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Editorial - Giving heritage lines a bad name

Discussion in 'The Railway Magazine' started by Mike30A, Jul 10, 2009.

  1. Mike30A

    Mike30A New Member

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    Whilst appreciating your reluctance to name and shame the unfriendly line " to spare its blushes in the hope it will mend its ways" -- a couple of points spring to mind
    1) unless they are aware of your visit and observations are they likely to change their ways ? One would hope they would respond positively to constructive comments.
    2) perhaps more importantly, would it not benefit you readership to know who they are in order to avoid a wasted journey - whether an admission charge is levied or not.
     
  2. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    You would imagine that the people in question would be able to recognise their own site from the description given, if the whole issue actually bothered them in the first place that is.
     
  3. Guest

    Guest New Member Account Suspended

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    A few years ago I had a particularly bad day on one particular line,so I posted a review of it

    The membership secretary immediately flew to the defence of the line.

    I hadn't named it anywhere - he merely presumed, correctly, that the poor experience was on that railway.

    Preserved lines are in a competitive leisure market. Days like today will find the poorer performers out as people look for things to do when skies are grey and leaden
     
  4. RM Staff

    RM Staff New Member

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    The railway concerned has recognised itself and been in touch with the editor. Naming and shaming may not be a good move, as while I appreciate some people will visit, they should be allowed to mend their ways. The railway concerned is a small organisation, but having been involved in preservation matters for 20 years, there is a tendency to become blinkered and not look at the wider picture.

    There are a lot of people, ourselves included, who would happily give free advice and comment about how we see the visitor perception at heritage railways, but you must also realise that things have got to be pretty bad for any magazine editor to put pen to paper about it in his editorial.

    As TBird Frank pointed out "Preserved lines are in a competitive leisure market", and some of the volunteers who work on them simply don't realise that. They are unaware they are part of the growing heritage railway market, generating income of £50million per year, and as such competing with thousands of other attractions and fighting for every bum on every seat. First impressions matter.

    Having polite welcoming staff/volunteers who know how to deal with the public, somewhere for a decent cuppa and clean toilets is a very good starting point. Next comes a website that is well-designed, informative, and regularly updated - sadly many aren't.

    In the 90s, I frequented Little Chefs quite often on my travels as the food was above average, and modestly priced. Then prices rose and service standards slipped. I recall sitting in the LC at the western end of the Skipton bypass with 3 colleagues waiting for a table for breakfast. After 15 mins, we'd not even been acknowledged. A simple nod, or even "we'll be with you in a minute" would have been fine. But nothing, so we walked. I've never been in an LC since and never will. If my experience was mirrored by many others, little wonder so many outlets closed.

    In business, you ignore customers at your peril.
     
  5. ADB968008

    ADB968008 Member Account Suspended

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    I absolutely agree.

    The one difference with our industry, is in the most part, we are not in competition with each other, only the market place.
    Whilst the public may see one line as very poor and vote with their feet, it's often to another sector (museum, fairground, park etc etc)..we are somewhat unique in being able to share with each other and pull as a team.

    When someone criticises line "x" for "y" reason, we should be able to listen, i think for the most part this forum is good at this task (even if it can be heated and personal sometimes).

    but on the subject of team work... one of the best adverts for the enthusiasts market by far is the UKSteam.info website.. whilst in it's nature it's not extravagant.. everyone knows there is a diary that you can refer to, to find your trip anywhere in the country with any promoter all year round... Amen to that site..

    I am amazed there really isnt a "PreservedRailway.info" website that does the same thing... either for gala's and events... or even just where everyone is located...
    We have many industry groups (ARPS for example).. but no coordinated advertising media to promote this £50mn industry... in fact it's often our magazines (RM / SR / HR etc that lead this)

    In otherwords, we are a nation of 200+ railways and musuems.. but were all one group interest with no single diary !

    Ive even raised this with Admin for nat pres to consider...

    Namely a shared events calendar freely open to all groups / societies, to publish details, share info... sorted by Day / Month / Year...would be imho a very good start...

    especially as people are planning events in 2010 already and often lines even clash over dates as well.
     
  6. Tracklayer

    Tracklayer New Member

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    Unusual for us to agree but I had a matching story...

    Few years ago I had a ride on a preserved line and due to a problem with a loco we were left sat on a train in the rain. Their customer service was awful and fell far below my expectations. I commented on this, again not actually naming the railway (of course they knew as they knew what had happened) and their own forum went mad with a multipage forum thread complaining about me, a paying customer.
     
    ryan.hogg1890 likes this.
  7. Romsey

    Romsey Member

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    Many years ago in the days of network SouthEast, I was dragged into a "Customer Focus Seminar". Not a good start to the week for a railwayman with 15 + years experience and a press deadline to meet. The expectation of graduates with about 2 years experience telling us how to do the job was unfortunately correct.

    Under all the spin and management speak there was one nugget of worthwhile thought. If a customer has a bad experience they will tell 10 other people. If they have a good experience they may tell 3 or 4 people.

    Twenty years on , this still makes sense to me. The difference is now that we can tell thousands of people our views with forums like this, let alone facebook and twitter.

    With the facility to spread views comes responsibility. The flood of views and opinions could break projects or companies.

    Sermon over!

    Regards, Neil
     
  8. ADB968008

    ADB968008 Member Account Suspended

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    I posted this as an example last week..

    viewtopic.php?f=100&t=20474

    This cost the airline $200mn off it's share price.
     
  9. Enterprise

    Enterprise Well-Known Member

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    There is this: http://home.btconnect.com/lee-rail-pics/whatson/index.htm

    Cheers
    Alan
     
  10. shredder1

    shredder1 New Member

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  11. Guest

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    You beat me to it Shredder - that's the bible
     
  12. ADB968008

    ADB968008 Member Account Suspended

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  13. Enterprise

    Enterprise Well-Known Member

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    Unfortunately a professionally produced website usually requires professional pay rates. Also it would likely be difficult to balance the requirements of the general public looking for a day out and the knowledgeable enthusiasist. The unfortunate squabble about the Mid-Hants website is illustrative. Would there not need to be a sponsoring organisation, perhaps an Association of Heritage Railways? (Yes, I know that has been discussed for decades!).
    Cheers
    Alan
     
  14. Bestieboy

    Bestieboy New Member

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    Hi
    I'd like to point out a poor experience I had at a well established line a few years ago in the West Country.
    I was touring the area with my Father on a weeks holiday in a bid to visit all the lines/heritage sites in Cornwall & Devon. We arrived the evening before our planned visit to check in to the B&B, then walked down to the station. I appreciate they were about to close for the day but the gate to the platform was open. We were taking note of the stock when someone shouted at us to "get lost". I explained what we were doing and was travelling on the line tomorrow to which he replied "well tomorrows not today is it, so leave now, this is a private railway and not for trainspotters" We took this as a one off incident and went into town for some food.
    The next day we bought our ticket & travelled the line, which to be fair was an enjoyable experience. On our return we were flatly refused access to the loco shed or to even view from the door to the shed. This was the same guy from the previous evening. I asked if he knew what loco's were inside? "how can I tell you that when the doors closed" glared at us until we gave up and left. We then drove to the "works" where once again viewing the stock was out of the question. Through a window you could just make out an unidentified loco. When I asked about this i was told "that's for me to know and you to find out" We never did establish what this was as we were missing 3 loco's from the line. I aso have a great interest in carriages/wagons and all the enquiries we made were met with either "don't know" or downright hostility "do I look like I'd know that" "why would you be interested in that for?" "This is a steam railway not a wagon railway".
    After just shrugging off the previous evenings encounter we decided this sort of attitude was throughout the line and can't be attributed to someone having a bad day. Quite frankly we were appalled by the level of customer relations and will never visit this line again. At no time were we ever rude of hostile.
    I will say all the other places we visited were extremely helpful and accomodating and has given me reason to visit the West Country again.
    Steve
     
  15. RASDV

    RASDV New Member

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    People looking for reviews of lines and events may be interested in the following:
    totally-transport.co.uk event reports
    totally-transport.co.uk Railway Reviews
    Both pages will be enlarged with time.
     

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