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GWSR General Discussion and Operations

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by michaelh, Aug 25, 2013.

  1. unitdriver

    unitdriver New Member

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    It should be noted that the Long Marston - Stratford section which was on offer was not the complete section, rather just to a milepost outside of town.

    The trackbed north within Stratford itself was already earmarked for the road that was eventually built.
     
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  2. ross

    ross Well-Known Member

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    As I recollect, many people predicted that the GWSR would not thrive. They had virtually nothing-a stripped back trackbed with no station buildings. They were attempting to start a new line, rather late to the game, far too close to the established and thriving Severn Valley railway. The SVR had claimed the market, and surely any potential volunteers would be drawn to that successful line rather than a scruffy little tier 2 outfit out in the sticks. All the good locomotives and pre-nationalisation stock had been taken by other lines, so not only did they have nothing at Toddington, they never could have anything. All the good stuff had gone, so they were doomed to remain, at best, small forever, or more likely, complete failure and abandonment within a few years.
    Also, APT was the future on the big railway, and we would all ride to the station on a Sinclair C5
     
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  3. JBTEvans

    JBTEvans Member

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    LOL - WSR has been operating for 45 years. Yes, they have issues at the moment, but it's clearly been viable for most of that time.

    GWSR has Stanway Viaduct, Greet Tunnel and embankments that like to collapse. I would suggest maintaining 14 miles of that costs more than the WSR's near 23 mile length.
     
  4. 61624

    61624 Well-Known Member

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    Its a moot point, though, isn't it? Arguably, the WSR has only been viable because it has been deferring routine civil engineering tasks such as track renewal - and perhaps bridge and other works too?
     
  5. Bikermike

    Bikermike Member

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    "Also, APT was the future on the big railway, and we would all ride to the station on a Sinclair C5"
    Well, we have tilting multiple-unit trains and electric bicycles, so a lot of the ideas came true.

    Getting back to topic, safeguarding the route is only possible by preventing building on it. The only absolute way to do that is buy the trackbed, which then gives you a liability even (especially?) if you don't do anything with it, and costs money, so it does divert funds from other things.

    Also, I suspect that if a govt body won't sell it to a preserved railway, a holding company with no assets is even less plausible.

    All you can do for little money is nail it as hard as you can into local authority plans etc.
     
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  6. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Many years ago (not sure when, early 1990s maybe) the Bluebell Railway was presented with the opportunity to buy the trackbed of a putative western extension from Horsted Keynes to Ardingly, which it took up. The result is we now own the freehold of that land, with the exception of a tunnel, still owned by the DfT but over which we have a lease.

    The positive is that we thus preserved the option on a future extension, and our opportunity for that extension still exists. (No doubt the scarring process of buying the land to get to East Grinstead in myriad little pockets was uppermost in minds at the time, hence seizing the opportunity to buy the Ardingly branch in what I believe was all in one transaction).

    The negative: owning that land has come with financial liabilities. Over the years a lot of work has had to be done, whether that is fencing, drainage work, replacing a cattle creep etc. There has also been a degree of legal work around the lease and future options for Lyewood tunnel. It's all money out of the door to keep open the option of an extension which may or may not happen; and relatively little opportunity for income back. (I believe there have been a few film jobs using the land, but nothing much). There is also the question of the opportunity cost of the land purchase price tied up unremuneratively rather than having been spent on other facilities, though I don't know to what extent that money would have been available elsewhere, so I wouldn't over-egg that point. (If someone offers you a million pounds no strings attached, you'd be better off spending it on the extant railway. If someone offers a million to buy a redundant trackbed, but if you don't buy it the money isn't available, then you can't say the purchase price was a big opportunity cost).

    The point is even buying the land against a long-in-the-future re-instatement will come with costs that suck money out of the core business. It may still be worth doing, but don't assume that you can make such purchases and then sit on them cost free in some dormant state for a few decades until the time is right. Owning the land will cost money over and above the purchase price, unless you can find some business opportunity to generate some income back from it.

    Tom
     
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  7. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Part of the furniture Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

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    Erm, the WSR hasn’t carried out a proper maintenance program over the years, which is one of the reasons it is now asking for millions of pounds to sort it out. GWSR on the other hand have carried out maintenance along with improvements to the original infrastructure also undertaken, funded one way of another, and doesn’t have a massive financial liability hanging over its head.

    Regardless of the cost of maintaining the various structures, the fact is the GWSR balance the books accordingly, something that hasn’t happened in Somerset and why there is a maintenance backlog, making a comparison pointless unless you consider the fact that costs were slewed in Somerset by deferring large maintenance projects.
     
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  8. RASDV

    RASDV New Member

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    I've followed this discussion with interest, not least because extending to Honeybourne would bring the line even closer to where I grew up! I've been thinking about the potential of extending to Honeybourne. I was wondering about @flying scotsman123 's comment that it would lead potentially two bits of line with just a little overlap in between. Perhaps there would be an opportunity to turn that into a particular selling point of the line. On most preserved lines, you get on one train, stay on to the end of the line and hop off - but with these two different levels of traffic flows, perhaps you could have a 'mainline' steam service CRC - Broadway and a 'branch line' service Honeybourne-Broadway (or maybe on to Toddington). The branchline service could be the Bubblecar or maybe an 'Auto Train' (or if I can dream!) a steam railmotor. This could help keep costs down, and maybe be a weekend only operation?

    This would also mean the railway can better represent the original line - which had both 'express' and 'stopping' services and visitors get to experience both. The change of trains would be a fairly unique experience in preservation? I always enjoyed the Green timetable days a few years ago which had a steam service, heritage diesel, and a railcar - and pointed out the different kinds of rail travel visitors could enjoy. To add to this, you could also run some of the CRC - Broadway trains as 'named trains' - the 'Cheltenham Flyer' and the 'Cotswold Express' or something - I'm sure visitors would love that and this could be part of the experience a visit offers (see below).

    I also agree with an earlier comment that the railway could make more of connecting different attractions along the route - such as Sudeley Castle and Snowshill Manor - perhaps with a vintage bus connection. This needn't be every day, but could be Wednesdays only or something like that. Maybe a connection could be made with local preseved bus owners, the Oxford bus museum or Wythall transport museum?
    Perhaps Honeybourne could also be a boarding point for a heritage coach tour from Stratford on Avon?

    I also think that the railway could perhaps offer passengers 'suggested itineraries - I think they did this a few years ago? - of trains to take and places to see. Also, with the tourist market, and especially people staying in the Cotswolds, I wonder if there would be a market for offering multi-day tickets - with subsequent days at a reduced price across a week. For example, day one - go to Broadway, day two take the train and bus to the castle, day three - experience the 'branch line' and main line trains together. Perhaps as a trial some multi-day rovers could be offered to people staying in local holiday accommodation? Maybe there would also be the potential to develop some traffic flows from people staying in Broadway, like afternoon tea on the train.

    One of my favourite railway experiences was taking the Tallylyn's Victorian Train a few years back. I really enjoyed the package this offered, with a run up the line, photo run pasts, visit to the museum and an afternoon tea. It was a truly grand day out. I think a lot of railways could learn from offering this kind of experience, where people get a whole package to enjoy. This is why the Dartmouth Steam Railway's Round Robin tours are so popular, I would think. The GWSR could perhaps offer an 'autotrain' or 'bubble car' type experience landcruise and make use of the extension then as well?

    Others have mentioned the connection to the line with Oxford - that could also be worth exploring - visitors wanting to see a bit of the Cotswolds. Perhaps through ticketing from the national network could help with this (I made use of this feature visiting the Bodmin & Wenford a few years back, which was great fun)? Or, as with the South Western Railway service to Corfe Castle, perhaps GWR might operate some services to Broadway? I know Oxford has also been a start point for some steam railtours - I wonder if there would be potential for an Oxford - Broadway railtour? Or having a link to Broadway as an option from the Cotswold Venturer railtours that pass through Honeybourne. In addition of course to the possible race day trains others have mentioned.

    Also, there might actually be some potential in the rare breeds farm 'All Things Wild' in Honeybourne (https://www.allthingswild.co.uk/) as a destination (of sorts) - I'm thinking of the joint tickets the South Devon offers with the rare breed farm at Buckfastleigh - http://3ga.co.uk/ . At least it could be an itinerary option to offer from Broadway, and if you were staying there and had a multi-day ticket, then you might well take the train...

    Anyway, this is just me blue sky thinking! I totally agree with the points above about all the challenges and costs of extending to Honeybourne and that it's pretty unlikely just now. But maybe there's more potential from a mainline connection at Honeybourne than you might think!
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2021
  9. JBTEvans

    JBTEvans Member

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    I would argue maintenance was not carried out pre 2008 on the GWSR to any good effect as two landslips occurred in areas that were known to slip. Why the line closed in the first place. Everybody on trains prior to those movements of land put their life at risk if you think about it.

    The GWSR also appealed for funds on another Gotherington slip in early 2020 - so it was 'a massive financial liability hanging over its head'.

    Well if the GWSR is much more profitable, I'm sure running 18.8 miles won't break the bank then. Can't believe some people are suggesting extending and not using it on a regular basis.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2021
  10. Hirn

    Hirn Member

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  11. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Only if you don't think very hard...
    I'm not really sure what pre-2008 has much to do with comparisons with the WSR anyway, surely the last 10 years is more relevant? If we'd done as little as the WSR has, I expect we'd be in similar doodoo.

    That's an extraordinary statement that I don't really know where to begin with! An expansion of roughly 50% is an enormous difference.
     
  12. Matt78

    Matt78 Well-Known Member

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    I suspect that the GWSR has one big advantage over a number of similar sized lines in that the wage bill for the GWSR is relatively small by comparison.
     
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  13. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Part of the furniture Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

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    Lives at risk? I don’t think so. Sterns on the SVR suffers regular movement but there is also no danger to life.

    You have missed the point, the WSR isn’t a good comparison.
     
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  14. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Part of the furniture Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

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    I do think that sometimes that can be limiting to what can be achieved with day to day operations, to an extent the GWSR have found this and do employ a few people now having previously been all volunteer, you can’t deny though it’s a positive having a small payroll.
     
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  15. RichardBrum

    RichardBrum Member

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    Network Rail have embankment slips.


    The extension to Broadway involved works on the embankments, at Laverton & Broadway, in 2015 & 2017.
    Those works, & the fixes elsewhere, make the embankments stronger than was originally built.
    Bridges fully refurbished with materials (membranes & better paints) that weren't available when built.


    Gotherington slip. The plan was to repair enough to still run trains past the site with a speed restriction, & then do the major fix.
    Even if that needed the line closing at that point, you could run Broadway-Gotherington, helping to fund the repair.
    There would still have been a fundraising appeal, which would have also been the case at every other heritage line.



    How do you maintain an embankment?
    To find out what's going on within one, & how it's constructed, you have to dig into it, which you don't want to do whilst running trains across it!
    http://broadwayextensionblog.blogspot.com/2015/09/exploration-of-broadway-embankment.html
     
  16. Biermeister

    Biermeister New Member

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    The following link from the GWSR gives a clear summary of the current state-of-play concerning the Broadway to Honeybourne rail route. See:
    https://www.gwsr.com/news/Press_Office/Securing_the_Broadway_to_Honeybourne_Trackbed.html

    It is obvious that GWSR is not in any financial position to assume the responsibility of the trackbed from RPL nor would it be permitted to do so by the DfT.
    What remains is aspirational, i.e. the hope that one day GWSR might perhaps be able to venture northward to Honeybourne...

    OK, it all sounds airy-fairy but unless a fairy godmother emerges (and stranger things have happened) then it appears unlikely to eventuate in the next ten years.
    What then, one might ask, can be done to protect the rail route for the future? One would hope that GWSR would bring its negotiating skills into play and actively canvas the relevant councils for support, indeed action, in assuming responsibility for what will in future surely prove to be a vital link.
    The opportunity will surely not be lost, will it??
     
  17. Paul.Uni

    Paul.Uni Member

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    A "sensible promotional film" from Rapido Trains about their forthcoming OO gauge Gunpowder Van, filmed at Winchcombe.
     
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  18. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Part of the furniture

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    Is that our very own @flying scotsman123 in a starring role there?
     
  19. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    It was certainly a very different day from the ordinary!
     
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  20. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Part of the furniture

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    Do you do all your own stunts Alex? ;)
     

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