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West Somerset Railway Operations

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

  1. blunder

    blunder New Member

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    I seem to remember that in the 80s that the WSR was going to the wall then, and it was members of the SDRT that helped them out then, but as it's along time ago and the memory is not what it was perhaps somebody recalls when this was. As for their own railway order hope they know what paperwork etc is required.
     
  2. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    I am not talking about a legal question but a commercial; not a question of contract, but of relationship. And there, I suggest the idea of "once bitten, twice shy" might apply - certainly, if I'd been in a relationship with organisation X, renewed the contract underpinning it, and then found them backing away from it, I'd be very wary about being willing to engage in a relationship with them. I therefore give the benefit of the doubt to the PLC over the legality of their action (but please note that I find it hard to exclude the possibility that they are taking a considered chance on the S&DRT being unable to afford to push back), while regarding their actions as being morally dubious at best.

    @1472 references the point about the alleged safety issues in the S&DRT's operation. These are directly connected to the suggestion that "they might seek a change to our Light Railway Order at the Washford site and so operate the rail lines there as a separate entity". The style and positioning of the wording don't suggest to me a major underlying issue, but a pre-emptive strike to undermine the credibility of the S&DRT, escalating issues rather than seeking resolution to them. Indeed, the wording is of a style commonly used by tabloids seeking to report an allegation that they know will be legally vulnerable unless couched very carefully indeed.
     
  3. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    So in response to a suggestion the decision is made to kick them out? Evidence of H&S violations? But let me guess, the PLC is always right and everyone else is wrong. And of course, only you and the PLC know

    So we've gone from nothing is wrong, no one uses Washford, look at the developments, to it is the fault of the S&D.

    There maybe plenty of conspiracy theorists here, but there are also plenty of management lackeys and suck ups.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2020
  4. Miff

    Miff Well-Known Member

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    Agreeing a 12-month rolling lease would have made no sense for an organisation, like the S&D, needing security of tenure for the reasons outlined by @ikcdab - that would be no security at all. What has not been explained is the plc’s legal basis for early termination of a 50 year lease. Presumably the plc solicitor’s letter explained why they feel entitled to set their agreement aside. I guess we’ll soon know whether the S&D’s solicitors think they can dispute this. Oh dear.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2020
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  5. Maunsell907

    Maunsell907 Well-Known Member

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    The issued statement I think encapsulates a basis for the decision. If the statement also included words
    to the effect 'the Plc regret we have had to issue notice to quit" , "we wish them well" "we will
    assist if possible " then it might have stacked up.

    However the overall tone and use of "cuckoo in the nest" is I am afraid guaranteed to alienate moderate
    opinion. (" Shooting oneself in the foot" comes to mind !" ) Quel dommage !

    Michael Rowe
     
  6. misspentyouth62

    misspentyouth62 Member

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    my point exactly. To be called out as 'cuckoos in the nest' would not prompt me to be trustful in any other contracts I might be involved with.
    Sadly, cutting noses off to spite faces is common place in the cut & thrust of businesses where another provider is queueing up to pick up where another left off but I'm not confident that approach works in an environment that rests so much on the good faith of free labour between charitable causes.
     
  7. BrightonBaltic

    BrightonBaltic Member

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    All it does is exacerbate the damage done and exposes those responsible as the incompetents they are.

    Oh well, I look forward to cycling the former WSR trackbed a few years hence...
     
  8. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Part of the furniture

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    It can and has been done for many years. The WSRA & DEPG at Williton have operated this way moving stock around both operationally and in galas' using their own teams certainly well before I joined. Also the WSRA has with the steam fair team often using S&DRT & WSRA staff owned tank engines working at Norton independently of the PLC trains. The SMS & rule books accommodate this and all operate under the PLC's SMS in terms of PTS's, rulebook, drivers, guards, etc. Of course lets also remember that stock movements within Washford also happen and often independently (Tank engines running up and down on gala's for example). It maybe that the S&DRT want to increase that as a developing attraction bringing in more customers and money so its likely that this is just another 'only we can have the money' stance by the PLC.

    One irony here is of course that all groups on the WSR have operated under the PLC's SMS which include the PLC's HR Policies for volunteers (its a stated rule). Of course these were scrapped by the current PLC so don't exist and whilst that is old news, it does maybe in theory mean the S&DRT (and WSRA/DEPG) can't operate under the SMS as stated in this statement because they don't have a HR policy for say a SPAD, but then neither does the PLC Volunteers on PLC service trains. Oh what a tangled web we weave. I'll get my coat !!!!
     
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  9. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    I'd be careful how you interpret what's been said - I've never heard it suggested that a significant number, let alone "most", of the volunteer base have left.

    As for SCC, I'd suggest the same equation applies to them as it does to the PLC - a paying tenant vs an unknown future and unknown costs.
     
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  10. BrightonBaltic

    BrightonBaltic Member

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    It has been stated in this thread that WSR PLC pays less in rent to SCC than SDJRT did to WSR PLC... the costs of maintaining a cycle path are far less than those of running a railway, and given the WSR's financial predicament at a time when it needs complete renewal of its infrastructure, I shouldn't wonder if SCC did decide the cycle path option was attractive... it would at least put an end to this years-long WSR war.

    Anyone wonder how other similar lines, e.g. GlosWarks, Severn Valley, Great Central, NYMR etc, manage not to gain a reputation for continual war between a shifting line-up of rival factions?
     
  11. jnc

    jnc Well-Known Member

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    I reckon a non-trivial part of it is the 'original sin' of the line's founding, when it was attempted to set up a business to operate the line after its closure, which led to the WSR's 'unique' structure with a PLC as the main entity. Perhaps circumstances will eventually naturally occur which will allow that to be rectified, with a charity/trust in overall charge, with a new PLC as an operating unit.

    Noel
     
  12. BrightonBaltic

    BrightonBaltic Member

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    Which begs the question - why did the WSRA's abortive bid for control a few years ago not attract widespread support?

    And the WSRA hasn't exactly been noted for or defined by peace and consensus...
     
  13. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

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    Until the next family member is declared after all to be a "cuckoo in the nest" and evicted. First it was individuals, now it's one of the corporate members of the family. Who's next?

    The only alleged sins of the S&D Trust that we've heard about so far have been:
    a) Not donating money to the PLC, even though to have done so would have been contrary to charity law.
    b) Being unwilling or unable to pay more rent; so the PLC choose to get none at all.
    c) Seeking an LRO for their own operations, which the PLC claim could impact their Safety Management System, even though the LRO would certainly not be granted without the ORR being entirely satisfied about safety.
    Edit: inserted missing words "the LRO".
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2020
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  14. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    In my book the definition of a cuckoo would be something squats in a residence, throws out all the other occupants, makes persistent demands upon its host and gives back nothing in return. Methinks the WSR has chosen the wrong metaphor :)

    To mis-quote the late Sir W C... "some cuckoo, some nest" !
     
  15. jnc

    jnc Well-Known Member

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    Well, they weren't attempting to "bid for control" of the PLC, just the track-bed. I can't speak for others, but those with long memories may recall that I was actually initially in favor of that, because I thought it would be safer to have it owned by a non-business. In retrospect, it's probably almost as safe with the existing arrangement, with local government owning it. (Although politicians being what they are, and in an age of funding shortages, my initial perception may still be correct in the long term.)

    Why did I change my mind? Events convinced me that the group in charge of the WSRA at that point were not suitable for that role. Those on the ground there likely came to that conclusion earlier, through up-close-and-personal contact.

    Enough looking backward, though; it's important to focus on the WSR's current challenges (of which the SDRT situation is not the most critical - although if the most critical is increasing charitable support from individuals, it may well be a component of that).

    Noel
     
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  16. mvpeters

    mvpeters Member

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    Just my opinion:
    re: c) - a diversion that is an entirely separate matter.
    re: b) - the Plc & the S&DRT just (2018) signed a 50-year lease effective, I think, April 1st, 2020 - so which lease agreement is being terminated, the current one or the future one not yet in effect? Either way, wouldn't any termination need to be mutually agreed, or there's no point in the lease?
    re: a) - correct, as with any other charity.
     
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  17. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    The issue was not WSRA control per se, but the lack of trust in the individuals driving the WSRA agenda, combined with very strong suspicions about the way in which their agenda would have been funded - and the costs that it would have imposed on the railway. And, without commenting on the current dispute between WSRA and 4160 Ltd, it is noticeable that the former trustees (the "ex 6") adopted an aggressive approach to maintaining control that raises (at least) ethical questions about their conduct. There is/was another thread covering the woes of the WSRA in considerable detail, and I suggest reading that (you may need some time...) before drawing conclusions.
     
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  18. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    I suggest that those other railways have also been lucky in their leadership, having been blessed with people who've been able to form cohesive leaderships that have worked together effectively. Thinking of the railways that I am an armchair member of, all have similar but different structures involving a charitable body, a plc, and some form of support organisation. The balance of power within those organisations varies, but none could succeed without the right people involved. Though I've no direct knowledge of it, I don't believe a unitary organisation like the IoWSR (which is held up by some as an "ideal" unitary organisation), could have been as successful without a cohesive top team.

    That does beg the question as to why the WSR seems to have struggled with the politics of the top table.
     
  19. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    for those looking to WSRA control and past attempts I think the ground conditions were very different , both in board make up and underlying business performance

    with the WSR on the brink leadership was needed and in that arena there seem to be positive signs of getting the railway back on track . There is then a sub plot of what one(s) railway looks like . as an outsider there does seem to be a uniting of activity previously conducted by smaller groups under the PLC umbrella .
     
  20. nanstallon

    nanstallon Well-Known Member

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    That's big of them, deigning to 'propose to honour this contract'. Shouldn't contracts be honoured anyway?
     
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