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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. nine elms fan

    nine elms fan Member

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    I think it is so sad that a preserved railway like the peak railway is in a situation it now finds itself in. after spending three holidays in the last ten years in the peak district an area of England I find more beautiful than the Lake district, that the line has not asserted itself more, each time I have visited the only additions that really stand out are the addition of another building while I understand to get rolling stock under cover is an urgent matter there is nothing new in the line itself but if you have an management that seems content with what it has, then what choices does it have.
     
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  2. Stan loco

    Stan loco New Member

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    I was down at Rowsley yesterday. Mooching around having a sort out its one beautiful location , facilities and a fresh outlook on the future. There is so much going on in the background paving the way for a brighter fuutre for all those involved in and supporting the railway .

    Yes some have made it known their concerns by using different approaches. Where the railway may have on occasion found its self not at its best it is clear now the management are working very hard for a brighter future. This can only be acheived with the cooperation of members , shareholders , volunteers and business service providers.

    PR has paid a heavy price for issues arising.

    The time is right for those who appear still to be in conflict with PR to enter positive discussion to find outcomes that will genuinely be in the interest of the railway.

    Personalities aside we need to bring people together again to enjoy the PR railway experience.

    To some it appears now as though the way forward is to financialy grind PR into the ground and therafter pick up the pieces with a new management team. Without fail each and every one of us has in life, work or business has at times got it wrong. I know i have for sure and worked harder to not have a repeat where possible.

    I ask these people who have concerns , conflict with PR to find peace a way forward to make it happen together. It can be done.

    For clarity i am a member, volunteer not a shareholder or part of any management team.

    Peace
     
  3. Miff

    Miff Well-Known Member

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    You are absolutely right. For a dialogue to work both (all?) sides have to be willing to negotiate. However a common theme in this thread; in the accounts of the court cases and elsewhere seems to be the unwillingness of PR management to resolve any of their disputes by talking to the people involved. Let’s hope for change.
     
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  4. Vulcan Works

    Vulcan Works New Member

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    The commitment of volunteers can't be faulted. Learning lessons from past mistakes can't be faulted.

    But the current legal problems are merely the culmination of many years of mismanagement. The failure to implement an inspirational plan to develop the railway can't be pinned on the latest legal debacle.

    There are some people who hold considerable influence over the Plc, PRA and Trust, and a lot of time, money and effort has been spent over the years in closing down any opposition. 'You're either with us or against us' mentality. The most recent Plc AGM pantomime offered no prospect of the Board changing its behaviour. Surprisingly, many Shareholders seem content to support the Board despite its year on year shortcomings, perhaps seduced by the shiny new President (glossing over the manner of his appointment and fuzzy powers and remit).

    I agree that there needs to be a coming together of minds but if it involves 'more of the same' i.e. a failure to consult with shareholders and volunteers, a lack of transparency in decision making and a failure to modernise the organisations etc etc, it doesn't seem likely...
     
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  5. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

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    Plus the fact that many, who financially contribute - one way or another - may not be so generous, preferring the money to go to the railway rather than lawyers. That surely must be a high priority?
     
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  6. Breva

    Breva Well-Known Member

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    I am wondering now if more could have been done to retain the 8F that left.
     
  7. snappertim

    snappertim Member

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    As a general observation, in today's world there seems to be little attention to "mea culpa" - you see it all the time in business and politics. This is in stark contrast to the late Lord Carrington who resigned as Foreign secretary in 1980's because it was felt the Foreign Office , under his watch inadvertently gave Argentina the confidence to invade the Falkands , by withdrawing naval cover from the Islands.

    The inescapable conclusion in the case of PR, is that under their watch, the company has come very close to insolvency, and the directors, like it or not have to accept responsibility. Surely there should be some humility here and they should offer their resignation to all stakeholders i.e. shareholders {they own the company after all], volunteers, staff etc. The apparent bunker mentality has to change. The most important litmus test is what is best for PR. It may well be that the present management is indeed in the best interest to remain. It might take an EGM or two to resolve, but that course will be very divisive and expensive.

    PR desperately needs capital and lots of it; this will not come from operating trains , it can only come from shareholders or benefactors prepared to donate substantial funds. In short it will take trust, which I guess is in short supply at present The directors have to ask themselves can we do this ? Are we the best people to do this? They may be for all I know, but they have to spell out a detailed plan, in meetings open to all stakeholders, that all can sign up to rather than pin their hopes on an extension plan over which they have no control. Of course there will be those who will disagree - that is taken as read, but whoever takes on responsibility of directing the company has to carry a large team with them, and that most of all this means volunteers, without which all Heritage Railways are doomed to failure.

    For clarity, I have been involved with Heritage railways since 1976, still volunteer in a minor capacity. I live locally but I am not a member of PRA or a shareholder of PR
     
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  8. Sheff

    Sheff Well-Known Member

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    I'm a shareholder in the PLC, but quit as a member many years ago due to the frankly hopeless dictatorial leadership. This is the only one of my many memberships I have ever allowed to lapse. I joined in 76 and worked on track reclamation and relaying up until around 1990, when it became apparent we would never get anywhere near Monsal Dale in my lifetime, and I gave up the armchair support around 10 years ago.

    Anyway, I recently received a GDPR form from PLC HQ, to be filled out and returned to the office. Being disinclined to go out and try and buy a stamp (do they still exist?) for something that 99% of organisations had done by email, I took a photo of it and sent it to the email address on the form 'peakrail@peakrail.com'. Of course it bounced straight back "The recipient server did not accept our requests to connect. Learn more at https://support.google.com/mail/answer/7720 [peakrail.com 54.165.156.210: timed out] [peakrail.com 52.55.168.146: timed out]". Great service PR.
     
  9. Sheff

    Sheff Well-Known Member

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    @Jamie Glover Why don't you switch your Gossip site to Facebook? I've always struggled with Yahoo Groups, FB is much more straightforward and updates are instantaneous to anyone who uses it regularly. Take note PR too - few can be bothered 'visiting' websites to look for news when FB delivers it to you phone or laptop. By all means link to the site for more lengthy items of course.
     
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  10. unslet

    unslet New Member

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    In spite of all the bad press it has received,Facebook can be a very useful tool.
    All your different affiliations can be catered for in one simple newsfeed which is updated in real time.There is no need to miss the latest announcement regarding your particular interest.
    The important thing is to pay particular attention to your privacy settings.
     
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  11. Vulcan Works

    Vulcan Works New Member

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    Probably yes. The issues with the 8F had been building for a while but the departure of a fantastic loco and guaranteed crowd puller plus the engineering expertise probably marked the start of the slow PR implosion. Other key figures were also driven out around the same time and we haven't really made up the lost ground since. There was definitely a personality clash between the key players which made compromise nigh impossible, as has been repeated time and time again at PR. Ironically the legal costs, lost revenue and lost progress since then have cost far far more than the cost of retaining the loco would have been! The factors at play then are strikingly similar to today; Board intransigence, no consultation with Shareholders about a strategic issue, opposition faced down, supporters driven away....Cheerleaders for the current regime might reflect on the fact that the key people involved in losing the 8F are still running the PR show.
     
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  12. Breva

    Breva Well-Known Member

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    I know nothing much about the departure of the 8F but from what I know of the character of the board, as a distant shareholder, your reply does not surprise me in the least.
    I was stunned when, after years and years with Peak Rail, it left the minute it was finished. How could you allow your star loco to disappear?
     
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  13. crantock

    crantock Member

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    There is a shortage of hard information on Peak Rail. I recall 48624 left because it wasn't given the steamings on Peak Rail because they couldn't afford it. Problem is that they seem to struggle to afford to hire in and maintain austerities. The accounts record passenger numbers as a KPI but never mentions what they are. That would be interesting as to me I think they failed to build the experience to build the passengers to retain the locomotives. The lack of detail versus the SVR accounts is woeful. The SVR charges £21 for a day rover which includes The Engine Shed whereas Peak rail charge £9.50 for a day rover on a somewhat dull route.

    Similar to opaqueness on passenger numbers is a lack of detail on how many votes were cast at the AGM. The details shared seem to be number of shareholders not number of shares and the point is that you can easily control PR PLC with about 5% of the votes.

    Just staring at the accounts, the biggest asset is "railway line" squeezed between Freehold Land and Freehold Buildings. Is this owned or is it leased and if leased, what are the terms as there is a worrying reference to renegotiations in the Directors report?
     
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  14. Vulcan Works

    Vulcan Works New Member

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    The cost of the steamings was one issue amongst many, but that's a different story and a different thread. Basically the relationship broke down and 48624 went off to be a success elsewhere.

    PR hasn't built up a viable (steam) loco fleet and we have little to retain the interest of families and enthusiasts. The diesel fleet is impressive but undersold as something that sets PR apart from other railways. If the engine shed had been properly project managed and completed earlier it would have made PR more attractive to loco owners and we would by now have an impressive visitor attraction. Loco wise it seems at times that engineering advice was ignored and money wasted on various loco plans e.g. on Zebedee which ended up being sold to the Lincs Wolds Rly. Cash has gone out of the door hiring in various locos.

    PR does not have transparency of business KPIs, business targets or actual performance. Smoke and mirrors make it difficult to hold Directors to account and understand the railway's underlying performance. The only opportunity is at the token AGM which relies on non-financially savvy Shareholders from digging too deeply in to the sanitised accounts. Or maybe I'm just cynical.

    Regarding the fares, the Board has recently put them up but on what Marketing basis is anyone's guess. Thinking about my family, it isn't value for money for what is basically a pleasant but short train ride. So higher fares might lead to negative visitor feedback and fewer passengers/revenue overall.
     
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  15. jnc

    jnc Member

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    I don't think anyone (at least, most of the critics) wants PR to fail. But given how determined the current management seem to be to retain their grip, it's not clear that their is any other viable strategy to save it.

    And the poor current financial state of the line was not caused by the critics!

    Noel
     
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  16. crantock

    crantock Member

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    Does anyone know the details of the lease over the railway. I think the original lease was 30 years from 1992.

    What i’m getting at is there is a silent stakeholder and the accounts suggest the lease is being discussed.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2018
  17. jnc

    jnc Member

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    I guess I should back-track there a bit.

    First, it may well be that the PRAG will do a more successful job in the future; but unless the shareholders are willing to change course, I'm not sure that the PRAG will be able to get anywhere. If the money situation continues, that may wake them up.

    There's also the possibility that the current management will see that they need to go a different way (in quite a number of different areas), but I think that's unlikely, for two reasons. First and foremost, human nature: once people get their heels dug in, they are much less willing to change. Second, the sheer number of changes needed, each of which will run into the 'heels dug in' issue. E.g. they might change their ways with reliance on lawyers, but having done that, will they than have the mental energy to become more open, etc, etc?

    I have my fingers crossed for the PRAG, but I wouldn't bet a lot on their success. So, what else is there?

    Noel
     
  18. Thompson1706

    Thompson1706 Member

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    Wirksworth
    Churnet Valley
    Midland Railway Centre.
    Foxfield

    Bob.
     
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  19. Jamie Glover

    Jamie Glover Member

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    There is constant discussion on the NP site about the failings of the directors both of PR Plc and the PRA. My own personal view of the PR board of directors is that the majority of the directors are merely an assortment of rubber stampers dominated by one senior executive and an assistant lieutenant (gopher).

    Good manners, combined with the effectiveness of the English libel laws plus the PR's executive management's habitual resorting to an ever changing bevy of expensive learned friends prevents the main causes of the difficulties at PR being openly detailed and individuals identified. The reality at PR's board meetings is that one person makes decisions and the other board members are then told exactly what they have to agree with.

    PR is in a situation where insolvency can be observed rapidly speeding over the horizon towards the PR buffers. Removing the hydra at the apex of the PR board and replacing same with people who actually know how to profitably manage and develop a heritage railway is probably PR's one remaining hope of survival.

    Jamie.
     
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  20. Vulcan Works

    Vulcan Works New Member

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    Agreed. PR has organisational issues and the Directors have to take collective responsibility for the failure to provide inspirational leadership over a number of years. It's a reflection of their weakness (and Shareholder apathy?) that one person dominates the Board. Challengers have found to their cost what happens when faced with the intransigence of certain individuals.

    By any measure of business ethics and culture it is astonishing how many different solicitors PR has got through, are we on the 4th company in 4 years? As far as I know PR hasn't won any of the cases it has grimly pursued / defended. Shareholders wake up! The sheer number of complainants over the years and the litigation history tells you that something is seriously wrong with the Management.
     

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