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West Somerset Railway Operations

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

  1. RobHickerton

    RobHickerton New Member

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    One of the sad things is the demise of the Thomas events. Not one that one can blame the WSR for, as the costs and conditions of the new franchise holder are both excessive, but a great loss nevetheless. It encouraged Dads (and Mums ) to take their children to a railway, and it started an interest in many. The new Peppa pig and similar events work, but they don't have the railway focus. Perhaps we might go back to them when the new rights holder tires of Thomas, but I'm not hopeful.
    Rob
     
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  2. 6960 Raveningham Hall

    6960 Raveningham Hall Member Friend

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    When I've been to events at Fawley Hill in Sir William McAlpine's days, people were always falling over themselves to pay for brake van rides; a bit like waiting for the stores to open their doors on the first day of the sales.

    Having enjoyed an early-morning brake van ride from BL to MD, I think that could prove very popular.
     
  3. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Well-Known Member

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    The Ffestiniog was already a heritage railway running with observation cars, buffet cars and new build coaches in the 1960s.

    The FR like the other very good lines can offer something for those who are out for the day and aren’t so bothered about heritage but if you want to travel in a very nicely restored vehicle from the 19th century they have those too, normally in the same train in high summer.

    You stand a good chance of your loco being either a Victorian loco or modern new build.

    If railways are willing to remove toilets, or to make other changes to the fabric of a coach to improve access etc (which is meeting a customer demand) I don’t see why adding USB ports or meeting other modern passenger demands would be so difficult.

    I know an FR Guard and he recently had some confused passengers at Port. They couldn’t find anywhere to sit because the train was all first class. He explained that this was the standard carriage, to which they replied that they thought it looked too nice to be the standard class carriage and had assumed it was first class.
     
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  4. DragonHandler

    DragonHandler Well-Known Member

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    The FR also has a very active and enthusiastic publicity department. Next week they have a stand at Kings Cross station and are taking two vintage locos with them which is something they have done before on several other occasions, they also make sure TV & local radio news stations know about their special events and welcome reporters and film crews.
     
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  5. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

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    There are many ways of encouraging interest - not just in children, but those who bring them to a railway, but they are not frequently explored it seems.
    The high costs of events, attracting high royalty costings, have been shunned by quite a few lines now. Given thought there are lucrative options, such as the recent Dartmouth 'Train of Lights', which can be put on to encourage passengers and interest. For instance whilst not everyone in the Torbay area travelled on the train, it got very good tv and press publicity and by the nature of it, as it made its way along the line, was seen by a great many people in the area. If anyone was unaware of the train, they soon got to know of it.
    Thomas, and similar events, are costly and require a good deal of planning coupled with a large workforce - usually volunteer. There are other choices - maybe as well as events, for those determined to host Thomas etc., and whilst the Dartmouth experience may not suit all environments a little thought about an areas interesting and exploitable features should be right at the forefront of the discussions for the next year.
    The heritage scene could be full of ideas but for most they are not as most lines seem look inwards rather than outwards.
     
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  6. Forestpines

    Forestpines Well-Known Member

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    Feel free to disagree with me on this because you probably know the FfR far more "up close" than I do - as, obviously, does Phil, who posted above - but the impression I get is that back in the 1940s and 50s, with both FfR and Talyllyn, the primary objective was to keep the Railway running, rather than to preserve it as a historical artefact. After all, the Talyllyn reopened and the Ffestiniog changed hands before even the Modernisation Plan was published, never mind Beeching.

    Even when, later on, standard gauge branches like the WSR were preserved, keeping them actively running was seen as the main objective - look at how for example railways like the KWVR chose their own new livery in the early days (just as lines branded as "community railways" have done since, like the Wensleydale)

    The standard gauge lines could buy in stock easily - including buffet cars. The FfR changed hands in 1954 with virtually no usable rolling stock, and only a limited amount that was desirable, so it's not surprising that within 20 years of reopening most of the carriage stock was new build.

    Incidentally, a "new build" loco like David Lloyd George is now older than many standard gauge locos were on entering preservation.
     
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  7. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Well-Known Member

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    Indeed, imagine my shock five or so years back coming into Paddington and finding I think Prince and a couple of carriages stood in the middle of the station.

    A really good example of searching out new customers rather than waiting for them to find you

    I agree entirely. In fact i’d argue that none of the Welsh no railways saw themselves as preserving things how they were. Bala and Llanberis were entirely new lines on old trackbeds
    designed to appeal to tourists.

    Perhaps the Welsh NG railway that comes closest to portraying things how they were is the Corris and that is a new coming so the heritage angle is what makes it different to say the FR, TR etc.

    Things also change, much as I love the bug boxes. I am glad the FR seems to have enough stock to not need them to make up trains in high summer.

    I think the broader point is about adapting and changing. The FR has done this, lines like the SVR have as well. Even the IOWSR that most traditional of lines has changed. The WSR did (I can remember the Park Royals and I think only one engine in steam), but seems to have stopped.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2019
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  8. 6960 Raveningham Hall

    6960 Raveningham Hall Member Friend

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    For anybody interested, I've had a reply from Minehead station telling me that the Buffer Stop Shop is now open every day until the end of the season, from 9.30am until 3.30pm.
     
  9. nanstallon

    nanstallon Well-Known Member

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    Thomas the Tank Engine certainly caught the imagination of kids, but I don't know how many continued their railway interest beyond the usual stages of football, computer games and the opposite sex. I'm not sure that as a volunteer I would want to help boost the profits of the greedy licence holders. The Rev. Awdrey must be turning in hois grave to see his innocent creation hijacked by big business.
     
  10. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    There is also the suggestion that beyond a certain age it actually puts kids off just at the time where they might be able to develop a greater understanding in railways and gain an enthusiasm for them. Reinforcing the idea that trains is just for kids can be damaging. Mum's a primary school teacher and she was approached by a parent who was worried that their child still hadn't "grown out" of trains. Mum doesn't really "get" railways either, but bless her she did set the record straight on that front!
     
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  11. Triumph 2500S

    Triumph 2500S Member

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    Remember Thomas Weekends? I believe they were successful on the WSR
     
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  12. Triumph 2500S

    Triumph 2500S Member

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    By the footpath that crosses the line - it comes out of the camp - well it did when I was there in 1969!

    I recall the Main Station was quite a walk
     
  13. Triumph 2500S

    Triumph 2500S Member

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    Proves you cannot please everyone but as long as you please the Majority you are in business!
     
  14. mdewell

    mdewell Member

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    o_O They are? Well now I know where I've been going wrong for the last 50+ years. ;):)
     
  15. Triumph 2500S

    Triumph 2500S Member

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    The WSR has always lacked a Really Unique Selling Point (other than its length) and I suggest and the reason why it is in its present position is that it has rested too much on its laurels, sadly. Nothing to strive for and lacking Ambition unlike others and change has only happened over a considerable period of time. The Railway is indeed fortunate that it was gifted its infrastructure and has never been confronted with bank slips or a bare track bed, maybe things would be different had that been the case?

    What is really sad about the 4110 debacle is that something appeared to be achieved in a very short period of time - three weeks and over Christmas and the locomotive till lost. That could well have generated the Momentum to greater things but maybe the Survival of the Railway is more Important?
     
  16. Triumph 2500S

    Triumph 2500S Member

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    I took a one time girlfriend in that carriage in the early 1970's and got blown out as a result!!
     
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  17. 6960 Raveningham Hall

    6960 Raveningham Hall Member Friend

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    Had to read that twice!!
     
  18. Triumph 2500S

    Triumph 2500S Member

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    Assuming you can even get a seat on the big railway! - we have cattle trucks here in Swindon all the way to London - the days when they added extra carriages here are long gone!
     
  19. Triumph 2500S

    Triumph 2500S Member

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    Booked out completely at the last Gloucester Warwicks Gala at which they featured!
     
  20. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

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    The 'longest line' theme could, in fact, be counter productive and a reason for a slow down and decrease in passengers on the WSR. A long journey, no matter, how scenic, can be boring for active, intelligent children I suggest. An earlier post, in this thread, suggested that some of the 'interestss' on the line might be better when grouped part way along the line. Minehead may be a nice beachy sort of place but we all know how miserable some seaside places can be on rainy and cold days.

    [​IMG]
     
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