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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

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

  1. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    given the movement has recent experience , Llangollen railway was a going concern until a new set of directors were appointed , took stock and realised that donations or trading out was not an option and made the boldest of decisions to appoint administrators . I suspect the risk of personal liability whilst trading insolvent may also have provided insight

    Now I'm not saying the WSR is not a going concern nor and to stress am I saying it is trading insolvent , however a board change may well trigger a similar conclusion once the true state of affairs is investigated.

    The other analogy is Football and a team in the relegation zone . A change of manager can work wonders and how often do we see it . In the WSR sense you could suggest the defence is letting in too many own goals and the strikers can't score , whilst the Midfield (Volunteers) try and keep the team going .

    Under your argument we may never know whether a new Chair and board , along with fresh positioning of the appeal may yield a far more successful response and a better future for the WSR. What has the WSR to lose by trying ?
     
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  2. Miff

    Miff Well-Known Member Friend

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    That assumes capable candidates are waiting in the wings. Are they?
     
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  3. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    which is a fair point and given the action taken against those who stood for the WSRRT , with the current incumbents in charge , those willing to join is I suspect a short list . There is of course a very capable board member who has heritage rescue on their CV and has the gravitas to grab the WSR and take it to safety
     
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  4. gwilialan

    gwilialan Part of the furniture

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    Which is exactly the way many large construction projects are managed and paid for. 'Staged Payments' can include an up-front payment for mobilisation costs and initial materials acquisitions but this expenditure is carefully examined when the first progress target payment becomes due. Problems that arise can be dealt with promptly at the next monthly (?) staged payment approval meeting; (no waiting to argue at the end of the job!) additions, variations and reductions can also be dealt with similarly and, as a bonus, regular contact between the Client and the Contractor often leads to problems being resolved by mutual agreement rather than legal fights at the end.
    All you need is a competent Contractor, a good Project Manager and a realistic Client. - Oh well, two out of three 'aint bad :rolleyes:
     
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  5. ikcdab

    ikcdab Well-Known Member

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    Of course that's true, but at the time, eviction was not on the cards, indeed I had signed the 50 year lease.
    As far as the steam trust are concerned, we cannot fulfill our objectives if the railway ceases to operate. Therefore we can do a wide range of things to ensure that.
    As was said, each charity's objectives are different.
    Ian C
     
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  6. D1039

    D1039 Well-Known Member

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    From what I've read there's a reason for that and it's non-WSR specific. For Cultural Recovery Fund the railway charities applied but the grant was paid to/for railway PLCs rather than the railway charities that applied, as an in extremis measure due to the pandemic. The grant was for specific purposes, I have to hand the SVR's announcement:



    Patrick
     
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  7. gwilialan

    gwilialan Part of the furniture

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    I would suggest that it is the current management team that have exacerbated the problems and doubts by their various actions or inaction.

    It is not necessarily the current management team that has to be kept, It is the current management structure that needs to be kept to ensure some short term stability. That certainly does not necessarily include the current management personnel that make up that team.
     
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  8. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    True, but the loco agreement was shorter than that - only another nine years. So you are essentially asking why a charity can't put in an investment for track that will likely last 50 - 100 years when it only has nine years more available to run its loco on the said track - at least without signing a new agreement.

    If you pursue the route you are suggesting to its logical end, in essence why stop at track? Why not make the case for any operational cost that the railway incurs? You would be asking the S&DJRT to stop being focused on their specific bit of history, and instead become - yet another - general support charity for the WSR. (And why not, by the same token, make the DEPG do the same - the more the merrier!)

    We have in any case discussed several times on this and other threads the symbiotic relationship between loco owners and railway operators: in essence, loco owners tend to subsidise their locos, i.e. provide them at less than the real cost; but in exchange they get access to the railway (infrastructure and operating capability). So you might want to think quite carefully before going down the route of "loco owners should pay for infrastructure because otherwise they can't operate their loco". The direct counter measure would be "in that case, railway companies should pay the true cost of the locos they hire"!

    Tom
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2021
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  9. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Part of the furniture Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

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    Okay, why can only this present management guide the railway through?

    Personally, I’d of thought that the lack of donations to the appeal would set alarm bells ringing. This is further amplified by the lack of any attempt to try and stimulate the appeal donations. It’s pretty basic stuff, general consensus is that donators would like to know what their money is going towards yet, there has been no attempt to explain this. It’s comes across as they have no idea what to do to try and resolve this so have defaulted to doing nothing. That is poor management and if they cannot find a way to improve the poor performance of the appeal so far, why would anyone then feel these are the people to turn it round?

    Plenty of business in trouble appoint a new board to guide them through their troubles and I fail to see why the WSR are unique in this respect.

    I’m sorry to say that my personal view is based on current performance, I have zero confidence in the current board’s ability to deliver and guide the WSR through its darkest hour, in fact I’d liken backing the board to turkeys voting for Christmas.
     
  10. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    Time being of the essence, I’m somewhat surprised that this level of crisis fundraising has been kicked off so abruptly. While I accept that the rejection of the grant application will have precipitated this, there is a chain of business and commercial decisions that have led to what appears to be a crisis. Those are decisions that were made under the existing leadership, which means that asking informed donors to trust them as the only way to fix the problem is like trusting Chris Grayling to fix post Brexit channel ferries, as he’d created the mess.

    More generally, I get no sense of strategy or urgency from the board, but knee jerk lurches from one crisis to another, plugging holes in the dyke rather than conveying a sense of what a future might look like. That is compounded by the time that’s been spent dealing with unspecified issues leading to volunteers passes being removed. As HR disputes are always time consuming and a distraction from the core operation of a business, I can’t but wonder at the choices of priorities being made. And that’s after discounting the strong suspicion of score settling.

    The case for the existing leadership being the only show in town is weak, because it does nothing but feed on the fear of chaos without. It would be good to get a positive sense of communication, selling vision and purpose, and embedded in everything that’s done - not just ad hoc spurts of publicity wrapped in “confidentiality”. Otherwise, it starts to look like Trump saying “I’m the only one to fix this mess”. On January 7th.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  11. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    The problem though is, there is no one now willing to take that chance, the Authoritarian regime that is the PLC , Have ensured that there is no threat to their hold on power, and the moment even a hint, appears they ensure it is silenced, take this forum for example, we are told the occupants of the PLC bunker don't look at it, the the moment any negativity shows , the loyal stormtroopers wade in, its telling that one seems to have , or be shown to have concern for the mental well being of the Board of the PLC, Yet shows scant regard for the same of those who have lost their hobby, been thrown out of the railway, they gave years to, if that's not rule by fear, what is, its the North Korea model of railway preservation, " the dear leader sees all, hears all, "
    And am i reading "Line is clear's " assertion right, that should the railway be forced to close the best option would be a cycle track, Sounds like if we can't have it, no one can, He's missing the local political angle, there would be votes for any councillor who gets behind the branch, returning to the network, if the PLC were to fail, the local MP, would also see votes in it for him, The council could decide it needs rid of the leasehold, and the safest way, would be to allow central government to fund its return to the network, the local camber of commerce for one would be very vocally in favour of putting minehead back on the railway map.
     
  12. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    Ian

    Three quesions from a Trust member rather concerned by the wooliness of your statement.

    (1) Given that there has been no relaying (of either bullhead or the catchpoint) at Blue Anchor, where are these donated (past tense) funds presently held?

    (2) By the WSRHT or WSR plc?

    (3) How are they protected from insolvency of the WSR plc?

    Robin

    Always good for a laugh. Would that be the same as insisting that only Lord Cardigan could lead the Light Brigade, or Captain Smith the only person who could lead the crew of RMS Titanic?

    Competence, not time, is of the very essence.
     
  13. Lineisclear

    Lineisclear Member

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    It doesn't matter how much posters on here rail against their perception of management failings there 's no .
    I wasn't ruling out that option for all the positive reasons Martin suggests. However the £500million allocated by Government for reversing Beeching is a relative drop in the Ocean that is not going to fund more than a few schemes from the many that have already been proposed. No doubt there would be political brownie points in restoring the line to the national network but HM Treasury would want to be confident that it wouldn't continue to be drain on the public purse. As often as not the cost of upgrading track, infrastructure and signalling systems to allow
    attractive line speeds is under estimated. As my original post said the question would be is there sufficient traffic demand to justify the investment?
    The point was not that a cycle track is the best option but, given the success of similar schemes in tourist areas, it would be naive to ignore that possible alternative use.
     
  14. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Thank you for your reply, Would it be a drain? lets say for example GWR were to be awarded the franchise and decided on a Bristol TM to Minehead service, and promoted it as a bucket and spade destination, with suitably discounted fairs from stations along the route as far as Taunton, Mineheads got to be better than Weston, as a sea side destination, and there is also the prospect, if the turntable remains, or the triangle, for charters from Vintage trains, or West coast, having Minehead as an designation of course the line speed would be higher that the present, and Network rail would most likily have to do a lot of improvements and relaying but they have the machinery to do it in a very short time.
     
  15. Lineisclear

    Lineisclear Member

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    Sorry about the truncated post. It was interrupted by one of the most sophisticated scams I've ever come across involving a look alike highly plausible bank which fortunately tried pushing its luck beyond the point of initial credibility.
    Anyway the observation was that it doesn't matter how much posters on here rail against their perception of management shortcomings. Given the shareholding structure of the PLC there appears to be no realistic means by which disapproving shareholders can force a change of direction or directors (or both) and certainly not in the short term.
     
  16. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    I strongly suspect any moves towards returning Minehead to the big railway could only be predicated on substantial housing development along the route. The furore this would inevitably produce locally doesn't exactly overtax the imagination.
     
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  17. Lineisclear

    Lineisclear Member

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  18. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Part of the furniture Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

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    I think you were trying to say it doesn’t matter what the posters on here think of the management, actually I agree.

    However, the appeal total shows it’s also the majority public opinion, which should matter as they are the ones expected to donate. If the board doesn’t have the donators confidence the appeal will fail, something that they seem to be ignoring.

    I notice you chose not to answer my question about if this was a NYMR appeal would you be happy with how it’s going or being run. I think we both know the answer….
     
  19. D1039

    D1039 Well-Known Member

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    In terms of railway economics the railway links Bristol (population 693,000) and Weston-super-mare 83,641. There’s all year round traffic from Weston to Bristol for commuting and leisure. There’s intermediate commuting traffic from Nailsea and Yatton.

    Taunton is 60,479 and Minehead 12,000. It would be a drain.

    Patrick
     
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  20. Paulthehitch

    Paulthehitch Member

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    Sorry Martin but it seems as if W.I.B.N. is raising its ugly little head again.
     

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