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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

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

  1. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Part of the furniture Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

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    It is a shame, I wonder if the move from using volunteers to outsourced catering knocked out the profit?
     
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  2. Snifter

    Snifter Part of the furniture

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    Moving on, I wonder if any externally engaged HR consultants and legal advisors have managed to bank their sizeable cheques ? We live in the time of Covid,,,,, Carrying On Vexation, Irrespective of Debt.
     
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  3. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

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    Indeed. there are a few questions asked by Chris Pratt's post which need answering. He referred to to inaccuracies.
     
  4. Bayard

    Bayard Part of the furniture

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    They don't need to be an attraction, just not be a detraction. In any case, the WSR has the whole of the formerly double-track BL to NF section to store such things out of sight of normal operations and away from the salt winds blowing in from the sea.
    In any case, it's only "gricers, gunzills and foamers" that mind about such things as a line of unrestored wagons. After all, if passengers were to look out of the opposite side of the train, they could feast their eyes on the period piece that is Morrison's supermarket and its car park.
     
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  5. richards

    richards Well-Known Member

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    Or they couldn't get enough volunteers to run it?
     
  6. ikcdab

    ikcdab Well-Known Member

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    Or Butlins or Dunster sewerage works. But that's all in the last mile. The previous GM made a conscious effort not to have lines of unrestored stock and a lot was removed. The bits remaining at Dunster are the last. The other 24 or so miles are pretty clear of unrestored stock, much better than some other railways. One of the issues is vandalism, stock needs to stored securely. I'm not sure that the line BL to NF does that. Now, if we ever get the Peterborough shed, then it's a different matter.
    Ian Coleby
     
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  7. ikcdab

    ikcdab Well-Known Member

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    Just to knock this one on the head. It was a totally volunteer outfit until approx 2017. When the main organiser decided to leave with very short notice, we had little choice but to contract out the main kitchen work just to keep the show on the road. And I think that all agree that the result was an improvement. However, all the other general waiting and bar staff etc remained volunteers.
    And I think (correct me if I'm wrong) that the gala QB services remained totally volunteer run.
    Ian Coleby
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2021
  8. richards

    richards Well-Known Member

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    Are you offering to do any of this?

    Contacting film companies or potential advertisers could be done from anywhere, so your location isn't important.

    You need to ask *why* the Bluebell (or NYMR) gets all those filming jobs or *why* filming companies are happy to use Mark 1's for a 1940s film. Until you know, you'll be wasting your time contacting them, particularly if the location in question is much further away from the film company, doesn't have much experience of handling filming assignments or providing the necessary space, resources and security required.

    There is also the issue of priorities. Where best should the railway spend its money and time. Some activities - like wagon restoration - will be further down this list, as they have little direct or indirect impact on the railway's overall income. It therefore needs a teams of dedicated volunteers with their own fundraising capabilities. But they will obviously have a limit to their capabilities and capacity.

    Richard
     
  9. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Part of the furniture Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

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    That may of been what led them to make the decision or maybe not, but, the point I was making was that outsourcing the catering services had possibly made it unprofitable.
     
  10. Railpassion

    Railpassion New Member

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    Wagons etc are a side issue.
    The railway cannot use its main station for the entire summer season at a time when it desperately needs income. Covid has been a huge difficulty but it's clear that the station closure crisis is the WSR's own creation.
    What I'm reading in the press statements from the Plc is a failure to take responsibility. The Bailey reforms should be seen as a lifebelt but the Plc think they are 'waving, not drowning'.
     
  11. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I’d suggest that it revealed flaws in the business plan. I organise events for my church, and the margin between success and failure worries me at the best of times. I know they’d be loss makers if we had to pay staff.


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  12. toplight

    toplight Well-Known Member

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    The thing with the level crossing. If the railway is in financial difficulties and can't run and generate income because of Covid, would it not have made more sense to just delay doing the job at all for now until more stable times or at least insist that the council funds and manages it using their own paid full time staff.
     
  13. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Part of the furniture Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

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    I think it’s the same as the WSR business plan. Non existent!!!
     
  14. richards

    richards Well-Known Member

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    But if they didn't have a choice, what then?
     
  15. richards

    richards Well-Known Member

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    Organising events for the general public is inherently unpredictable. Sometimes, there just isn't enough business to make it work out, due to location, competition or whatever. But it's worth giving it a try and then reviewing it regularly.
     
  16. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

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    I mainly remember two bits of the Quantock Belle story from this thread (or possibly the previous thread): that a lot of cash was spent rearranging the layout of one vehicle and thereby making it less practical for the people working in it; and that one of the QB volunteers who was a prominent contributor to this forum seemed to have been sacked from that role. If either of those memories is wrong, someone please put us right.
     
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  17. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    Good question. But if we assume a premium service on a heritage railway is run to generate income to support the main operation while also covering its long run (e.g. overhaul) costs, a business model wholly reliant on volunteers suggests a dangerous vulnerability.

    Reflecting on previous discussions about the QB, that rather confirms to me that it operates in a dangerous middle ground, where it is not “special” enough to command a serious premium, but that without such a premium it will struggle to generate a return.

    My own reaction is to wonder what the prices would need to be set at to make a return using paid staff, and what impact that would have on what is offered to justify the revised pricing.

    None of the above considers any complications induced by the current corporate structures on the WSR.


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  18. ikcdab

    ikcdab Well-Known Member

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    The generator coach was reorganised by the WSRA, if that's what you mean. I seem to remember it was an unpopular move.
    Wrt the individual, we are getting into dangerous water talking about individuals. Whether he was sacked or resigned is not a subject to be discussed here. Suffice to say there were disagreements and he left with very short notice. The service had to be rebuilt quickly.
    Ian
     
  19. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    It’s a long time ago it was discussed, but I seem to recall it only had about fifty-odd seats at about £50 a time. £2500 max gross income even if you ran at 100% occupancy, to do a 40 mile round trip that probably costs about £40/mile in haulage. Never mind paid staff, there is hardly any margin in that to even pay for the ingredients, never mind any business costs (marketing etc).

    Over that length of line, you’ve got to make it both more special (so you can charge £75 or so) and have about a hundred seats (to allow for less than 100% occupancy). Anything less would struggle even to cover its marginal costs, never mind making a substantial contribution to the bottom line. Or else make it a portion on a service train - maybe if you lunchtime departure is quiet anyway, just run two coaches and attach a four coach dining train. But as a stand-alone it was pretty marginal at best.

    Tom
     
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  20. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Well-Known Member

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    And I think many forget that Heritage lines need to make money to have the business to be viable.
    Maybe Covid has made this worse as when it gets openly reported in the media that someone like Lufthansa was loosing 1 Million euro per hour last year but are still happily operating, or more relevant Heritage Lines being awarded what at first glance appear to be "large" government grants it very easy to loose sight of the P&L sheet. Just because it may have a high volunteer content each part of the business needs to show a return or there is little point in doing it in the first place.
     

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