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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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    Ah I see, that does make more sense now. Yes it’s a difficult one but something needs to change, the railway will fail unless so.
     
  2. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    And that is why dispite a lot of concern being shown, there is a very real chance that the WSR, will follow the Llangollen Railway into Receivership
     
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  3. Lineisclear

    Lineisclear Member

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    Maybe I'm hopelessly over optimistic but I don't believe that's a foregone conclusion. I have more faith than others in the collective ability of the board and its advisers to craft a viable future. It may well be very different, and painful for some, but far better than a collapse into insolvency.
     
  4. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Part of the furniture Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

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    I wish I shared your optimism, based on what we have seen so far it doesn’t seem that is going to be the answer, although if they raised their game I might have a different view.

    Fact is rather than coming up with something innovative, they cannot even tell us what the money is actually for. Maybe if that was the other way round there would be more support.

    Thing is, I’m not sure they will listen to anyone, they rejected your recommendations because of cost grounds which do not actually exist, more just a barrier put up to keep control. It’s a shame as I certainly do not want to see the railway go bust, increasingly the board actions (or lack of) make that seem the most likely scenario. I would be happy to be proven wrong though.
     
  5. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    As a scientist by original training and a lawyer by long experience, I have an abiding attraction to evidence-based judgment, and I regret to say that the evidence I can see all points to that being a hopelessly optimistic assessment.

    I hope I’m wrong.
     
  6. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Well-Known Member

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    Whatever the WSR end game is it will not be as returning to the National Network. Franchising is dead, the DfT would have zero interest in investing the money unless there was a new town built along the line and even then I suspect the Treasury would have a view. There is after all the 28 bus that connects Minehead and most of the line to the National Network at Taunton.
     
  7. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    On the basis of the evidence - hopelessly over optimistic.

    I struggle think of a single piece of evidence that supports having confidence in the present board.
     
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  8. Snifter

    Snifter Part of the furniture

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    They reckoned your proposal (which I and others broadly supported) would cost a 6 figure sum to implement. I presume you were as surprised as everyone else. Is your faith based on anything substantive or on simply wishing for the best ?
     
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  9. 61624

    61624 Well-Known Member

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    Minehead could be promoted as a bucket and spade destination for a few weeks of the year, but what about the rest of the year? It's a non-starter. Minehead is a small town with a population of about 12,000 and there are n significant satellite populations around it. Where will the day to day traffic come from? Once you subtract the majority of people who work at or close to home, then subtract from what's left the ones who prefer to use their cars the number left is vanishingly small.
     
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  10. Railpassion

    Railpassion New Member

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    I presume a micro-franchise concession is being planned in the event of failure. Will JJP holdings assume the concession on behalf of Somerset CC and GBR?
     
  11. John Palmer

    John Palmer Member

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    John Bailey/@Lineisclear enjoys the advantage denied to most posters on this thread of having actually met the individuals who are running the WSR plc and consequently being in a position to assess their competence through his interactions with them. He doesn't come across to me as someone who would allow such an assessment to be unduly influenced by excessive optimism so there nust be other factors on which he bases his belief that the present WSR plc board can create a viable future for the railway. I'd like to hear from him what those factors are because, although the pain for some to which he refers is already all too apparent (S&DRT eviction), I see very little evidence of any resulting advantage to the railway that has flowed from the plc's actions. To the contrary, I see the likely loss to the railway of a Really Useful Engine and a response to the SOS Emergency funding appeal so dismal as to be embarrassing. So, although I'm moderately indifferent to the plight of the railway which threw out the Trust I support, I'd still quite like to know why he believes in the plc's capacity to survive, and what form he sees such survival taking, not least because it bears upon the company's ability to carry out its obligation to overhaul that Really Useful Engine I mentioned.
     
  12. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    My view is that @Lineisclear (sorry, the pick a member doesnt work for me) is in many ways right, the team we have is the only team we will manage to get in the immediate future who can run the line.

    There is no mechanism at the moment to change them.

    Do they have the ability to get the WSR through Covid & into the late 2020's - I wont put him on the spot but there seems to be a lack of evidence to suggest that they can.

    What is clear however is that the lack of any ability to 'Manage the Manager' either by Shareholders or supporting organisations goes a long way to explain how we ended up in this situation.
     
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  13. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    Not entirely true IMHO.
    IIRC the same excuse (about the need to move the PW) was used by the Plc back in 2010-ish when they intimated that they did not intend to extend the original lease beyond 2020.
     
  14. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    Now, why do the latest Plc appeal for money spring to mind? :)

    And could someone please explain to me what a 'micro-concession' is ? Sounds rather like something you would give someone to open a burger van outside the Turntable Cafe... I would have suggested a whelk stall, but can't think of anyone competent enough to run it.....
     
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  15. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    If you can't make money during the peak summer season then when can you?

    A nightmare scenario (for not just the WSR) is a sudden covid lockdown before September which results in revenue drying up at short notice.
     
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  16. D1039

    D1039 Well-Known Member

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    There's an Exeter-Okehampton bus too! The DfT invested £40m with enough improvements to give an unsignalled 2 hourly single line without intermediate stops. The County Council have underwritten the service. It's a quick win for the 'reversing Beeching' tactic.

    If the opportunity came (I really don't think it will) you might get a political outcome and with much of it in public hands at a fraction of the cost of reinstating closed lines. NR to take on the freehold or leasehold of the line from SCC, it would need to get control of the track and signalling, and spaff a few million to do minimal improvements necessary for a single train 2 hourly DMU service. Look, we're reversing Beeching! DfT extends the GWR concession to run it, with SCC to underwrite the service for a couple of years. Did I say we're reversing Beeching? You'd have to automate and switch control of crossings to NR though

    ". Integration could also enable multiple, smaller operators to co-exist efficiently in a way that has not previously been possible."

    Shapps Williams report suggests that in order to streamline the multiple relationships on the railway that you might have lots of smaller micro- railway companies, or something like that. Modern Railways says:

    "the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail in May this year, which offered the suggestion that Community Rail Partnerships and other organisations might be able to operate branch lines and some isolated rural routes. " WSR's Andy Castledine writes on it in the latest MR mag

    Patrick
     
  17. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    And what a co incidence, Mr Castledine just happens to be a co director in JPP Rail
     
  18. Selsig

    Selsig Member

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    Andy is an operations specialist, so what he writes about in Modern Railways is inevitably going to be about that. Now I'm no apologist for what is happening in Somerset, but I have known Andy since we were teenagers getting a bit sloshed in Minffordd Hostel on the Ffestiniog listening to punk rock. He is a dedicated family man, a dedicated railwaymen and in my long experience a good man and has, as far as I can see, said nothing publicly, and done nothing other than sit on a board that has made some unpopular decisions. For all any of us know he could be trying to steer the ship, but he *has* to toe the party line because that's what collective responsibility entails. If he sits on the board of another JJP company, so what, it doesn't mean anything. As far as I am aware JJP Rail has nothing to do with the WSR other than common directorship.

    Andy, again as far as I know, doesn't come onto NP, so he can't defend himself against the implications, so please just let him be. Unless he has done something himself that warrants the implications made, he isn't deserving of them, but I haven't seen his name attached to any press releases, any statements, nothing.

    John
     
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  19. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    Given that the header to the article in Modern Railways states:-
    "Operations consultant and West Somerset Railway Non-Executive Director ANDY CASTLEDINE talks to ANDY RODEN ....."
    does that not count as attaching his name to a form of public statement, which contains a lot of detail specifically relevant to the WSR?
     
  20. Selsig

    Selsig Member

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    I guess so, but when he's publicising the Snowdonian train on the Ffestiniog, or fundraising, my Dad is often described as "Railway Heritage Trust Executive Director Andy Savage". It doesn't explicitly mean that the roles are linked, just that holds both of them. However in this instance, having read the article now, I agree that the article is very much Andy speaking with his WSR hat on though, but also with his HRSSB one as well.

    Also, why is what Andy is being criticised for saying (Community Rail Partnerships taking on micro-franchises on the national network need to be hyper aware of potential issues and work to a defined set of standards) so wrong? It doesn't imply that the WSR should be a micro-franchised part of the network, just that there are issues on the WSR that could be relevant to those that are.

    John
     

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