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FR/WHR questions

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Railways' started by lynton&barnstaple, Aug 26, 2012.

  1. MuzTrem

    MuzTrem Member

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    Well I can testify to them that I rode in No. 23 on my first visit to the WHR (in 2006) and it was the highlight of the day for me. If you want a "heritage" Welsh Highland experience it's a pretty good way to do it - after all, you can't see that you have a Garratt in front of you or modern stock behind you unless you lean out of the window! I also rode the whole FfR in both directions in vintage coaches in 2011. Much more atmospheric than the modern stock, and you don't have to worry about keeping your bag(s) clear of the gangway. The "at-window" refreshment service we enjoyed at Tan-y-bwlch on that occasion is also a very good idea.
     
  2. david1984

    david1984 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Surely the fact they are semi open and sometimes under used are linked though ?, I went in an open coach on the Rheidol years ago and the heavens opened part way through the journey, was akin to being on the log flume at Alton Towers!.
     
  3. Sheff

    Sheff Resident of Nat Pres

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    Personally I'd say anyone who does the WHR end to end in a heritage carriage deserves a medal (or a free physio session!). Comfortable they ain't, and I do like the at my seat beer and snack trolley service - plus you get the option of taking a walk out into open class too. But then I'm a soft old git.
     
  4. AndrewT

    AndrewT Member

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    I did Rhyd Ddu to Dinas in 'observation car' semiopen Bug Box #1 in March a couple of years ago in a gale and a torrential downpour and it was bloody marvellous.
     
  5. Sheff

    Sheff Resident of Nat Pres

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    Aye, gale and torrential downpour sounds familiar - had horizontal rain at Rydd Ddu a few times ;)
     
  6. ADJF

    ADJF New Member

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    I'm absolutely intrigued to know how anyone can describe the reconstruction of what was a derelict narrow gauge line as a c..k-up. As a local resident, PW volunteer and member of both the FR and WHR I find this statement astonishing. The benefits that the reconstructed WHR have brought to the Gwynedd area and narrow gauge preservation are fernominal. Yesterday evening,travelling on the 15:40 ex Porthmadog I overheard and I listened to many favourable comments from travelling passengers who were full of praise not just for the scenic awe inspiring journey but the engineering feat of what is an incredible railway and reconstruction.
     
  7. pete2hogs

    pete2hogs Member

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    Semi-open in the BR sense, that is, they have compartments but with only waist high partitions. Not open to the weather.
     
  8. RalphW

    RalphW Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Administrator Friend

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    ADJF you should ignore such comments, there are always the 'armchair experts' who know how things should be or should have been done.
    The people that matter are the many tourists who visit the area and travel on the various narrow gauge railways, and who spend their money in the area. They are the ones whose opinions should be noted.
     
  9. Roger Dimmick

    Roger Dimmick Member

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    If you've got a little time to spare, you can always read what the travelling public think about our railways on Trip Advisor...

    ...and comment on the 156 out of 199 reviews ( 78% ) which rate their experience as EXCELLENT...

    But of course we could always spend hours - and probably will - discussing the 3 reviews ( 1.5% ) which rated their visit as POOR.
     
  10. Roger Dimmick

    Roger Dimmick Member

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    To save you some time - two of the POOR reviews were not concerning the Rheilffordd Eryri/Welsh Highland Railway, but referred to travelling in heritage carriages on the Ffestiniog Railway...
     
  11. mickpop

    mickpop Resident of Nat Pres

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    Walking on tiptoes here and not wishing to cause offence or be negative and with the greatest respect, and with the assumption that the WHR is entirely happy with its passenger numbers, Trip Advisor is an exit poll and measures the opinions of those who have used the railway. One would expect a significant proportion of those travelling on the railway to be positively inclined towards it before they set out, ie like most of us on NP. We view such an activity through our 'railway goggles'. My query, and one that applies not only to the WHR but also to other preserved lines, is whether more customers could be attracted and whether any market research has been done to examine this possibility? Of course if revenue achieves or exceeds what is proposed in a business plan then this is all irrelevent [and I am not asking anyone to disclose such financial information]. My impression is that few, if any, preserved railways are flush with cash and are part of a cut-throat leisure industry in competition with other attractions outside the railway sphere. In economic hard times cost is an even more important factor in determining what activities people indulge in. Those not from the railway fraternity are probably not too bothered what is pulling the train maybe other than it being shiny and making impressive noises and comfort rather than historical importance will dictate attitudes to rolling stock. Such issues are important to railway enthusiasts and this raises the question as to whether the preserved railways are in competition with each other for that niche market as illustrated by recent posts?
     
  12. Roger Dimmick

    Roger Dimmick Member

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    Now why would you assume that - I very much doubt that any railway could ever be described as 'entirely happy with its passenger numbers'.

    Which is why I used the phrase 'travelling public'... and gave the Trip Advisor link to support the comments made by 'ADJF' in Message #86...

    The FRCo has around 60 years of 'market research' and experience in running its railway(s).

    That statement is neither defensive nor indicative of complacency. During the post-restoration period the FRCo has tried many different ways of attracting new business and operating its trains - and continues to do so.

    ...and equally cost is an important factor in determining what railways are able to do.

    Niche market = small market sector... No railway will continue to exist if it places too much emphasis on catering for the enthusiast - there simply aren't enough of them...

    In the grand scheme of things the main priority for any railway is the general public. Competition for the enthusiast market will 'in the main' be based around special events and galas - though whether these attract large numbers of enthusiasts will also depend on the railway and its location.
     
  13. Neil_Scott

    Neil_Scott Part of the furniture

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    Err, well yeah of course it is! Are you suggesting a better poll would be to ask people what they thought of the railway/tourist attractions before they experienced them?!
     
  14. mickpop

    mickpop Resident of Nat Pres

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    No, now that comment is just being unhelpfully stupid. I mean to ask people why they chose not to experience the railway/tourist attraction or why they chose one rather than another. A task that might be conducted by an organization with more of an overview of the tourist industry in Gwynedd, such as Visit Wales or the local tourist bureau, done by a random sampling of visitors to the town [and/or Blaeneau Ff and Caernarfon] . I'm sure any tourist attraction would welcome information that helped it plan for the future and reach a wider market If you take the trouble to actually read the comments on Trip Advisor, the 'Excellent' ones as well as the others, you will see that price is often mentioned as a factor although many enjoyed the experience in spite of the cost. There are other attractions in the area that some would also find expensive - a return trip on the Snowden Mountain Railway or a family visit to Portmeirion for example. I suspect that some people choose to have a ride on the FR rather than the WHR because of the lower price and shorter journey and I'm sure that was an issue considered by the railways when considering the WHR project. Of course there will always be people for whom price is no obstacle but, as I have said until I am blue in the face, I have spoken,unscientifically, to others who have said the attractions mentioned above are beyond their means. I take on board Roger Dimmicks comments on cost and how it works both ways, ie something the railway has to consider is operating costs and it may be that there is no scope for higher volume/lower price. This thread started to consider the need for more motive power and has also covered additional stock - I was just looking at ways to use those additions to increase passenger numbers.
     
  15. Steve B

    Steve B Well-Known Member

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    I think I understand what mickpop is saying, and from what Roger Dimmick and others have said I guess the folk at Porthmadog put a fair bit of effort into looking into how to get more punters in. The Trip Advisor comments are important because they represent what people who have visited think - and quite a few people check out these sorts of comments when making up their minds as to what to do when on holiday.

    Picking up the comments about cost and time (again) the WHR is a long railway, and not cheap, and so will not be to everyone's taste, or ability to pay. Those of us on low incomes are used to having to make such choices, and may sometimes be heard to grumble about it. But it still remains a fact of life.

    The WHR, as has been said, does have the advantage of not just being an end to end railway - there are all sorts of possibilities for short (and cheaper) journeys. There may be a problem that many people wont see that - that visiting a steam railway means travelling the full length. Because the WHR is not just a railway, it is also a means of accessing other "attractions" (sorry - can't think of a better word to describe Snowdon!) there is something of a re-education needed, and the WHR publicity does go some way towards that.

    Mickpop's comments are important - publicity and finding new customers are important, although I think the F&WHR are better at it than many. As an example of those that aren't, the other day I was passing close to a railway that is in a very embryonic stage - apparently not yet open regularly. Having sought to follow progress for some time, but not having seen an update on their website since 2010, or any other publicity, I turned off to see if anything had changed. On that day there was no access, but there was a piece of paper pinned up by their gate (down a narrow country lane with no great passing traffic) saying that they were running a passenger DMU service on the next few weekends. There was no mention of any services at all on their website. It almost seems a shame to disturb such places with fare paying passengers - but surely some publicity is needed.

    Steve B
     
  16. lostlogin

    lostlogin Member

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    I agree with much of what both posters are saying in that it is important to ensure those who do travel enjoy their visit and return but it would be great to know why those that do not travel do not and what could be done if anything to entice some of those. That I am sure applies to all railways and visitor attractions.

    With regard to my family we generally holiday in the area a couple of times a year and in that period we will travel on some of the WHR, FR, WHHR, Talyllyn and Fairbourne. Now I will travel just for the sake of the trip, but my family want to do so as part of a trip out, be it full or part day. Presently for me the WHR does not really lend itself for that even during peak service, or possibly for some of those passengers Steve B describes above as wanting shorter cheaper trips as the frequency of service is insufficient e.g. as a family a trip from Port or Pont Croesor to Beddgelert for a wander round, possibly some lunch is what we would aim to do, we might look to get off at Nantmore and walk to Beddgelert before returning by trains. Presently there are only two departures that you can really catch to do this and with my family the chances of them getting out of bed to catch the first are nil. If you look at the timetable you then basically are left with 1hr or 4 hrs in Beddgelert. That provides no real flexiblity if you wander to stay a bit longer or cut the day short and puts us off travelling. Equally if you want to use to get to Port then you are looking at a minimum of 3hrs there. Yes we could look at getting a bus back etc but that rather defeats the point of wanting to travel by train.

    I note from Barrie Hughes's website site it is suggested moving away from the "mega" trains policy to shorter trains with a more frequent service e.g thee 7 coach sets rather than two 10 coach sets. I have to admit this would personnally make be more likely to travel. Wilst mentioning Barrie Hughes's web site I note that the link from the official WHR/FR website has been removed which seems a bit odd.

    Finally we did travel this year on the WHR. We got the 14:30 from Bedgelert to Port and caught the 16:45 back. This gave us 1:25hrs in Port which was great for what we wanted to do. I enjoyed the run back behind Merddin Emrys which was the primary reason I wanted a run on the WHR. The sound it made was great although I wonder if those back at Boston Lodge wince at the thought of the additional wear and tear as it appears to be really working hard. The run to Port though I was a bit underwhelmed by. Possibly I was expecting too much. Yes the run through Aberglaslyn is nice but appeared fairly short and a fair bit is in tunnels. I may be being a bit harsh as I said I might have set my expectations to high but it was also not helped by the fact that having got on at Beddgelert I was "hit" by the guard wanting to check tickets, fine, somebody selling guide books, somebody selling refreshments when I wanted to look out of the window. On the way back I enjoyed it more. The other memory of the down trip is that it does seem to spend a lot of the time stopped hanging around which seems to prolong the trip unneccesarily. As we arrived on time this appears to be built into the timetable rather than because of unexpected delays.

    I and the family will be back but I have to admit that presently we would be more likely to go on the FR than the WHR
     
  17. pete2hogs

    pete2hogs Member

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    Quote: The run to Port though I was a bit underwhelmed by. Possibly I was expecting too much. Yes the run through Aberglaslyn is nice but appeared fairly short and a fair bit is in tunnels. EndQuote.

    That seems to be an opinion only shared by you, me and JIC Boyd :) (Who called it a 'trundle'.)

    I personally think the best use of the line is to travel - depending on time available and money - from Caernarfon or Dinas or even Waunfawr (good parking, good pub) to Beddgelert, walk to Nantmor through the pass, and get the train back. This gives an incredible variety of scenery and some exciting loco working on the climb back through the forest which you miss out on if you come from the south.

    I think the journey to Bedd from the south is too similar to other attractions such as the Talyllyn and VofR, and not as exciting as either. However, the FR do extensive market research and I presume, since they put on extra trains this year doing Port-Bedd, that it showed that more people were interested in the trundle than the north end. Of course, if you haven't travelled the north end of the line, then you won't be aware of its spectacular nature because Aberglaslyn has been the focus of the WHR ever since it was first thought of. In that sense exit pools could be somewhat flawed - you can't comment on what you haven't seen.
     
  18. robwhr

    robwhr New Member

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    You could try a Porthmadog to Rhyd Ddu trip with a break at Beddgelert on the return, this gives you the spectacular climb through the forest, the scenery of the Pass and the time to spend in Beddgelert. With a 4 hour break, it gives time to explore the Aberglaslyn Pass and for a meal in Beddgelert, I think this gives a combination that can appeal to everyone.

    Also, it should be noted that the slow trundle at the Porthmadog end is possibly caused by having to wait for the platform to be cleared from the preceding FR train arriving or departing. Once the changes at Port have been made and there are two platforms, this will no longer be the case as two trains can be dealt with at once. Then the opportunity will be available to speed up the timetable and also the chance to vary the trip i.e Tan-y-Bwlch to Beddgelert and return etc etc, which is currently not possible.

    This is the great thing about the WHR/FR experience, it is forever changing offering new things to see and do and a reason to return again and again. I think the management are well aware of this and can be reasonable confident that traffic levels can hold up and thats without talking about new motive power NG15's etc.
     
  19. Roger Dimmick

    Roger Dimmick Member

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    No - it is not suggested, Barrie Hughes has suggested....

    Please remember that Barrie’s website is an unofficial site not connected with the FRCo, and that information posted on that site is personal speculation or gleaned from a number of sources of varying reliability, subject to personal interpretation and therefore not guaranteed (by any means) to be 100% accurate.
     
  20. Baldwin

    Baldwin Guest

    ....what i find strange is why this discussion exists at all, if the WHR is so "awe inspiring" and wonderfull as that why are the numbers of passengers and what they think being discussed, surely with such a fantastic railway it would be an unquestionable roaring suscess by now..? This is from a former donater and member of the travelling public of the WHR cheesed off with the endless bickering about a project which was thought up far too quickly, badly managed and has got nothing to do with the reconstruction of the WHR at all !
     

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