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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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    From reading replies if the SR does not apply for the TOC licence this year as there is not enough time left for training and a 60 or 90 day trial with a large bond to pay, then Project Wareham could pay for say West Coast Railways to provide a temporary DMU charter service and crew alongside a SR crew, as they did with the 2017 service and the 2018 31806/33 test train. But sadly will probably run at a loss and use up a lot of funds?
    So looks like the hold will remain till 2022 when the SR gets a TOC licence and a 90 day trial for the DMUs and 31806/33 (assuming door locks are sorted), with a backup bus arranged, and SWR will be a 30 min service again (to make connections from either direction of the mainline better), SR and SWR together with the council will help with tourist marketing.
    from the 2017 news report
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-41656613
    "A 90-day trial of the service will be held next year, which is expected to see an additional 18,000 passengers."This is likely to run between late May and late September"
    but never ran as the DMUS were not ready then covid struck, and if the service does run in 2022 will ideally be in profit!.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2021
  2. 80104

    80104 New Member

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    From memory the 2017 60 day trial incurred a net loss of C£70K. This reflected the charges for the hire in of an operator, crew, stock etc.

    On that basis, and I accept there are other variables which may effect this outcome one way or the other, one could surmise that a 90 day trial with a hired in operator would incur a net loss of C£105K.
     
  3. John Petley

    John Petley Well-Known Member

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    I do think that one or two people on this forum should cut the Swanage Railway some slack.

    The 2017 experimental Wareham service was obviously popular. I myself enjoyed the chance to travel all the way along the cost from East Sussex to Swanage. It was a fantastic day and the trains seemed well loaded, but the bottom line is that the service lost money. Using DMUs crewed by Swanage Railway staff and volunteers is clearly the only way the service can get off the ground and wash its face financially. Given the delays to the DMUs, the mountains of paperwork to sign and also the coronavirus-related problems, is it surprising (i) if things have been a bit delayed and (ii) that the railway is not exactly rushing to start the through trains? It is after all a pioneering venture - very different from running to Whitby or Cromer and there are plenty of naysayers, including some members of this forum. The occasional steam to Wareham would be the icing on the cake and as has been pointed out, a grant was awarded specifically to upgrade five coaches in order to enable this to happen.

    Let's note, however, that for all the frustration that the Wareham trains haven't happened as soon as many people - including the staff and volunteers on the Swanage Railway - would have liked, the railway still has every intention of making these trains happen. It's just a case of being patient. Having taken a financial hammering in 2020, it's perfectly sensible to start rebuilding passenger numbers on the regular Swanage-Norden trains before thinking about what will be a real challenge.

    Regarding motive power, I am sure there are many people longing to see 31874 return to steam (myself among them), but the knock-on from the coronavirus pandemic is that the railway has faced a serious motive power shortage, Putting 31874's boiler on 31806 has alleviated the situation no end. Rather than criticise, I think the very smooth return to traffic of both this engine and Eddystone is a cause for congratulations. Notwithatanding these successes, the line has had to hire in a loco, which is far from ideal but is an indiciation of the scale of the challenges faced by the traffic department.

    And as for the T3 haters, be honest. You are offered for free a stunning Victorian loco, built by the same company that built the branch and similar to locos which actually ran to Swanage. You're not going to say"No thank you" and furthermore, on discovering that Eastleigh gave it a full bottom end overhaul in 1948, making a return to steam probably easier and cheaper than for some other out of ticket engines in the fleet, who would not want to prioritise getting it back into traffic?

    The railway seems to be doing pretty well in terms of passenger numbers this year. The trains were certainly well loaded when I had a ride. This will help get the line get back on its feet and this is the key point - without a regular income stream from this primary source, there can be no Wareham trains, no 31874 and so on. Thinking further ahead, there is much to look forward to at Swanage, but a bit of patience is required at the moment.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2021
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  4. oliversbest

    oliversbest New Member

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    Strange World
    Southern are launching a "day at the seaside" campaign complete with free ice creams etc from London Stations
    Perhaps we can draw this to the attention of the All Party Committee with a poster of Swanage Bay and our rallying cry
    "You can't get there from here"
    Come to think of it we could do that at Wareham Stn! captioned with the best of the Why Nots as posted here!@!
     
  5. Jupiter

    Jupiter New Member

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    The truth is, I don’t know, but summarising the replies here, the paperwork for the trial has a lead time. All of the ducks need to be in a row (or substantially organised to be in a row) before the 90 day paperwork is submitted. If you want to start in June I think you’d need to be highly confident of many things 4 weeks before. At the beginning of May this year things were still very much up in the air pandemic-wise and you would have been mad to try and start mainline running in June.

    I think patience is very much the key. Top up the mainline training, medicals etc for the start of June next year and get the rest of the ducks in a line for then. In the meantime the DMU set was looking mighty fine when I last saw it, and can hopefully be run in traffic between Swanage and Norden before this season is out. This should give smaller steps to take next year and more confidence in the whole operation (machinery/personnel).
     
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  6. oliversbest

    oliversbest New Member

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    So SwanRail got it wrong with the Amenity Service to Wareham and all our contributions have so far enabled is for charters and for a brief period SWT trains to venture along the branch
    We have got to get people like the All Party Committee to realise that such services as we might propose are going to need to receive some form of subsidy
    To belabour the point, the "raison d'etre" of SRP was to restore the Branch Line service to a seaside resort of 10,000 souls. After nearly half a century we are running a six mile steam powered entertainment to Norden
    A bit of an irony to stage a Road/Rail event there, with the track stretching north to Wareham,our DMUs burbling close -by, but for punters without a car the connection is a vintage bus! Perhaps we should have invested in buses!
    You(still) can't get there from here!(by rail!)
     
  7. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    So which do you think brings more economic benefit to the residents and business of Swanage? A "six mile steam powered entertainment" as you put it, turning over several million pounds per year and with a known multiplier effect of support for other jobs and businesses in the area? Or a public service to Wareham that, by your own admission, will require subsidy?

    There is, incidentally, an interesting effect of connecting small places to larger ones, which is that the flow tends to be one way - and not towards the smaller place. My gut feeling is that if Swanage today had a good-quality, year-round rail service, it would basically drive commuting to Bournemouth and places beyond (even as far as London). The impact on the town would be to drive up property prices (because the well-heeled could live in a nice place by the sea while commuting to a well-paid job somewhere else), but not necessarily to support much direct employment in the town itself.

    Tom
     
  8. 80104

    80104 New Member

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    "Drive Up Property Prices" ------ the "Sandbanks effect" has well and truly hit Swanage over the past decade or so. A lot of the property in Swanage is already second homes bought by wealthy non locals.

    A summer season only tourist service to / from Wareham I would like to think would require no or little subsidy and positively enhance both the railway and Swanage. it would bring in economic benefit and through the multiplier effect cascade down to all. With no or little subsidy the railway could remain in control of their own destiny.

    I have concerns that a year round service would require a great deal of subsidy and this would make the railway beholden to the funding bodies more than perhaps would be good for the railway as a loss of some degree of control would be inevitable. Furthermore a large subsidy requirement may mean that the service would have to be put out to tender. Would the railway really want a third party TOC operating on the line for part of all of the year. Doubtless it could be managed but then would the third party wareham service "trump" the heritage steam service? Some conflict I fear would be inevitable.

    We are where we are after nearly half a century of commitment, hard work and financial input by countless thousands of volunteers, members and supporters. Given how much the world has changed "managing Wareham" is now perhaps the biggest challenge the railway faces. Get it right and we are set fair for many years, get it wrong and we are in peril.
     
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  9. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Well-Known Member

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    Well that would be true even if the Wareham service was operating without changing at Southampton Central!
    Seems a strange time to launch it (although I could see no mention of it on their website) when I looked but a banner across the top reads

    "From Monday 26 July 2021, train services and times will change on five routes as we introduce a reduced weekday timetable in response to the effects of coronavirus. This timetable will be in place until further notice, it will however be reviewed weekly and we will update you on any further changes which may be needed.

    The reduced timetable will be available in journey planners such as National Rail Enquiries from Sunday 25 July and we strongly recommend that customers check before they travel for the latest information. We know that a reduced timetable will affect journeys and we are very sorry if you need to change your travel plans as a result."
    At the moment not their routes to the coast, but by this time next week who knows.

    If SWR have to reduce services west of Poole any further they may as well not bother at all.

    Also if the Wareham service was running and a pingdemic broke out among the SR staff how much would that cost in making alternative arrangements to transport passengers.
    This year just has far too many unknowns, and we may all be more worried about empty food shelves that a rail service in 10 to 14 days time.
     
  10. Rumpole

    Rumpole Member

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    Where's this idea of a vintage bus link for a Roads to Rail come from?
     
  11. gricerdon

    gricerdon Member

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    We will be using the link rather than driving to Norden . Anything to avoid the dreaded A31 especially in summer when it becomes a car park at times
     
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  12. Vulcan Works

    Vulcan Works Member

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    I think that’s a harsh assessment of what has been achieved in creating one of the country’s best heritage lines. The public transport aspect requires a reasonably sustainable operating model and probably some combination of subsidy and volunteer effort. The initial trial was encouraging, Covid has skittled further development of the service and costs and legislation continue to be a challenge. It doesn’t mean SwanRail got it wrong but getting the railway back on to a sound commercial footing is surely the immediate priority.
     
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  13. DcB

    DcB Member

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    SWR increased many services on May 16th,
    https://www.southwesternrailway.com/plan-my-journey/timetables
    but not the Weymouth to Poole section which stayed 5 carriage trains hourly and prompted the overcrowding and non social distancing report, (which I have posted before) but so far SWR have not restored the half hour service
    https://www.dorsetecho.co.uk/news/19428969.we-now-inadequate-train-service-london/
    However did find this paragraph on the 16th May timetable
    "Purbeck CRP Stations: Holton Heath, Wareham, Wool, Moreton and the Swanage Railway Formed in conjunction with Swanage Railway, Purbeck CRP supports the reintroduction of services from Swanage to Wareham. The partnership covers not only four of the mainline stations but also those on the Swanage line"
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2021
  14. buzby2

    buzby2 Member

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    Sorry to belabour the point with facts ......

    1) When the Swanage project was founded in 1972 in a public meeting - ONE of the guiding principles (or "raison d'etre" as you call it) I voted for, along with several hundred others, was to reconnect with the main line at Worgret Junction. No more, no less. Incidentally, were you one of those original 1972 founding supporters at that Swanage public meeting?
    2) BR would have operated any main line services to/from Swanage at the time our 1972 founding decisions were taken. In 1972, BR did not allow private operators to operate regular services on their tracks.
    3) Privatisation was not even a twinkle in most [any?] MP's minds in 1972. In fact John Major did not enter Parliament until 1979.
    4) It is only since John Major's Railways Act 1993 - 21 years after the railway's founding meeting - that Privatisation would allow Swanage to even consider running it's own trains on the main line.

    Please refrain from carping on about the original Swanage project decision being to operate it's own trains to/from Wareham. Decisions on that subject were taken much more recently than 1972.
     
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  15. DcB

    DcB Member

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    a vintage bus link was used for the diesel galas, but so far nothing has been proposed for those travelling over SWR from Wareham to Corfe for the Roads to Rail event
     
  16. DcB

    DcB Member

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    So in 1972 the aim would have been to get BR to continue with the Thumper DEMU service between Wareham and Swanage, but the Swanage Railway Society would have brought the line from BR? to quote wikipedia (please confirm)
    "Swanage Railway Society was formed with the objective of restoring an all-the-year-round community railway service linking to the main line at Wareham, which would be 'subsidised' by the operation of steam-hauled heritage trains during the holidays.
    However, during the summer of 1972, BR hired contractors to lift the track between Swanage and Furzebrook sidings."
    So did not happen?
     
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  17. oliversbest

    oliversbest New Member

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    Excerpt from SRN Winter 1986. Report from the Swanage Wareham Railway Group 'In our opinion there is only one safe way to proceed and that is to support wholeheartedly the body charged with the job of completing the line to Wareham and operatingit,namely the Railway company.
    Same source autumn 1986 "it comes almost as an anti-climax to inform you that the Railway has now made the long-awaited breaththrough towards Wareham
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2021
  18. buzby2

    buzby2 Member

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    I would not like to back any argument solely on Wikipedia references - however accurate they may or may not be.
    Presumably any negotiations with BR, to possibly operate trains to/from Swanage, might well have consisted of DEMUs but as discussions didn't start we may never know. Certainly those who were leading the project then are now almost all deceased or no longer involved [e.g. at least one returned to his own country].
    I believe once BR decided to close a line it was the law to first offer it for sale to a Government Department, other Government concerns, then County Councils, District Councils, etc.
    Private organisations, like the Swanage Railway Society, were way down the list to purchase the line so would have been unlikely to have done so.
    A fund was created to try and stop BR from scrapping track materials however. They required an immediate payment of £11,500 - being the interest on BR's price for the track they set at £115,000. This proved too much in too short a time - hence track removal by scrap merchants Eagre & Company from 9th July 1972.
    During 1972, the British Railways Board applied for outline planning permission for flats, shops and other developments on the Swanage station site. Dorset County Council published proposals for a Corfe Castle by-pass road utilising the track bed for much of the route. As we now know, DCC bought most of the trackbed except for the Swanage station site which was purchased by Swanage Urban District Council in March 1974 as one of it's last acts before local government reorganisation. At that time, both councils were against the re-instatement of the Swanage Railway.
     
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  19. buzby2

    buzby2 Member

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    Whilst I would not deny what was printed there, of course, I also do not know of any announcement that BR had changed it's policy [in 1986 or earlier] about not permitting regular passenger services being run by a private company over it's tracks as early as 1986.
    So far as I am aware, every passenger train on Great Britain's main lines were operated by BR - pure and simple - until the advent of Privatisation.
    Perhaps the Swanage Railway Company could be said to 'operate' trains to/from Wareham, at that time, if they contracted BR to do so on SRC's behalf.
     
  20. oliversbest

    oliversbest New Member

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    Correction. Network Rail published that Bulletin.
     

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