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West Somerset Railway Operations

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

  1. paulhitch

    paulhitch Part of the furniture

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    Firstly, as to whether the WSR have got their catering/souvenir (functions often under common management) sales policies right is something we cannot know. Both you and I will be equally ignorant about the statistics. I mentioned sandwiches etc., as an example I know of but modern technology can also be used to help determine how much shelf space should be devoted to things such as model railway equipment, Thomas the Tank Engine stuff and so on. It can also help to determine the most advantageous opening hours. Certainly the latter cannot be determined on the basis of "W.I.B.N. to have the same opening hours as Arkwright's corner shop"! I have known at least one other that had similar opening hours to Minehead many years ago

    All that can be hoped is that the W.S.R. have got their calculations correct.
     
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  2. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    Often, it is not the things said on Nat Pres that generates its reputation as a snake pit, but the way they are said. I always imagine reading my posts out to the person or persons most closely associated with my comment, before hitting the 'Post Reply' button. Imagine being the shop manager or volunteers reading this post.

    And especially because the BL shop is highly profitable - from years of hard work by members and employees building up the trade and the shop. One of the difficuties of the WSRA giving up the shop is the need for the charity to obtain 'fair value' for a valuable asset in the transaction. Better financial minds than mine are working on that.

    As for later opening, experience is that those returning to BL at the end of the day have their mind on the car park and home, rather than buying souveniers.

    Robin
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2019
  3. Colin Allcars

    Colin Allcars Member

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    Surely you mean would have thought.
     
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  4. DragonHandler

    DragonHandler Well-Known Member

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    If the shop is open on my return to BL at the end of the day I usually go in and have a last look round. Looking round the shop is a more interesting way of spending 10 minutes or so than standing in the queue for the loo. This practice is not always good news for my wallet. :eek:

    But it's probably good news for the shop. :)
     
  5. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator

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    Interesting stuff. My 3 year old definitely has different ideas to most passengers then :)Ironically the shop at BL was open.

    Completely off topic, I think I did spot you there as the train we were on was leaving (1240).
     
  6. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator

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    Yes that too ;)
     
  7. ilvaporista

    ilvaporista Well-Known Member

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    ....and stop calling me Shirley....
     
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  8. mvpeters

    mvpeters Member

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    Retail store opening/closing hours.

    In my experience, 99.9% of tourist attractions
    1 - have their retail store on the exit route.
    2 - close 15-30 minutes after the last 'activity' at the attraction. In the case of the WSR, this would be after the last train of the day arrives.

    Common sense tells me that at the start of the day the only thing folks want is a 'ticket to ride'. Maybe they'll browse the Store if there is time. Refreshments are more likely to be from the Buffet Car.
    Really the best guidance will be from the Store Managers & staff.

    What may be more of an impact is the proposed move at BL to across the street - this takes the Ticket Office & the Store out of the direct entry/exit path. My suspicion is that with electronic ticketing, actual ticket sales won't be affected except for those of us who insist on a real Edmundson - but I'm thinking that Store & cafe sales will be severely impacted.
    Depending on whose figures you listen to, 60%-80% of journies originate at BL, so WT & MD become the volume destinations where time is spent.
    When BL becomes more of a 'destination' from MD where time is spent (Gauge Museum, model rly., local deli & brewery etc..) then things might change.

    As I said earlier, really the best guidance will be from the experienced, front-line Store Managers & staff.
     
  9. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    A few points from previous posts.

    (1) I think geography is important. At BL, there is no need to walk through the shop to exit. That is an accident of how the shop grew.

    (2) Do say ‘hello’ if you spot me on the Railway.

    (3) The (inexplicable to many of us) enthusiasm to move the shop cafe to a building in possible the worst location appears to have faded with one of the recent WSR plc Board departures. Certainly it is not being actively pursued as far as I am aware.

    Robin
     
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  10. Barrie the Beer

    Barrie the Beer Well-Known Member

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    The buffet car service suffers similar thinking. Four of us joined an up train at Watchet recently and went straight to the buffet car to find the buffet closed at ........ Watchet!
     
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  11. 6960 Raveningham Hall

    6960 Raveningham Hall Member Friend

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    I deliberately used the word “reportedly” when speculating about the future of the BL shop.

    I don’t think I have said anything which hasn’t already appeared on the WSRA website.
     
  12. Forestpines

    Forestpines Well-Known Member

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    Speaking with my professional hat on: the issue here is more that a poorly-cared-for website gives this impression about the railway, not that the railway actually thinks this.

    My standard advice on this is: a website is for life, not just for Christmas. Strictly speaking there's nothing wrong with writing copy that will date badly, as long as you both realise it will potentially date very quickly, and you have the resources to correct it promptly when it does. I know some of you will already know this, but an awful lot of people do not.

    Anyway, I see this has already been addressed by the usual people by saying that the messenger is the problem for talking about it here! I'm surprised nobody has said "Why haven't you volunteered to maintain the website then?" yet.
     
  13. granmaree

    granmaree Member

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    How difficult is it for a web 'master' to trawl the site to alter something? Take the £2 dog ticket, increased this year to £2.50, on the official website look at The Railway page (near the bottom) it is still £2. Would a dismissive 'yeah well that is wrong it should say 2.50, if you look on this page you'll see the new price' be acceptable?
     
  14. Maunsell907

    Maunsell907 Well-Known Member

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    I have always considered the BL cafe/shop, bearing in mind the limited space,
    a very well run facility. In deed, on this web site, when I was WSRA vice Chair
    I suggested the net margin ( after all costs ) per square foot of shop area was
    excellent.

    The discussions started towards the end of last year centred on ' how can
    the business be grown '

    Initial consideration was a new buffet/ restaurant. Hence the planning
    application noted by contributors to this site. The capital outlay was high
    and the resultant initial low ROCE ( bearing in mind the then apparent
    PLC cash flow concerns) mitigated against this approach.

    The group then considered relocating the BL booking office and the shop
    ( enabling the cafe to expand into the current shop space ie more covers)
    This would have created a similar pax flow to for instance Porthmadog.
    Whilst the capital outlay was less and the potential growth forecast
    less uncertain the ever worsening PLC cash position rendered this
    approach unrealistic.

    These discussions were carried out under the assumption that the
    transfer of the BL cafe/shop operations from the WSRA to the PLC
    would be complete by 31/3/2019. Additionally immediately interested
    parties were kept abreast of 'thinking'.

    When times are better IMHO these considerations merit further
    examination.

    There were three PLC directors involved with the Group, two of
    whom have since ceased to sit on the Board.

    Michael Rowe
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2019
  15. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Well-Known Member

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    Good point, but its difficult when you made the person concerned redundant, and then didn't replace another gone on Mat Leave meaning you have one full time person instead of three looking and more importantly developing and driving all marketing and advertising functions and usually actually running the events on the ground as well. The lady left is in my opinion very capable but over worked. In fact from my view and involvement the three were overworked in 2018 so one person will be drowning. Now I'm sure you could get some more volunteers in to cover if you can find them but its an intensive job and needs some skills and knowledge which are sadly lacking. Again a question to the people of the WSR is: Can the WSR increase its revenue or even keep pace with last year without investing in a marketing function ?
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2019
  16. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    Mike

    I am sure the shop staff and volunteers will value that endorsement.

    And interesting information to fill a gap on events for many.

    Thank you

    Robin
     
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  17. Barrie the Beer

    Barrie the Beer Well-Known Member

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    Spot on Andy. Back in 2017, the year our plc first operated the QB, my assessment was that the four people in post at that time were in a similar situation wrt workload. I'm not entirely sure the plc would welcome capable volunteers to these roles, although I've long thought it could be beneficial. A similar state exists in other departments presently, notably Ops.
     
  18. 35B

    35B Part of the furniture

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    And at Minehead, before they catch the train?


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  19. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Not trying to make a point or anything here, just genuinely curious. Is this post suggesting that the Plc are nervous on relying on volunteers for higher level jobs? Sounds to me like this may be an area to look at given current difficulties.

    I'm well aware that this often goes on unannounced, but worth looking at how other railways manage; what roles are undertaken by volunteers elsewhere? I accept that it may not be possible to find suitable volunteers, but identifying jobs that could be done by volunteers seems a sensible thing to do when you're trying to cut costs. Also aware that employment rights and laws can be difficult, but then again I'm sure a suitably qualified volunteer could be found to negotiate those particular tricky waters....
     
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  20. Beckford

    Beckford Well-Known Member

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    I can only speak for myself but I have just had a very enjoyable morning/afternoon on the WSR. All the important things - ie public facing - were just as they should be, first class. I take my hat off to the staff and volunteers. It’s also worth quoting the editorial in the latest “Heritage Railway” which goes under the heading “We are all in this together” - it concludes by saying: “let’s all get behind the WSR.... and support the revitalised line with a summer visit or two.” Just so.

    BK
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 12, 2019

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