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West Somerset Railway Operations

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

  1. 5914

    5914 New Member

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    In the mid-2000s Swanage entered the 200,000+ passenger carried bracket, and then overtook WSR. The top three - for at least a couple of years - were NYMR, SVR and SR. WSR re-entered the top three in the aftermath of the rain damage to SVR - after that my knowledge is sketchy (and ELR has been steadily climbing and passed the 200,000+ mark last year).
    (For avoidance of confusion the Swanage figures in the 2000s did not include free passes etc, and related to paying passengers only.)
     
  2. michaelh

    michaelh Part of the furniture

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    Most of the people who might want to go shopping in Taunton by public transport can already get there for free on the bus after 0930
     
  3. mdewell

    mdewell New Member

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    :Saywhat: A look at a map of heritage railways will show the true picture. . .
    . . . and I just happen to have one handy at http://www.heritage-railways.com/map.php ;):)
     
  4. Robin

    Robin Member

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    As others have said, it is not only about passenger numbers. The 2017 SVR PLC accounts show turnover of £7,207k including traffic £3,398k, catering £1,171k, bars £957k and giftware £443k. So for every £1 of ticket income there is another 75p of 'personal' spend on catering, bars and giftware.

    Trying to derive the same figures for the WSR, PLC turnover for 2017 was £3,333k including fare income (with Scotsman) of £2,496k. No analysis is given of the other £837k - it presumably includes a good deal of catering, bars and giftware but at best it represents 33p per £1 of ticket income. Even if you include the £325k of shop, cafe and Quantock Belle income in the WSRA (which doesn't necessarily help the PLC) it still only amounts to 46p of 'personal' spend per £1 of ticket income on the railway as a whole. Food (and drink) for thought?
     
  5. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

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    The article mentions three areas, which are north east of Taunton and within reach of the M5. However, earlier articles have mentioned areas near the WSR line. The possible re-opening of Wellington station, on the main line, is another factor in re-development plans.
     
  6. Anne C-B

    Anne C-B New Member

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  7. Anne C-B

    Anne C-B New Member

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    We prefer to ride the trains and spend our money on the railway so do the opposite.
    FR & WHR - Breakfast and supper in Spooners, snack on the train
    SVR - Breakfast Kidderminster, late Lunch Bewdley, snack Kidderminster
    GWR - Bacon roll, and toasted tea roll on train, lunch Toddington, afternoon tea on train or Winchcombe. We're looking forward to the new catering facilities at Broadway. In fairness no catering at Cheltenham.

    Now compare the possibilities on the WSR - Bishops Lydeard sausage roll or pasty for breakfast, Minehead lunch if you're lucky or light snack, snack of pasty or sausage roll on the train home. No catering on return at Bishops Lydeard.
     
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  8. Steven Harris

    Steven Harris New Member

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    On the WSR each station, Minehead excepted, is a semi autominous self financing state.

    Bishops Lydeard desperately tries to be something it never was with all income going to the Association. How is that tenable and do they pay any rent?

    The station volunteers do a sterling job but, perhaps, the disjointed catering may be puzzling to passengers who are unaware of the structure of the railway.
     
  9. 6960 Raveningham Hall

    6960 Raveningham Hall Member Friend

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    Have to agree with you, Anne.

    Anything I need during the day is purchased from the Railway if possible.

    In my opinion, the catering offerings at Lydeard are dire; the microwave is king. The buffet cars on the trains are no better. Fine if you fancy a Kit Kat or Mars Bar but that's about it.

    Many of the stations offer snacks. The selection of cakes at Stogumber are to die for.

    I think that the Turntable Cafe at Minehead station is excellent. If all I want is a filled baguette or a sandwich I stop there every time. And I must say, their coffee is as good as anything offered on the high street and, unless takeaway, served in proper china cups.
     
  10. Forestpines

    Forestpines Well-Known Member

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    When this has come up previously on this thread, though, a few themes tend to emerge from the shoutier supporters:

    * The structure is a perfect ideal, so any suggestion of a single organisation taking strategic control of catering is clearly impossible
    * There is no need for a better catering offer, and anyone who says there is is wrong
    * If anyone says that they choose not to go to the WSR because of its poor catering offer, it is their own fault and they need to learn what a motorway service station is

    I am paraphrasing, but it always seems to go back to the tone of denigrating anyone who does not agree that it is impossible for the WSR to get any better, and delegitimising their complaints by blaming them on the complainant. See the recent comments about "keyboard warriors" not supporting 9351 sufficiently.
     
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  11. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Resident of Nat Pres

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    The quieter supporters recognise the difficulties and are (quietly) working to solve them.

    Robin
     
  12. West Somerset Wizard

    West Somerset Wizard Part of the furniture

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    Hmmm. Interesting post. I can understand why some non-WSR posters think like this.

    Clearly there is much about the WSR and its structure that baffles many. Some of us have tried to explain how it came about. Having worked with it since 1976, it has always been an obstacle to improvements in many areas, in my view. But at present, we are where we are. Some of us have been encouraging other WSR people to seriously consider some kind of re-structuring, but it should be clear to everyone reading this that re-structuring is no small task, nor cheap. So be prepared to be baffled for a bit longer ;) and do continue to put forward constructive comments and above all do keep encouraging us to work for an even better WSR.

    Steve
     
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  13. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    Any heritage railway worth its salt will have thought ages ago about providing proper food rather than the flaky kind of stuff that sits in a warm cabinet at Greggs or takes 30 seconds in a microwave. People who have visited the Bessemer Arms at Sheffield Park will know what I mean and, of course, other establishments of similar quality are available.
     
  14. Yorkshireman

    Yorkshireman Part of the furniture

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    AIUI the BK Shop premises belong to the WSRA. There is a high degree of cooperation between the WSRA and the PlC regarding the shop/
     
  15. Forestpines

    Forestpines Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't say I find the structures baffling per se. My point is that there are some "WSR people" on here - in the broadest sense of all volunteers, stakeholders and supporters - who give the impression that the WSR structure, however it was arrived at, is unimprovable and unchangeable, and any perceived flaws are purely in the mind of the perceiver.

    These are generally the same people who say that everything is perfect apart from one set of trustees who need replacing; then when that happens, that everything is perfect apart from a couple of directors who need replacing; and so on and so forth.

    Sadly the heritage railway sector has yet to find its Bonavia or Gourvish, but I suspect there could be some interesting studies written about the WSR should that person ever appear
     
  16. Bean-counter

    Bean-counter Part of the furniture

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    Are the vast majority of passengers actually looking for full meals or indeed hot snacks? Given the limitation on capacity, especially seating, most railway tea rooms labour under, what proportion of passengers can be realistically served in a reasonable time (i.e. without having to miss their train!) and would widening the range of the offer assist this?

    Finally, what staffing levels are needed for a hot meal offer and how profitable would the catering be if staffed at this level?

    Steven
     
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  17. 61624

    61624 Part of the furniture

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    I think the impression on the NYMR last year is that people are tending to go for a day out with a fixed budget, so that whilst train fare income was up secondary spend was level or down as more visitors were bringing their own food and drink. I wouldn't be surprised if that was a national trend and if so it suggests that chasing secondary spend offers less of a return than chasing greater visitor numbers.
     
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  18. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    That depends whether the trains are currently full or not. If not, then potentially more visitor numbers can be delivered without additional cost. But if the trains are already full (or at least full on some journeys during the day / season), then more visitor numbers probably means either more or longer trains, or both. That in turn adds to the overall cost of delivering the service. For example, if you routinely make each train 8 rather than 7 coaches, then you increase the size of the required carriage fleet (and overhauls etc) by the same proportion. If you run on more days, or a more intensive service, potentially you need more operational locos, which ultimately means more workshop capacity to ensure sufficient throughput of both overhauls and routine scheduled maintenance. So more passengers is only a viable strategy if they can be carried without changing the fleet requirement (numbers of vehicles needed in traffic and average annual mileage for each vehicle, which affects time between overhauls and running maintenance).

    Thinking wider, and without wishing politics to intrude, it seems clear that we are going to have a pretty big economic shock over the next few years. What's hard to know is how long and what shape - i.e. gradual downturn, or big shock and then bounce back. It also isn't clear what impact that will have on heritage railway business: quite conceivable that it could be both positive and negative on different market segments. What I suspect would be desirable though is for any railway to have a diverse income stream so that they are somewhat insulated from any downturn in a particular market.

    Tom
     
  19. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Resident of Nat Pres

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  20. Anne C-B

    Anne C-B New Member

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    What would be interesting is to compare the profits from catering of the larger railways including the WSR. My suspicions is that we would be bottom of the list in terms of value, per passengers, and proportion of takings. If the PLC decided to have a new share issue solely to provide decent catering I would be top of the list to apply.
     
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