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Winners & Losers in 2014

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by buzby2, Jan 16, 2015.

  1. buzby2

    buzby2 Member

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    It doesn't look like anyone has started this topic for last year so he goes:

    Swanage Railway - 216,267 in 280 operating days to 31st December 2014 [210,984 in 269 days during 2013 and 191,441 in 277 days during 2012]. SR has scheduled 269 days during 2015.

    West Somerset Railway achieved 195,212 during 2014 [197,654 in 2013]. WSR figures were drastically reduced during Winter storms and the long-term aftermath problems suffered widely in South West tourism during last Spring.
     
  2. buzby2

    buzby2 Member

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  3. Big Al

    Big Al Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    Thinking of main line steam in 2014 compared with 2013, I've tried a 'quick and dirty' count using UK Steam of the number of charters that:
    - ran on the day with diesel and no steam at all.
    - ran on the day with a diesel that provided a considerable amount of the motive power (i.e. show pony charters).
    - ran but the locomotive failed at some point and the rest was diesel hauled.

    What I have not counted are the number of times:
    - that the loco on the day was different from what was advertised.
    - when a diesel was in the mix for ETH/the occasional push.
    - when the trip was cancelled and didn't run at all.
    (Life's too short for that!)

    For both 2013 and 2014 the total came to in excess of 40 (FORTY) trips. The largest proportion in each year was fire related. In 2013 it was the requirement to run with a diesel because of fire risk whereas in 2014 it was a diesel alone because of FBU action. But make no mistake, if you excluded all of these the figures would still have been sizeable. Oh, and in 2014 there was the famous instance of when the diesel failed on the stock at Oxford, the trip was cancelled on the day and Bittern went home.

    I don't think I could describe any of that data as a 'winner' other than to say that in both years there was still a hell of a lot of steam on the main line and we should be pleased about that. But I think that what it does show is that each year there will always be an element of risk with steam charters on the main line and there's probably no point in going on about it. You pay the money, or not, and you take the chance. However, on a heritage line you are virtually guaranteed to get steam of some description if you turn up on the day. An interesting thought.
     
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  4. mrKnowwun

    mrKnowwun Part of the furniture

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    Given the variables, and the logistics you are right, we do get a lot of mainline steam. I regularly get comments on my channel from enthusiasts outside the UK wishing they lived here or could get here regularly. And on the whole you have more chance of getting the steam power you booked than not.

    Comparing mainline to heritage is not in the same ball park. Yes you are almost guaranteed to get steam at some point, but its slow steam and to somewhere not far away from where you started steam.
     
  5. Big Al

    Big Al Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    Of course that is true. However, it's a promise that is delivered as it says 'on the tin' and that is its USP. But it would be a lesser GB if we didn't have both.
     
  6. Daddsie71b

    Daddsie71b Member Friend

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    It astounds me that a 12 mile railway that carries 85,000 in a good year is looking to expand. In fact I am surprised they even make a profit. It must have lots of well wishers as their development and facilities do not reflect their patronage.

    Don't get me wrong, it is a clean, well organised railway with excellent facilities, I love it, infact envious, if only we could have some of what they have got at Swanage.

    But as a business, I would be worried.
     
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  7. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    I think the company runs at a profit nudging 3 figures IIRC, and we do have a large number of well wishers. Our paintshop was mostly funded by a bequest, and because we get on with things, people see where their money goes, rather than wondering what happened to it. I have to say though, beyond Broadway I will always be skeptical of further expansion unless passenger numbers significantly increase.
     
  8. John Petley

    John Petley Well-Known Member

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    The Kent & East Sussex Railway/Rother Valley Robertsbridge-Bodiam link will be the extension to watch as the best guide as to whether Broadway to Honeybourne could be viable. There are some obvious parallels: both are about three miles long with a Network Rail station in a fairly small place (well, compared with East Grinstead or Kidderminster) at one end and a poplar tourist attraction at the other end. I have read on this forum that one or two people invovled in the Robertsbridge project fear that the reopened section will become the busiest bit of the line at the expense of Bodiam-Tenterden. Obviously, there is a bit of a difference between the two lines here, as there is nowhere between Bodiam and Tenterden nearly as big or touristy (if that is the right word) as Winchcombe. If you think Winchcombe station is badly situated for the village, try Wittersham Road - it's in the middle of nowhere! Conversely, however, Bodiam station is better situated for the castle than Broadway is for the village. Steam Railway quoted someone saying that they were aiming for Robertsbridge-Bodiam reopening in 2018 - a year after Broadway reopens, so there will be plenty of opportunity for the GWSR to study how sucessful that extension is proving before thinking about Honeybourne - especially if there is now talk of trying to get a bit nearer Cheltenham town centre first.
     
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  9. mikechant

    mikechant Member

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    Personally, the closer a heritage railway gets to a national rail connection, the more I support and visit it. I know I'm not very representative, having no car and priv travel, and being a bit concerned about whether connecting buses will show up etc. but on the other hand people like me are maybe disproportionately likely to visit heritage railways... Another thing to note is that the number of young people with no cars is apparently increasing, and the number of national rail network journeys is constantly increasing; I think the importance of a national rail connection for heritage railways may be increasing.

    In the particular case of the GWSR, I also think that posh London area racegoers would fairly regularly pay a huge amount to arrive at Cheltenham Racecourse in their private compartment or a Pullman type coach on a steam service (even if it took a long time and had to reverse at Honeybourne). I reckon this could become a big kudos thing for rich 'ladies and gentlemen of the city' whose regular huge wads of money would justify the Honeybourne extension alone.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2015
  10. simon

    simon Part of the furniture

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    Reported profit is not necessarily a good measure of a preserved lines viability as it can be manipulated quite easily by, for example, deferring maintenance.
     
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  11. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    True, but we did spend a similar amount on unexpected embankment repairs last year, and I think we overspent elsewhere too. :)
     
  12. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Thing is, Gold cup week (which is the one which attracts the crowds) is only 1 week per year, the rest of the year it probably wouldn't be used much. I think currently it is beyond the means of the railway alone to finance such a thing. If the council and the racecourse were to help, that might change things...

    What is most frustrating is that our chosen line is too long! when the group started, Toddington was the only viable option with some of the buildings surviving. Northwards at the time there was another group so South it was, now we're the middle section of a railway with an expensive mainline connection either end just too far out of reach. :(
     
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  13. michaelh

    michaelh Well-Known Member

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    Yes, but the races only happen for a few days each year
     
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  14. Ruston906

    Ruston906 New Member

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    As I understand the GWR is still virtually all volunteers so the figure need to break even is far lower than for example the SVR which has full time staff to pay.
    Also this means they do not operate on so many days as other so the figure is going to be lower but there costs are lower in fuel and maintenance.
     
  15. Reading General

    Reading General Well-Known Member

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    What does Swanage do to beat the WSR figures on a much shorter line?
     
  16. 1472

    1472 Well-Known Member

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    I think you may have just answered your own question there.
    Whilst passenger numbers are one measure (and well done Swanage in 2014) they are not a reliable measure of ongoing viability which is quite a complex matter requiring proper policies and allowances for maintenance & replacement in addition to the more obvious immediate costs.
     
  17. simon

    simon Part of the furniture

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    It would be interesting to know how many of the Swanage passengers use it primarily as a park and ride service,which I don't think many would use the WSR for. Although I stand to be corrected.
     
  18. Reading General

    Reading General Well-Known Member

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    Well I'll re=phrase then. How do Swanage get more passengers than the WSR...both have the sea at the far end and park and ride at the near end (well that's how I visit the WSR anyway!) The WSR is probably closer to the Motorway although a little further from London.
     
  19. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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    Because visitors are encouraged to use the "Park and Ride" facility before entering Swanage. I travel by car to Corfe Castle because my National Trust membership gives me parking concessions there but if not an NT member I would follow the signs and look to travel in by train. My experience of the train times was that they are reasonable and the DMU service in the evening still allowed for a later departure.
    IMHO opinion the WSR attracts visitors to the railway whilst the Swanage operation attracts visitors to the town, some of whom may be interested in the railway; that difference in marketing plus the active support of the local council makes all the difference. This is not to say that the WSR's local council is unsupportive but it's support is less pro-active I think as it seeks to protect WSR interests whilst the Swanage area councils actively involve themselves in SR operations.
     
  20. Reading General

    Reading General Well-Known Member

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    but it's the same at the WSR...parking at Bishop's Lyd and train then to the sea.
     

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