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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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    The experience of the Talyllyn and the Festiniog in the 1970's was that those who volunteered to build their extensions, moved on once they were completed. They were interested in building new lines - not operating them.
     
  2. louis.pole

    louis.pole New Member

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    I cannot agree or disagree with you there but those most interested in seeing the SVR extend to Ironbridge are very much SVR people.
     
  3. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    Oh, but it can be! A cross platform interchange is only a somewhere to those that want to utilisese it and I doubt that is the case with many of the passengers. What else is there in Honeybourne? Having a main-line connection may be advantageous for the railway but should not be the prime reason for going there.
     
  4. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Don't know it at all. Another Verney Junction perhaps. Or a Horsted Keynes for that matter.

    Whatever, there has to be a limit, even if we are not sure what it is, as to what the general public will pay to enable us to indulge our personal romantic fantasies!

    P.H.
     
  5. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Well, Honeybourne is not exactly Horsted Keynes, unless you mean "junction in the middle of nowhere". honeybourne - Google Maps

    The real prize for the GWSR strikes me as Broadway and, unless they choose to develop a major attraction of their own at Honeybourne (unlikely), then that station will only be a starting point for people to get onto the railway, not a destination in its own right. The problem I forsee is that, if the GWSR do get there, the whole line becomes over 20 miles long - the same size as the WSR or NYMR, but without a decent attraction at the far end. (Except for on race days - what's the point of going to Cheltenham Racecourse, apart for the journey itself?) At that point, I can see a lot of people who start at Honeybourne only wanting to go as far as Broadway, or maybe Winchcombe.

    Projecting into the future, I could imagine the GWSR running effectively a Honeybourne - Winchcombe "core" service, leaving the last 6 miles or so to Cheltenham racecourse just for galas, race specials and maybe a double-ended Santa operation (for example, Cheltenham - Toddington and Honeybourne - Toddington). That would reduce the maintenance burden on the last six miles of line, reduce the daily operating requirement from perhaps four or five trains down to three while still maintaining an adequate service, but would not significantly reduce the attractiveness to a visitor - IMHO.

    Tom
     
  6. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    Unless the GWSR have plans for a significant infrastructure development at Honeybourne, the big problem with this as a starting point is that it is virtually at the opposite end of where the main depot is. That will mean a lot of LE/ECS working or a late 'first train' departure from Honeybourne.
     
  7. guard_jamie

    guard_jamie New Member

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    If there were a business case for it I'm sure it would have gotten greater attention than it has.
     
  8. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    That's a situation we on the Bluebell can appreciate! Fortunately we still have significant traffic from SP, but our first train of the day (09:45 ex-SP) seems to be essentially an ECS, though it is available for public service if you so choose.

    But coming back to the GWSR: the big problem for me seems to be that, if you have a line that is Honeybourne - Cheltenham Racecourse, whichever end you start, you have 20-odd miles of line but with the most attractive "off railway" places for the average punter being in the middle (Winchcombe and Broadway). At that point, I can imagine Cheltenham - Broadway as an attractive journey, and Honeybourne - Winchcombe; but I can't see Honeybourne - Cheltenham or vice versa being enough of a draw to pay the upkeep on 20 miles of line and a daily requirement of four or five locos and service sets needed to run a suitable timetable.

    Tom
     
  9. domeyhead

    domeyhead New Member

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    The GWSR always feels particularly vulnerable to the kind of problems PaulHitch has been suggesting. One of their problems is the lack of the mainline connnection but as others correctly say they are in a strategic sense driving miles in the wrong direction to nowhere to achieve it! That elusive mile and a bit through Cheltenham would be the solution though I understand and appreciate all the difficulties and costs associated with it. What saddens me is that the GWSR does not seem to have galvanised significant support in the town itself (unlike the Bluebell in East Grinstead) and even if (say) a massive legacy gave them the financial means I get the feeling that there would be substantial opposition to the railways attempts to bridge the gaps.
    (Ducks and waits for incoming flak)
     
  10. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    It's also one well understood by the NYMR! At the moment, Pickering is still the significant starting point for most journeys (although hopefully to change next year) and, in peak season, there is insufficient stabling capacity at Pickering to cater for the traffic flow. Thus, there qare 09.00 & 10.00 departures from Pickering but, to provide an 11.00 departure, the loco and stock have to come from Grosmont. Whilst these are timetabled as public trains, the necessary 09.30 from Grosmont is always very lightly loaded and only exists because of the need for this positioning move. A similar situation occurs at the end of the day in the opposite direction.
     
  11. Kinghambranch

    Kinghambranch Well-Known Member

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    "The GWSR always feels particularly vulnerable to the kind of problems PaulHitch has been suggesting. One of their problems is the lack of the mainline connnection but as others correctly say they are in a strategic sense driving miles in the wrong direction to nowhere to achieve it! That elusive mile and a bit through Cheltenham would be the solution though I understand and appreciate all the difficulties and costs associated with it. What saddens me is that the GWSR does not seem to have galvanised significant support in the town itself (unlike the Bluebell in East Grinstead) and even if (say) a massive legacy gave them the financial means I get the feeling that there would be substantial opposition to the railways attempts to bridge the gaps.
    (Ducks and waits for incoming flak) "
    I think this has been a very good thread and I believe Paulhitch is right for us to be constructively critical about our business. It is a business, make no mistake!
    As someone who was born in Cheltenham I can say that Cheltonians can have a strange attitude to things at times! However, the chance to buy the Honeybourne line from Honeybourne to Cheltenham Borough Boundary (South of Hunting Butts Tunnel) was there in 1979 and was not taken as it was thought to be too expensive and unachievable. Hindsight has perhaps shown differently. Cheltenham Race Course has always been very supportive of the GWSR but the town itself seemingly less so - that is changing too. When the GWSR started at Toddington in 1980, the local authority (the Borough Council) was, at best indifferent and, at worst, rather hostile to the fledgling "scrap collector" that appeared at the foot of the Cotswolds. The turning point came later that decade when Winchcombe was reached but it was at the 1990 October Gala, with Castle class Defiant, a Pannier and Didcot's 6106 Prairie that £ signs began to replace indifference. The 2003 opening to the Race Course more than consolidated this (over 20% of passengers start their journey from CRC I believe) and there is a park and ride into Cheltenham town itself. Broadway is of course an absolute must (one of the top 10 most visited places in England I believe) and Honeybourne will provide the link with the National Network. The argument as to whether we need that link is perhaps not for me to opine on but Honeybourne itself is rather larger than it was when the Network Rail Station closed and bigger than it was when the Station reopened in 1981 (I think that's the date). Long Lartin prison is nearby too (producing more employment not chain gang workers). Anyway, my vote and money is on Honeybourne and we can do well to learn from the fantastic efforts of the Bluebell Railway.
    Some other heritage lines pursuing extensions include the East Somerset Railway and the Chinnor & Princes Risborough (both mentioned by a previous poster as "Why do these exist?" railways). In the case of the ESR I'm sure part of the reason is because David Shepherd wanted somewhere to run his steam locos and in the case of the C&PR, an extant line was there due to the now closed Chinnor cement works. AFAIK, the C&PR haven't yet got to the "PR" bit though.
     
  12. Kje7812

    Kje7812 Member

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    I suppose the SVR is more lucky here: space at Kidderminster for a carriage shed. However, the problem then lies in the fact that the loco works is at the other end of the line and the stabling point for south end locos is at Bewdley, so the locos still have to get to Kiddy to work the sets.
    Extensions? Well, they're nice and are extremely useful if you are extending into 'somewhere', especially if they have mainline station (the bluebell has moved up on my list of railways to visit, just need the time). But it needs to be balanced with the needs of the existing infrastructure. Thinking of the SVR, I would prefer it if money was spend to ensure the current running is kept unchanged.
     
  13. 1472

    1472 Well-Known Member

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    Yes perhaps they are currently - but if/when such a proposal became a little more firm it will be extemely attractive to the type of people referred to by Michael & would probably be the most attractive project of its type nationally.
     
  14. jnc

    jnc Well-Known Member

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    Well, exactly. I would hope intelligent operators of heritage lines are data-driven, and respond to what's going on.

    I.e. in some hypothetical future where the GWSR has reached Honeybourne, they'd run the first year with end-end service, and then look at their passenger data from that year and adjust their schedule to suit - likely, as you suggest, with less service on the Winchcombe-Cheltenham section.

    This is, after all, more or less what the 'real' railways do (well, all passenger services - buses, airlines, etc do the same): look at actual passenger levels, and adjust service to suit. And do their sums and make sure they are making money at that service level.

    Noel
     
  15. michaelh

    michaelh Well-Known Member

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    Very little - apart from Long Lartin Prison
     
  16. michaelh

    michaelh Well-Known Member

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    I did say those who built the extensions, rather than those who were interested in seeing them built
     
  17. The Decapod

    The Decapod New Member

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    For the lucky few, for some of the time, maybe. But it's mostly grown men (and women) playing at permanent way, engineering, gardening, shops and restaurants, accounts, etc. etc. Lots of things to 'play at' before you can play trains!
     
  18. Harleyman

    Harleyman New Member

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    It's the ones hell-bent on playing at Fat Controllers who worry me!
     
  19. guard_jamie

    guard_jamie New Member

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    I'm in accord. I don't think a workable business case could ever be developed for an Ironbridge extension. Of course, I could be proved wrong, but I'd want to see the case checked, re-checked, fully available to all, approved by the Heritage Committee, and approved by Member and Working Member Vote.

    Now, jtx's suggestion of a volunteer-driven Burlish - Tenbury spur on the other hand...
     
  20. Kje7812

    Kje7812 Member

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    Yes...certainly something to give Bewdley it's junction status back. A Kiddy-Bewdley-Burlish DMU service, maybe 4566 on a short rake. Dreams...
     

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