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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. michaelh

    michaelh Well-Known Member

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    I will - some of the names were obviously very exotic hardwoods - I found them fascinating - and there was no internet in those days to look them up!
     
  2. flaman

    flaman Well-Known Member

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    Oh dear! I had no idea, when I mentioned "shabby Mk.1's", what I had started. I only said it as a way of illustrating that, IMO, some lines are boring and simply extending them through similar country with the same rolling stock will not make them any less so.

    Of course most railways will need Mk.1s and 2s into the foreseeable future- there is no practical alternative. A bit of shabbiness is no problem either- we all try to recreate the past and the past was certainly not pristine. My problem is with the "sameness" of many railways.

    My contention is that length is not important, at least as far as heritage railways are concerned. Some of the shortest are among the most interesting and entertaining and some of the longest are among the most boring. Rather than regarding line extensions as the only way of improving a railway, we should consider whether money and effort could be better spent by investing in other areas, such as more covered accomodation, so as to protect or hide the disintegrating rolling-stock that infests most lines (including the "First Division"), decent museums, greater accessibility (I don't mean just disabled) and I'm sure you can think of more.

    I'm sure that some of the "First Division's" cheerleaders will come back with "yes, but we've already done all that, so extension is the only way forward" but you havn't and it isn't!
     
  3. Learner

    Learner New Member

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    I do wish some posters would actually name the lines that they think are 'too long' and boring. It would seem that the public are reasonably content with going to the longer railways - the SVR, WSR and NYMR are just about the three longest and most popular lines in the country. And of course none of these can be said to go through 'boring' countryside (whatever that is). Of course any proposed extension should be considered very carefully before proceeding, and only if a good business case can be made should it be proceeded with. It might be that it takes the railway to a good centre of population, or a popular tourist destination, or a major transport interchange (with luck - all three!). It might be that the extension just means getting closer to the eventual destination (something that the WHR did as it worked south from Caernarfon). But if it is justifiable, affordable and will bring more people in (to hopefully eventually off-set the cost) then why not?

    Oh, and if you think a railway is boring to travel on then name and shame!
     
  4. flaman

    flaman Well-Known Member

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    Oh, and if you think a railway is boring to travel on then name and shame![/QUOTE]

    No, I'm not rising to that one! You might think, from reading this thread, that the SVR, WSR and NMYR are the only heritage railways worthy of interest, but no, they are simply long and successful- a good reason, you might think, for not attempting to gild the lily by making them even longer. I doubt that their length alone is the reason for their success.

    My opinion is mine alone, though I find it interesting that others, including the person who started this thread, seem to take a similar view.

    Those interested in railways (not necessarily "enthusiasts") are a very broad church. Having travelled many thousands of miles on British Railways between the late 1940s and 1990, and overseas ones since, I find it difficult to get excited about riding on most heritage lines, though I have done so (mostly as a guest, so it would have been churlish to decline!)
     
  5. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Flaman
    Maybe you've travelled the length and breadth of the country throughout six decades but I suspect the vast majority of visitors to heritage railways haven't. Thus I doubt they're bored because they've done it countless times before. There's a reason for the continuing success of heritage railways and it can't be because visitors find them boring.
     
  6. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    I agree 100% with "Flaman", so having been tempted to set out my opinions on this or that individual line, have had second thoughts. Lines, which in my opinion are interesting from end to end (a minority), vary in length from five miles or so to over thirteen. Just the same as the boring ones or, for that matter, the mediocre majority. Whether or not a line is commercially sucessful has more to do with the population, either fixed or transient, within the catchment area, than any intrensic merit of the railway concerned

    What is "successful"? Basically any line that can maintain its track and equipment in decent condition over a long period. This includes things such as brand new rail and brand new boilers from time to time. Unless one is privy to innermost financial details which are not likely to be manifested here, it is virtually impossible to tell whether a line is holding its own or not.

    I have already gone on at great length about extensions per se so will not add any more.

    PH
     
  7. Learner

    Learner New Member

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    The reason for mentioning the SVR, NYMR and WSR is that they are (along with the Wensleydale) by far the longest standard gauge heritage lines and therefore if any lines are to be regarded as 'too long' they surely they would need to be considered? Flaman's latest post would seem to indicate that he believes it to be more of a matter of the length of each individual line rather than preserved lines in general. Of course if you find particular railways dull then there is an easy solution - don't travel on them! The law of market forces will ensure that only railways that can keep the interest of the general public (as well as enthusiasts) will be able to survive.

    I have often heard disappointed children who want to know why their trip on a steam train is over already on the short 'out and back' lines. So lines need to be long enough to be worthy of the journey but not too long as to induce boredom in the public or enthusiasts. And how long this is will depend on the railway and the other attractions it can link in to, particularly to break the day up with. It is this (in my opinion) which ensures that the railways mentioned above can do so well, by linking in to visits to Bewdley, Bridgnorth, Pickering, Whitby, Dunster and Minehead (amongst others). By contrast railways which do not have another attraction at the obvious destination point probably help themselves by not being too long as you need to sustain constant interest in the railway rather than being able to pass that on to other attractions. A good example of this in my view is that WLLR - a really wonderful railway but one without a huge amount to do in Llanfair other than make use of the excellent cafe, maybe go for a quick walk in the countryside, and then head back. As a result it is good in my view that it is no longer than it currently is.

    Extensions to proposed 'starter' locations (such as Kidderminster or Alton) may cost a lot but where would these respective railways be without these? Earlier someone proposed that without the KDR link that railway would lose around 10% of ridership. I would go further than that - I reckon it could be as much as 25%, and not only because of the extra difficulty in parking in Bewdley or Bridgnorth.

    As a further thought more attractive countryside is obviously a great draw, and in the eyes of at least 90% of visitors is far more likely to lead to repeat visits than authenticity of rolling stock or historic carriages. In this game you can't do much about the countryside you are given (apart from possibly making it easier to see). The numbers of railways which involve several miles of dead straight no incline track through 'dull' countryside are in my view very small. That's why our preserved railways are such a treat to treasure!
     
  8. Kje7812

    Kje7812 Member

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    Oh, I'm would say that at all. Looking at the SVR, there's plenty to tidy up and look more presentable. A few of the top of the head: Kidderminster car park (needs surfacing really), Kiddy TMD (Diesel depot will help this when it's built), Bewdley 'triangle' and the tenbury, Highley headshunts, Hampton Loade sleeping coach (I think a replacement is planned so the coach can be released for restoration), various things at Bridgnorth (some of which is planned in the redevelopment).
     
  9. Kje7812

    Kje7812 Member

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    Very much agreed here, the railway will suit the location and adapt to them
    RE Kidderminster: Probably, I for one doubt I would have started volunteering on it if I wasn't able to walk to and back from it. And I know quite a few staff who use the train to get to it. If it was only to Bewdley, buses would have to be used a lot, which I think a lot of people would object to.
    There will always be something interesting to see if you look closely, think about that next time.
     
  10. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    There are more "dull" journeys than you would think and the number of "nothing special" routes is substantial, I would say a majority. Certainly there are very few without a dull stretch, sometime a lengthy one. Part of the reason is the motivation behind their being established. One I can think of was to have been a local transport provider so scenic joy was not a high priority. This use did not succeed (inevitably) and, cut back somewhat, is now 100% "entertainment" and a success it would appear. Nearby is the trackbed of another rural line, closed to passengers pre-Beeching. As a scenic rural line the latter would have been aeons better whilst the catchment area concerned is similar. Wistful thoughts!

    The "easier to see " point is very valid. A case in point is Paignton to Dartmouth which I think I can comment on as it is not a "preserved" railway as such. Twenty years ago the view from the trains over the Dart estuary was superb. I thought it was the best scenery from standard gauge steam railway windows in the U.K. Last year it was "Huh"! In the meantime trees had obscured the views. I know of lines which have an ongoing programme to open out viewpoints when it is in their power.
     
  11. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    paulhitch
    What is dull to you is not necessarily dull to others and vice versa. I was discussing a particular line once and opined that scenically it didn't have a lot going for it. The other other person in the conversation disagreed and thought the countryside through which it ran was wonderful as it reminded her of where she grew up. As with all things, one man's meat is another man's poison.
     
  12. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    There is one railway which treats passengers to a prolonged view of the local sewage works whilst the locomotive takes water. It's a very modern establishment which may be of some consolation to people who are sewage works spotters. Sorting out the water supply at the nearby terminus making out of course stops un-necessary would seem to me to be of the highest priority but seemingly not. At each end of the line there are interesting views for a very short period but in between there is an interminable trudge through very average countryside punctuated by said sewage works stop. Most of the carriages are Mk.1s as well!
     
  13. guard_jamie

    guard_jamie New Member

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    This is all getting very subjective.
     
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  14. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Agreed! Let's call the whole thing off.

    PH
     
  15. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Whilst I'll agree that a view of the local water treatment works may not be the most scenic option to offer a passenger, what you deem as "an interminable trudge through very average countryside" may not be viewed the same by others. Without knowing the line in question I cannot comment further but you do seem to have an opinion that the only lines that anyone should visit are those that comply with your requirements when in fact many visitors probably have quite different requirements of their own. If everyone had the same views as you then there would be precious few visitors to heritage lines and on the face of it this does not seem to be the case.
     
  16. ADB968008

    ADB968008 Guest

    In my opinion preserved railways need to make there destinations or intermediate stops more interesting.

    Yes the ride is the ride, but if there's no "attraction" to see, passengers go back, and more more significantly go somewhere and spend else for the rest of the day.

    I've yet to see a "restaurant" class facility at any preserved railway, the "buffet car" does not cut it.
    Some lines are investing in museums etc (KWVR has a reason to get off the train at nearly every station, yet is only 4 miles an excellant day out)
     
  17. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Peace! Its like the "four and twenty jarring sects" of the poem.

    PH
     
  18. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    But a number of lines offer fine dining on their restaurant car services, some to Pullman standard.
     
  19. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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  20. domeyhead

    domeyhead New Member

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    I'm being slightly mischievous here because I'm amused by Paul's frequent unsuccessful attempts to put the genie back in the bottle on this thread, but I'm starting to empathise a little with one of his points. I too confess (as someone old enough to remember BR steam) that I actually get far more enjoyment sitting on a quiet country station - eg Stogumber, Kingscote, Medstead, Corfe Castle are some of my favourites) and watching the trains pass through than from riding on them. I should add that I realise and accept the dichotomy of thos and that I always recompense the railway with an equivalent sum one way or another (and I also frequent a lot of Real Ale trains with friends so I do my share of riding). In this regard the length of the line might seem irrelevant, except of course the longer the line the more potential for variations in traffic and motive power especially at Gala weekends.
    As I said much earlier though, an extension will incentivise me to make one journey for its own sake that I wouldn't otherwise have done.
     

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