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West Somerset Railway Operations

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

  1. mdewell

    mdewell New Member

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    :Saywhat: What makes you think I have any connection to the WSR?

    You can choose to be insulted by such comments or you can choose to ignore them. I know which I prefer to do, and am only replying to this to correct your assumption that I am involved with the WSR. I'm not.
     
  2. Keith Sims

    Keith Sims New Member

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    As I remember there was some confusion last time about this. I am sure that this Councillor is NOT one of the EX6
     
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  3. malcolm imps

    malcolm imps New Member

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    No, its a Williton one.....
     
  4. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Active Member

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    There is a certain irony in you complaining about assumptions being made, when your initial post was entirely based on incorrect assumptions.

    Whether you are involved with the WSR or not is neither here nor there, if your intention is to help the WSR, then blaming those who think the post was insulting ‘isn’t really helping’. Unless of course your intention is to convince people that setting fire to your money is a more productive and pleasant experience than donating to the WSR, in which case you’ve achieved your aim.

    Maybe I am an outlier here. If a railway I was involved with were in a financial black hole, with a series of bad PR stories stretching back over several years, had an industry wide reputation for disfunctionalism, mismanagement and appalling interpersonal skills, and those involved were making an appeal for funds, maybe it would be sensible to choose the words carefully and to try not to alienate people. But I guess it is just me.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
  5. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    Two posts have been deleted due to them including pointless speculation regarding the financial affairs of named persons.
     
  6. West Somerset Wizard

    West Somerset Wizard Part of the furniture

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    Latest WSR news:

    - Friends of Minehead Station sponsor overhaul of Lorna Doone
    - Transport to and from Stakeholders Meeting at Oake Manor
    - Award success for three young volunteers from the WSR
    wsr.org.uk/news

    Steve
     
  7. 21B

    21B Well-Known Member

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    What is becoming noticeable is how few directors of heritage railways are up to the task - not just the WSR, but look about, most places have issues. Many have been in post too long, and are there for reasons other than their competence to carry out the role.... often it is simply that they are there to pursue their own goal, to protect a particular faction or perhaps "because no one else will". It is not that they are bad people, or that they don't do their best, but sadly their best is not good enough. WSR, SVR, SR, etc etc are 300 to 600 people £2M to £4M+ businesses. They are in many ways Medium Enterprises or (in employee terms Large Enterprises) which are being run like a local club. The ORR have realised this, and realised what it means for the long term viability of these lines.
     
  8. nanstallon

    nanstallon Part of the furniture

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    You could be right. The game has moved on, and generally in this country people are realising that the 'easy' (for most people) years of the turn of the century are now a distant memory. Life is getting tougher all round.
     
  9. Steven Harris

    Steven Harris New Member

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    Agree 100%

    The WSR is going through the growing pains other lines will have to endure.

    I see the timeline as thus:

    Enthusiats dream - they hope it is possible

    Enthusiasts aspiration - they believe it is possible

    Enthusiasts reality - they make it possible

    Enthusiats railway -they have made it

    Heritage railway - they are running a railroad for the love of it and cover costs

    Heritage and tourist railway - the money comes in but is poorly managed

    21st C tourist business - manage well or die

    The latter is the crossroads I see the WSR at right now.
     
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  10. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

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    It seems that the WSR PLC is moving in the direction in a more business like manner and that, I believe, should mean a period of consolidation for the future. The meeting at Oake will be 'lively' I am sure, but the for the lines continued operation many changes have to be made - some have already. The WSR is going to be a different line, operationally, this year, than previous ones it will be interesting to see how it all evolves.
    Hopefully the 'one railway' will become a reality not just a rose tinted view.
     
  11. Yorkshireman

    Yorkshireman Part of the furniture

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    And the source for the ORR saying this is? Or perhaps you are guessing?
     
  12. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Part of the furniture

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    Talk to anyone at any heritage railway and you'll hear that the ORR are scrutinising all aspects of heritage railways a lot more than in the past, recently appointing inspector(s) specifically for the task, working closely with the HRA. I think it's fair to say that the 10 year long crisis at the WSR hasn't exactly instilled the ORR with confidence in heritage railways, although they are far from being the only offenders.
     
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  13. Andy Williams

    Andy Williams Member

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    The ORR frequently raise the matter of effective corporate governance, indeed they did so specifically in the report of their visit to the WSR last October. It does not take a mastermind to understand the ORR's concern that the boards of directors of any heritage railway could 'take their eye off the ball' with regard to health and safety or operational matters, if they were too embroiled in domestic railway politics or staff disputes.

    Andy
     
  14. Bean-counter

    Bean-counter Part of the furniture

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    I don't believe that @21B is specifically referring to the West Somerset with this comment. Whether his wider comments apply in this case or not, each of us will come our own judgement based on what we know of the situation - I would leave it to those with a fuller picture than that given by this thread to consider voicing any such judgement!

    His words certainly seem familiar to me - and the conclusion about ORR's view of the effect on safety management doesn't really need to be based on a direct quote - it is very obvious!

    Of course, within the need to ensure proper operational, engineering and financial controls are in place and adhered to (and safety falls in many ways under all these headings - any near bankrupt organisation will find operating its safety systems more difficult!), a preserved railway's management must also accommodate the need to enthuse supporters of all descriptions - volunteers, paid staff (who could often earn more elsewhere and/or do many hours more than they are paid for), members, other donors and external bodies who may make grants, need to agree to developments or possibly even own the line's freehold (yes, that is a bit WSR specific!) - and ensure they can see how their aspirations are being included in the overall direction of travel. This is not to say that every member or even volunteer should be 'pandered to' - in some cases, it may be round pegs and square holes and if, for example, somebody likes a short day with lots of breaks while the loco runs round, checking tickets on the WSR may not be for them!

    Providing strong direction without it becoming in any way dictatorial or seen (or capable of those who disagree with the direction of travel being able to portray it as) 'everything is done by a small clique for their own benefit' can be a further difficulty.

    I don't envy the new Chairman and his Board one bit but to end up being successful, they need to be very careful not just of what they do, but also how they do it! This can seem burdensome when matters are urgent but can pay real dividends if 'got right' in terms of people pulling together.

    Steven
     
  15. baldbof

    baldbof Active Member

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    Not just heritage railways either.

    A recent fatality* on our canal, although not in anyway connected with our activities or membership, has provided a timely reminder on the essential need to focus on our activities and the way we manage them and carry them out.


    * Still under investigation so can't comment further.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
  16. free2grice

    free2grice Part of the furniture

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    Large prairie 4110 reported on low loader through Williton on the A39 at 13:45.

    I wonder where that's off to? ;) <BJ>
     
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  17. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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    As I have noted in previous postings "the times they are a-changing" and the change from "boys and their toys" or "grown men playing trains" to a commercial enterprise is one that many senior managers are finding hard to cope with. An additional stress factor is the need for close working relationships between staff and management (noting that some managers are not good with staff relationships) complicated by the reality that some staff are volunteers who are willing to walk away should their relationships with management go awry.
    IMHO it needs many railways to investigate the successful operations such as the KWVR and SVR to see how they operate; an interesting aspect of their operation is their commitment to the communities in which they operate with a 2-way interaction that sees the railway operation become as much part of the area as the local supermarket. Recent examples of the ELR providing rail transport at short notice when weather conditions halt road traffic provides a further example of "local involvement" although it has to be stressed that "local involvement" must not be at the expense of internal working relationships.
    It appears that the recent election of a Chairman with commercial knowledge and experience is the first step in what may become a lengthy journey but, noting Chairman Mao's informed view that "even the longest journey begins with one step", it is to be hoped that the WSR can benefit from the present situation and become the successful operation that many wish it to be.
     
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  18. West Somerset Wizard

    West Somerset Wizard Part of the furniture

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    For technical reasons the camera at Crowcombe Heathfield is not currently streaming :( and will be back online as soon as the issues are fixed. Sorry, folks. Other webcams working OK :)

    Steve
     
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  19. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

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    "The work needed to put the [wheelchair-accessible] carriage back into operational use includes … removal of an electric lift …"
    ??
     
  20. The Man of Kent

    The Man of Kent New Member

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    I have thought for a while now that Minehead is a terminus but not a destination. The WSR seems to have little or no regard for the town that it 'serves' beyond the buffer stops.
    The railway promotes its own events but neither advertises nor runs trains to things that happen in the town. I shall temper that statement by saying that the Minehead Christmas Festival was mentioned as a post script to the railway's Christmas Market, however it was still just the one DMU that the previous year had been sold out purely on the railway market. No trains ran in the run up to Christmas that would have brought shoppers to the town.
    The town is not sold as a place to visit. The town's Mayday events get no mention, the Thundercat racing came and went last year and the Cycling Grand Prix will probably come and go unacknowledged.
    Take the What to See section of the website - the first item mentioned is the Minehead Eye extreme sports skate park and youth centre. It's a great facility but as you look around a typical WSR carriage how many travellers would have that as their destination?
    Minehead has a beautiful wide sandy beach and also an area with rock pools, ideal for young children. Of this the website says "Passengers looking for the beach have simply to cross the road, and there it is."
    As for the wonderful assorted mix of independent retailers worthy of investigation the website says "the usual mixture of seaside souvenir shops and the more specialised outlets, the latter being further from the Seafront." Would this inspire you?
    Minehead is a seaside town, a perfect destination for a day at the seaside but the first train does not arrive until nearly midday in all but the yellow timetables. I would have thought there was scope for at least a Friday/Saturday/Sunday service arriving around 10.30am - maybe the Friday service advertised as a Shoppers Special to tie in with the morning market in The Parade. DMU or diesel hauled and perhaps with an early bird fare, TTIs could hand out copies of the Minehead Shoppers Guide to the passengers. And on the other hand I have yet to see a poster in the town or any shop window advertising any railway event.
    That this doesn't happen is not just down to the railway, the town representatives should be sitting down with them to push for such co-operation.
     

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