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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

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

  1. Paulthehitch

    Paulthehitch Well-Known Member

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    Alas it seems the "Big chuffferites" are re-emerging.:rolleyes:
     
  2. 21B

    21B Part of the furniture

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    You don't need red route status to pull the trains that are suitable for the traffic currently on offer. Upgrading is a nice to have.
     
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  3. Bayard

    Bayard Well-Known Member

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    Outside a change in the rules, if the route was once "red" and is now "blue", that can only be due to decay of one type or another. Regardless of what has decayed, it needs to be put right, otherwise the weight limit will continue to fall until only DMUs can use the line.
     
  4. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    My recollection is that the upgrade to “red” was more paperwork than engineered, and that reversion to “blue” better reflects the underlying infrastructure.

    I completely agree on maintaining infrastructure being vital.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
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  5. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Give it a rest Paul. It’s nothing to do with big Chufferitus at all, it’s all about looking after your infrastructure, if it’s not maintained how are you going to run anything, whether its O2, Terrier, Black 5 or A4?
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2022
  6. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    They have never, and will never, go away. The sad irony of the current discussion is that the WSR is a railway that, when doing well, is somewhere that arguably needs them. It speaks volumes for the mess that the railway has got into that this is problematic.
     
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  7. City of truro fan

    City of truro fan Member

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    All of the weight If you was to pick it up wit a Crain. I think the next one would be 04
     
  8. Paulthehitch

    Paulthehitch Well-Known Member

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    What needs to be given a rest is over stressed civil engineering.
     
  9. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

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    To be fair to Paul, is it not big chufferitus when the current fleet is quite capable of handling the traffic levels on the WSR but the chairman has a couple of engines which are currently to heavy to run on the line?

    An upgrade to red would allow their hire. One they have already made an exception for but 4936 would certainly then become useable, although nothing is likely to run that the manors or large prairie couldn’t handle anyway.
     
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  10. dunghill1

    dunghill1 New Member

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    The whole route was allways blue untill it was raised from Taunton to Bishops lydeard when that section was raised to red. Sometime during the 1990s or 200s the whole route was raised to red before being reduced by the office of the Rail Regulator recently
     
  11. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    It hardly matters what colour the route is or will be if the line doesn't offer a spectacle for its visitors.

    I was at the Bluebell Giants of Steam event today where they had set up a non stop service from Sheffield Park to East Grinstead.....with a pair of Standard Class 5s. Seeing them powering through Horsted Keynes was something else.

    The WSR really is off the pace at the moment.
     
  12. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Resident of Nat Pres

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    Given comments made about the small number of engines available to hire and of course in the recent heatwave they only had the two 33's available because the 47 was to big, being a 'Red' route would mean more options in time of difficulty
     
  13. Bayard

    Bayard Well-Known Member

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    I seem to recall that, although the route was, historically, always "blue", the civil engineering on the line was not built to an exact specification which delivered a "blue" weight limit, indeed, nearly all of it was probably built before such things were thought of. It could quite well be that the route was always "blue" simply because it din't need to be "red" and a "red" route would have had to be maintained to a more costly standard. This means that the weight restriction is more a matter of judgement of a civil engineer than something hard and fast hence the paper engineering.

    You have to accept that big chuffers are exciting and civil engineering (apart from extensions) is much less so. If you want to persuade everyone to spend lots of money on civil engineering that means the line will look no different afterwards than what it did before, how do you sell it? One way is to get the Big Chufferites behind you by promising an upgrade to the line's weight limit.
     
  14. Paulthehitch

    Paulthehitch Well-Known Member

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    Yet more big chufferitis!! The classic gricer assumptions that the general run of passengers, who produce the bulk of revenue, have any interest in these sorts of issues is wishful thinking.
     
  15. 21B

    21B Part of the furniture

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    I have an inkling based on the receipts at various (but not all) steam galas that fewer steam enthusiasts are economically active than was the case prior to 2020.

    In my humble opinion we have probably lived through the "golden age" of big galas at all the major lines happening spring and autumn. In truth a kind of arms race with railways attempting to pull together ever more amazing lineups had set in in recent times and these are never sustainable.

    Go back 25years and gala was generally just steaming everything you had and maybe having one guest. These days are returning, but even this may not be downsizing enough.

    We all face incredibly tough times personally and for our railways. Not one of them isn't going to feel the economic headwinds of 2023 and beyond. The current idiotic behaviour of the government has intensified problems that were already there for HRs.

    Many HRs face a backlog of investment. In a number of cases this backlog is most prevalent in infrastructure (historically the least glamorous and most ignored area - other than extensions). This is massively expensive to fix and doesn't add anything to the appeal of the line to anyone. It just has to happen.

    Against this the falling household disposable incomes and all the other factors mentioned on here ad naseum provide a toxic environment.

    HRs will find it easier to survive if they 1) focus on keeping volunteers contented (not happy.... important difference), 2) ruthlessly pursue value for money (which they have tended to be pretty good at), 3) focus on costs - which means NO flights of fantasy and NO frills that don't either immediately reduce cost or add tangibly to the visitor experience 4) be good at fundraising outside of the enthusiasts pocket and the HLF.

    There is no room for dreaming of running a King if all you need is a 57xx
     
  16. 21B

    21B Part of the furniture

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    Just to add a thought. Do not underestimate the scale of the threat facing heritage railways. I do not say they cannot meet the threat, but there remains a very real threat. The WSR is not the only hi profile line which faces serious financial issues
     
  17. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I'm well aware of the imprecision of some historical practices, and how the official status of a line could reflect need as much as use. However, and I'm pretty sure it's discussed on this thread, the reversion to "blue" limits reflects issues identified with the civil engineering that go beyond just maintenance matters, and that investment is required on both structures and earthworks to support routine use of locomotives classified as "red". One side effect of this is that some of the larger diesels are unable to run on the line, with the class 47 going to the NYMR rather than be left idle.

    I've no issue with the idea of the WSR being run as a "red" route, and have fond memories of riding on a very long train hauled by Duke of Gloucester back in the mid-1990s. What does concern me, from the comfort of my armchair, is where this sits in terms of the WSR's priorities given the financial results* and the expressed need for very large sums to be spent each year on keeping it at the present standard. At that point, I can't but wonder whether red status is a "nice to have" or "essential" item.

    * - I have had the "pleasure" of a "going concern" discussion as a trustee; it is a salutary experience and one I wouldn't wish on anyone.
     
  18. ruddingtonrsh56

    ruddingtonrsh56 Well-Known Member

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    One thing that doesn't seem to have been mentioned (at least explicitly) regarding the pros and cons of upgrading the route to take heavier locomotives is the fact that, not only does having a lower axle loading limit preclude the railway from operating heavier locos, but also a significant majority of those locomotives are tender locomotives with water capacity of 4000 gallons or excess, giving a greater reserve fuel capacity for an end-end trip. If there is any railway where that is advantageous when sourcing a locomotive, it is the 20 mile West Somerset where (as I understand it based on discussions I remember earlier in the year), the only watering facilities are at each end of the line. While a tank engine with 1200 gallons can do 20 miles on a tank, you have significantly less in reserve in case the train gets delayed for reasons beyond your control, the load needs to be increased at short notice due to high demand, you have an inexperienced/trainee driver/fireman who doesn't operate the loco as economically as possible, or water consumption is increased because the steam heating goes on. While, to my knowledge, there hasn't been a case of a loco running dry before, it's certainly something where, if possible, it's desirable for the board to take measures they can to reduce the chance of this happening. Having locos with plenty of water in reserve is one way of going about this, and your available pool of these is much greater if you aren't limited to locos of Blue/Yellow route standard or below.

    Alternatively you could just put a water tower or two in at Williton, which tbh might be cheaper, but that doesn't help if you have a year where the loco fleet is a bit thin on the ground, all the 1200 gallon tank engines are booked up by other railways, and you can't book the Hall or Black 5 that's available because they're too heavy...
     
  19. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    I think @Paulthehitch that the event title 'Giants of Steam' is a pretty big clue. And it's not as if the Bluebell doesn't 'do' small when it wants to.

    Fired a blank there I am afraid!
     
  20. Bayard

    Bayard Well-Known Member

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    I'm struggling to think of any axle weight limit-related issues than would not be down to simple wear, tear and decay, nor how those issues would be significantly increased by running heavier locomotives. Yes, if the weight limit was being raised for the first time, a lot of investment might be required on structures and earthworks, but it is not, so any work to structures and earthworks that were previously able to take the load and can't now, must be in the nature of repair rather than alteration. Whether you call repairs investment or maintenance is a matter of semantics, but they still need to be done anyway.
     
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