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Swanage Railway General Discussion

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by Rumpole, Oct 10, 2012.

  1. DcB

    DcB Member

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    The 2017 runs showed there was demand for people travelling to and from the SWR Waterloo Weymouth mainline stations. But due to having WCR staff and WCR/LU rented trains ran at a loss. The chance of running at a loss is low. What happened to the feasibility study?.
    https://www.swanagerailway.co.uk/ne...-feasibility-study-into-wareham-train-service
    “The grant will pay for a fully updated feasibility study, and we hope a positive business case, for a passenger train service between Swanage and Wareham once the Coronavirus pandemic is over,”
    (There is still debate about when the pandemic is over), but if the report shows Wareham service is viable then should be given a chance?.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2021
  2. Mogul

    Mogul Member

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    It Will be!
    There is no data to indicate how much of this demand was additional foot fall and how much was simply moved from Norden to Wareham as a starting point. Overall 2017 passenger numbers were substantially the same as other years. In fact once the novelty factor is taken in to consideration I don't think there is any basis to claim the 2017 trial proved anything about long term demand for the service.

    Really? I would like to see your financial models and cost assumptions.

    I believe the elves are still beavering away.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2021
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  3. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Part of the furniture

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    I have to ask what makes you think post Pandemic, if such a thing exists, that a profit is a given?
    The Government has spent most of the past 18 months suggesting that rail travel if not exactly dangerous is not as safe as travelling by car. I have seen little since all the franchises were changed to the new deal with the DfT to show much effort to get people back on the national network.
    School holidays start this week , which should be the most profitable time (hopefully) so as other have said nothing is going to happen this year unless the railway wants to take a substantial financial risk. Remember it is not even running the normal service level for the school holidays, so they must have a view about how things are stacking up this year financially.
     
  4. DcB

    DcB Member

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    in 2017
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/uk-england-dorset-41656613
    "Swanage Railway said its target footfall was 12,000 passengers but it actually had 13,020"
    Can you use your contacts in the SR to check if this article is right?
     
  5. Mogul

    Mogul Member

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    I don't dispute that 13,020 bought tickets from Wareham.

    The point I'm making is that there is no data to say that these passengers were 'new passengers' and wouldn't have traveled from say Norden anyway. The overall 2017 passenger including Wareham numbers were the same as the year previously.

    There is almost certainly a 'novelty factor' that won't be sustained over the long term, Someone will probably correct me but I recall that when the Bluebell extended to East Grindsted, passenger numbers were initially higher but within a few years returned back to pre extension levels.

    You just end up carrying the same number of people a greater distance with increased infrastructure and operating costs but at reduced £/mile revenue.

    There is nothing here to prove there is a long term demand and that its economically viable.

    SR is right to be cautious about launching this service in to a very uncertain market place.
     
  6. martin1656

    martin1656 Nat Pres stalwart Friend

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    You would have thought that Dorset cc would have wanted to get as many cars off the road as possible, and on to public transport, Is there scope for a park and ride, linking an out of town site with the station, and Wareham town centre that the feeder can tap into? either cheaper parking ,or a free bus from the park and ride, At the moment everything is up in the air, due to covid, people still will be uncertain if its going to be safe to mingle, like we used to, Swanage railway are right to concentrate on their core business this year, and possibly next, as the future is still very uncertain, we could yet face further lock downs if this delta virus proves to be more resistant to vaccines than thought,
     
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  7. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Martin, think about it from the point of view of a family. You want a day on the beach at Swanage on a busy day. You know parking Swanage will be a awkward and the last five miles could be very slow in a hot car with a young kids. So make it a bit of an adventure, park at Norden, take the steam train, and you know at the end of the day when you get back there's a little playground to let off steam before getting back in the car for your journey home.

    Or, do what you suggest: Drive to Wareham, which only saves about three miles miles relative to Norden; then wait for a bus, get a park and ride to Wareham station, then wait for a train, an extra set of queuing ... You've made the whole thing more protracted. Every extra mode you add in the journey just makes the journey longer and more fraught. As a family, if you are going to do that, why wouldn't you just drive straight to Norden and catch the train there? (and it will be a steam train as well).

    Within reason, cost isn't the deal breaker for a family trip like that. Saving £3.50 on parking isn't going to make or break your decision to have a day at the beach. Memories of standing outside Wareham station waiting thirty minutes for a bus to take you to an out of town car park when you would otherwise already be half way home on a hot day is likely to be much more of a disincentive. For a family wanting a day on the beach, I simply can't see what advantage adding a park and ride to the station at Wareham provides that isn't already served better by the large car park at Norden.

    I think that is quite a telling statistic. For the service to be beneficial to the Swanage Railway, there have to be new passengers. If you shift 13,000 passengers (let's say that represents 4,000 cars) then maybe the transport planners in DCC consider it as a gain, though the owners of the car park at Norden (is that Purbeck DC?) might consider the loss of revenue of ca. £14,000 to be less welcome. Either way it isn't significant extra revenue for the SR.

    Tom
     
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  8. martin1656

    martin1656 Nat Pres stalwart Friend

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    I think you mis understood me, I was talking about people who were intending to travel from Wareham intending to visit the town, as well as a way to offset parking problems in Wareham, having any bus serving a park and ride, also call at Wareham station would offer another entry point for the railway,
    Obviously anyone who is intending to visit the Swanage railway and use the train, is better placed to drive to Norden, and use the park and ride from there,
     
  9. Jupiter

    Jupiter New Member

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    How would the thinking change if an existing TOC came along and wanted to run a DMU service from Wareham to Corfe for the next six weeks? What would be the response? Let’s say hypothetically you couldn’t prevent this without starting the service yourself. Would SR pull out the stops and take the financial risk?

    As they say in business, is someone is going to supercede your best product it had better be you.
     
  10. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Part of the furniture

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    Well as far as I know the track bed beyond Frome Bridge is Swanage Railway so no TOC could just pitch up and say I want to go to Corfe. Most inbound trains require a Swanage pilot so would the railway have the facility at short notice to provide those or provide a facility to train TOC staff?
    The SR could not "pull out the stops" as it is not yet a TOC so it would need someone like a WCRC to operate it.
    Of course your hypothesis could lead to SR saying sure at your cost and getting a free market survey.
    The of course you would need to convince the puppet masters at the DfT to allow this mythical TOC to operate it.
     
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  11. DcB

    DcB Member

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    From https://www.heritagerailway.co.uk/3646/passenger-numbers-soar-on-heritage-lines/
    Passenger numbers increased during 2017 so am confused by the figures?
    It seems quite a few changed to SWR trains so may have had joint SWR tickets rather than SR tickets.

    Sad no Wareham service for 2021 just the 40 bus!
    Guess there could still be DMU training over the network rai[ tracks to Wareham station under permission from the ORR?
    Then a 90 day trail for May to September 2022 if the feasability study shows the business case will work?.
    The 2017 trail showed the majority of passengers journeying from the Weymouth mainline, if the timetable is restored by 2022? SWR hopefully offering joint tickets again with publicity to help take traffic off the road. A bus replacement service in place in case of breakdowns and maybe a chance of 31806 taking some trains (if the door locking can be sorted?)
    Am surprised the mainline connection at East Grinstead did not take off with passenger numbers on the Bluebell railway as expected?
    However Corfe and Swanage are quite attractive daytrip destinations for places like Woking, Basingstoke or Winchester on the SWR main line.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2021
  12. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Reading that article it says

    "The Swanage Railway carried a total of 213,518 passengers during 2017 – an increase of 2443 passengers or 1.2% on 2016.​

    Just over 13,000 passengers were carried on the 60-selected day trial train service from Swanage to Wareham, above the target figure of 12,000 passengers in the Purbeck Community Rail Partnership business plan."
    So in other words, 13,000 people were carried from Wareham, but only 2,4oo extra passengers in total - in other words, the 13,000 at Wareham were almost wholly just shifting existing passengers onto a different starting point: very little impact on increasing the pie rather than just cutting it a different way.

    The headline "Passenger numbers soar" seems somewhat at variance to what the article actually states.

    Tom
     
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  13. Alan Kebby

    Alan Kebby Member

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    The track bed is owned by Dorset County Council, who have put millions of pounds of public money into reconnecting the SR to the mainline. They are very keen for this investment to be put to good use. I believe they have an agreement with the Swanage Railway that if the SR can’t run a service, they have to allow another operator access to do it. So although perhaps not quite that simple, another TOC could pitch up and say they want to go to Corfe. Indeed this is what SWR have done in prior years.
     
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  14. DcB

    DcB Member

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    Might it be as many brought tickets from SWR the total passenger numbers for the Wareham to Corfe or Swanage section will not appear in the SR total, although the SR would have got some money from SWR?
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2021
  15. 80104

    80104 Member

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    From memory It was 13,020 passengers who travelled to / from Wareham. This included Premier Life Members entitled to free travel and a number of rail priv card holders paying the priv fare.

    A few thoughts:

    When considering the financial aspects of running to / from Wareham:
    On the revenue side:
    a) what number of passengers travelling to / from Wareham are new traffic? By new traffic I mean passengers who have chosen to travel because the service operates to / from Wareham and would not use the railway otherwise.
    b) what number of passengers are travelling to / from Wareham are displaced traffic? By displaced traffic I mean passengers who would have travelled to / from any of the other stations (probably Norden) if Wareham was not serviced.
    Revenue from group a new traffic is all new revenue attributable to the Wareham service.
    Revenue from group b displaced traffic is only the difference between the (presumably) higher Wareham fare than the fare they would have paid travelling to / from any other station.
    This distinction is important as it would be all too easy to get carried away by Wareham passenger numbers without seeing them in the whole.

    One of the challenges with the fare structure is that calculating fares pro rata by mileage using the existing Swanage <> Norden return fare as a base would give a Wareham return fare that would be (very) unattractive to the majority of customers particularly families. One solution mooted was to either common rate Norden and Wareham ie make them the same fare from Swanage or to charge a very small differential. The issue with this is that by doing so the additional revenue generated by the Wareham service is less likely to be more than the additional costs incurred. A great deal would depend upon the passenger mix ie the ratio of (a) new passengers to (b) displaced passengers as described above.

    The question of through fares and add on fares to / from the national network and their ability to attract passengers has been raised.
    Whilst they could generate traffic a great deal would depend on the actual fare and the level of marketing.
    NB Through fares have significant disadvantages:
    1) getting them in the national system is quite challenging due to time deadlines etc.
    2) the danger of misselling is very high - ie someone purchasing a ticket for travel on a non operating (wareham service) day.
    3) the fares are prorated. That means the fare is apportioned to the distance the passenger travels on each operator. So if for example a passenger travels 90 miles on SWR and 10 miles on SR then we would get 10% of the fare.
    4) Through fares generate additional contractual liabilities on the operators.
    An add on fare is much easier to get into systems (but nb the caveat about days of operation) and can be set at a rate that would be better financially to SR than a through ticket but even so to make it attractive the fare would have to be lower than the standard point to point fare. The danger here is that
    it could be less than the Norden <> Swanage Fare. The issue of the mix of passengers "new" or "displaced" then comes into play again. Suffice it to say that through and add on fares are yield dilutionary and can have unforeseen consequences.

    We may be influenced by the success of the SWR Yeovil (and other points) - Corfe Castle summer Saturdays only service but we have to bear in mind the fares charged. I think it is fair to say they were something of a giveaway!

    The information garnered from the 2017 trial suggested that the demand was predominantly on the first down and the last up with the two middle pairs carrying relatively small numbers of passengers. A further lesson was that many passengers on the first down decided to disembark at Corfe Castle and wait for the next steam service or indeed visit CC village and castle and then catch a later steam train to Swanage. Not withstanding the excellent views from the DMU, the customer preference was clearly for steam, not absolutely but very significantly so.

    A number of draft timetables were worked out, some had the service Wareham <> Corfe Castle rather than Wareham <> Swanage. By operating Wareham <> Corfe Castle it was possible to operate more services between the two thus likely to make the service more appealing but this would need to be tested by actual operation. The other advantage was recognising that in the 2107 trial purple timetable there were three trains in operation between Swanage and Norden - the two steam services and the Wareham diesel. Arguably this was over servicing the route and created the possibility of late running, delays, station congestion etc. Obviously if SR is trying to attract patronage to / from Wareham then the greater the number of services to / from Wareham the better. The 2017 trial timetable only had one service arriving in Swanage (from Wareham) before noon. Arguably operating from Corfe Castle to Wareham would enable there to be two morning services Wareham > Corfe Castle with steam connections to Swanage.


    I note that the feasibility study has been mentioned and indeed many years ago the Halcrow Report was discussed but imho these are of very limited value. The only way of testing demand / passenger behaviour is to actually operate the service itself and see what happens. It is perfectly feasible to survey a significant proportion of passengers using the Wareham service and use that market intelligence to influence or even dictate the operation the next year.

    On the cost side:
    a) if the Wareham service is a dedicated additional service (supplementing the existing Norden <> Swanage service) then the total movement costs should be attributed to the Wareham profit and loss account.
    b) if the Wareham service is an extension of an existing Swanage <> Norden then only the additional costs of operating between Norden and Wareham, should be attributed to the Wareham profit and loss account (because the costs of Swanage <> Norden would have been incurred anyway)
    The costs should not only include the movement costs (crew, fuel, lubricants) , unit cleaning, unit maintenance, unit depreciation, but also the Wareham station access fee, the network rail track access fee, the costs of maintaining the track and signalling between Norden and the network rail boundary, the additional insurance fees for operating on the mainline, any fees for the operating licence(s), European train driver licence including medicals, additional staff training, commission or fees for ticket sales at Wareham Station, additional marketing. There are bound to be other costs as well.

    One concern I have is the mind set that DMUs are cheap to run and thus by implication the Wareham service will be cheap to run. Whilst the DMUs may well be cheap to run, the other costs of operating to / from Wareham may well be high indeed and thus make the service unviable without considerable support from Dorset Council. Would this support be forthcoming? I doubt anyone would be able to say so until the true level of support needed is known.

    One final though SR needs to nail its colours to the mast and indicate what service it is likely to operate and when. Sometimes the word "community service" has been banded about. Just what does that mean?
     
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  16. 80104

    80104 Member

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    SWR did not sell tickets for the 2017 trial service. Swanage Railway had a ticket sales caravan in the car park at Wareham Station.
     
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  17. DcB

    DcB Member

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    Didn't SWR had Corfe and Swanage as destinations on their ticket machines and website, or was that just for the later Saturday services?
     
  18. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Part of the furniture

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    Getting back the present operation. Nearly perfectly aligned at Swanage for the delayed 15:30 departure yesterday. I believe Eddystone had a brake issue on Saturday and may have gone on a test run after service. It is working trains today.
    And from Friday the railways homage to that great track by Deep Purple track "Smoke on the Water". Or maybe the fireman just wanted to cool off! Again the delayed 15:30 .
    IMG_6779.JPG IMG_6767c.jpg
     
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  19. Alan Kebby

    Alan Kebby Member

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    That was just the later SWR run Saturday service. I think you can still select Corfe Castle as a destination on the national rail website - although you won’t find any trains that will get you there.

    I believe it is the ultimate intention to sell through tickets to Corfe from anywhere on the national network, once (if?) SR are running the service.
     
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  20. Andy Moody

    Andy Moody Member

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    What door locking are we talking about here? I think the issue of steam hauled trains to Wareham just isn't going to happen. The only S R train authorised
    to operate between Norden and Wareham will be the DMMU which is fitted with secondary door locking.
    If you want to run a WIBN steam service to Wareham, you would have to hire a trainset and crews from WCR and each train would have to run ECS to/from Poole sidings to run round.
    Are you prepared to finance such an operation?
     

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