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Moorlands and City Railway

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

  1. oldmrheath

    oldmrheath Well-Known Member

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    The £1.75 million RGF grant suggests that the business plan for at least phase one of the scheme is valid and I can understand why the businessmen involved would not want to share ongoing commercial negotiations on this forum. For all I know they could be dotting i's and crossing t's on major contracts, while having to simultaneously spend time and effort tackling issues such as the 'village green' challenge.

    There are certainly questions for me re-Phases II & III (Alton Towers/ Leek) but the biggest pity for me is that Moorlands & City are not distancing themselves from talk of, especially, trains to Cheadle and Hanley. Admittedly neither of those routes feature in the current proposals and so there is no obligation to issue statements, but I cannot help but think that while such speculation exists it can only serve to undermine the credibility of the core business plan and the company as a whole.
     
  2. Kenneth

    Kenneth New Member

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    It pains me to say it, but the cynics on this thread are really out of order, and we must really examine their motives (there are two of them). Perhaps it's jealousy, or perhaps an inherent prejudice against Northern values of enterprise. They don't seem able to understand that MCR is a commercial venture, which is intended to provide a commercial service to businesses and the general public alike. The reality on the ground is that there is a massive need for public transportation here in North Staffordshire, and there is a case for railways. In the South East of England, the average member of the public takes 70 journeys by rail every year. Here in North Staffordshire, the average member of the public takes just seven journeys by rail each year. This is why rail travel in the South of England is in decline, and why rail usage in the North of England is burgeoning. Every re-opening of new routes and stations has generated revenues beyond all expectations, and we expect the same here. The ecomomic background for MCR is for an upgrade of an existing rail infrastructure, combined with short extensions (Leekbrook/Leek, Oakamoor/Alton, Etruria/Hanley), and the costs of the venture will be very low compared with other schemes.
    I hold massive respect for the Directors of the Company, and it is not for me to pry on commercial negotiations. But there is little sense in posturing ambivallent and nonsensical difficulties, such as the situation of connectivity at Stoke, or the re-opening of Etruria station, when, for all the cynics know, MCR is requesting access to an already open door.
     
  3. ADB968008

    ADB968008 Guest

    Let's flip the argument upside down and follow the money...

    This venture is very successful, built by volunteers for free the MCR makes a tidy profit.... Who takes it home ?

    On a side note, if stoke is an issue, why not run to Crewe, probably better connections for Alton Towers, could lead to funding to reopen some long closed stations on that line ?

    How long is it going to take to Alton Towers from Stoke at 25mph with a reverse at Leekbrook ?

    Most things in life are measured in Time, Quality and Cost... 25mph is certainly not high quality, but is low cost, but is also time poor... To be successful it will need to be justifiably cheaper than driving for people to sacrifice time on a day out to a place which already requires queuing for the rides and a high admission cost for high quality rides.
     
  4. Christopher125

    Christopher125 Member

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    Kenneth, i can tell this project means a lot to you but attacking people for being jealous and prejudiced against 'northern values of enterprise' really isnt helpful.

    As you often remind us, MCR are a commercial venture that's nevertheless invited a preserved railway and its members to contribute £200k and countless volunteer man hours to their project - so when vague and unlikely claims about DMU's and national network speeds are made i think its only right to question them, and inevitably the project as a whole.

    While you make a convincing argument for investing in rail infrastructure in Staffordshire, if MCR cant earn enough revenue to pay for the huge upfront investment and ongoing costs of running a private line to national network standards it simply isnt viable.

    Chris
     
  5. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Although it has no relevance at all to the merits of these proposals, my personal background is 50% North Staffs/Cheshire so I am not some infernal southerner with prejudices about "oop north"! As for "enterprise", this is an excellent thing provided it is gone about in a businesslike manner. It is the latter aspect which I have yet to be convinced about.
     
  6. N.StaffsNeil

    N.StaffsNeil New Member

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    All this speculation about this and that is irrelevant. Lets try and stick to facts and not wild speculation. Fact- Line to Cauldon Lowe complete, Fact- line to Stoke is work in progress. Theyre the only facts we the public know at this moment. Lets wait and see how it pans out before declaring it to be a failure eh?
     
  7. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    No problem with this.

    P.H.
     
  8. oldmrheath

    oldmrheath Well-Known Member

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    I promise this is my last comment on the Hanley thing as I agree it is distracting from the core project , but given your statement Kenneth I really must refer you to this page again: Hanley & Etruria on the Potteries Loop Line . The 'short extension' to Hanley following the old formation would appear to require demolition of chunks of Festival Park. Do you really believe that such a scheme would be low cost?

    Although the Cheadle branch has not been mentioned so much on this thread recently, believe me that no-one would love to see that line reopened more than I, having been fortunate enough to see the last train run up there in 1985 (the class 25-hauled weedkiller train early one morning a few months after the bizarre 'Pullman' working). Sadly, any chance of that line reopening in any effective form is surely a complete non-starter for reasons previously stated.


    In the meantime, just to be clear, I applaud Moorlands & City for opening the line to Cauldon Low. It is a splendid line, and simply for the opportunity of travelling behind George Stephenson on the climb to Ipstones, anyone with steam in their blood should be grateful for what has already been achieved and I look forward to the upcoming extensions toward Stoke.
     
  9. Kenneth

    Kenneth New Member

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    ok, I agree a truce for the moment, on one condition. We must all work hard (as I have done) to protect existing trackbeds including the Biddulph line and the line at Silverdale. If an argument is going nowhere, then there's no point in continuing it. I must admit, though, that the Tesco in Hanley was a blow in the face for me.
     
  10. p/wayman

    p/wayman New Member

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    I think you can write off the Cheadle Branch. After the line was disconnected the Railway Cottage householders bought the land behind them complete with track, they then wanted the tracks removed and they sold it to the CVR and the P/way and Civils gangs removed it to the CVR. In the last year the Pway gang has been up the line twice. The sleepers are completly rotton, the track is only fit for scrap, that is what is left of it, someones made some money in scrap. It would require a new station building, a new track bed where the cotages are and who would use it ? Its to short to be of any benefit.
     
  11. N.StaffsNeil

    N.StaffsNeil New Member

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    Agreed, the Cheadle branch is a non-starter. Lets concentrate on the MCR project at hand, which is enough to keep us busy for some time to come. By the way Dad, make sure your spellchecker's working:happy:
     
  12. Gav106

    Gav106 Well-Known Member

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    Well this is how i personally see mcr.

    1st objective is to get a mainline connection. This is to be done as cheaply as possible, using a mixture of paid and voluntary staff. This means they can create revenue from incoming railtours, extra visitors, who want new mileage and that then gives access to freight from cauldon. And may i ask why MCR would publicly announce a contract with LaFarge when they dont as yet have a mainline connection. Surely this would demotivate the current drivers who work for them??
    Once the mainline connection is done re instate some of the former Waterhouses branch to access LaFarge.

    You could say that the £200,000 that the CVR membership/supporters have paid for a seat on the board and use of the MCR Network (currently 8 miles) is pretty cheap. If Mcr makes a profit from the Freight, CVR receives some of this money. CVR can also hire in locos such as Tornado who otherwise would cost a fortune on transport costs. Have a use of a triangle to turn locos and coaches to save money on tyre wear and paint bleaching in the sun.

    Forget Cheadle branch, forget Hanley (i work at the Sainsburys there every so often and there is No way this could be put back in) And just think about the immediate MCR network. Watch it grow for the next 5 years and then we will see where we are. Its far to early to see what impact it will have on the surrounding area.
     
  13. Christopher125

    Christopher125 Member

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    I really dont think the 'motivation' of their drivers is a major factor, the desire to get a good deal seems much more likely - and this is where the alarm bells started ringing about the professionalism of MCR. Who builds the infrastructure for a freight contract before your 100% sure its needed? By being so reliant on that one customer, what choice do they have but accept whatever terms Lafarge want regarding track access charges, contract length and the like?

    For example, a very tough stance from Lafarge is the most hopeful explanation for what the quarry's manager said back in 2009; "Over recent months we have been in touch with the company to discuss this development and long-term future options including the possibility of opening a line into our works...The cost of establishing the last section of the line direct into Cauldon Works is too great to consider in the short to medium term."

    Perhaps they are keeping quiet to keep up the morale of the lorry driver's, but i fear its much more likely that Lafarge are driving a hard bargain, or worse their 2009 comments werent just correct then but remain true. I cant remember reading anything more positive about negotiations since.

    Both MCR directors are also directors of the CVR, they are both enthusiastic supporters of the line, how much more involvement on the board does there need to be? Common sense suggests nothing more than a need for the extra cash, which is why im concerned about all the talk of commercial passenger services and reopening the lines to Leek and Alton Towers - if they dont have the money now, when will they? I'd love to think the lack of detail is the result of a business-like approach, but then why would they have started work without any guarantee over their principal source of income?

    I remain to be convinced...

    Chris
     
  14. p/wayman

    p/wayman New Member

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    Now that LaFarge have taken over the Tarmac stone quarry perhaps negotions have altered, maybe one loading area for both products could be a possibility. It could possible to run in at the Cauldon end of the line or rebuild the Waterhouses branch. I suspect that a lot of discussions are going on behind closed doors and I don't blame anyone for not going public until agreements have been made. If it were me, I certainly would not disclose anything until both sides signed.
     
  15. N.StaffsNeil

    N.StaffsNeil New Member

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    :tongue:Christopher's glass is half empty. Like p/wayman said, what do we know as to ongoing talks?
     
  16. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Evidently he doesn't like the taste!

    P.H.
     
  17. lil Bear

    lil Bear Well-Known Member

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    To satisfy Christopher, at the CVR PLC AGM the shareholders were informed by MCR that negotiations had been suspended as LaFarge and Tarmac were being merged into one company. Cauldon Lowe is one of the few places where both companies operate in the same location, and it was felt it would be best to talk after they had completed the merge instead of trying to arrange something whilst those concerned at LaFarge/Tarmac had other concerns and priorities. Now this appears complete (going off p/wayman's post) I'm sure MCR will be in touch with the necessary people. Just because everything is not in the public domain does not mean it is not happening!
     
  18. Christopher125

    Christopher125 Member

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    Confirming that MCR has been proceeding for several years without an agreement for regular revenue-earning traffic isnt exactly reassuring - especially as the quarry greeted the news of the project back in 2009 by kicking any idea of stone traffic into the long grass.

    Chris
     
  19. Steve from GWR

    Steve from GWR New Member

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    According to you they said ".........and long-term future options including the possibility of opening a line into our works...The cost of establishing the last section of the line direct into Cauldon Works is too great to consider in the short to medium term." That doesn't sound to me like "kicking any idea of stone traffic into the long grass", it just sounds like they recognise they would do it initially without the last section of line into their works.

    Why this determination to give the most negative interpretation?
     
  20. Sheff

    Sheff Well-Known Member

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    Christopher, for someone who is normally quite impartial and with whose opinion I would normally share much common ground, you puzzle me on this one.

    OK - I'm maybe biased as I'm involved with the CVR, but I don't view preservation through the same rose-tinted specs as many on here do, and I just can't see the downside to the commercial MCR project and its potential benefits to the CVR that you seem so keen on promoting. I wouldn't be working on the extensions etc if I believed it would all be in vain. I know many of those involved at the sharp end, and they aren't a bunch of head-in-the-clouds train spotters I can assure you.

    As for the quarry traffic, back in 2009 IIRC Tarmac was still independent of Lafarge, and currently remains so as the merge is under investigation by the Competition Commission. So until the merger position is clear, I wouldn't expect any announcements from the resultant company(ies) or the MCR. If Lafarge wins out, then they are pro-rail and things should look bright. Most likely the CC will want some parts of the business sold off, but you'd hope that common sense would prevail on what is virtually a shared site at Cauldon.

    So why so anti Christopher? No one's making you buy shares, though many others have done so, and the CVR could end up with assess to one of the most exciting systems in the heritage business.
     

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