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Great Central Railway General Matters

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by Reading General, Nov 11, 2017.

  1. Walker

    Walker New Member

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    Are they? Spa have a big bridge repair bill coming up which they can’t afford and carry over 50% of their yearly passengers on Christmas services which they don’t sell tickets for. Spa are great at trying new events and initiatives, but the passenger numbers, whilst ok do show a complete reliance on polar express.
    Success on most railways is skin deep. To be successful our railways need to focus on cash and capital, hand to mouth is killing the industry.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2024
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  2. meeee

    meeee Member

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    Festiniog and Welsh Highland have had a couple of good years now. Targets for this year were met late summer and bookings have been strong until the end of the season. That's despite a slow start to the year with lots of people staying home.
     
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  3. Mark_108

    Mark_108 New Member

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    That is how I read it:

     
  4. ghost

    ghost Part of the furniture

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    The same accusation could be made about 99% of heritage railways. If it isn't a bridge repair, it's an embankment repair, track relay, station roof or loco overhaul.
    Why does it matter if a railway makes most of it's money at Christmas?
     
  5. Matt78

    Matt78 Well-Known Member

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    In answer to the Gwili question - yes, 2023 was a good year. We opened the new car park at Abergwili and this has laid physical and metaphorical foundations for a better future with higher numbers.
    Can never get too ahead of the game but there are reasons to be optimistic.

    regards

    Matt
     
  6. Walker

    Walker New Member

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    It matters because if something goes massively wrong at Christmas your income is devastated with no time to make up the shortfall before the post Christmas period.
    I don’t really believe in passenger numbers as a metric of success, what matters is cash through your tills.
    All railways have challenges.
     
  7. ruddingtonrsh56

    ruddingtonrsh56 Well-Known Member

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    Since when was 48305 not at least partly owned by Roger Hibbert?
     
  8. martin1656

    martin1656 Nat Pres stalwart Friend

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    In the past many railways relied on their Christmas specials to in effect tie them over until Easter, as that was normally a quiet period when you didn't run, but used that time to carry out Maintenace of your railway, and stock, you still had overheads to pay, but little or no income. now, the operating season seems to be getting longer, and fewer close down completely running a one engine in steam timetable to try to keep some income coming in,
     
  9. Flying Phil

    Flying Phil Part of the furniture

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    Thanks Johann for posting that video. It is somewhat ironic (but very reassuring) that the Gap project can still be proceeding - given the recent redundancy news. It must be remembered that the Gap project is funded by ring fenced donations and grants. The DCRT is also constrained by its Charity aims and so it cannot fund day to day running expenses. They have however bought the other half of the GCR part owned 8F. It is a very difficult situation for all the staff and management, but I'm sure the Railway will continue to delight its many supporters and visitors.
     
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  10. ghost

    ghost Part of the furniture

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    And the same could be said of any other time of the year - summer is a washout? No income.
    It looks like you're desperately trying to find something to complain about, and no matter what the GCR (or any other railway) did, you'd still not be happy.
     
  11. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    It's the disproportionality that is the potential problem. If you have, say, 80% of your income over 10% of the year, that is higher risk than having your income spread more evenly. If due to weather you lose 10% of you operating days and that's only 10% of your income, not great. If you lose 10% of your operating days and that's 80% of your income wiped out, that's existential.

    Not criticising Spa Valley per se, they're obviously doing ok at the moment looking at their own thread, but there's no question that they would weather a (literal and metaphorical!) storm less easily.
     
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  12. Paul42

    Paul42 Part of the furniture

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    From the Spa Valley thread :-

    "In terms of % the income from this time of year is only around 15%. The rest of the year is what makes us money at a steady pace to enable the ongoing parts of running the Spa Valley Railway happen. We make most of our money through dining experiences"
     
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  13. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Proves the point someone else made then about passenger numbers not being key but turnover! Apologies to SpVR then, though the general point still stands.
     
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  14. Hicks19862

    Hicks19862 Member

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    So the Trust owns 48305, 6990 and 92214?
     
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  15. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Is that so? My sense is the opposite - operating seasons are getting shorter (and also fewer operating days per week during the season) as railways are trying to concentrate running on a smaller number of days with higher loadings. (It's probably better to carry 100,000 passengers in 100 operating days than 120,000 in 200). Certainly that is our experience - when I started we ran 52 weekends per year and daily from Easter to October - now we are nowhere near that.

    Apologies for prolonging the thread drift.

    Tom
     
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  16. 007

    007 Member

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    Great to see that the David Clarke charity was able to step in and purchase the other half of the 8F securing it.
     
  17. Walker

    Walker New Member

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    Im absolutely not trying to find something to complain about. What is happening across heritage railways be that SVR, GCR, Swanage etc with regards to redundancies is devastating for the people involved and the industry trying to desperately retain a skills base. It is actually nothing short of a disaster. My point was just an observation after someone said that some railways are doing well. Well i would agree, some are really making a go of it, but that doesn't mean that the ice isn't thin.
     
  18. Mark_108

    Mark_108 New Member

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    The Roger Hibbert Locomotive collection Trust showed a 50% stake in BR No. 48305, LMS No. 8305, in the 2019-2021 accounts and state this is shared with the David Clarke Trust

    The 2021-2022 accounts no longer mention it or list it on the assets list (they got clobbered with a big VAT bill then as well!) so I would infer it was passed onto the GCR sometime before this
     
  19. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    It’s two different approaches to the same problem of lack of income matching/ exceeding expenditure. One is to increase income and the other to decrease expenditure; perhaps a combination of both. I’ve had it put to me on more than one occasion that you don’t make money by not running trains. That’s true but the benefits of those trains need to be carefully considered.
    In the Spa Valley thread Jonnie analysed the Christmas takings for each day and came up with some interesting figures. (Thanks for being open and providing them.) It would seem that they have a cost to operate a days service and were able to conclude one day ran at a loss. I’m guessing that the cost is a marginal one and doesn’t include any overhead costs. Even so, some of the day’s ‘profits’ were less than a hundred pounds and I do wonder whether they were worth the effort and truly profitable.
     
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  20. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    It is interesting, and dangerous to judge from a distant armchair.

    I'm used to a commercial discipline where decisions to do a piece of work are explicitly tested for the likely margin, but that this test focuses on direct costs, and not the corporate overhead. Working within that discipline, it is rare that all components can make the same margin, and sometime some are even loss making within an overall profitable activity.

    In all of this, cash is important. If the direct cost of running something (e.g. fuel, wages, consumables), is covered, but is loss making when overheads are factored in (e.g. contribution to overhaul costs), the cash inflow may be more important than a book profit.

    The problem comes when, over the whole year, those overheads can't be covered on top of the direct costs. Reverting to the GCR in particular, I find it interesting to observe that this announcement follows Christmas, and also a business plan that explicitly targets breaking even on operations. If these cutbacks save £250k, that is the equivalent of over 10,000 tickets that don't need to be sold to break even, this year and in future years. Or, if those tickets are sold, an extra £250k/yr that is available for investment in the railway and its appeal to customers.
     

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