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Extensions - a snare and a delusion?

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by paulhitch, Apr 13, 2013.

  1. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    I don't reject any of them "out of hand". But a I need one hell of a lot of convincing that a twenty mile route is sensible. So should everybody.

    That makes two of us then. But the extension did not prove to be any kind of magic bullet at the time when it came to carryings. Personally it cured me of any romantic self-delusions about extensions. One correspondent to this thread made a sensible comment that running to Kidderminster rather than terminating at Bewdley enabled better facilities, including parking, to be provided than would be possible otherwise. Much the same with Raven Square but it made the railway more difficult and thus more expensive, to operate.

    PH
     
  2. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    But did it improve passenger figures? If increased revenue outstrips increased costs then the extension is a good thing.
    In this thread we have now managed to justify the SVR extension to Kidderminster and the W&LLR extension to Raven Square. I'm sure similar arguments can be made in favour of many other extensions current and planned so exactly which lines do you think are doomed by extending?
    Whilst I recognise your right to an opinion, I do find it odd that you seem to think you know better than the "professionals" in the movement. As others have asked, just what are your qualifications?
     
  3. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    There is plenty to be said about these issues but I am getting fed up (like lots of others I suspect) with this game of shuttlecock! Let's call a halt.

    Just one Parthian shot about "professionalism". Cautious Lord Weinstock ran GEC Marconi frugally but effectively and accumulated significant financial reserves. "You're not expanding enough" said his critics. So when Lord W. gave up his (presumably "professional") successors blew the lot. Where is GEC Marconi now? Hopefully there will be few heritage railways joining it.

    PH
     
  4. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    So what you're really saying is you have absolutely no qualifications with which to back up your opinion. Glad we've got that sorted.
    As for GEC Marconi - de-merged and the Marconi division acquired by BAe Systems in November 1999. Something BAe had been after for several years. All part of the defence industry consolidation that took place after the Boeing/McDonnell-Douglas merger and the creation of Lockheed Martin formed two aerospace super powers. Not so sure your analogy works in this case.
    Equally there have been companies who have expanded and done well, otherwise a certain bearded entrepreneur would still be selling bootleg albums from a small shop.
     
  5. davidarnold

    davidarnold Member

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    [QUOTE

    Just one Parthian shot about "professionalism".

    PH[/QUOTE]

    A Parthian shot? As practiced by that by that great Greek Tennis player Illiteratus no doubt!
     
  6. Miff

    Miff Well-Known Member Friend

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    After the de-merger the remaining part of GEC spent the proceeds on expansion, and borrowed a lot more. They spent too much and then the dotcom bubble burst; they couldn't service the debt and the shareholders lost 99.5% of their company to the creditors.
     
  7. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    A Parthian shot? As practiced by that by that great Greek Tennis player Illiteratus no doubt![/QUOTE]

    If there was a man called Illiteratus he would be a Roman rather than a Greek!
    The battle tactic of the Parthians was to run away but then to turn round and fire a volley at their enemy. Often misused as "parting shot"

    The details are coming back to me thanks to you. A story of a no frills man whose company car was a Cortina estate (this was cascaded down to someone I know) but who was succeeded by grandiose gamblers.

    As the person who started this thread, can we call a halt now please?

    PH
     
  8. louis.pole

    louis.pole New Member

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    I think paulhitch has had sufficient of a mauling on this issue that, as gentlemen (and ladies), perhaps we may call a halt.
     
  9. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    If there was a man called Illiteratus he would be a Roman rather than a Greek!
    The battle tactic of the Parthians was to run away but then to turn round and fire a volley at their enemy. Often misused as "parting shot"



    The details are coming back to me thanks to you. A story of a no frills man whose company car was a Cortina estate (this was cascaded down to someone I know) but who was succeeded by grandiose gamblers.

    As the person who started this thread, can we call a halt now please?

    PH[/QUOTE]

    Fine by me. I doubt we'd ever agree on this issue no matter how long we debated it.
     
  10. 21B

    21B Part of the furniture

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    Paul, thank you for starting and sustaining one of the more interesting threads we've had in quite a while.

    I think what the thread has shown is that it is very difficult to make generalisations about the heritage railways. They are each very different.

    It has also confirmed that most people agree that heritage railways are not businesses as such, because they rely on voluntary aid in many different ways to sustain them, but that they must be run in a prudent and sensible way. It is what is prudent and sensible that cannot be generalised, as this is subject to the precise set of circumstances of the railway in question.

    Where does this thread leave the original question though? I think it answers it thus:

    Are extensions and snare and a delusion? I think thirty years ago there was some belief in some quarters that the extension could be, of itself, the answer to the railway's "problems". I also think that the heritage railway industry, has like all of us do, grown older and wiser on the issue. No-one extends anymore without very careful consideration of the pennies.

    A quite separate question, which got discussed a little, but was really a digression, is what does the future hold for the heritage movement, and will railways have to shorten their length? That might be an interesting new direction to debate. On that point I would say that my belief would be that future "retrenchment" of any railway, or of the movement in general, is not going to be driven by the length of the line alone, but by many many other factors.
     
  11. flaman

    flaman Well-Known Member

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    I had deliberately held back from making further comments on this thread, intending to wait until things had calmed down a little, before delivering a magisterial summing-up(!!!). Now 21B has done it for me, but more succinctly!

    paulhitch certainly deserves congratulation for starting this thread and the hammering that he has received from some individuals only serves to illustrate the danger, or at least the nuisance, that can be caused by people who are determined to push hare-brained schemes regardless of logic or economic reality. Of course some extensions make sense- the Bluebell's do's and the Epping & Ongar's would- but most should be approached with the utmost caution and some are plain pie-in-the-sky. We are all better able to judge which is which by reading this thread.

    Paul is not the only one who finds riding on preserved lines a bore. I enjoy visiting lines to inspect the stock, the infrastructure, the museum (on the few lines that have a decent one) and to watch and photograph the operation. But ride? No thanks! Nor are we the only ones. Being involved in the management of a heritage railway I notice that many enthusiasts take the same view. Oh, and before someone posts that I'm not a proper enthusiast or that I have a short attention span, my most recent train ride was Vancouver- Toronto last January (fantastic, would do it all again), but 20 miles in a shabby Mk1 on the Hedgehog Line or the Nettle Valley Railway? Nah, give that a miss!
     
  12. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Enthusiasts are a fickle bunch. There are haulage freaks and track bashers for whom riding is just about everything whilst there are those who hardly ever set foot inside a railway carriage. Just because some enthusiasts view riding as boring, it doesn't follow that all enthusiasts think the same. In the end though it is the general pubic who form the bulk of heritage line passengers so as long as they aren't bored by the ride then that's a job fairly well done IMO.
     
  13. 84A

    84A New Member

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    I am adament that the SVR would not be in the position it is in today without extension to Kidderminster. Kidderminster provides the SVR with direct access to the mainline, both for visiting passengers, and locomotives/railtours. Agreed, this link was here before the SVR station was opened, but what would have been the point of retaining the 2+ miles of track if it wasn't providing a substantial revenue earning contribution? Passenger figures are one aspect, but I believe you are not looking at the bigger picture. Had the SVR not extended, I believe the passenger numbers turned in now would have been ~10% lower than those recorded. The additional space at Kidderminster has provided a superb terminus which visitors can both start and end their journey at, and I think if you would have provided photographs of what we have today to people 30+ years ago, they would have had no hesitation in backing the extension to Kidder. Furthermore, the quality of rolling stock has vastly improved with the introduction of the carriage shed - a carriage shed that woudn't have existed otherwise.

    Personally, I still believe (from an SVR point of view) that Ironbridge shouldn't be ruled out completely. I believe i'm right in saying that the line would extend to 23 miles, but the extra seven miles could be managed in such a way that minimal additional wear is attributed to locomotives and rolling stock using the route.

    Oh, and I dont think i've ever found riding in a shabby Mk1', or any other vehicle on a heritage line, boring. This includes roughly three return trips on the WSR in one day, so circa 70 miles. Each to their own though I guess...
     
  14. guard_jamie

    guard_jamie New Member

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    Paul has admitted in as many words that there were convincing arguments for the KR extension for the SVR, so I'm not quite sure why you've brought it up again. Personally I don't think the NR connection, physical or "across the car park madam" makes a great deal of difference to the SVR's visitor numbers - though to be sure it's a "nice to have" and perhaps makes the railway feel more complete.

    But the main business case for KR was the space it bought - Carriage Shed, Carriage Works, massive car park (one of the biggest on a heritage railway?), spacious starting point.

    60+ pages on the "north of Bridgnorth" thread on the SVR forum prove that there are some very entrenched views on both sides of that debate. I'm on the "don't even touch it if someone coughs up the money to build it" side of things, personally, so there's no point us trying to argue that point - this thread has gone on long enough and has been well summed up - basically, "have a cast-iron business case - extensions are not automatically good".

    Each to their own - I like a ride, I like a watch - but I'm at my happiest in front of a warm stove with a good book waiting for Kiddy to put the Down on line!
     
  15. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    (With apologies to Paul for prolonging this thread!)

    To be fair, those lines that are long also tend not to be your Nettle Valley lines with shabby Mark 1s! So for example, the SVR has GWR, LMS and LNER rakes, and a decent museum at Kidderminster. Ditto the NYMR which has a teak rake and very well restored stations. So those lines look to be offering the "complete package": yes, the journey is long, but they have attractive well restored stations to break the journey, a decent museum or two, nice rolling stock etc - something for everyone. Whereas your archetypal "Nettle Valley" might have pretty shabby rolling stock, hauled by a loco with little connection to the area along a two mile long siding, but the length (or lack of it) isn't what makes such lines unattractive. I'd argue that in such cases there is lots to be done as a visitor attraction before thinking of extending, but there is a chicken and egg situation: if you are two miles long and terminate in a field, but another mile or two over the brow of a hill is a half-decent market town, the thought that a presence there might transform your passenger numbers (and therefore gross income) must be hard to resist. And as has been discussed here and elsewhere, operating costs of a preserved railway do not scale linearly with distance: the infrastructure costs will depend markedly on exactly how many extra bridges, embankments etc the extension encompasses; and the daily cost of running a loco may not vary much if you are doing eight round trips on a two mile line, or six on a four mile line, even though the running mileage goes up. It's only when you extend so far as to require an extra loco and set of carriages to maintain a suitable frequency that the running costs suddenly jump.

    I also think we haven't fully exhausted thinking about the impact being a "dynamic" (or want of a better word) rather than a "static" line has on volunteer and donor perceptions. (Guard Jamie's thesis about volunteers being an important audience segment to market to). No line can survive without both volunteers and external fundraising, so attractiveness to those markets is important, and naturally enthusiasts (who predominantly make up those markets) will be drawn to a line that has a real sense of purpose over one that just appears content to fester in a field somewhere. I'm not advocating projecting an extension simply to try to grab some donor cash that may or may not be on offer: you have to have a sound purpose for the extension. But equally, the risk of a society just eventually dying because the original supporters get old or disappear without new blood being attracted seems to me to be greater for a static line with little sense of impetus, rather than one that has a real plan. Of course that plan doesn't have to be an extension: it could be that there is a desire to restore vintage rolling stock in a meaningful and prolonged way; or to develop a museum, or restore a station building, or anything else. But there has to be some sense of purpose, over and above just shuffling two rusty Mk 1s up and down a couple of miles of boring fields.

    Tom

    Tom
     
  16. Orion

    Orion New Member

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    I think that's true. My first visit to the SVR was in 1982 and, because of the issues in getting to Bewdley, would only have happened because BR ran a dmu service for a day, New Street to Bewdley, during the autumn gala of that year.

    In reply to another post re 'The Nettle Line', I think it should be borne in mind that most of the current heritage railways were once 'Nettle Lines' and it's only been due to lots of work and careful financial management that they have got to where they are now. I can vividly remember when the Bluebell's northern terminus was HK and it required a bike ride from EG to get there!

    Regards
     
  17. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    You did that too did you? Also walked to Freshfield Halt from Haywards Heath or if the bus was running, walked to HK station to HK village - no direct service to the station in those days.
     
  18. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

     
  19. ee50ok

    ee50ok New Member

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    To my mind there is probably a optimum length for each line. That optimum however, is detirmined by a large number of factors; among them:

    * The scenery,
    * The motive power,
    * The coaching stock,
    * The destinations,
    * The museums and stations along the way,
    * The staff (paid and volunteer),
    * The food and drink available on train and at the stations (Quality and variety).

    No one thing will make for a perfect railway length, but another MK1 in open fields being hauled by a silent locomotive for long distances because ther is no gradient to challenge them doesn't float my boat.
     
  20. 2392

    2392 Member

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    This is out of those areas that no matter which way a line jumps they'll be damned no matter what. Take the NYMR for instance their "extension" over the 6 miles from Grosmont to Whitby on the Esk Valley caused quite a lot of debate for and against. Thing is though and this is my opinion many people felt that the line went from "somewhere" i.e. Pickering to "nowhere" i.e. Grosmont a sleepy little village on the North Yorkshire Moors. Where as the other "somewhere" in the area is Whitby. Grant in the good old bad old days of British Rail the NYMR wouldn't have been able to operate to Whitby unless they relaid the second line as the Grosmont Whitby was double track, even they it no doubt would have cost some silly monopoly money price as the current single line zig-zags across the formation 'tween the two, too re-align and re-install the second line. Luckily for the NYMR funding has been made available to re-install platform 2 at Whitby Town station as they themselves as a charitable trust cannot spend their money on an asset owned by another commercail body i.e. Network Rail even though the Moors use the station/line.
     

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