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West Somerset Railway Operations

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

  1. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    Post 20833 & the two subsequent comments on it, added to 20838 are starting to sound a little ominous

    So an official announcement asap please
     
  2. 46229

    46229 New Member

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    I know it goes against the grain on here not to be negative, but to me that all sounds positive and an example of an outbreak of good management and a deeper understanding of how much it costs to run the railway. It’s been quite obvious that the WSR has been running too many trains that are running lightly loaded. Every train costs money to run - coal, water, oil, a proportion of vehicle maintenance costs, track wear and tear etc. Those running in the shoulders of the season especially the morning ex Minehead and last one back from BL frequently run almost empty early and late in the season. Slightly reducing the number of running days, simplifying the timetable and using the DMU/diesels on some of those unprofitable early and late season trains makes total sense to me and will increase the profit contribution.

    But then that doesn’t fit with the gloom and doomsters I suppose.
     
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  3. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    Well, the glass may be half full or half empty, BUT there is currently nothing in the public domain, other than a report on local TV. I cannot imagine that an announcement could not have been released as soon as the EGM had finished, as it is at the moment all we have is someone who is clearly rather upset
     
  4. baldbazza

    baldbazza Member

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    If the 'someone clearly upset' refers to post 20833, the fact that it was posted a couple of hours before the EGM might be relevant.
    Barry
     
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  5. DragonHandler

    DragonHandler Well-Known Member

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    It never ceases to amaze me how the press manage to report things about companies before the staff or customers of said companies hear of them.
    Which I suppose either means that the press have an extremely good spy network, or the companies are not very good at communicating with their staff and customers.

    In the WSR's case it would be nice to see some sort of report about the EGM for those who were unable to attend for whatever reason.
    I don't expect the WSR Plc to post anything on here, but I would expect to see something published on their website.
    Failing that, perhaps those nearer the railway who can see what the local press is saying can post that here.
     
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  6. AnthonyTrains2017

    AnthonyTrains2017 Member

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    Brilliant for diesel enthusiasts
     
  7. Western Venturer

    Western Venturer Member

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    Tut tut this will never do.. A pro diesel post on a predominantly Steam railway..

    But if it helps the railway get back on its feet then great, Ive seen trains during the day mid week with virtually nobody on them so if its a few, and I guess it will only be a few, then why not run diesels and cut costs. As long as its not just the DMU and that the D&EPG can provide staff for the Hymek or Crompton then I think it will only help.
     
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  8. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    I attended the General Meeting yesterday.

    It is for the WSR plc to manage this information flow, so I won’t comment on any detail, but I will say that my impression was of a Board who have done the immediate fire-fighting and are now getting a grip on the future.

    Robin
     
  9. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

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    The success, or otherwise, of the new planning will only become apparent, I believe by mid-summer 2020. It looks very painful medicine for the line but presumably is the only way of saving it from closure - or take over of course.
    There seems more to this crisis than a simple lack of money. I get the impression that not only are passenger numbers falling but volunteer numbers are dropping as well. To run more diesels may not suit those who favour or love a ride behind a steam locomotive is a very bold, but necessary it seems, move. Most connected with the line and I believe those also concerned can only hope it works out well for the WSR.
    Information, for those who need to read it, will become available soon I am sure. Some things take longer than others. :)
     
  10. DragonHandler

    DragonHandler Well-Known Member

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    One hopes that the extra income from diesel enthusiasts will offset that which is lost from steam enthusiasts.
    And, of course, how much the "ordinary public" care about what is up front pulling the train.

    No doubt the railway will be keeping a close eye on revenues to see what, if any, effect dieselisation has on income. If running diesels means less expenditure and more income than that's fine.
     
  11. 6960 Raveningham Hall

    6960 Raveningham Hall Member Friend

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    I totally agree. I thought that it was another fine presentation by our Chairman and his team and they have my total support.

    We are going through difficult times and we need to support those who are making the tough decisions.
     
  12. nanstallon

    nanstallon Well-Known Member

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    I think that you've hit the nail on the head.
     
  13. burmister

    burmister Member

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    Exactly, a long overdue outbreak of common sense and as a shareholder I wrote to previous chairmen about this several times but never got even an acknowledgement .
    As long as Mr and Mrs plus family can see steam on other trains and photograph themselves next to it we find very little objections to having a diesel on the front. On our DEMU days it costs less than £50 in fuel for 50 plus miles and the units fund gets £125 for each day it runs. The fund can then pay for all maintenance for example I have just sent 10 doors off the centre trailer car offsite for hinge and door lock internal frame repairs (fibre glass skinned doors with mild steel framework eventually needs invasive repair work) and the fund can cover for that.
    Steam cannot be run for anything like those costs, we simply could not run the off peak trains if steam was used, takes too many staff, and costs too much for the passenger custom on offer. We are lucky I will admit that the DEMU is ultrareliable and easy to maintain and repair thanks to the forward looking Southern Region building units the same as their Electric units with just a well known EE engine added to one coach.

    Brian
     
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  14. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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    Surely the use of diesels is more than simply a case of extra income ? I would imagine the immediacy of start-up means less need for volunteers to arrive in the early hours thus locomotive drivers might find the "working" hours more acceptable thus be prepared to make the effort to volunteer; this point is already noted as "falling volunteer numbers". The use of diesel traction will also bring in the D&EPG volunteers thus increasing the pool of volunteers in the short term whilst also strengthening the (already good) relationship between the WSR and D&EPG.

    There is also the basic question of why visitors travel on the WSR; is it purely because of the traction or is it the ride itself or a means to an end (eg visit Blue Anchor or a start point for walking within the area) ? Within lines in the North West there is a growing use of heritage lines to access locations to encourage walks around / between stations as part of a community activity; is this something the WSR could consider developing ?

    In short it seems that the current management accepts there is a place for diesel traction within its motive power mix and one hopes that the line's supporters look to the positive aspects and support the efforts of the new management to revive what now appears to be an ailing railway.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
  15. Springs Branch

    Springs Branch New Member

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    Does the 'board' still consist of 3 + a company partnership or are there further appointments imminent?
     
  16. 2392

    2392 Member

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    Running extra Diesel trains is always going to be a difficult not to mention controversial decision. As it can and does alienate quite a lot of visitors, as the majority 80-90+% are none enthusiasts, who pick up the bulk of the "bill" for our hobby and expect to have a ride behind a "steam train" no matter what.... Speaking from experience of "my" railway the NYMR if the prospective passenger arrives to see a diesel they'll turn round and walk away. OK some will understand if the area is suffering with the sort of extreme weather and possible fire risk, of late. But unfortunately there will be those that no matter the reason will object. Many will be happy if the train is headed by say on the Moors with the J72 tank 69023 [when based on the Moors] at one end and a Rat [class 24 or 25] at the other doing most of the work, as they'll have had their steam train ride.........
     
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  17. Captain Fantastic

    Captain Fantastic New Member

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    Yes all very nice, but would that not double the expense and volunteers required, I'm sure the NYMR must be very well off if it can afford the expense of both of them
     
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  18. 61624

    61624 Well-Known Member

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    The NYMR normally only runs top and tailed trains in the manner described due to high fire risk or dire locomotive shortages! (The latter now hopefully a thing of the past with Grosmont cranking out overhauled locos at an astonishing rate - likely 4 this year).

    Of course we haven't heard a report from the AGM yet, but everything seems to point to a fall off in passenger numbers being one of the main root causes of the problem so I would have hoped that rather than just capitulating to that there would also have been some initiatives announced to deal with the issue. I'm a great believer in shutting for a couple of days in all but the peak periods, say Mondays and Fridays which tend to be the two quieter days, and attempting to funnel the same level of traffic onto the other five days. It can lead to more or less the same income for two less days of income, but also provides more time for maintenance and is less demanding of staff and volunteers.
     
  19. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    But the issue is surely that if there are trains mid week with “virtually nobody on them”, is that number likely to go up or down if you change traction to a diesel? I’d suggest it is hardly likely to go up.

    The problem with looking to diesels as the solution is that substituting steam for diesel makes no difference to the C&W cost; none to the cost of infrastructure maintenance; none to the signalling maintenance cost; none to the general operating overheads of the railway. So the per-train operating cost decreases by far less than might be thought by looking at the loco cost in isolation.

    As an example, let’s assume it costs about £50/mile to operate a train on the WSR. The coal and oil will be about £5/mile of that, and the loco repair costs perhaps double that, i.e. £15/mile loco cost in total. Let’s say a diesel can be run for half that: you end up saving £7.50 per mile, or £300 per round trip. That’s about 12 or 15 passengers - easy to imagine that number being deterred by an absence of steam.

    The issue to me seems to be not to run trains that don’t generate enough traffic, rather than change the traction to try to make them marginally profitable. That might mean some combination of fewer trains per day; and fewer days of operation. The days of people turning up on spec are I suspect declining or gone: most people plan their days out at least a little in advance. So in that I tend to agree with @61624 - if for example you can run on five days rather than seven but carry the same number of passengers, that represents a worthwhile saving, as well as taking pressure of the maintenance functions to attend the myriad minor repairs that crop up.

    Tom
     
  20. MellishR

    MellishR Well-Known Member Friend

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    We're really back into speculation again, based on a media report that might be accurate, partially accurate, or a total misunderstanding.

    Most (all?) of us here wish to see the WSR thriving, but that can only happen if a lot of different boxes are ticked. Those include keeping the rolling stock and infrastructure in good order. They also include keeping the staff, volunteers, passengers and donors of finance happy. Some of the Board's actions of late, particularly sacking volunteers, look like cutting the WSR's nose to spite its face. Many of us would like to understand the rationales for such decisions and just what the master plan looks like.
     

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