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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. AndrewT

    AndrewT Member

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    The Festiniog Railway Company's policy is not to participate in business discussions through press releases or letters to local media.
     
  2. 48DL

    48DL Member

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    I will lay my cards on the table right away.
    I am a life member of WHHR since the 1980's so I have been there while the whole shooting match has been going on.
    My view is this, It comes as no surprise that the FR are not letting the WHHR run timetabled trains, the FR is a business and wants the monopoly on the tourist attractions in Porthmadog, it is sound business sense.
    I am a railway enthusiast, no, make that a narrow gauge railway enthusiast, I wanted to build a short railway that gave the flavour of what the original WHR was about. I had hoped it would be a 7 to 8 mile run, Authentic loco's hauling authentic trains, make enough money to keep everything ticking over...happy days
    As such this has been attained, just a bit(!!) shorter than I envisaged, and maybe a question mark on making enough money.
    Going beyond the current run would be a 'Brucey bonus'
    If the FR don't want to generate extra income from selling paths and getting a percentage of ticket revenue whilst not having to carry the financial burden of maintaining and crewing the train then so be it.
    It is after all their choice and their track.

    As to the timing of the press release?
    Too right it was timed to coincide with the opening to Pont Croesor, it is after all a PR game but to say it is sensationalized? I disagree, it is merely the truth, the FR is not allowing the WHHR to run timetabled trains.
     
  3. SpudUk

    SpudUk Well-Known Member

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    What a disgrace! Whilst to some this might seem like sensationalized complaining that is going to tarnish the WHHR's image, to me, as a more then outside observor, its only further dented my image of the FR in their treatment of the whole Welsh Highland exercise. Whilst I am not going to openly critise the FR (Unofficial Lyd Fan Club Chairman!!) I do feel that it is everyones interest to insert a small amount of 'heritage' into the WHR, and the WHHR operating trains along a small section of the WHR or to a WHHR/WHR junction station would be a good way of doing this.

    I more then understand why the WHHR are re-acting the way they are, at the end of the day the FR are a massive company and the way you tackle these big companies is to dent their PR to drag them back to the table...this shouldn't be over!
     
  4. Christopher125

    Christopher125 Part of the furniture

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    This ISNT about whether heritage trains should operate on the WHR, it is about who runs such an operation and who profits from it. The WHHR no longer want a guaranteed income from hiring the Heritage Train to the FR, plus a percentage of ticket revenue from trains running over the track they laid as previously agreed to - they now want to run the operation as an extension of their own line and collect ticket revenue accordingly.

    It seems no matter how many passengers get on a WHHR train instead of a WHR one, or how many spend in the shop at Tremadog Rd instead of Port Harbour - as far as i can tell all the WHR get is a track access charge.

    When you factor in how much the FR claims to have paid out because the WHHR didnt achieve everything in the original agreement, plus what is required to allow such an operation to run, is it really so 'disgraceful' that the FR will never allow it?

    Chris
     
  5. Christopher125

    Christopher125 Part of the furniture

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    There is now a response from the F&WHR in the local press - Access row brews between rival Gwynedd railway companies


    Paul Lewin, FWR general manager, said: “We note that James Hewett of the WHHR has issued a statement alleging a breakdown in negotiations between the two organisations.

    “The FWR offered WHHR the opportunity to participate in operations over their railway on August 8, 2008.

    “At that same time the WHHR were told, unambiguously, that a proposal they had advanced for scheduled train operation to Pont Croesor was not acceptable on operational, safety and commercial grounds.

    “Our offer has been reiterated in correspondence over the last 20 months, and as recently as May 10, James Hewett advised the FWR that the conclusions of the discussions between the two organisations were to be put to the WHHR Board.

    “The Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways regret Mr Hewett’s action to pre-empt discussion within his own organisation, an action which appears to limit the scope for discussions between the companies for the time being. The FWR wish them well.”


    Chris
     
  6. pjm

    pjm New Member

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    So in 20 months of talks we have not moved forward FR have offer to "hire the heritage" train from the WHHR which will then be run from harbour station when then want it. The WHHR want to run service from there station to pont croesor to service the rspb centre.
    The FR will not agree to this as it creates the cheapest way to get a several mile round trip in the area and impact greatly on the numbers on the FR that at the moment has this market. And will be under great pressure for passenger numbers from the WHR as in my opinion it has better view better places to visit on route and for the train fan a more challenging driving and firing route. But gas a price per mile to keep people on the FR.
    So I can see no movement on this subject for at least 10 years, and no Russell or 590(baldwin) on WHR.
     
  7. Edward

    Edward Member

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    So someone else builds a railway, but you expect them to allow your society to run trains on it when you feel like it, to the detriment of their own business?

    I'd have thought the hire of your loco & train is the only realistic option. How many of the WHHR's people will have been able to develop a sufficient level of proficiency on their short route, to be able to meet the FR/ WHR's standards?
     
  8. SillyBilly

    SillyBilly Member

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    Actually I can see now how it is uncompatiable commerically for the FRC, I missed the point, people will want to travel to the RSPB place by train, if they are on an FRC train it makes much more sense.
    The FRC offering to hire the train as per the 1998 agreement.

    As Karl's post notes trains can't begin from the WHHR at the moment, and when it's open, untill ETS has been installed it is not going to be worth starting trains from the WHHR because it'd be too much effort to get them in section at P-y-M.
     
  9. lostlogin

    lostlogin Member

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    Without taking sides I think that is a misreading of the agreement as published to state “The WHHR no longer want a guaranteed income from hiring the Heritage Train to the FR, plus a percentage of ticket revenue from trains running over the track they laid as previously agreed to - they now want to run the operation as an extension of their own line and collect ticket revenue accordingly”

    The agreement appears, and unfortunately the word appears might be used a lot as it appears to be poorly drafted, to provide for the WHHR to run the trains. They give over the fares to the FR and in return they receive a “usage” fee. Hire as you have used gives the impression that the trains are hired to the FR for a fee, who would then operate as they fit rather than the WHHR operating.

    I would agree that as you set out there is a change in terms i.e. the WHHR wish to collect fares and they pay a fee for track usage, rather than the FR receiving the fares and then paying a fee in respect of the trains run. I would hope that that difference is not insurmountable as it could be argued the revision gives the FR a better deal. i.e. it is only income generating in that it will receive a tack usage fee and have to pay out virtually nothing in return. I am presuming the WHHR covers costs of additional signaling work etc. If the original agreement is stuck to then the FR could potentially make a loss if the fares are less that the train usage fee. Obviously that actually might be a fixed % of fares in which case a loss would not arise, but if that was the case it should not matter which way around the agreement is.

    In all of this what very view of us know are the salient facts. Even those that do probably disagree with what to degree they are relevant or impact on the agreement. To me reading the agreement and having read various articles relating to the dispute, it appears to have arisen because there is a fundamental disagreement about whether the WHHR are in default because they did not complete the construction to PC, or whether they could be deemed not to be in default because the alleged actions or non actions of the FR prevented the WHHR from doing the work. This though leads back to the agreement and it being poorly drafted as the copy publically available on the WHHR website just says “WHRL will proceed with Track Construction of the Section from Pen-y-Mount to Pont Croesor as soon as practicable” That phrase is very wooly, what does proceed mean? Starting to lay a panel of track could be proceeding, Equally define as soon as practicable. There is no mention of completion in respect of construction nor does it detail remedies in the event of not proceeding.

    I think it just shows the importance of drawing up a detailed watertight agreement at the start of any major matter when you are all on good terms as ultimately the only ones who win otherwise are the lawyers and I am sure those who support either or both railways in whatever form but especially with financial contributions do not do so in the expectation that that assistance will end up in the hands of the lawyers.
     
  10. lostlogin

    lostlogin Member

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    As I replied to Christopher there is no reference to "hire" in the 1998 agreement. At least not on the copy posted on the WHHR website which is the only one I have seen and I presume is correct.

    We or some of us have read the agreement and where it says "pay for the use of" we have taken that to read hire. But hire to me means that once I have paid I am free to do with as I wish subject to certain conditions. Per the agreement that does not appear to be what is being described as it would appear the it is not the FR who would be operating the trains. Surely if you were the hirer as in the majority of cases the hirer you would be operating.

    Ultimately the agreement is so badly drafted you can virtually argue it could mean anything depending on your view point
     
  11. crantock

    crantock Member

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    The WHHR have proven themselves very good at building sheds, a museum and have an excellent shop. However, whilst creating that, they neglected their obligations and faile dto build facts on the ground towards Pont Croesor. You can not have your cake and eat it. I welcome the WHHR as an attraction in Porthmadog but think they are out of order. Time for Mr H to step down?

    The FR is very on-message to its neighbours etc etc (well some of them) but has anyone actually visited the RSPB? I mean we joke about "shunter + brake van & 100yd" lines but this is the birdwatching equivalent. The cost to the FR of crossings etc must exceed that of the RSPB on a container. I turned up and found a non-local poshie in a container showing videos of birds in the nest a mile away and trying to sign up members. Its a joke. I pity anyone who drove all the way there to see it.

    By comparison the WHHR and WHR (FR) are real quality attractions. Shame they spend their time pecking each other.
     
  12. SillyBilly

    SillyBilly Member

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    I think the thing that makes it for the RSPB place is it's a reasonably quiet location by a river with good views.
     
  13. lostlogin

    lostlogin Member

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  14. Christopher125

    Christopher125 Part of the furniture

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    They are also attracting a substantial number of visitors, and this is what has made a Pont Croesor shuttle a much more profitable proposition.

    Lostlogin, regarding my use of 'hire', i merely meant it as a description of how the FR would've paid for the use of the rolling stock and its crewing by WHHR volunteers.

    Chris
     
  15. michaelh

    michaelh Part of the furniture

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    It took them 40 years ( the 1964 Co) to build 1/4 of a mile. No wonder people don't take them seriously
     
  16. SillyBilly

    SillyBilly Member

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    Not wnting to confuse things, but I've heared rumours that during that 40 years the WHRL was offered the trackbed by TCL or something and declined? Something to do with principles if I remember? Not sure.
     
  17. 1472

    1472 Well-Known Member

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    Until Russell & stock have been completely overhauled to an acceptable condition the whole thing is academic anyway??
     
  18. 48DL

    48DL Member

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    PLEASE do not stir that old hornets nest again!
     
  19. SpudUk

    SpudUk Well-Known Member

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    Well that was completely unnecessary
     
  20. DJH

    DJH Member

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    Having waited until there was some sort of balance in terms of both sides of the story I have now read the article in the local paper. Whilst the original statement gave the impression that WHHR trains would not operate on the WHR the FRs response seems to indicate this wasn't the case. To me it seems more a storm in a teacup.

    On the assumption that tokens, track and all the neccessary infrastructure is in place there are still a number of issues that need to be resolved. These have, as no surprise to anyone, been debated to death on here. One issue which I think has been resolved was a compatible coupling system. The other issues were on the issues of maintaining linespeed and the braking system. The former issue will be resolvable once Russell is operational and the second issue will require some expense.

    These issues aside the one key issue which has so far seemed to have been neglected is the fact that the Pen-y-Mount to Pont Croesor section has not been passed for operational running. Neither railway can operate until this section is complete, and the by pass viaduct has been built over both railways. The Pen-y-Mount/Harbour-Pont Croesor section is currently being worked on by the trackgangs consisting of volunteers from all three railways.

    I am optimistic that these issues can be resolved, although it will take time. As far as I'm aware the talks had been going well and progress had been made. Let's hope that these talks can continue and that long term this issue will be resolved.

    Regards
    Duncan
     

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