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West Somerset Railway Operations

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

  1. Maunsell907

    Maunsell907 Well-Known Member

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    The Wareham to Swanage service, whilst not without interest, I suggest has scant relevance to any operation that may or may not transpire on the WSR.

    A Taunton to Bishops Lydeard service (wherever the train originates from eg Cardiff) may bring some holiday traffic to West Somerset. It may even attract some Butlins traffic, (although, TN to BL c.20 minutes, minimum 10 minutes to change to a WSR train, then 75-80 minutes to Minehead with still a c.500 metre walk to Butlins entrance, and even if there is a shuttle bus, hardly seems an attractive proposition.)

    The comparison with Wareham to Swanage (whether commute or Summer visitors) is of course Taunton to Minehead. Here there are fundamental differences: Swanage to Wareham, short block sections, hence the ability to work frequent short trains. Compare and contrast Corfe Castle to Harmans Crossing or Harmans Crossing to Swanage with Williton to Blue Anchor. Even with the intermediate Kentsford loop reinstated paths are restricted. Re-doubling Dunster West to Minehead would help further and reinstating the Leigh loop a little more. Then we could think about improving line speed, 40 mph is possible in places with minimum infrastructure changes (eg BL to CH to WN, WD to BA to DR to MD approaches). I estimate this would amount to a saving of 9 minutes. (TN - MD in 75 minutes becomes a possibility) One could of course invest several millions and equip the line for faster running eg 55 mph overall limit as in BR days, or even faster.

    There is however a snag. Whilst we would then have modern DMUs running through there would be slow old Heritage style steam trains holding everything up. Oh well some of them would have to go ! and then if it was a success perhaps only run steam if it were mainline equipped (OTMR etc). QED, we have Southern Britain's answer to the recently reconstituted Waverley Route.

    Many of us at times have expressed concern that the WSR might morph into a Paignton and Dartmouth type operation. This could be worse ie not just colour lights etc but colour lights and limited steam operation. For many of us, particularly volunteers, it is the steam, and to a lesser extent the heritage diesel, operation that is the attraction. If this cannot support a viable Railway and continue to be a major economic benefit to West Somerset then many volunteers have laboured in vain. We all need to sell and extol what we have, there is no need to put our head in the noose, we should not be giving the WSR Heritage Railway detractors oxygen.

    Michael Rowe

    ps An after thought, the NYMR and the Swanage are extending their activity on to Network Rail. We are contemplating inviting a TOC into our domain !
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2016
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  2. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    All this talk of running at 40 mph carefully ignores the legal requirement for TPWS to do so and would require all locos to be so fitted, even visiting ones and ones restricted to 25 mph. That starts to get both expensive and restrictive.
     
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  3. Yorkshireman

    Yorkshireman Part of the furniture

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    I think you mean a complete non starter!
     
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  4. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    You might say that; I might think that but there are others who still like to dream.
     
  5. Mogul

    Mogul Member

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    As far as the Swanage - Warham trial is concerned there might be some limited interest in the passenger loadings and in particular the seasonal and longer term trends. There will be far more to learn however from Swanage Railway and the NYMR about the organisational change that was necessary, the affect on the volunteers, the affect on the Heritage operation and how having to interface with mainline timetables and late running (on either side) affects affects what you can run in terms of your heratage service.

    I can assure you that the organisational change and the amount of work required is stretching Swanage considerably and is not to be undertaken lightly. Railways should consider whether the necessary culture change is one they are prepared to accept. Combining a Heritage railway and community transport operation may require both to be compromised. In my opinion its a Pandora's Box and to be treated accordingly.
     
  6. Maunsell907

    Maunsell907 Well-Known Member

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    I think I mentioned old steam trains holding everything up. I did not limit myself to a requirement for TPWS, as I believe you do on the NYMR for Whitby running via a dispensation, but opted for the cost of OTMR.

    Michael Rowe
     
  7. Herald

    Herald Member

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    Oh the joys of West Somerset with all the complexities, dreams and aspirations of the different factions:

    1. Those who see the railway as a means of rejuvenating the area with visitors travelling from afar on through trains,
    2. Those who think £50 for an annual line side pass is a lot and worry about tender first running (personally I see that as an advantage if it avoids conflict between riding and photographing and just use such runs to move around),
    3. Those on other threads who've speculated on the line being too long both in travel duration and cost per mile for families, and,
    4. Those who want to see small engines and more prototypical heritage operations.

    If we had a fairy godmother with limitless funds which might get priority? Could we see a mix of all of them? Should historic assets be worked hard over the full line or pampered for future generations to enjoy? Could we stop saying West Somerset is different and learn from others?

    Personally I just hope the Directors of the PLC aren't unduly influenced by specific dreams or lobbyists and manage to continue to run a successful business which evolves to meet the needs of its customers be they volunteers indulging their hobbies, local residents wanting a transport link, or tourists enjoying a day out or longer stay.
     
  8. 34098

    34098 New Member Account Suspended

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    quite easy to do both and those of us who decide to pay for our hobby, are also customers ,Everybody needs to be kept happy,
    Is that too much to ask really, making it look like we're asking for smokebox first running all year round, smokebox first running on gala weekends surely can't be that hard to fit in, with shuttles or whatever happens,
     
  9. Maunsell907

    Maunsell907 Well-Known Member

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    Well yes ! ....but perhaps as a Plc shareholder, WSRA Member and active volunteer I (and others) might be allowed to express a concern, even to have the temerity to lobby ?

    Michael Rowe
     
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  10. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    I suggest that as with the reinstatement of the L&B that the WSR management must have some idea as to how viable the proposals are and where the money is coming from
     
  11. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    It was your rference to 40 mph running I was commenting on and the need to fit TPWS, not only to locos but to the signalling system. OTMR is not a legal requirement, unlike TPWS. It is entirely within the control of the WSR as to whether it is required, or not.
     
  12. Forestpines

    Forestpines Well-Known Member

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    There would also be the issue of either centralised door locking or sufficient stewarding to work around that.
     
  13. AnthonyTrains2017

    AnthonyTrains2017 Member

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    Shame the class 150 can't run through to minehead off season
     
  14. GWR Man.

    GWR Man. Well-Known Member

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    To put it in a nut shell unless 50K to 100K houses are built along the route of the WSR, there will never be enough people wanting to use the railway to commute by train to Taunton and beyond.

    Yes running the mainlines trains to BL will be a good idea during the WSR operating season, but will cause a problem using the triangle at Norton so as the ex Trustees said they had plans to build a new station at Norton (if these plans ever existed), and if built it will be best with a platform for the mainline trains to use separate from the WSR trains, and by doing this the triangle will still be able to use to turn the engines. I think it will be better to be built on the Minehead side of the B3227 road bridge, even though land will have to be acquired to do this as this will give a better road access for the station, and also the Bus runs along this road so a bus stop outside the entrance will be easy to get. https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.0275587,-3.1618246,364m/data=!3m1!1e3 https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.0...4!1sJy1k1BJEyS-CQ2_I4mDIPw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656 Think Kidderminster but better with a train shed to protect the carriages from the weather during the closed season instead of building a carriage shed at BL. Also volunteer accommodation above the shop/restaurant/ticket office/waiting room/museum.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2016
  15. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    For now, the only 'game in town' is the proposed trial extension to BL from 2018 (see WSR Plc Press Release).

    Anything else depends on that being a success.

    Robin
     
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  16. Kingscross

    Kingscross New Member

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    Personally I think the WSR are risking a mistake by not making the most of a link to the National Network. Bristol, the sixth largest city in the UK with a population of nearly half a million, is only half an hour from Taunton by train. To put that into perspective, it's two minutes quicker to get from Bristol Temple Meads to Taunton than it is to get from Manchester Piccadilly to Bury (for the East Lancs) on the Metrolink.

    But the current Taunton-Bishop's Lydeard bus service is unreliable and slow, making a challenge out of a potentially easy day out. A train connection could change all that.
     
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  17. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    Quite agree.

    There are many opportunities available for the WSR to establish a stronger presence in Bristol, Bath, Cardiff, Exeter, Gloucester......

    Robin
     
  18. Kingscross

    Kingscross New Member

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    Perhaps part of the problem is that decision-makers at the WSR find it difficult to market to people who are unlike them in their habits. I would imagine the majority of WSR decision-makers are rural or suburban-dwelling folk with access to one or more car.

    I live in Bristol and do not own a car - I hire one if I need to and otherwise cycle or use public transport. I could afford a car but have the advantage of being able to walk to work and choose to save money by not running one for leisure. Although there are times when it's an inconvience (I have a young family too) on the whole it works out. I'm not unusual, there are plenty more in the city like me. Although I am sure a majority of Bristolians are car-owners, the traffic is so bad that many people activily look for leisure activities where they don't need to use it.
     
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  19. Yorkshireman

    Yorkshireman Part of the furniture

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    Where is the evidence for the bus service being unreliable and slow?
     
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  20. Yorkshireman

    Yorkshireman Part of the furniture

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    The WSR board have agreed to the trial and the TOC has been persuaded to run it. That does not sound as if the WSR board have found it a problem as you suggest. Surely now the reality is that the TOC has to establish that the service is viable.
     

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