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Moorlands and City Railway

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by Guest, Oct 14, 2009.

  1. Sheff

    Sheff Resident of Nat Pres

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    I would have thought that like any other TOC the stick would be leased, not bought out right ?
     
  2. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Is that a stick to beat the staff with???
     
  3. Kenneth

    Kenneth New Member

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    Chris, if you understood the problems of public transport here in North Staffordshire (slow clapped out 'buses on hopelessly congested roads, with high fares to boot), I don't think you'd have any doubts about the economics of the passenger side of this project. Some of us have been banging on about reviving our erstwhile rail network for decades, and the investments you talk about are really very little in modern terms. The CVR share issue was made for two reasons - for development at the CVR H.Q. at Cheddleton, and to make sure the CVR has a place on the MCR Board.
    Incidently, modern dmu's are available at less the £1m per vehicle (built in China), but I hope that our stock can be built here in Derby.
    I don't expect that the entire cost of the venture will be coming from "these two individuals"! - as I said, this project is a commercial undertaking.
     
  4. Christopher125

    Christopher125 Part of the furniture

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    Train leasing companies wont touch new DMU's because fuel prices and a recently much more pro-electrification DfT could easily see them handed back in favour of cheaper to lease and operate sprinters long before they'd paid back the initial investment - that would apply as much to MCR as any mainline TOC looking to lease them.

    When you factor in the need to re-open a production line for a handful of units, lease them to an operation which has no track record and which could happily go bust and stop running any services, all for a tiny profit decades away in the future, its a complete non-starter.


    Edit - in reply to Ken's post....

    While that may be true, railways arent cheap to operate, and rural services have notoriously poor economics. That, along with the history of privately owned heritage railways trying to run commercially competitive services are i think perfectly good reasons to question the wisdom of these plans and hopefully get some positive answers.

    MCR need the CVR for their project to work, the directors have been involved with the line for many years, surely getting a place on the MCR board should be a formality. I cant see why they needed money from the share issue unless it was to help pay for ongoing work on the Stoke line. If so, it calls into question the finance they have available and how they can afford to even consider such ambitious plans for passenger services.

    For the reasons outlined above, a fleet of new DMU's (whether built in China or Derby) are off the table unless the DfT cancels all electrification schemes, which seems unlikely...

    With no prospect of a larger order, not even a chinese manufacturer is going to develop a design specific to the UK for a one-off order of a handful of trains, and certainly not for less than a £1m per vehicle.

    Chris
     
  5. Sheff

    Sheff Resident of Nat Pres

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    Chuffin iPhone (yes, mine is steam powered;) )
     
  6. oldmrheath

    oldmrheath Well-Known Member

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    Regarding the DMU's the Alton Towers vehicles will be redundant from November to late March - that would appear to be something of an under-utilisation of brand new or nearly-new rolling stock.perhaps the Towers themselves will contribute to the financing because of the benefits the service will provide in terms of traffic reduction?
     
  7. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    This thread is both fascinating and disquieting. I knew this area a bit during my childhood and recall then that public transport from Stoke to Leek involved decrepit slow buses (Proctors and Beresfords were the operators I think) and the journey took an age. Yet they effectively saw off the train services.

    Railway preservation never seems to learn. When a tourist railway waxes all romantic with thoughts about providing a public transport service then take cover! Years ago the Border Union Railway project for the Waverley route was going to make its fortune from carrying cabbages (I kid you not) and, more recently, there have been schemes which nearly came to grief through extravagence. Even the Swanage Railway had an extremely rocky period.

    P.H.
     
  8. M59137

    M59137 Well-Known Member

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    Luckily for those who know and love the CVR, we know that all this commercial aspect of operating proper services is firmly in MCR's territory. I certainly hope it never does, but if the scheme over-stretches and collapses into financial turmoil, the worst case scenario for the CVR would be a return to the situation as of 2009 running the 5-mile service from Leekbrook to Froghall. This "nothing to lose" approach was made clear to members/shareholders of the railway around the time of MCR's conception. It won't be the CVR or the preservation world buying/hiring new DMUs :)
     
  9. Gav106

    Gav106 Well-Known Member

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    And unlike the other heritage railways the MCR network does happen to be going to the NO 1 Tourist destination in the UK out side of London. So that might help slightly. Although Alton Towers theme park is closed from mid Nov to Mid March, the Alton towers Hotel and Water Park is open all year round. Alton towers is bound to try to tempt more customers to there hotel by maybe having a trip on the Steam train in december. Maybe trying to do a Santa special runnning to Alton for picking up those staying there. Plus there are all the specials that could run such as the late night Alton towers trains For fright night and Fireworks night. This doesn't include the possible local trains to and from Leek. Plus there is the Freight to pay some bills. I know you keep saying that "Railway preservation never seems to learn. When a tourist railway waxes all romantic with thoughts about providing a public transport service then take cover!" But i cant name any other Heritage railways with Alton towers/Lafarge/Tarmac on there doorstep.
     
  10. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Running mineral trains is one thing. Running a heritage railway as a joyride taking advantage of an adjoining attraction is another. Operating a timetabled "public transport" service is yet a third. It is the latter which is "romantic".

    I just cannot envisage the inhabitants of Cheddleton struggling up the hill from the station after a shopping trip to Leek or Stoke with any degree of enthusiasm.

    P.H.
     
  11. ADB968008

    ADB968008 Guest

    I thought the CVR was buying shares in the MCR...it has that to lose ?
     
  12. Kenneth

    Kenneth New Member

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    Many other towns/Cities/connurbations have very effective and useful urban/sub-urban/commuter rail networks, including smaller Cities such as Newcastle-upon-Tyne. I can't see why certain people can't appreciate that we in North Staffordshire want one as well!
     
  13. Steve1015

    Steve1015 Member

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    Understand your point of view but the rocky period at Swanage had nothing to do with running a public transport service but more to do with streching itself to build the railway. Swanage has now built its business to be a +200,000 passengers/+£2m business.
    With regards to CVR/MCR the question is will they be able to generate enough money to pay the bills and also the money that has been invested to reinstate the line? They will also have to increase staffing levels either by volunteers or paid staff. All the well established railways have grown slowly and they have been able to increase thier staffing accordingly. My worry with CVR/MCR that they are growing quickly but will they be able to increase their staffing at the same rate. I do have certain doubts but I wish them all the best.
     
  14. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    I don't disagree with any of this. My problem is with starry eyed enthusiasm seeking to find a transport need for an existing railway long ago rejected by the local population. Recollections of the settlements in this very hilly country are that they tend to be high up whereas the railway is right down alongside the river.

    Those who discount the disincentive of labouring uphill with shopping, from station to dwelling are people, I suspect, who have never had to do this.

    P.H.
     
  15. Christopher125

    Christopher125 Part of the furniture

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    However much we all want it to happen, the proposals need to be affordable and sustainable. We are talking about a private railway run on a commercial basis, with all of the costs (and more) of operating a heritage line but none of the volunteers, donations or membership fees to offset them. To compete with road transport 25mph isnt enough, but that makes the fitting and maintenance of AWS, TPWS, OTMR and central door locking compulsory - it will also have a massive impact on insurance and training costs too, making the recruiting of ex-mainline drivers (and equivalent wages) neccesary too.

    Even if there was no need to repay the many tens of millions spent on infrastructure and suitable rolling stock, and could get operating costs down so they could compete with the local bus service - what if there was a price war?

    In my opinion the only way you'll see a regular passenger service for local's between Stoke and Leek is if the line is handed back to Network Rail after reopening, who could maintain it from track access charges paid by MCR (as an open-access operator). I still cant see it being financially viable, but at least it wouldnt be the 'voyage into the unknown'
    currently being suggested...

    Strangely, this isnt so different to the Border Railway in Scotland; originally it was to be built and maintained by contractors, but it became so expensive that it was cheaper to let Network Rail project manage the construction and then maintain it themselves afterwards. With railway maintenance taken back in-house by NR, and the huge economies of scale they benefit from, they are probably the only choice for maintaining any line to the higher standards needed for a regular service run at national network speeds.

    ...but could MCR afford it?

    Chris
     
  16. M59137

    M59137 Well-Known Member

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    A valid point. So indeed there is around £200k to lose. However I would suggest this figure will be 'paid off' by the associated benefits quite soon. In under 2 years the CVR has already benefitted from infrastructure improvements and incresed passenger receipts during Cauldon excursion days which wouldn't have happended without the developments.
     
  17. Sheff

    Sheff Resident of Nat Pres

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    ... and of course the CVR gets that all important main line connection too, which opens up all sorts of possibilities regarding visiting loco's and rail tours. Currently any loco coming in by road is in for a real white-knuckle ride worth of Alton Towers. Not sure the likes of the A1 Trust might fancy that, but coming in by rail wouldn't be a problem. Cameron has said yes in principle to performing the re-opening, so how about he arrive behind Tornado, or maybe more appropriately DofS, axle-loadings permitting of course.
     
  18. Steve1015

    Steve1015 Member

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    With the associated signalling/trackwork ete etc....wont be cheap to install
     
  19. Christopher125

    Christopher125 Part of the furniture

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    £200k upfront to run occasional trains up the Cauldon branch doesnt seem like the greatest deal, seeing as MCR are supposedly a seperate commercial undertaking who arguably need the CVR far more than they need them, especially for access to Alton - if it helped enable the rest of the project it might make more sense, even if it somewhat contradicts the idea of MCR being a seperate operation, but that kind of sum is peanuts when you look at their proposals.

    Does anyone know what would happen if MCR reopened the line to Stoke, the line was passed as fit for operation, trains ran... but MCR collapsed? Presumably the line would go back to being part of the national network, but would it return to its 'mothballed' status or would Network Rail be required to go through network change which the CVR, railtour operators and any freight users could stop - keeping it open and maintained by NR.

    Chris
     
  20. Sheff

    Sheff Resident of Nat Pres

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    As it is key to the whole gamut of planned operations, I think it's safe to assume that the main line connection was top of the shopping list when the business plan was put together.
     

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