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SVR General Discussion

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by threelinkdave, Aug 20, 2014.

  1. Herald

    Herald Member

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    Sadly many railways launched share issues many years ago offering generous travel benefits not realising just how much this may cost them in the years ahead in terms of lost revenue and management of long lists of shareholders with tiny investments. The SVR is by no means the first to try and rectify the situation Bluebell and Great Central immediately coming to mind I'm sure there will be others. Many of us have purchased shares in the past not expecting to receive a return and recognising that a charity structure offering gift aid tax advantages is a more efficient mechanism for fund raising. In some instances the SVR share offering included various tax advantages to the share purchaser under initiatives (EIS schemes) in place at the time. Similarly many societies offered life memberships with generous travel perks which in retrospect were very low cost relative to the benefits on offer.

    I doubt anybody actually fully understands the motivation of people buying shares or life membership or the degree to which individuals benefit from them. It would be interesting to know how widely spread the £270k loss was across those eligible or whether much of it was from a small number of individuals. It is clear that the references to benefits being abused and the need for photocards to prevent this show that the morals of some "supporters" are questionable and one suspects there are many shareholders who have rarely used their benefits preferring to support the railway by buying tickets when visiting.

    Whilst having some sympathy for those who have given significant support who possibly now have much depleted personal incomes in retirement as supporters we should all recognise that Railways are very expensive to maintain and it is unsustainable to provide significant free and reduced rate travel. I well recall travelling on an SVR train where the ticket inspector observed how few paid tickets he'd seen.
     
  2. 1472

    1472 Well-Known Member

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    Few seem to have issue with raising the entitlement thresholds. Indeed that is only natural as the passage of time erodes monetary values. Many though are finding the logic and language used in justifying the proposed changes quite offensive as if shareholders were somehow to be "blamed".
     
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  3. MAPLE CHRIS

    MAPLE CHRIS New Member

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    As one who has used my shareholders pass to travel in the past i have always spent money in the bars and shops i have not travelled on the SVR since 2019 due to their policy of not allowing single travellers seems a shame that this is happening but alienating shareholders may back fire on them when further appeals are launched.
     
  4. Paul42

    Paul42 Well-Known Member

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    They probably cannot identify secondary spend and if they cut back on travel for shareholders they should offer a discount say 10% to shareholders in the bars and shops to encourage it.
     
  5. ghost

    ghost Part of the furniture

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    Giving a discount in the shops and bars would surely lead to an even greater loss of revenue. I'd also be very surprised if the SVR didn't have some idea where the secondary spend comes from.
     
  6. 61624

    61624 Well-Known Member

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    I suggest that the actions described fall into the category of "taking people for granted" which imho is never a good idea.
     
  7. Kje7812

    Kje7812 Member

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    Not just shareholders...
     
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  8. Just_Sayin

    Just_Sayin New Member

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    There’s nothing to rectify. If this was a traditional PLC all shareholders should receive a dividend at the end of each year for any profit made. We forego this right though, in order to let the profits be re-invested in the railway but in return we receive other benefits - commonly travel concessions.

    When such travel benefits are redeemed though, we regularly make secondary spends through refreshments & souvenirs, and commonly support other appeals that are run throughout the course of our shareholding and so the railway continually generates money even if it doesn’t sell a train ticket.

    All forgotten when after receiving over £1 million in donations, including the £468k of increased shareholding’s, and now being demanded to fork out an extra £400 per year as such persons are now freeloaders and costing the railway money. I suspect the next set appeals won’t be as well supported as they are anticipating - simply common sense should tell you that you don’t bite the hand that feeds!
     
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  9. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    This strikes me as the second very poorly phrased statement issued by the SVR in the last couple of months (the other being the issue of lineside passes). In both cases they have been framed as people taking advantage of the SVR.

    Once you could say fair enough, sometimes things do not always translate as you intended. Twice it looks an issue.

    Management seem to know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.
     
  10. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    It’s interesting that as someone with no SVR connections, I read that and thought “good for the management”. Assuming that all donations for the appeal came from shareholders, and adding the appeal and increased holdings together, that opportunity cost of shareholder travel concessions is something like 1/6 the value of donations - and that’s without considering any lost business where concessionary tickets have meant that paying customers have been unable to travel.

    The note also read very neutrally to me, as a statement of fact.


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  11. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Well-Known Member

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    I tend to agree it is a large (in Heritage Railway terms) organisation that seems to have a handle on its financial situation.
    I have no idea if people purchased shares for travel concessions or just because they wanted to help the railway, but things have moved on, even without Covid, and most lines are not what they were when they started.The so called "Premier Division Lines" are major operations and we have a couple of examples recently of what may happen if you do not watch costs.
     
  12. ghost

    ghost Part of the furniture

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    Not wanting to fan the flames, but where have shareholders been called freeloaders or asked for an additional £400 per year?

    If I'm reading the table correctly a shareholding of 150 shares would (in 2021), entitle me to one third class ticket. In 2022 this benefit is exactly the same. Have I missed something?
     
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  13. Just_Sayin

    Just_Sayin New Member

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    Silver passes are currently set at £1200, but need to be increased to £1600 for 2022 and £2000 for 2023.
    Gold passes are at £3000, but need to be £4000 for 2022 and £5000 for 2023. 66% increase, and no real substance for this increase. Most share purchases are to support something - 2012 being the overhaul of 4930 and the apprenticeship scheme, 2016 being the Bridgnorth cafe. This time it’s simply being told increase because the management want us to. As 1472 says, none of us expected the levels to remain what they were, but to increase so drastically is alienating those that have shown support over the years.

    The freeloading is the implication of the making out shareholders have cost the company money during their visits of the last 12 months. Like they have simply turned up for travel and not spent a penny afterwards. No acknowledgement of any secondary spend, and certainly no appreciation for any donations made during this difficult time.

    There are means and ways of asking for support. Demanding it in such a style is not that way.
     
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  14. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    Or, alternatively, shareholders with those holdings lose some of the benefits they’ve previously enjoyed. I’m uncomfortable with the idea that a shareholding is a form of fare.

    I agree that the communication could have been more sympathetic, but the suggestion that it was an accusation of freeloading reads poorly to me. Almost to the point of suggesting a guilty conscience.


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  15. Just_Sayin

    Just_Sayin New Member

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    And you know every shareholders personal circumstances to insinuate guilty consciences? Or do you disregard the shop / cafe / pub receipts that are made during any visit(s)? The donations to the Fight Back Fund / Home & Dry etc?

    If this was a standard PLC we should receive some dividend should we not? We forego this in LIEU of travel benefits, allowing the railway to reinvest and keep itself alive. As stated no issue with an increase as monetary values change, but there has not been a 66% change to the UK economy in the last 5 years so this simply comes across as greed. And demanding those who have supported the railway to pay up after accusing them of costing the railway is beyond belief.
     
  16. steam_mad

    steam_mad Member

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    There is no right to a dividend in any limited company.

    The Directors of the Company are appointed to act in the interest of the Company, not the interests of the Directors nor the Shareholders (though interests are often aligned). Often issuing a dividend is not in the interest of the Company, though the shareholder would, in that instance, hope to benefit from the increased value of their shareholding.

    Another example of why, to me, structuring a heritage railway as a share issuing organisation is perhaps more hassle than it is worth!
     
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  17. Robin

    Robin Well-Known Member

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    AFAIK they don't discounts to shareholders, and maybe they should as you say. They do offer discounts in shops and refreshment rooms to members (10%) and holders of family passes (15%) - I believe that excludes alcoholic beverages.
     
  18. Robin

    Robin Well-Known Member

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    The existence of the PLC can be laid at squarely at the foot of the late Sir Gerald Nabarro. I can't find it now, but I seem to remember a quote from management not that long ago along the lines of "if we started all over again, we wouldn't have the structure we do now". Unfortunately, as with some other railways I won't name, it is what it is and we have to make the best of it.
     
  19. Kje7812

    Kje7812 Member

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    If it's the same rules as volunteer discount, alcohol and chocolate are excluded.
     
  20. Kje7812

    Kje7812 Member

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    A diversion from the current discussion:
    A planning application has been submitted for the changes to Bridgnorth station building's layout. The plan includes demolition/rebuilding of the 40s parcels office such that the shop can be moved to this space and the former ladies toilets. Then the existing shop space can revert back to being the waiting room as it originally was.

    https://www.svrlive.com/post/progress-report-on-the-bridgnorth-station-building-project
     
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