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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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    Why should the SVR undertake a (costly) feasibility study? Just because you want it to?
     
  2. laplace

    laplace New Member

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  3. oliversbest

    oliversbest New Member

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    Extensions that make sense to me

    1.STR to Slaggyford and beyond
    2.Llangollen to Corwen
    3.Swindon and Cricklade to Cricklade
    there are others of course where volunteers are already hard at work..the GWR, RVR etc.
    The SVR and WSR seem to take up an inordinate amount of the subject matter that is posted on this blog
    Enthusiasts need to remember that the paying public are interested in product, not internal squabbling and it is human nature to look at what is "over the horizon" and to aim for it.
     
  4. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Sorry folks I tend to think the SVR and WSR are too long and could do with judicious "pruning". K.E.S.R. is too long also already and I cannot recall travelling on any other railway when I could not wait for the journey to end, except possibly the bit of the W.H.R. from Waenfawr to Caernarfon!

    I am not setting out to be a troll or deliberately to prolong this thread but if someone who has been a railway enthusiast since he was a baby feels this way then there will be a lot of others with less interest in trains who think similarly.

    Paul H.
     
  5. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Last time I checked, the SVR and WSR were two of the biggest lines in the country by various measures (for example, length, passenger numbers, turnover etc) so it is hardly surprising they get a large amount of the conversation. But in any case, the answer for smaller lines, if they want more publicity or discussion, is for someone with knowledge to come on and lead the discussion!

    Tom (not a member of either the WSR or SVR, for the record).
     
  6. Neil_Scott

    Neil_Scott Member

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    What would you 'prune' off the SVR? An extraordinary suggestion as it's one of the (few) railways that actually runs between two decent sized towns.
     
  7. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    In which case, the only logical answer is a bit in the middle! :noidea:
     
  8. Happily, the vast majority of passengers (200000+ per year) on the SVR and WSR (and no doubt the KESR and others, too) would seem to disagree with you,Paul! Perhaps rail travel is not for you :)

    Steve
     
  9. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    I've seen some strange suggestions in my time but this one takes the biscuit.
    As others have asked, which bits would you prune?
    My partner is no railway enthusiast yet she enjoys the longer lines as they make more of a day out. On weekends away I have taken her to NYMR, WSR, NVR, NNR, KWVR, WHR and FR. The only ones she has wanted to revisit are the longer ones. The NYMR is a regular favourite of hers, especially if we do the whole trip into Whitby.
    It's a strange railway enthusiast who thinks a heritage rail journey is too long. Better not visit the Cumbres and Toltec.
     
  10. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    I knew when I posted the last time, the message would not be appreciated or it stood a good chance of being misrepresented. The point I was making was that if I found some journeys boring then so would other people with bells on! Some lines are just a trudge and others, whilst not a trudge in themselves, are too long.

    The SVR does not run beween two decent sized towns; it serves three. Perm any two from three. I would suggest Bewdley and Bridgenorth are the logical termini. However, with all the expensive railway infrastructure developed at Kidderminster it is unlikely to be abandoned. I still regret that the line went beyond Bewdley though and I understand, from another thread, that traffic figures have been going the "wrong" way for sometime.

    It all goes back to how much the general public is prepared to fork out in order that we can indulge our interest. At a time when economic activity is slowing, everything to do with keeping old railway equipment going will become more and more and more expensive. Twenty mile long railways are over the top!

    P.H.
     
  11. I'm not sure what your "indulged interest is" but for me it is seeing a vibrant, busy, purposeful railway with a regular train service, passenger and/or freight, and if I can take part in that operation then even better. Whether it is a "heritage" railway or a part of the national network, the point of the railway is the same, in my humble view.

    The viability, the popularity, the purpose - these attributes are not restricted or hampered by the length of the line, whether it is 1 mile or 20 miles or 50 miles or more. If hundreds of thousands of folks like to travel on it, if freight operators wish to run their trains on it, if railtour operators wish to run excursion in it, if the annual turnover is many £millions, then what on earth is your argument?

    Then again, if you do not enjoy the longer rail trip then simply don't go or join the train at some half way station. Best of both worlds!

    Steve
     
  12. guard_jamie

    guard_jamie New Member

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    I'm afraid that whilst Paul makes a good point about heritage railways needing to exercise caution when considering extensions, and that a railway ought not be extended for extensions sale, I fundamentally disagree with his suggestion that the SVR ought not have extended to Kidderminster. It has provided a great deal of the space the SVR has used to become a high quality heritage railway with high quality amenities. A spacious opening to the railway, carriage restoration, maintenance and storage facilities and a very big car park!

    If the SVR was still a Bewdley-Bridgnorth concern it would cause parking issues in both towns, keep the railway further from the motorway system and constrain its abilities to provide high quality rolling stock.
     
  13. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Couldn't disagree more. Heritage railways are purely an entertainment.

    These arguments I can accept.

    P.H.
     
  14. To me that is too narrow a view. Entertainment is but one attribute of any railway (heritage or not heritage).

    Heritage is about showing how things were and about ensuring what we have continues to be so, and some of our heritage railways do that exceedingly well.

    The very purpose of a railway is to move things from A to B. If that is "entertainment" then that's great, but it can also be for simply "going somewhere", or perhaps delivering something.

    If an extension to a line can achieve those aims - if the business case looks promising then go for it.

    Steve
     
  15. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Even if heritage railways are just pure entertainment - and personally, I believe they can be more than that - it still doesn't mean that extending is necessarily bad: if a line believes that extending itself will have a payback, then all to the good. (Just in the same way that, presumably, Alton Towers weighs up the capital and future operating costs of opening another roller coaster, and sets that against the extra visitors they hope to attract).

    For example, I'm of the belief that the Bluebell's extra two miles to East Grinstead will result in more income (through higher passenger numbers) than the marginal cost of operating the extra length: the early evidence seems that our passenger numbers are well up, though of course we won't really know until the end of 2014. Now, of course, we still have major infrastructure renewals to tackle, for example, relaying Freshfield Bank. But we would have had to do that whether we went to EG or not, whereas now at least we'll have maybe 25k - 50k extra passengers to help pay for it!

    Tom
     
  16. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    But you can't change the geography! If, strategically, the SVR want decent road and rail connections at one end, and a pretty market town at the other, then that means running Kidderminster - Bewdley or Kidderminster - Bridgnorth: they are stuck with a line that will be either about 3 miles or about 16 miles. You can't say "in an ideal world we'd have good connections at one end and a pretty destination at the other but only be about 10 miles long" - the geography isn't like that! A Bewdley - Bridgnorth run doesn't really save a lot in running costs (in proportional terms), while losing the connectivity advantages.

    Ditto the WSR: It's an inconvenient fact that the destination (Minehead) is a good twenty miles from the decent connectivity (Bishops Lydeard, just a couple of miles from the motorway network). Not much you can do about that: if you halve the distance, you either end up in Williton from BL (not much of a destination) or else start in Williton and go to Minehead (breaking your mainline link but, more significantly, becoming a more awkward starting place to reach for visitors).

    Whatever some notional "ideal" might be, you can't beat the hand that geography has dealt you!

    Tom
     
  17. 1472

    1472 Well-Known Member

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    I'm afraid that is far too narrow a view which overlooks the reality on many lines where entertainment is combined in various measure with a genuine transport function to/from other non railway attractions for example:

    Swanage Railway - which provides a real park & ride service into/out of Swanage in an area with a poor road network
    NYMR - connection to Whitby allowing access from inland to this coastal resort without taking the car
    WSR - with most passengers joining at Bishops Lydeard this clearly provides transport to/from other attractions such as Dunster Castle, Minehead & Watchet

    I could go on & no doubt others could add to this but it is quite clear that there are many cases where heritage railways have a real use beyond pure "entertainment" - unless of course they go from nowhere to nowhere.
     
  18. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Gentlemen you still don't get it. It is the blackness of the bottom line which will ensure whether these lines survive us or not. Everything else is subsidiary. We have heard from one contributor that extending the Mid-Hants Rly. into Alton did very little to improve takings and the effort nearly bust them. The situation sounds very much like the East Grinstead extension. I hope it is not.

    If you were running a public transport service there would be multiple units, the bare minimum of trackwork no stations beyond bus shelter like structures and no station staff. The fares per mile would be very much less; they would have to be or taxi sharing would be the norm!

    P.H.
     
  19. HowardGWR

    HowardGWR New Member

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    I think this discussion has a relationship to the one I started about theme weekends (wartime in that case).

    Paul was similarly upbraided, as I was, some doubting his enthusiasm. I really think the preservation is heading for a crunch period. I will admit that an upturn an economy could produce such an uplift in fortunes for all tourist attractions and indeed I earnestly do hope so.

    I do have this niggling feeling that the market was fully exploited and now possibly it will be beyond. Then there is the availability of aging volunteers.

    We shall see. Meanwhile I have made a resolution to visit the extended Bluebell, but I won't be wearing fatigues or dressing up and pretending I am Lord Muck from Downton Abbey! ;)
     
  20. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    Whilst the bottom line is fundamental to any normal businees, heitage railways don't fit neatly into the stereotype. If they did, most would never have started up and those that did would be long gone, including your W&LlR, which largely goes from nowhere to even further into nowhere. With the possible exception of the T&DSR, heritage railways rely on both volunteer input and the input of wellwishers to survive and that frequently means pandering to their whims. If that whim means building an extension then it might just be the one thing that fires the imagination of those wellwishers. Look no further than the GCR and David Clarke. Double track and all that has gone with it was totally unnecessary in terms of both operation and keeping the GCR viable but it was part of the dream and paid for largely by those wanting to realise that dream. Business plans aren't written around such things.
     

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