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West Somerset Railway - Removal of the PLC Chairman and related matters

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by rodders154, Aug 14, 2018.

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  1. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    Depends on the haulier, size, distance and whether there is a return load, not to mention whether a police escort is required. Try bringing something by road from the Worth Valley. You probably won't have any change from your £1500 even before the vehicle is moved. There are other 'difficult' sites.
     
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  2. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    In strictly cash terms that is true, though there were tangible and intangible benefits of moving by rail.

    The tangible was avoiding the need to put a large loco on a lorry, with the attendant risks that brings.

    The intangible was that the Camelot Locomotive Society (disclaimer: I'm not a member) are an enthusiast group, and there was a sense of wanting to see the loco on the mainline when the opportunity arose, simply because - well, for enthusiasm. (The move also generated a lot of favourable publicity on social media, of course, in a way that a lorry move probably would have gone largely unremarked).

    That's not to deny that ultimately any group - whether it is the largest railway or the smallest loco owning society - has to balance the books. But also not to completely forget that there are benefits from sometimes doing things just for the joy they bring, rather than concentrating solely on the bottom line. The loco only exists in the first place because a group of people decided that the enjoyment they'd get from seeing it run outweighed the cost of doing so.

    Tom
     
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  3. snappertim

    snappertim Member

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    I agree with most of this in that any gala or special event has to give "added value" over and above the average nett income from the relevant operating days. Galas take up a huge amount of time to organise, and implement, not to mention money. If their cost are forensically examined I suspect they are not as profitable as at first glance.

    I would suggest that galas are much more than just their contribution, or not, to the bottom line of the P & L account. Amongst another things, it raises the profile of the Heritage Railway: volunteers and staff enjoy the "buzz" of seeing the railway busy and is different from day-to-day operation: footplate staff enjoy the challenges of a visiting locomotives [well most anyway] and co-operation between Heritage Railways is increased, friendships made.

    Having said all that I suspect that galas, like anything else have a shelf life. Steam galas are very well patronised by, lets say, gentlemen of a certain age [the ladies look much younger] and this will become an issue in time.

    The WSR galas are right up there with the best. All 23 miles of the line are used, with an imaginative timetable and thanks to the TT at Minehead and the triangle at Norton smokebox first running is uniquely possible. Lets hope the new PLC board will build on the good work done over the years.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2018
  4. Miff

    Miff Well-Known Member

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    Quite right - and the railway only exists for similar reasons. The FfR call this JGF (short for jolly good fun). I think ‘JGF’ should be taken seriously and regularly discussed at board level by every organisation relying upon volunteer labour, donations and goodwill. Their financial success ultimately depends upon it. A more ‘corporate’ sounding agenda item might be ‘volunteer retention & recruitment’.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2018
  5. Trident63

    Trident63 New Member

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    Nicely and correctly said Steven. Gala's are great, but in the current situation the question should be: are they profitable, and or can they be made non-loss making/more profitable?

    It also brings up the question of focus between the heritage and operational/visitor attraction balance within the railway. Being run by a great bunch of entusiasts probably means that the focus is on gala's over other possibly more profitable/might bring more new long term visitors into the attraction (have I stepped over the line by calling the railway an attraction? It would seem so in some quarters).

    Personally there needs to be in a medium term plan, with a greater/at least more equal focus on the railway as a visitor attraction, as well as retaining its heritage standards. For instance, whilst the Government have put on hold the process for a new franchisee for the current GWR system, the informal debate continues with great vigor. The original plan of the railway was services from Taunton. When the current franchise operates two services on a Sunday (Bristol-Cardiff, and Bristol-Taunton - with longer lay-over times) to replace the week day Cardiff-Taunton service, could an offer not be made to extend Sundays services to BL? With regards to access, especially high net worth individuals, could a weekend coach service from the locations of high-residence (Bristol being the most obvious, but Weston, Shepton Mallet and even Cardiff could come onto the map) which could feed both regular but especially the Quantock Belle service.

    The current lack of direct mainline access is simply costing the railway visitor numbers, and hence profitable revenue (the clear division of focus on the SVR is a lesson, but so is also the clear long term focus on Kidderminster access). That conclusion must have been clear at least two years ago, when we lost the Thomas The Tank Engine events to the Forest Of Dean Railway. Whilst a short term cost cutting and reveune generation programme solves the immediate fiscal issue, it doesn't solve the clear and obvious long term sustainability solution: Taunton, and onwards for access to Bristol.
     
  6. Big Al

    Big Al Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    It has to be a no brainer (all other financial and NR considerations permitting) that the best way to move a 4-6-0 or a 4-6-2 is by rail.
     
  7. Mike S

    Mike S New Member

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    Post of the week......
     
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  8. Yorkshireman

    Yorkshireman Part of the furniture

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    What evidence do you have, as opposed to supposition, that the lack of a regular mainline link is significantly affecting WSR passenger numbers? What is your source of this statistic? Just curious.
     
  9. j&mkeynes

    j&mkeynes Guest

    There is no evidence. How can there be? Doesn`t mean its wrong though.....
     
  10. gwilialan

    gwilialan Well-Known Member

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    The thing with galas is that you must have the volunteer base to cope. When we used to run Thomas events it took practically all of our (small) volunteer base to run the event, staff platforms, check tickets, talk to our visitors, etc, etc. A week of that and we were all just about done in. Santa's can be very much the same. Agreed they bring in about a third of our visitor total in one month but running practically flat out every weekend in December (we are in the, some would say, enviable position of having to limit numbers to actual passenger carrying stock capacity) with the need for all setting up and stripping down the grottoes etc and the additional platform staff, car parking staff, caterers, elves, Santa's helpers etc.etc. is only just doable. The January/February break is very welcome but then we need the volunteers back in to do the 'big' jobs (i.e. P Way work) while the railway is shut down.

    I'd suggest that railways think long and hard about how many many galas or special days they are going to run each year. It is interesting (and pleasing) to note that a new phrase has been heard around the Boardroom when planning for next year:-
    Beware volunteer Burn-Out.
     
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  11. Miff

    Miff Well-Known Member

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    How then do you decide whether it’s a good idea, worth risking loads of time and money to achieve?
     
  12. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    We're in exactly the same situation on the GWSR, but luckily for us it comes at a time when because we're doing so well on normal days the commercial department are quite happy to back down on quite a few events as they no longer make up as much of our revenue as they used to.

    One point on a steam gala though, demanding as they are, they are (or ought to be) fun for volunteers too, an opportunity to do something a bit different to the norm, have some fun with some guest engines etc. We might all be exhausted by the end of it but having enjoyed the weekend just as much as the visitors - I know I do. Then there's the "raising the profile" aspect to it as well, holding a decent gala will probably guarantee you a double page spread in a magazine and generally provide some shouting that our railway is about. So it's not just about the tangible bottom line benefit. This isn't to excuse galas that are losing money, just to those that think that being the biggest event of the year it ought to make the most money or similar lines of thought.
     
  13. Yorkshireman

    Yorkshireman Part of the furniture

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    That is the point. Why indulge in all this mindless speculation? It really is time some of these armchair critics put up or shut up.
     
  14. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Once again telling other forum members to shut up, can't say I'm especially a fan of that particular method of debate...

    It must be incredibly hard to quantify the benefit of having a cross-platform interchange with the mainline, typically these occur at the busiest town/village that the railway calls at and so will have the best road links anyway, so the only way to measure how the cross-platform interchange on its own is of benefit is to ask everyone buying a ticket how they got here, and if they came by train, ask them if they would have come another way if that wasn't available - has anyone done anything like this?
     
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  15. mvpeters

    mvpeters Member

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    Perhaps easier would be to count the #28 bus passengers.
    I'm sure it varies a lot, & it must be worthwhile to the bus company, but does anyone have any idea how many WSR passengers arrive by bus?
    (This really belongs in the Operations thread).
     
  16. SouthWestMainline

    SouthWestMainline New Member

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    One of the best phrases / comments I have seen for ages and this applies to ALL railways.
    Have seen it time and time again.... volunteers say "fxxx this I have had enough" and then they can be lost forever
     
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  17. Ian Monkton

    Ian Monkton Member

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    When I was a Guard (up to 2016) I was in a good position to note the numbers arriving at BL on the bus for the first/second down trains of the day. Although I never made an actual count, most days they would be counted on the fingers of one hand, many times none at all. Galas were different - always a few dozen on each bus. A couple of times I was Conductor Guard on the GWR shuttles from Taunton, and then we sold about 250 return tickets. Again, these were run for galas so it's inevitable that those figures would not be achieved on 'normal' days.
     
  18. 35B

    35B Part of the furniture

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    Not just railways. Said the man looking at a number of events to organise and/or volunteer at between now and Christmas, on top of a full time job, and see family too.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  19. grahamwright

    grahamwright New Member

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    All very interesting, but falling well into the thread drift category...?
     
  20. dan-trumpet

    dan-trumpet New Member

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    I totally agree that most heritage railways exist because of the enthusiasm of their staff (members/volunteers, whatever you want to call them this week), however I should point out that on the F&WHR JGF is an entirely sarcastic term and grew out of the strained relationship between the board and those working on the ground! Its normally referenced to when the cacky has hit the fan. https://www.festipedia.org.uk/wiki/JGF
     
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