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WHHR trains never to be given access to WHR metals for timetabled services

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Railways' started by pjm, May 26, 2010.

  1. pjm

    pjm New Member

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    I read on http://www.isengard.co.uk/ that the talking is over about access to the new WHR for WHHR. And the answer is no. So the heritage train and Russell will never run on WHR metal unless the FR management changes I assume. Very Sad news, possibly bad business



    Statement reproduced below

    WHHR Press Statement 24/5/10

    James Hewett (Chairman of WHR Ltd.) reports: After negotiations between FR Co. and WHRL lasting more than twenty years, the FR has finally refused ever to allow WHRL timetabled passenger trains to run onto the new “WHR” between Caernarfon and Porthmadog. James Hewett said: "We are very unhappy that the FR, despite many previous promises, has now denied us the opportunity to run our passenger trains on a railway which we helped to build. In 1998, we withdrew our objection to their takeover of the railway only because we were promised that our trains would have access to their line. The 1998 Agreement (details are available on our website) gives us access to the whole of the new railway. The WHRL built (and mainly funded) a one-kilometre section between Pen-y-Mount and Traeth Mawr, and gave it to the FR Trust, but we have been excluded from this section since November 2008, despite the fact that the FR is not using it."

    The WHRL asserts that it is not in breach of the terms of the 1998 Agreement, but it was prevented from completing the Pont Croesor Extension because of FR actions. The WHRL continues to believe that its Operations Proposal (which provides for WHRL trains running in between FR trains over the one-and-a-half miles to Pont Croesor, with the WHRL paying the FR for access) is the best way forward for both Companies. A tourist offer which combines a short but authentic heritage train journey and museum tour - ideal for families with young children - with the opportunity to change onto an FR train at Pont Croesor for a longer trip, is an ideal scenario. Very strong support for this concept has been expressed by the Town Council, by many people from the local community, by the RSPB at Prenteg, by many railway enthusiasts, by volunteers from the UK’s other heritage railways, and indeed by many of the FR’s own members and supporters.

    The WHRL have also met with Visit Wales and the Welsh Assembly Government, and had a positive response to the Proposal. The FR, however, insists that the WHRL’s proposed short passenger run to Pont Croesor would constitute “unacceptable competition” to their own services. WHRL calls upon the management of the FR to reverse this iniquitous decision, and to co-operate on an equitable commercial partnership basis with WHRL, to make Porthmadog a true mecca for the narrow gauge railway enthusiast.
     
  2. Platelayer

    Platelayer New Member

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    It would be good to read an FfR official press release on this subject, just to get the view from their side.
     
  3. Christopher125

    Christopher125 Member

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    It should be pointed out that this is a draft press release not intended for publication.

    Chris
     
  4. Well in this case Chris i suggest that this topic is locked and removed whilst i am not a member of the Whhr at present i have assets there and i feel that this is a shame
     
  5. Miff

    Miff Well-Known Member

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    Bearing in mind previous FR statements, this does not appear to rule out special trains (i.e. not in the normal public timetable) nor the FR's previous suggestion of themselves operating timetabled vintage trains which could include WHHR heritage stock (subject to hire agreements) operating out of Harbour Station.

    I would guess the commercial problem for FR Co. is that a high frequency of trains operating out of Porthmadog (WHHR) and using the shop & facilities there would be competing with their own future services (on both WHR and FR) from Harbour.
     
  6. 48DL

    48DL New Member

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    Where is this from???? who said it is a draft statement??????
     
  7. Christopher125

    Christopher125 Member

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    The WHR e-group, from where it has since been deleted.

    Chris
     
  8. Axe

    Axe New Member

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    Not quite. The original release was to the 'WHR-Volunteers' e-group from where it was then copied to the 'WHR' e-group. The statement has also been published on a WHR news website.

    Chris
     
  9. Sheff

    Sheff Well-Known Member

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  10. Mike Corris

    Mike Corris New Member

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    If it is true it is disgraceful.

    I put an amount of money into the track appeal a while back with the WHHR and I'd suggest that the FR should make a refund. I can think of a far more suitable fund for that money to go to.

    If this comes to pass I will not be taking another WHR or FR journey, which I know is cutting off my nose to spite my face but what else can an ordinary enthusiast do?
     
  11. weltrol

    weltrol Member

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    Hmmm..
    If the attitude of some of the people at Porthmadog Gelert's Farm to Ffestiniog people is anything to go by, then it serves them right.
    I personally have been 'cold shouldered' by staff there, and all I did was drop my FR membership card accidentally when making a purchase...

    Likewise, there are probably still some at Porthmadog Harbour who feel the same way about Gelert's Farm.

    How long before we start to see legal challenges to all these goings on, as has happened with British Airways and the Unions?
     
  12. SillyBilly

    SillyBilly New Member

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    Press Release:
    "The WHRL continues to believe that its Operations Proposal (which provides for WHRL trains running in between FR trains over the one-and-a-half miles to Pont Croesor, with the WHRL paying the FR for access) is the best way forward for both Companies."

    1998 Agreement:
    6. A. iii) "Fares received from such trains will be paid to FRC but FRC in return will pay for the use of locomotives and rolling stock."


    Press Release:
    "The FR, however, insists that the WHRL’s proposed short passenger run to Pont Croesor would constitute “unacceptable competition” to their own services."

    1998 Agreement:
    6. A. ii) "Paths for such trains are compatible with commercial requirements and any requirements imposed by outside bodies."

    I can't se any quotes from FRC in the release that says "You will never run on our railway.", merely “unacceptable competition”, I can't see how it is unacceptable competition, but if the FRC has decided that, then the FRC has decided that. Bring on a different Operations Proposal, perhaps one with occasional Russell hauled Heritage trains to Beddgelert or Rhyd Ddu, as was origonally invisaged.

    Porthmadog is allready a meccca for the Narrow Gauge Enthusiast it doesn't need makeing in to one.

    Is it a coincidence this has appeared at the same time as the opening to Pont Coresor?

    An ordinary enthusiast could just grow up and just go for a ride on the train, life is all about doing the things you enjoy isn't it?
     
  13. Christopher125

    Christopher125 Member

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    Before people jump on the FR, its worth remembering that a) we dont know in what the context the remark was made, B) that when the line opens to Port the current signalling will not allow regular scheduled services to operate from Tremadog Rd anyway, and c) what the WHHR are proposing is different from the '98 agreement anyway; with Pont Croesor now a very attractive destination, they want to carry the financial risk, and benefit from the potential profits, instead of the FR.

    I dont blame the WHHR for going down this avenue and i can see why the proposal makes perfect sense to them, but its never going to be acceptable to the FR given the associated costs (and bad feeling). From someone who if anything sat on the WHHR side of the fence a few years ago im very dissapointed to see people from Gelerts Farm both trying to stir up trouble in the local press about the Brittania Bridge crossing, and now this press release on the day of the latest extension. It doesnt need to be this way.

    Chris
     
  14. ernestmembaar

    ernestmembaar New Member

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    This reply DOES NOT represent official FfR views, but as a FfR/WHR volunteer I do see this draft as a typically one sided statement by the WHHR chairman (I must state that I have no problems with most of the Gelert's Farm volunteers), intended to stir up some bad press for the FfR Company as they open to Pont Croesor.

    For a start, it fails to acknowledge certain details of the original 1998 agreement in which I BELIEVE that the WHHR were to gain running rights in return for mainly funding/building the WHOLE section up the Pont Croesor, not just the short section they actually completed. This has therefore cost the FfR Co. more time and money to complete along with other things.

    In respect of the comment in this statement saying that the FfR Company blocked access but are not currently using this section of line for passenger trains - this length of track is intrinsically linked with the Cambrian Crossing and all its associated track circuiting etc. and will be part of the same token section so NO regular trains of any company will run on the Porthmadog - Pont Croesor section now until this and ETRMS have been fully commissioned.

    When trains do start running on the new railway, the other important point to consider is that the WHHR trains are, I believe, exclusively air braked. All FfR company trains that run on the WHR/RE are, and MUST, be fully vacuum fitted. If a WHHR train were to operate on the new line and break down in this section, it would not be possible for an FfR company locomotive to easily rescue it, possibly having a negative effect not just on timetabled full line services, but possibly to Cambrian NR trains as well, incurring huge fines. As of the present, I do not know of any concerted effort the WHHR have made to comply with FfR Co. braking regulations.

    As has already been pointed out in earlier posts, this statement does not seem to rule out ANY heritage trains in the future and I too look forward to a full, official statement from the FfR Company giving their side of the story. I'm sure they have other fully considered, and perfectly sensible, operational reasons for possibly saying No to regular WHHR heritage trains.

    Karl
     
  15. lostlogin

    lostlogin New Member

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    I do not know who is wrong or who is right, I have not got all the facts, however I understand that the 1998 agreement made provision for mediation/arbitration. if that is the case can both sides scuttle off there and when something has finally been settled announce it and let that be an end to it.

    However if the FR are to get all fares from the WHHR then commercially I would have thought it in there interest. As a punter I might on my own do the whole of the WHR when it is complete once. It is very unlikley my wife and family would want to join me, the journey is much to long. No leakage of funds from FR there

    When trains from Port to Beddgelert I expect we will use as a family on a nice day, subject to the times of the trains as it will be nice to go for lunch, have a wander and then get the train back. WHHR are not running to Beddgelert so no loss of funds from FR there.

    On a "grotty" day or whilst I or wife is shopping at Tesco, a short train ride to PC and back, a "play" around the shed, ride on the minature railway would be ideal with our 3 year old and not something we could do on the FR. Equally we might get the train from PC to go shopping in Tesco and then return. That is extra revenue which nobody will get unless the WHHR run to PC. As the FR get the fares which are then split surely it is in there interest to tap into that market. Sometimes i think that we forget there are plenty out there who are not train fans and a short ride is all they want, especially in this day and age where kids appear to have shorter and shorter attention spans and sitting with them on a train for an hour is not excatly fun.

    Apart from all that, and I know the reply will probably be stump up some cash, but when the WHR opens up fully next year can I plead for a reasonably frequent service at peak times between Port & Beddgelert. I appreciate that this will require extra rolling stock and motive power but living in the IoM I see how an infrequent service does drive punters away
     
  16. Christopher125

    Christopher125 Member

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    I think this is the main issue; in the '98 agreement the WHHR's rolling stock and crews would be hired by the FR, plus they'd receive a percentage of the fares over the section of track they'd completed (or something along those lines), thus giving them a guaranteed income and putting the financial as well as operational risk in the hands of the FR. The gist of the WHHR's current proposals however seem quite different, with them effectively extending their railway to Pont Croesor, collecting the ticket revenue, and then paying a track access charge instead.

    ...well, i think thats the general idea anyway.

    Chris
     
  17. lostlogin

    lostlogin New Member

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    I still that is a win win, provided the cost of signalling that is required is covered by the WHHR as I see the two railways generally competing in a different market place. It would be different if the WHHR was goint to Beddgelert.

    The WHHR will appeal to family with young kids wanting a short ride or and to be amused for an hour or two. Or those short on cash who do not really want to gp on a train but it will keep little Johnny hapy. The WHR to those who want something more substantial. Anyway if arbitration is provided for as I said they should resolve either way via that and then they can announce what has been decided as I am sure that the general enthusiast and punter does not really want to hear the continual arguments between the two sides. In the long run it can do neither party much good.

    The real competition in my view in Portmadoc although they are both run by the FR will be be between the FR and WHR. It will depend on pricing and frequency of service but I can see the WHR being very appealing to coach operators. Maybe they will do the whole route or both railways over different days but it will be a tough choice if they do only one. Equally as a general punter standing at Port deciding which train to take a trip to Beddgelert may have more general appeal that to say Tan y Bwlch or BF. Wrongly or rightly I have always assumed that this is partly why they have never pressed to open through to Port as a matter of urgency. I appreciate there are other reasons, including rolling stock issues, but in terms of marketing etc opening in stages from Rhydd Ddu makes perfect sense hence the FR have been relaxed on the issue..
     
  18. Hunslets Finest

    Hunslets Finest New Member

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    My sentiments exactly. I just hope it is not true as because as far as I am concerned no Russell means no Welsh Highland. Apart from a few short visits I haven't been on holiday in North Wales for over twenty years. Over the last few years I have been negotiating for a family holiday to the area in the hope that I can be there for the day that Russell blasts up the pass. Looks like that was a waste of time and we can head abroad or to Cornwall instead...

    Just for my knowledge can anyone confirm in the original judgement that the FR were required to reopen the line and that they initially only wanted the trackbed to stop competition? Also what does the orginal application to the lottery say on the subject of heritage trains?

    Perhaps the FR should act in a more reasonable manner towards the 1964 co who have fought so long to keep the memory of the Welsh Highland alive? Also it is not like there are no other railways in North Wales providing competition and surely a short heritage train ride is never going to make that much difference to the FR revenue. It is not as they will be running through tourist honey pots like Beddgelert, Aberglaslyn or Caernarfon or the 1964 co are going to close down their operations so there is no compertition for the FR.

    If true a very sad day for all ng fans.
     
  19. Baldwin

    Baldwin Guest

    If this turns out to be true then this really is a sad moment for all NG fans and more so those who have contributed to the finance of the WHR like myself.
     
  20. Edward

    Edward New Member

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    I think you've got to the crux of this. To an outsider, this looks like a sour grapes exercise. The timing, the deliberately confrontational & sensationalised title given to this thread.... It does the image of the WHHR no good whatsoever.

    It comes as no surprise to see some of the more reasoned posts above pointing out some of the very real operational issues that would need to be addressed for a start.

    If I were running the WHHR operation, I would regard the chance to operate any trains on the WHR's metals (it's someone else's railway after all) as a massive bonus, which could have a very positive effect on my bottom line.
     

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