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Project Wareham

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by David R, Jul 31, 2015.

  1. Paulthehitch

    Paulthehitch Well-Known Member

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    At one time I had relatives in Swanage but since they died I have not been back much. However, someone who went there last week regarded it as "shabby". If that is so it is not going to help at all
     
  2. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I don't think opinions have changed much in the last century - I seem to remember EM Forster wasn't too complimentary in "Howards End"
     
  3. DcB

    DcB Well-Known Member

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    I see on FB the 4TC group making progress and this week had an extra carriage arrive for future renovation.
    The 3TC, when working, hopefully soon, being based on mk1 carriages will need strengthening to work in "push pull" without a locomotives as a buffer each end to overcome a potential collision on the mainline, whereas the 117 DMU is compliant.
    Interesting update currently free to read
    https://www.modernrailways.com/article/swanage-resists-swansong

    Goes through a lot of issues, future talk of getting something like a Class 159 to replace the 117, and getting financial help for 2024.

    Also talks of Network Rail, South Western Railway, Purbeck Community Rail Partnership, Dorset Council and Swanage Railway in a Dorset Connectivity Study and the implementation of a future ‘Dorset Metro’ service (where connectivity at Wareham will be important).
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2023
  4. Morris_mad

    Morris_mad New Member

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    Don’t think there’s much chance of SR getting a 159, or anything more modern that we’ve currently got, suggestion of more modern units has been ruled out previously when discussing Wareham services, don’t think anything has changed in that regard.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  5. DcB

    DcB Well-Known Member

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    the MR article says (assuming finance can be sorted) "The Class 117 is long in the tooth and can’t be expected to go on for ever".
    I think the refurbished 121 and 117 should have a few years left, then there may be some sprinters or other diesel (or battery powered) Mk3 based units available. The plan to use 31806 and 31874 with mainline upgraded Mk1 carriages may even be possible.
    Getting finance sorted will be key!
    from the article
    ‘There are some formidable challenges ahead, but we’re hopeful that with a co-operative spirit all round, we can overcome them and assure a future for the through service’ says Mick Stone, an adviser to the Swanage Railway and a community rail advocate with a long involvement with the Purbeck Community Rail Partnership.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2023
  6. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    No - but some are definitely more expensive than others!

    I think of the locos that the SR has available, the Standard 4MTs are probably optimal. I'd rate them above the moguls on account of likely getting higher mileage between overhauls, which reduces the per mile cost.

    Of course, an additional complexity is around ownership: in general my sense is that locos owned by external groups end up subsidising the host railway in cash terms relative to the host railway owning the same loco. (The owning group benefits in other ways of course, so it is not all one-way traffic. But in cash terms, I think an independently owned loco tends to be a bit cheaper than the same loco owned by the railway).

    Tom
     
  7. Morris_mad

    Morris_mad New Member

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    So someone with no formal involvement in the decision making bodies of the railway?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  8. 80104

    80104 Member

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    First of all I would like to make clear that I think I share with @gladiator a common desire namely that, to quote Spock, Swanage Railway "lives long and prospers".

    As you say Swanage railway does have an advantage in that it links two attractions - Corfe Castle and Swanage. The problem is that "advantage" is now "kicking back" in that it has meant that SRC has built up a high fixed cost base. Challenging to generate the passenger revenue required to keep the wheels turning and challenging to reduce the costs (or staff required) without impacting service levels and thus reducing passenger numbers and revenue - a downward spiral very familiar to those who work in public transport.

    As you also rightly say the school holidays (especially the summer) and Christmas are critical times in terms of revenue. Almost but not quite what you spend in 12 months you have to earn in C10 weeks. Previously it could be argued that the summer holiday period has taken care of itself. Events have been in either the low / shoulder season (spring steam gala, autumn steam gala, diesel gala) but now, based on what I see both in Swanage and some other seaside resorts, SRC needs to actually provide some additional attraction in the peak season as well because we are competing with those attractions and resorts which do. I note with pleasure the CHAOS event on Thursday 10th August but arguably the railway needs to run some form of event (of this general type) every week during the school summer holidays and every day! during Carnival Week. Swanage is becoming noticeably quieter each summer. In part I think this is a function of BCP running more events and being more successful at promoting itself (at the expense of Swanage and other smaller resorts along the South Coast) and if visitors to Purbeck stay on campsites they are more likely to venture to BCP than if they stayed in Swanage (about which more anon).

    I welcome events such as the Fish and Chips run by Fox and Edwards. If a quality event can be run by a third party and SRC gets a reasonable fee for very little work, very little additional cost and nil (or near nil) risk then that has to be an excellent outcome. The Polar Express slightly concerns me as it may alienate some of the volunteers to whom the Santa Specials were one of the highlights of their year - and served to keep them motivated. However again if it delivers a very high quality event and SRC receives a healthy fee above the cost of providing the basic traction then it may be the better option especially given the challenges of recruiting and retaining volunteers.

    Many other tourist attractions make sure there is something new each year (which is promoted aggressively) and also ring minor changes. Whilst I accept that Roads To Rails is a recent introduction and Polar Express will be new this Christmas it needs to be more than new events. Obviously T3 will be a new attraction in due course but there needs to be more than that. I know that character events are expensive but this may be a cost that has to be born to get and then keep the passenger numbers at the required level.

    One area of the consumer offering I am concerned about is the catering. Firstly just what is happening about the Wessex Belle Dining Train? Is it a core part of the offering and must be run from 2024 onwards (subject to getting the set or is it one carriage overhauled )or should it cease permanently in which case the set should be sold. Given the challenges of recruiting and retaining volunteers (especially for catering) can the WB be staffed? If paid staff are brought in - again assuming they can be recruited - what does this do to the finances of the operation. There are a lot of "ifs" in there and I sadly wonder if the WB has had its day? Alternatively is there a way a luncheon service could be offered on a smaller capacity basis attached to a service train possibly even outsourced. The pros and cons of operating the Wessex Belle or outsourcing a sort of Wessex belle "lite" need to be assessed. There are many pros and cons (financial and non financial) not least the emotional attachment that some have to the Wessex Belle. It may appear cynical but selling the dining set would bring in some cash, free up a siding and reduce the workload on Carriage and Wagon. Having said that if the WB is to cease then there needs to be something positive introduced to offset the "feeling of slow decline punctuated by cuts".

    Secondly SRC now has three buffets: Swanage Corfe Castle and Norden. Sadly I note that on one day at least 2 were closed due to staff shortages. I understand this has happened more than once. It is easy to be critical - and I do not wish to be - but if you are not open then you dont take the revenue. It used to be standard practice that in the height of the season you would work 7 days a week because you could never make up the revenue from being closed for a day. Yes hard on the staff and old fashioned but....... I would like to commend though the tables and chairs on the platform at Swanage which certainly make the station more appealing. Speaking of which.....

    Second area of concern is the toilets. Anyone who knows Swanage Railway will know what I mean. As bizarre as it may seem toilets are an essential part of the customer experience. On hot days the aroma from the toilets at Swanage Station is most unpleasant and wafts along the platform. This really isnt good. Enough said.

    I would be intrigued to know if the Wareham service - dmu operated and a schedule which "disturbs" the even headway of the non wareham schedule - overall costs more than it generates and degrades the customer experience who it is believed prefer steam and an even headway. Hopefully as suggested for the Wessex belle a thorough analysis of the pros and cons (financial and non financial) will be undertaken which will inform the decision to be taken.

    Back to accommodation in Swanage I am not sure if anyone has a definitive picture but in a road near to the station to my knowledge: one former b and b is now an airbnb, one former residential property with tenant is now an airbnb, two holiday homes are now part airbnb and part holiday home. What the Isle of Purbeck needs is a Premier Inn or Travelodge. Speaking of accommodation for volunteers can the sleeping coach along Court Road be given a wash or is the weathered look so much appreciated on Manston that it is being carried over onto this carriage. Does the appearance of this carriage really do SRC any favours reputation wise or do the locals of Swanage no longer care about the appearance of the town - echoing @Paulthehitch remark about the town being shabby.

    Finally just to answer in part the question about the consumer offering. IMHO and in no particular order: (1) sort out the toilets (2) improve the at station catering offer - though I commend the former Birds Nest Buffet now at Corfe castle which is so much better (3) improve the appearance of the stations - make them more what people expect them to be and please can we get rid of the scruffiness (4) improve the interpretation.
     
  9. 80104

    80104 Member

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    Cant go on for ever!! Please - just how much revenue earning mileage have the Class 117 and 121 done since their £1M+ full overhaul and refurbishment?

    I shudder to think what the per revenue mile cost is currently! Anyone care to enlighten this forum?
     
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  10. Alan Kebby

    Alan Kebby Well-Known Member

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    Sadly Standard 4 tanks at Swanage haven’t been in the plural since 2012. They only have 80104 now.

    However they have also gained the 3 moguls, the T3 and the T9. So along with the M7 and 4MT they have a number smaller locos to call on. I wouldn’t be surprised to see another Bulleid leaving Swanage in the not too distant future.
     
  11. 80104

    80104 Member

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    Which begs the question what would be the optimum fleet taking into account the reduced traction requirement (one steam loco per day only required and possibly no dining train going forward) and taking into account the suitability of each loco type, fuel, lubricant and water consumption, cost of overhauls, the durability of the locos and the hiring in fees.
     
  12. oliversbest

    oliversbest Member

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    Be nice to gain an 0415 and an 0298 for that LSWR ambiance
     
  13. oliversbest

    oliversbest Member

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    NP ?? How about LC, as in loss of credibility,
    Too many self appointed experts and some of them on all subjects!
    meanwhile a SRP member(yes myself) is locked out because I posted entries contrary to the thoughts de jour
     
  14. Daddsie71b

    Daddsie71b Member Friend

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    It depends whether you are asking an enthusiast or an accountant. The enthusiast would say two Bulleids, T9, T3, M7 U and N.

    The account, three standard tanks.
     
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  15. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Too many variables - you’d never get a definitive answer. (And then you get the curve balls: next time one of your inside cylinder locos needs new cylinders, that’s a big one-off cost, even though the replacements might last a hundred years at our intensity of running).

    In the end, the best loco is whichever one you happen to have running! The SR - and indeed any other railway - needs to find a way to get the fleet it has available to work for it, not ponder what might have been had it got five standard tanks and nothing else.

    Tom
     
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  16. DcB

    DcB Well-Known Member

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    Must check old timetables, but think the 2017 peak season had 2 steam trains and crews (7 runs a day?) and the Wareham to Swanage trial train (2 locos and LU 4TC with WCR crew, 4 runs day) but run about 15 minutes before one of the steam trains, so the passengers arriving on SWR, could then catch a steam train to Swanage changing at Norden.

    In 2023 the peak season is now 1 steam train and crew 5 times a day, 1 Wareham to Swanage DMU train 4 times a day? So overall costs are lower?
    But passengers only wanting a steam train ride, might have to time journeys more carefully.
    Some passengers don't mind a diesel as long as it's a heritage train ride with slam doors (and with the DMU you possibly see more of the countryside without the extra cost of the observation car).
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2023
  17. MellishR

    MellishR Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Also of course a tank engine was designed to spend half its time running backwards.
     
  18. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Resident of Nat Pres

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    This was the 2017 timetable. Seems little difference on the likely most popular Wareham services to what is happening this year. 13 steam service compared to the 5 now is the difference.
     

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  19. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Resident of Nat Pres

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    I cannot see where the article you linked to is free to read. The only other thing I can find about Dorset Metro on line is some WIBN article from about 4 years back.
    Who has said the TC is going mainline? Where would the funding for that come from and using what loco?
     
  20. 80104

    80104 Member

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    The Wareham is virtually the same except in 2023 it only runs on 4 days a week (Sundays dropped) and for a longer season. The almost impossible questions to answer are (1) how many passengers have travelled between Norden and Swanage on the DMU when their preference was for steam (2) how many prospective passengers chose not to use the SR because the steam offer (timetable) didnt suit their needs and did not wish to travel by DMU.
     

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