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Bluebell Railway General Discussion

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by Jamessquared, Feb 16, 2013.

  1. 46118

    46118 New Member

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    Looking to the future, are the Bluebell considering a closer relationship with the National Trust at Sheffield Park Gardens? Just had a quick look at the NT website and whilst it says under "how to get there": " Sheffield Park (Bluebell Railway) three-quarters of a mile" there is no mention of being able to travel from EG and the National Network.
    --Through ticketing? Connecting mini-bus from SP station to the gardens? Just a thought.
    Most important that when all these extra passengers arrive at SP, there is some additional reason for travelling there other than just the rail journey and return.
    As with many NT properties it is not cheap to get admission, £21-25 family, £8-50 adult, so must be scope for a " package deal", rail travel, connecting mini-bus, admission to gardens.

    46118
     
  2. nanstallon

    nanstallon Well-Known Member

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    But a nearby NT property makes it easier to persuade the non-enthusiasts in the house to come; trouble is, Dad normally pays for it all!

    John
     
  3. Paul42

    Paul42 Well-Known Member

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    The Bluebell timetable leaflet advises " on Saturdays & Sunday from Easter - October bus serice 121 and 769 link the Railway and Garden".
     
  4. Ploughman

    Ploughman Well-Known Member

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    But I am looking at travelling mid week as most retired people do.
     
  5. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    It's (probably) only temporary. The planning permission for Kingscote only allowed tickets to be sold when it was a terminus. So now it is a through station, someone has pointed out we can't sell tickets! My understanding is that the railway will apply to the local council for a variation in the planning permission for Kingscote to allow tickets to be sold, so hopefully all should be resolved in due course. In any case, very few passengers ever start there because of the restriction on parking in the same planning permission (off the top of my head, it is low single figure percentage of our total passenger numbers) and with EG open, that will probably fall even further, so I can't see it will be a major problem. Kingscote will revert to what it always was - a quiet country backwater (with a sleepy goods yard...)

    Tom
     
  6. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    It's probably a "wait and see" to see how traffic develops at the moment. (After all, we have only been open two days!)

    I agree that we get mostly retired people mid week - however, very a large number of them are on coach trips, so onward travel to SP Gardens isn't a problem. Not a solution for a single person or couple travelling independently, I agree.

    We have got some joint trips arranged with the National Trust to both SP Gardens and Standen House during the opening festival, so once things settle down, I'd expect we will continue to work together to promote both attractions. Combined tickets are a bit problematic (because of the tax implications of the NT being a charity that can reclaim Gift Aid, but the Railway isn't, at least not for its commercial operations). But I am sure we will get those solved, and also consider transport between the station and the gardens if there is sufficient demand. Certainly I am sure that both the NT and the Railway will have a pretty good feel for the demographic of their visitors, and how that changes between mid week and weekends.

    Worth remembering though that, for example, the walk between Station and Gardens is less than between, say, Dunster Station and Dunster Castle on the WSR (to put it into context).

    Tom
     
  7. 46118

    46118 New Member

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    Tom: I suppose the subliminal message in my post was "I hope the Bluebell marketing people are working on this one..." Indeed I am sure they are.

    It is important though, and whilst I dont want to revisit the oft-discussed issue of whether you try and entertain your arriving train passengers "on site", and "capture" their spend, or accept that at least a proportion will have plans to move on to a nearby attraction. As you will well know from the threads here on NP, up here on the SVR we have had the discussion recently about Bridgnorth and its future facilities!.

    My feeling is that attitudes change over time, particularly with the cost of a day out, people want to maximise what they do within their travel cost budget. Now just as an example, I would want to look round your new museum facility at SP, but that isn't going to take all day, and the better-half likes visiting gardens, even under sufferance expensive ones under the care of the National Trust, so we would typically arrive at SP, quick look round, and move on to the NT Gardens.

    Again we are well-versed in the arguments around how many of your customers on an ordinary service day are actually enthusiasts as such.

    ( As an aside, I might add that the best example of setting your railway into the context of being a means of getting about the locality and doing other things was a folder produced by the Kent & East Sussex railway in conjuction with a local town development agency or tourism operation ( the town was Tenterden actually). Inside the folder which we found in our holiday cottage were a series of laminated cards with walks and places of interest to visit from each of the stations en-route. The only one I can remember now was of course Bodiam castle, which is a short walk from the K & ESR station. The presentation was so good that I sent the folder to to the then marketing manager of the SVR, having first obtained another copy from Tenterden Station shop. It was a free handout. )

    46118
     
  8. Funnell

    Funnell New Member

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    The ticketing and refreshments issue at Kingscote was unfortunate. I have been informed that a delay in paperwork meant they couldn't get the permission in time for the start of the opening festival but it was hoped that it would all have come through and been resolved by Easter weekend or at the least before the end of the opening festival.

    I personally think Kingscote will make a great place to break the journey up, picnic in the adjoining field before joining the next train.
     
  9. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    The Bodiam Station - Castle connection is certainly convenient, and I am sure we (as in the general heritage railway community) can all find good practice on other railways that we can learn from: my experience is that the perfect heritage railway would actually combine elements from several lines. I'd quite like to see a "view from the line side" booklet: the SVR had (and still has, I assume) quite a good one. The Bluebell used to have one, but I haven't seen it for a while., though and "Extension: before and after" booklet is now available.

    Tom
     
  10. goldfish

    goldfish Resident of Nat Pres

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    In due course, it would be good if NT could be encouraged to change this page to highlight that it will now be possible to reach Sheffield Park by train from London…

    How to get here - National Trust

    Using NT generally to promote that message online/offline/social media/whatever could be really powerful for attracting the casual/blue rinse brigade…

    Simon
     
  11. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Work started today putting the new zinc roof on the extended platform 1 canopy at Sheffield Park - a few photos from John Sandys here: Today at The Bluebell, Tues, 16/04/13 - a set on Flickr. The fundraising effort has seen much enthusiastic support, so much so we are now approximately 80% towards our target, with a grand total to date of £34,725 towards £42,000. You can donate here: Charles Melton is fundraising for Bluebell Railway Trust

    Meanwhile, there is also good fundraising news on another project - the steam crane restoration has been awarded a grant of £15,250 from the Arts Council towards the cosmetic restoration of our Ransome & Rapier 45t steam crane. This will enable the cosmetic restoration of the crane to make it presentable to the public and to prevent deterioration. Included is funding for interpretation to explain its historical significance. More information about this project here: Bluebell Railway - Steam Crane Restoration Group

    Tom
     
  12. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    A quick note to mention that 350hp shunter 09018 (ex HNRC) has arrived on hire at the Bluebell. Once commissioned, this will replace the current 350hp shunter, 13326, which will be returned back to its owners. The new shunter has the advantage of being dual braked (air and vacuum) which presumably will increase flexibility when shunting incoming rail tours, when compared with the existing shunter.

    Photo (not mine) here: 09 at S/P | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    Tom
     
  13. echap

    echap Member

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    I wonder how that livery will go down with some of the steam purists! :eek:
     
  14. Luke Bridges

    Luke Bridges New Member

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    LBSC livery anyone ;)
     
  15. Orion

    Orion New Member

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    Is the 'new' shunter on hire?
     
  16. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Yes. The clue is in my previous post!

    The official note on the Bluebell website:

    "Diesel shunting loco No.09018 was delivered to Sheffield Park on Tuesday. This locomotive has been purchased by a consortium of members who are setting up a company to manage the loco, which will be hired by the Railway. Locomotive No.13236 will leave the Railway once 09018 has been commissioned into service. Tony Sullivan's photo below shows it at Sheffield Park today. It is not going to remain in those HNRC colours!"

    Tom
     
  17. Ploughman

    Ploughman Well-Known Member

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    I think Galatea would look good in that scheme.
     
  18. Orion

    Orion New Member

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    OK, so it's not an item of 'Plant'
     
  19. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Where does it say that? It's basically a "like for like" replacement of the existing shunter, but, as I understand, on financial terms that are slightly more advantageous to the railway. There is still plenty of infrastructure work to carry our now the NEP is open.

    Still, if you are genuinely concerned - there is still probably time to sign up as a member and attend the AGM (in three weeks time) where I am sure the relevant director would be prepared to answer questions on loco policy. At the same time, you could question the fundraising director as to how he plans to fund an overall increase in capacity of the loco works such that a shunting engine like Normandy can be kept in service over and above the normal service requirement for locos.

    Tom
     
  20. 46118

    46118 New Member

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    These 09's that Harry Needle has supplied to several Heritage lines recently do have the advantage of a 25 mph top speed rather than 15 mph with the 08's.

    On a different topic, Tom, have you any indications as to how ticket sales at EG are settling down into some some sort of pattern? Or is it too early to say? Rather than numbers as such I was thinking of different travel patterns.

    46118
     

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