisions wrt the WSR Plc.

    However a few general observations. ( They are obvious, indeed to some they
    may fall into the 'teaching how to suck eggs' category; if so apologies )

    There is I suspect very little cash available ( other than by increased borrowings )

    Under such constraints any activity must as an absolute minimum cover the
    marginal costs associated with that activity. In reality it needs to cover at
    least a share of the PLC 's fixed overhead ( if it does not it runs a significant
    risk of diverting resources: oppurtunity costs )

    NB. Even if an activity can be planned and exercised involving volunteers,
    there will inevitably be some marginal cost attached.

    AFAIK the Plc is between a rock and a hard place. ie there may be , if there
    are continuing donations, sufficient funds to get through to March 2021.
    If the Railway increases its operations it might jeopardise that position.

    Under such circumstances: a very cautious approach is appropriate.

    If on the other hand there is no hope of getting through until March
    2021 then a risk has to be taken ( I surmise a position some charities,
    including some Heritage Railways find themselves in. )

    Based on the last Plc AGM I was very impressed by the FO, who
    appeared to have a very tight grasp wrt cash flow. I find this in
    such difficult times reassuring.

    Whilst I recognise that many posts on this forum are very concerned
    about past management errors, lack of current information etc the
    reality is "we are where we are" and we must hope that the current
    Plc management can navigate their way through what appears to
    be a financial fog.

    I know it's difficult, everybody likes a metaphorical dart board,
    , but demanding answers to open questions, throwing abuse etc
    is entirely counterproductive. If people cannot support the WSR
    then perhaps another charity can benefit from their help and
    enthusiasm.

    Michael Rowe
     
  18. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Hi Michael, noted. if I may, a few thoughts which immediately leapt to mind on reading your points:

    But surely this is true for all heritage railways? Given the £300k "profit" announced at the beginning of the year, it's hard to say that the WSR was in any more of a parlous immediate financial position than any other heritage railway at the beginning of lockdown. The GWSR had a £250k landslip bill to pay when we stopped running trains.

    I don't understand why a particular activity needs to cover overhead costs as well. Surely by their very nature those costs exist even if you do nothing? So in practice, in the short term, anything which makes any inroad into that deficit is good, even if it doesn't cover all of it? Covering the costs of the activity itself is of course desirable, although there are other considerations - competency comes to mind. It might well be worth the cost of running a few trains to keep everyone current and only break even or make a small loss, as that could still be better than trying to re-write all your competency rules next March when everyone's "forgotten" how to do their jobs (in the eyes of the ORR etc.)

    Generally the little abuse I've seen on this thread has either been moderated out of existence, condemned by people of all sides, or aimed at those criticising management rather than in the other direction, where there tends to be a higher proportion of substantive points rather than insults.

    This is a dangerous attitude to have in my view, and it's not the first time I've seen it expressed either. Of course you can't please all of the people all of the time, but given the numbers of people concerned, you may regret telling so many people to contribute to another heritage railway - they may well do just that. How many volunteers was it that signed that petition - 150, 200? That's a lot of volunteers to lose.
     
  19. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    Yes it is.

    But here is the thing, criticism of the PLC board is not belittling the work of volunteers. It isn’t wanting to see the WSR fail. It is akin to the arguments that authoritarian governments trot out that criticism of the government is unpatriotic. Being critical is also part of being patriotic. You can support the WSR, want to see it survive and flourish, appreciate the efforts of the volunteers, and still be critical of the board.

    If people wanted the WSR to fail then I think most people would say Not my monkeys, not my circus.

    Conflating criticism of the board with criticism of volunteers is an emotive strawman argument aimed to stifle criticism.
     
  20. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    In some cases yes, but in others I do get a sense that there is genuine feeling and hurt behind it. I think we ought to be mindful of that, even if we do think it's misplaced.
     
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