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Peak Rail Annual Report and Action Group

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by huochemi, Aug 11, 2017.

  1. gwilialan

    gwilialan Well-Known Member

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    I see that item 9 on page 20 identifies the total legal costs for the £108k dispute with Grinsty's as £76,572. Only £32k less than the total claimed. I can't see how this sort of expenditure and still losing the case could ever be justified
     
  2. John Baritone

    John Baritone New Member

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    I suspect the reason can be seen on a contour map of Bakewell. Have a look at this one, with the 'Zoom' control set to 1:25000
    http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?...archp=ids.srf&dn=684&ax=422237&ay=369012&lm=0
    The orange arrow marks the site of the station; it's right at the top of a long steep hill, and well away from the town centre. I've heard plenty of tourists complaining about how far it is from the car parks to the town centre (a few minutes walk, and all on the same level!), so I can't see many of them being willing to slog up the hill to Bakewell Station after a visit. People complained about the location before closure - and they were far more used to walking in those days, and willing to do it.

    I think the other reason it got cut back to Matlock can also be understood from an OS map; the cost of maintaining all the earthworks, tunnels and bridges between Matlock and Bakewell. Bear in mind that whichever body looked after the roads in that area was dead keen to knock down the bridge over the A.6 at Rowsley, so that they could raise the level of the road and prevent the perennial flooding at that point. Looking after that complex an infrastructure could be justified when it was a valuable through route from Derby to Manchester - but not if it was reduced to 'just a branch to Bakewell'.
     
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  3. John Baritone

    John Baritone New Member

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    I think it fair to say that most of any statement of accounts (for any railway, or anything else) goes straight over my head, but these numbers look a bit ominous to me:

    Turnover . . . : 2017 - £368,433; 2016 - £397,616
    Cost of Sales : 2017 - (£293,528); 2016 - (£166,829)
    Gross Profit : 2017 - £74,905; 2016 - £230,787

    So the cost of sales has increased by 76%. If I'm correct in thinking that 'cost of sales' is the cost of running trains, maintaining infrastructure and rolling stock, and stocking shop and buffet, what's the reason for such a massive jump from one year to the next? Even ignoring the amounts paid in legal fees and court settlements (which, for all I know, may never be repeated), I'd think that any business whose operating costs had increased by that much would be on shaky ground - unless its sales had gone up by the same percentage, if not more. Unfortunately, sales in the buffet, shop and of tickets haven't gone up; they've dropped by 7.3%.

    I realise that this report only gives part of the picture, but I feel doubtful about how much of a difference the proposed marketing of 'corporate events' can make to the overall profitability; that may be occasional 'jam on top', but if you haven't got your basic bread and butter net profit sorted out, it won't keep the company afloat.

    The introduction goes on to mention that changes to the structure of the board together with "additional capital investment into the company, will permit a renewed emphasis on marketing our core business operations" - with the intent of increasing revenue. Is PR's problem down to poor or insufficient marketing? And where is the 'additional capital investment' to come from? It certainly can't come from current net income. No wonder the auditors expressed doubts about the Railway's ability to keep trading.

    The other thought which comes to mind is land. Rowsley Station is a hefty old chunk of land, with road access onto the A.6, and if the Railway went under, would definitely qualify as one of the 'brownfield' sites that HM Government is so keen on re-developing. Aside from the fire sale prices which the Railway's assets could fetch (nowhere near book values), I wonder how much that piece of land alone would be worth, even just with outline planning permission?

    The possibility of a land grab was why the people wanting to reconnect the KESR to the mainline at Robertsbridge set the Rother Valley Railway up as a completely independent company - so that, if it should go bankrupt, the RVR's creditors could not take possession of Tenterden Station, flatten it, and cover the site with a 'prestigious residential development'. Being within a hop, skip and jump of the High Street in a little gem of a town in Kent, and with views out across the Weald, the value of the land alone would run into millions.

    A case of 'watch this space', eh?
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2018
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  4. Lax ambition

    Lax ambition New Member

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    Interesting take on the long term future, I understand that Peak Rail owns some of the land it occupies (including the bridge over the Derwent behind the The Grouse pub), but most of the land is owned by various councils and leased to the railway, however as an operating railway, organisational change cannot be done on the "long game basis", so it is in the current board's power to change the set up and bring action group people in and settle the differences quickly!
     
  5. Breva

    Breva Well-Known Member

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    @ John baritone: the Grinsty affair is in the cost of sales, that's why they leapt up. Turnover has dropped, that is a concern, and bigger still, the illiquidity at the Year End. How will they pay all their ST creditors this year? The low cash balance (£17K) was at the start of the non running season too.
     
  6. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Presumably actually having to pay steaming fees hasn't helped either...
     
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  7. Vulcan Works

    Vulcan Works Member

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    Yes most of the Plc Directors are of a mature age and they have been in post for a long time. Some are also Directors of the Association and the invisible Derwent & Wye Valley Railway Trust. Can you spot a trend? Too much organisational inertia and too many vested interests make it difficult for challenger ideas to break through. The only people who make it on to the Boards are safe people with similar views to the existing Directors, and so the race to the bottom continues.

    Personally I think there is a demographic aspect to Peak Rail's glacial progress. Of course, age by itself is not a problem, far from it. But the controlling regime is well entrenched and although the world has moved on Peak Rail hasn't. If you see the Directors' support base at the AGMs (arranged on a work day of course) you can draw your own conclusions about demographics!

    I was a whipper snapper when I helped construct Darley Dale platform and toilet block back in the early 90s and (from a Visitor's perspective) the station hasn't improved much since then. It's just one example of why I'm exasperated. The management style is pure 1950s. A massive marketing and communication improvement (at no cost / low cost) would be if Peak Rail used social media and had an externally designed professional looking website. The fact that one of the Joint MD's family members has been employed for many years doing the railway's marketing doesn't help to bring about change either...
     
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  8. daveannjon

    daveannjon Well-Known Member

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    Suggest you have a look at Darley Dale again, admittedly the down building is a problem but all sorts of improvements have taken place to increase the authentic MR/LMS atmosphere.

    Dave
     
  9. Vulcan Works

    Vulcan Works Member

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    I agree it’s looking much much better after tackling the maintenance backlog, and full credit to those working on the improvements, I especially like the ‘new’ signage.

    But after 25 years we still haven’t been able to come up with a station master plan and restore the down building? Granted previous managements share some responsibility for that.

    In terms of getting passenger bums on seats, I’d argue that not a lot has changed. It’s a good little station but it should be a great station and an asset to the railway. I think it still could (allegedly we’ve advised the Council that we’re not interested in the down building now??) if the railway took a different approach to managing its affairs and energising its supporters.
     
  10. natdawson

    natdawson New Member

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    It would be interesting to know if the majority of visitors are new to the line or repeat business.

    Personally when visiting for the first time a couple of years ago in the summer holidays there was very little to impress. Pretty much every public facing aspect looked tired at best with a number of disinterested volunteers and one who was in charge of Matlock platform for the day who was very vocal in his hatred of the Briddons.

    Darley Dale which should be a real gem of the line almost seemed disconnected from the visitor experience and somewhere to pass through instead of stop and explore.

    The coaching stock was painted but the interiors were threadbare and falling apart. Topped off with a bout of food poisoning from the cafe at Rowsley which ruined the second half of out family holiday it hasn't exactly left me with a desire to return until some fairly radical changes have been made to what is on offer.

    I really hope that things can improve as there is plently of potential but it does seem that until the current 'leadership' is removed that the line will continue to go down hill.
     
  11. Stan loco

    Stan loco New Member

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    There may be some challenges at PR but food poisoning ??
    The Rowsley cafe is seriosly clean with the food operatives working to good hygienic standards I doubt very much that was the cause of your sickness.
    Did you report it to the cafe at the time?

    Peace
     
  12. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Resident of Nat Pres

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    One obvious issue is that will loco owners be willing to hire locos to Peak Rail and what might the impact of that be?
     
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  13. natdawson

    natdawson New Member

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    I trust it has improved but I can assure you it was down to PR and it wasn't a shining example of hygiene but needs must at the time. I didn't contact them as I was more focused in hugging the toilet and working out how I was going to able to drive back to Norfolk a few days later.

    The catering staff were some of the volunteers who were disinterested in serving any customers.

    It's old news now but it was a very disappointing visit which is why I wondered whether the main visitor base is new or repeat business.
     
  14. Breva

    Breva Well-Known Member

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    We've done what???? We may have run out of money, but that beautiful building was the perfect basis for a major fund raising. I can't believe what I'm reading :mad:
     
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  15. Vulcan Works

    Vulcan Works Member

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    Best ask the D&WVRT or the Joint MD to confirm or deny it...
    Funny how the Sahareholders and Members haven't been consulted, nor was it mentioned at the AGM although the Plc will likely say 'it's nothing to do with the Plc' despite the Plc, PRA and Trust all being part of the Peak Rail family and some of the same people running all 3 organisations. I only hope that I'm going to be pleasantly surprised (correction, astonished) if the D&WVRT has stepped back to allow the Plc to step in.
     
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  16. Gav106

    Gav106 Well-Known Member

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    I always think it's a great shame the way the Peak rail has gone. This is by far one of my favourite lines in the UK. It could be the best if it was done correctly.

    I often thought it would be a great location to base 5551 and a Fowler tank once they were completed. With a turn table at one end and a rake of mainline coaches you could do a "vintage trains" and run summer Sundays to derby and back stopping at hot spots such as Matlock baths.
    Then that rake of mainline coaches could be based in the area and shared between the likes of the PRCLT, 5305 and 5551 loco groups to do tours from the east Midlands onwards.
     
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  17. Lax ambition

    Lax ambition New Member

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    It's funny how Peak Rail has all this potential, yet consistently throws it away. Darley Dale down platform building has to be kept and made good, otherwise whats the point of the fantastic footbridge that has gone in, the resurfacing of the platform. Looks like I'll have to start reading the old issues of Peak Express!!!! I'd forgotten about the D&WVRT and who runs it!
     
  18. 3155

    3155 New Member

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    The only apparent way to remove the current PLC Directors would be to obtain the current shareholders list, & canvas them all, attempting to win their vote via proxy, & then call an EGM. Ie back to basics?

    3155
     
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  19. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Courts can, given relevant conditions, debar people from directorships. Not being learn-ed in matters legal, I couldn't begin to speculate on any relevance to a case such as this.
     
  20. daveannjon

    daveannjon Well-Known Member

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    I think you'll find that's what PRAG are doing :))

    Dave
     
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