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SVR General Discussion

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

  1. D1039

    D1039 Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to September's Branch Lines from the Severn Valley Railway.

    The big news is a change on guest loco at the Autumn Steam Gala, and we’ve also updates on carriages, locomotives, signalling plus a report from last weekend’s O Gauge model railway event at The Engine House.

    Plus, we've news of the re-launch of our hop on, hop off services and with the return of observation saloons and footplate experiences. The past month has seen us make great strides in terms of getting back to normality, and it’s testament to the continued hard work of SVR volunteers and staff that this has been possible. We very much hope to see you in the coming months!

    Click on the link to read more and we hope you enjoy it!
    https://www.svrlive.com/blsep21

    Best wishes


    Lesley and Patrick
    Co-editors
     
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  2. D1039

    D1039 Well-Known Member

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    As you say, staff numbers mean nothing on their own. Since 2016 Bridgnorth engineering has been building new narrow gauge boilers for Beamish and Isle of Man, you could cut engineering work and cut paid staff and be worse off. The outgoing last GM wrote several impassioned pieces in SVR News about staffing and why it was needed, one I recall was many more sales by phone as patterns had changed.

    Another example, some work was until 2020 undertaken by an agency, the contract was cancelled and the function moved to staff in Comberton Place. It appears as extra staff, but it's not extra cost.

    Patrick
     
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  3. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Part of the furniture

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    4216A871-6C81-4E26-9063-4ECD220B8679.jpeg Love this photo Patrick, a few years ago I came up and down from Cambridge (via Kings Cross and Euston) to Highley, after the hustle and bustle of changing trains in London, Birmingham and Kidderminster it was a rather nice and very peaceful pint of Town Crier in The Ship. After a 365, Pendilino, 172 unit. 1501 and 34053 and the LMS set were the more superior traction and stock that day! :)
     
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  4. 46137

    46137 New Member

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    I'm afraid this reflects my own experience, Richard. The SVR is still a belting railway, and it's not too late to reverse the damage that is currently being done to the goodwill of its supporters.
     
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  5. D1039

    D1039 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks. Photo credit: Jason Hood (I’m keen to credit the photographers in the newsletters). We put a word out for photos this month and were lucky enough to have many to choose from, I think we credited 27 individuals this month.

    Patrick


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  6. D1039

    D1039 Well-Known Member

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    I did detect in the GM’s notes a recognition of this, seeking to put some context around decisions and acknowledging that as the SVR has been in crisis management it had not consulted as it might otherwise have done. I welcome that, and it will be interesting to see how future communication goes.

    Patrick


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  7. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    the revised words in Branch lines on the subject were welcome and had they been used originally would have avoided a lot of the angst across multiple platforms

    The SVR , and this is my perception so readers may agree or disagree me seems to have decided to pick fights with most of its supporters , from lineside passes, to charters, to passengers , to buffets , to shareholders . I had hoped that some sense may be getting through but the grapevine suggests the next fight has been picked

    From many years of experience , if in a crisis you cannot keep your head and cannot control the need to fire off at all and sundry then you are not in the right job .
     
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  8. Robin

    Robin Well-Known Member

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    I was going to make exactly the same comment, particularly when you read the the article on shareholder benefit changes in the context of the 2021 financial reforecast which follows it. On the other points, my feeling is not so much that the SVR is seeking to pick fights with supporters, it's the same issue of making changes without clearly explaining why or expressing any regret that changes are necessary.

    The latest SVR News arrived in the post today. In the last 12 month the membership has fallen from 12,500 (Autumn 2020) to "just under 11,000" (Autumn 2021). It would be interesting to know what has lies behind that.
     
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  9. gwralatea

    gwralatea Member

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    not third rail electrification again??
     
  10. 5944

    5944 Part of the furniture

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    If that's correct, a 13% drop in membership in a year is quite staggering.

    A good friend sadly passed away in April and he'd been a life member of the SVR, but he had become very disillusioned with how the railway was being run and the direction it was heading. A collection was organised in his memory, but rather than giving the money to the Valley, it went to Kidderminster Railway Museum instead.
     
  11. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    One of the unknowns in membership organisations is what motivates each individual to be a member. On another popular thread on this forum ;) there is periodically discussion of the degree to which travel benefits are the draw for membership (and therefore to what degree they would have to be replicated / guaranteed in any sweeping structural change). While I am sure that for many members, they will have other reasons for being a member of a heritage railway, it is undoubtedly true that for some, the travel benefits weigh high - so not perhaps surprising if a proportion of people didn't renew in 2020 when options for travel were either non-existent or very limited. My understanding on the Bluebell is that membership fell during 2020, but has partially recovered in the last few months as some semblance of normal travel resumes. It wouldn't be surprising if similar held on the SVR. A sustained drop over several years, or no recovery next year, would be more concerning.

    This whole sub-thread has been very interesting, but I suspect the underlying issues and tensions are probably not unique to the SVR, though the precise ways they play out might vary between railways. A comment about volunteer numbers on another thread I also found very interesting. My hunch is that a lot of teh bigger railways are going to take decisions as they rebuild from Covid that will feel quite jarring; the issue will be the extent to which they can communicate those changes - soft skills / change management required with very large, and not very homogenous or well understood, groups of members and volunteers.

    Tom
     
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  12. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    most photographers I know who were members didn't rejoin after the lineside pass / photo charter debacle. I suspect ageing of the membership and sad passing is also contributing to the decline
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2021
  13. Robin

    Robin Well-Known Member

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    I guess there's no reason to disbelieve it. The number of copies printed has dropped from 10,000 to 9,000, of which approximately 8,100 (formerly 9,400) are sent to members (joint memberships only get one copy). It will probably crop up as a question at the SVR(G) AGM on 23 October - I'm hoping to be there and will ask if nobody else does.
     
  14. Robin

    Robin Well-Known Member

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    It's a very good question. As we know, the SVR doesn't have the simplest of structures although as has been said before, if we were starting over, we probably wouldn't be where we are today. As I understand it there are at least four ways in which you can travel and purchase other items at less than full cost, although some of these may have changed recently:

    *Shareholder in SVR(H) – free travel, whether limited or unlimited quantity depending on the number of shares held. Larger shareholdings (currently 3,000+) also qualify for free parking.
    *Working member (i,e. volunteer) – free travel, discount on refreshments etc.
    *(Non-working) member of SVR(G) – reduced fares (used to be equivalent to the child rate). 10% discount on refreshments, shop purchases etc. Four free issues of SVR News per year
    *Loyalty pass (i.e. season ticket) holder. Unlimited travel on normal services, savings on some special events. 15% discount on refreshments, shop purchases etc. (I've no idea why there is a difference between the member and loyalty pass discount rates!)

    There used to be a local resident's pass which also gave a discount on travel for those living close to the railway but I don't know if it is still available.

    It's always hard to say if people became members because of the discount on travel or for other reasons (obviously on the SVR you have to be a member to be a volunteer). A lot of people, myself included, are both shareholders and members, but there may be a number of new shareholders or loyalty pass holders who have decided not to bother renewing membership as a result. Maybe some people have decided they will visit less (or not at all) because of Covid so don't feel it worth renewing. Maybe some people can no longer afford membership due to changed circumstances - the world is very different from 18 months ago. I'm there are plenty of cases where there is dissatisfaction with recent developments at the railway as suggested by @Sidmouth. There's probably a host of reasons, but hopefully somebody on the SVR is looking into it.
     
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  15. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    @Sammy B Films . Lazy shorthand from me. By CME I mean videos of the Cumbrian Mountain Express steam charters over Shap and Ais Gill. There's nothing wrong with them except for what I've said. See one and you've seen twenty one. Often with the same loco as well.
     
  16. Ruston906

    Ruston906 New Member

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    This maybe a choice between seeing themselves as tourist attraction rather than recreating the past.
     
  17. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    I note that towards the end of Branchlines there is a feature on enhancing volunteer liaison and the splitting of the job to include an induction and retention co-ordinator.

    One wonders if that should be extended to the whole membership rather just active volunteers.
     
  18. richards

    richards Well-Known Member

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    That's a *huge* ask. How would that be done with 1000s of members?
     
  19. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    Yes it is, but if you are concerned about losing 10% of your membership in a year then it is something that you would do. The choice is the organisation's.

    When it comes to retention it often requires a shift in organisational mindset from being reactive to proactive.
     
  20. 61624

    61624 Well-Known Member

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    I think that's a problem with other lines too - the NYMR being my hobby horse, I have to admit. Sadly, though, it seems as though I'm in a minority seem happy enough to play at being railwaymen of one sort or another and don't really care if they have the appropriate toys and settings for their locality. To me, the regional differences are an important part of my interest.
     
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