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Swanage Railway General Discussion

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

  1. 5914

    5914 Member

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    Except Southern run nothing anywhere near to Dorset (which is very firmly in South Western territory) - and they are having to cancel many services due to shortages of staff...
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2021
  2. 5914

    5914 Member

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    I was not able to be at the meeting in 1972 - having not been born until four years later. However, I do remember a few events in my childhood (before becoming a volunteer, and then expending a huge amount of energy on some of the background work that I hope will make Wareham services possible):
    1. As Buzby says, any prospect of running into Wareham was seen as distant throughout the 1980s, for the following reasons:
    BR would not allow through running of other operators trains - the only solution at that time was for BR to be contracted to run the service, or for new line to be built from Worgret in parallel to the main running lines to Wareham (though there was a brief period when survival of the mainline west of Poole was in doubt which would have left the trackbed to Wareham free - but nothing to connect to!)
    2. SR began as a several groups with similar but not absolutely parallel aims (Swanage Railway Company, Southern Steam Trust, Swanage-Wareham Railway Group etc). There are some parallels with another nearby thread, but everything eventually consolidated down to the Southern Steam Trust and Swanage Railway Company (which the SST became the controlling shareholder of after SRCL ran into financial difficulties) - whilst the overall project includes returning rail services to Wareham this is one among a number - and that was inherited from a group that had already been amalgamated with the SST. (Incidentally, I think that at least one poster on this thread was involved in these structural changes - and a period when there were some fairly complicated running of parallel organisations as legacy bodies to the previous charitable organisations until the whole thing could finally be rationalised into a single charitable body with operating subsidiary - probably useful learning for another thread...!)
    3. Until the decision was taken in the mid-1980s not to route a possible bypass around Corfe via the trackbed the possibility of the railway even getting to Corfe was sometimes sketchy... (This is, I think, the breakthrough referred to in 1986 - being able to get to Corfe with the threat of the inner eastern by-pass route removed from the options being explored by DCC). At that point, going any further than Corfe was reliant on BR ceasing use of the line to Furzebrook, and a solution to be found to the 'final mile' - a solution that would only come with the 1993 Railways Act).

    Almost by accident, the need to provide out-of-village parking as a planning condition of extending to Corfe led to the creation of a transport system that fulfilled (and still does) an important transport function for the Isle of Purbeck by providing a park-and-ride service to Swanage and Corfe Castle. I remember signalling the first train to Norden in 1995, doing my first turn as guard that same evening, and spending many evenings on evening DMU services, and realising that the railway had grown up almost overnight - and was far more than just being the 'steam-powered entertainment' it had been in 1994! (Though it will never solve the problems of parking on the Studland peninsula as seemed to be expected in some earlier posts, as it remains a walk of several miles from the nearest SR station to the long sandy beaches of Studland and Shell Bay!)

    I am not sure of the eventual agreements put in place, but in purely economic terms the initial investment made by DCC in buying the DMUs and funding their overhaul was only possible if it could be justified on the basis of the existing transport function performed by the railway - the risk of a Wareham service being non-viable was high enough that DCC (as then was) could not authorise expenditure on the assumption that it would happen.

    If it were not for the fortuitous timing of the mainline re-signalling, there is no chance that the necessary signalling could have been put in place - though sounding significant sums, the actual number of SEUs involved was very low, and what was involved was the marginal cost between signalling some moves fully or for shunting moves only.

    From the conversations I had when visiting when the previous trials took place, the possible viability of the service was dependent on the achieving pretty much capacity loadings on the main morning service down from Wareham and having the next one at least 50% loaded - traffic being very much of a tidal flow. This has implications in the long term for the viability of the service, which relies on 100% loading of 25% of its services to come anywhere near washing its face - and that only if paid staffing is removed from the equation.

    I have always been fully committed to SR being a real contributor to transport in the Isle of Purbeck - and spent not a little time and energy trying to enable services to Wareham (though I have not been involved in this for some number of years due to a change in where life took me!), but it must not be forgotten that, in transport terms, the effect of the park-and-ride will almost certainly be greater than any gain of modal transfer that is achieved by the Wareham connection. If the Norden-Swanage service is not robust and viable then the Wareham services will not stand a chance of making up for that lack. For my own opinion, the future will be a mix of a variety of services (probably in this order of priority, and not from a romantically inspired rail only focus, but taking into account local transport needs and economic development):
    1. Norden to Swanage (and back flow of Swanage to Corfe) - (supporting the local tourist economy)
    2. Occasional charters over the mainline connection (bringing in additional income to Swanage at off-peak times)
    3. Regular seasonal services from Wareham to Swanage (enhancing the transport function of 1 by the additional option of a rail feeder - but needing hefty numbers of bodies to make it viable)
    4. Complementary services by other TOCs (e.g. as in the SWT Saturday trains) using their spare capacity to augment 1+3

    (In my own dream world would be the possibility of the extension of some mainline services at start and end of day to Swanage - but the technical problems with this and the challenging business case mean that this would be a non-starter without significant subsidy - which will not be forthcoming in an era that is likely to be shaped by retrenchment of mainline services)
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2021
  3. Andy Moody

    Andy Moody New Member

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    Thankyou Mogul for a comprehensive and civil reply, I therefore unreservedly apologise and sorry if I have caused offence to other posters on here, that was never my intention.
     
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  4. cymroglan

    cymroglan New Member

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    Please don’t interpret this question as any sort of criticism of SR. I’m honestly just interested!

    When in Swanage last week, with family including small grandchild, we passed the station on our way to the beach. I thought we would wander onto the station to buy something Thomas or Ivor related for the little one and a book or magazine for myself, plus ice lollies all round. Unfortunately only ticket holders could access the platform so, of course, we took our money elsewhere.

    I just wonder whether in pre Covid days the shop and cafe coach made a significant or marginal financial contribution to the railway coffers?

    I completely understand that railways have to think about more than the bottom line! Presumably the decision is based on safety and/or staffing issues. I’m just interested. I will be returning there this week and intend to ride the trains so they should get some of my dosh then!
     
  5. 80104

    80104 New Member

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    The answer is somewhere between the two: a reasonable contribution towards the railways income. On a per passenger basis less than some heritage railways but that reflects the high levels of competition for the "tourist pound" in Swanage especially for catering.

    Pre covid the platforms (and thus Shop and Buffet Carriage) were open access ie you did not need to be in possession of a travel ticket to visit them or indeed for that matter to use the toilets.

    Hopefully as life returns to normal open access will be restored.

    There is a small buffet counter in the booking hall at Swanage which, as far as I know, is accessible without being in possession of a travel ticket.
     
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  6. 61624

    61624 Well-Known Member

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    I think expectations regarding Wareham services may have to be carefully managed so as not to raise false hopes. Up to a couple of trains before 10am and after 6pm might be feasible for through services to Bournemouth and beyond for "real" passengers but the line's "bread and butter" will be steam hauled trains to and from Norden, perhaps interspersed with trains to Wareham. Wareham, however pleasant it may be, is not renowned as a tourist "honey pot" and is a fair walk from the station so I cannot see it adding massively to the line's income, and I'm not convinced that the connecting main line traffic via Wareham will offsetting the running cost of enabling the connection, but it an important experiment to try because it should answer the same question for other lines pushing for a similar connection.
     
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  7. biggles200

    biggles200 Member

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    I was helping on the original trials and what impressed me was the number of people traveling from as far as Fareham. (there may have been those traveling from even further) The service will allow people living in "BCP" and beyond to avoid the congested roads to reach Swanage. All that needs to be established is how attractive the alternative to road this service will be. Swanage beach is a real attraction to people living in BCP area, and getting there avoiding the long queues will be the attraction to them, and not Steam trains - they will be secondary.
    When the line closed in the 1970s, the regular trains between Swanage and Wareham were not Steam trains and the main object of the Swanage railway Trust was to reconnect the passenger service.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2021
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  8. Brockenman

    Brockenman New Member

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    Just to say to you if you intend to spend some of your dosh at the railway make sure it's plastic as I understand the railway has banned cash.Crazy
     
  9. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    As attractive a destination as Swanage and Corfe both are (which is "very"), it strikes me any benefit to the SR's Wareham service, from the reasonably adjacent BCP conurbation, is predicated on the citizenry opting for the train over their cars. Having experienced the roads of Purbeck for myself, I know for a fact there's no exaggeration whatsoever concerning traffic levels, but is that enough to entice such "local" patronage from their cars? Is there any realistic scope for additional P&R parking at Wareham, somewhere down the line?

    Another factor, of course, is the Sandbanks Ferry and yes, I've seen the peak season queues for that. I've also seen both the priority arrangements for scheduled buses and the puce faces of seething motorists, when a bus boogies down it's lane and straight on to the ferry!

    I recall mention of sidings, on the down side, east of Wareham Station and of currently disused bay platform facilities at the station (with sufficient space for a run-round loop?). Do either still exist, or form part of any future thinking? I appreciate there's a high degree of 'chicken and egg', when it comes to significant investment at Wareham and that doing anything expensive right now would be unacceptably speculative, but it appears, given sufficient patronage to justify expenditure, it's a junction with much potential. Possibly enough to interest both the 'big railway' and Local Authorities?

    It occurs that if BCP has the promise we all hope, it sounds like a candidate for a targeted marketing campaign, discrete from the wider (traditional) market, might pay handsome dividends.
     
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  10. LC2

    LC2 Member

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    From memory (of a few years ago)

    The bay platform trackbed is used to house signalling equipment.
    I suspect you would need deep pockets and a very persuasive argument to shift it.

    To add a runaround loop in the bay, the second track would need to hover above the adjacent VW Camper restoration yard.
     
  11. Mogul

    Mogul Member

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    As you helped on the trial then you will know that despite the fact that the diesel Wareham service ran all the way to Swanage, the vast majority of passengers disembarked the diesel service at the first opportunity at Corfe and transferred to a Steam service at the expense of a longer journey. I don't know how you can reach the conclusion that you do?
    This is true! 50 years ago, before the road was vastly improved and cars became more common place, before the bus service was improved and an award winning tourist attraction contributing millions to the local economy in a way that a simple rail service could not.

    Interestingly this was also the objective of the Bluebell founders. I wonder how many other Heritage Railways were initially founded with the objective of merely reversing rail cuts but instead grew in to what we know today?
     
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  12. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Thanks. I had a feeling it wasn't just some weeds in the way. Clearly, there's a big difference between reversing a DMMU and managing same with any flavour of loco hauled trains, but do I recall suggestions of using the sidings (east of the station) for 'reversals'? Are they still physically there?
     
  13. oliversbest

    oliversbest New Member

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    One would think that the appropriate bodies at DCC and more senior levels of government are looking forward to planning for the next 20yrs and that rail answers some of the current concerns regarding congestion and pollution How are they going to prevent the chaos occurring at many resort areas now which will no doubt project onto smaller tourist based areas such as Swanage.?
     
  14. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

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    On the contrary, very prudent. Cash provides a path for covid transmission so should indeed be avoided as far as possible.
     
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  15. Andy Moody

    Andy Moody New Member

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    At the risk of being shot down in flames again, the only train from Swanage that will be operating into/out of Wareham will be the DMMU or if there is a mainline rail tour operating to/from Swanage. *
    Regards Wareham station, there has never been any run round loops in either of the bay platforms. Yes afaik the down sidings are in situ but owing to the buisness with the foot crossing, the long siding has not been used for at least ten years and the two short sidings for even longer, I am not a PWay expert, but I would hazard a guess that the sidings would have to be relayed and I have serious doubts that this would happen. Just saying.
     
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  16. DcB

    DcB Member

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    I think you are both right, The Wareham service will attract a lot of people on the SWR mainline to the Corfe Castle or Swanage beach, but will take time and marketing to replace road transport.
    But thought the non starting 2020 (and 2021? now 2022?) service would have been a diesel shuttle between Wareham and Corfe, with passengers changing to a steam loco train Corfe to Swanage? (plus some 31608/33 trains).
    Noticed 2 different campaigns started to encourage rail transport
    1. "Purbeck Community Rail Partnership" (SR, SWR and DCC)
    "We are really pleased to announce our participation in the #daysoutbyrail campaign, celebrating local business and great days out by rail in the Purbeck region. Keep your eyes peeled for lots of exciting things across our social media!"
    and 2. "The Swanage Railway is delighted to be part of #LoveYourRailway, a 6-week campaign to raise awareness of the importance of heritage railways across the UK".

    Good to see on the webcam one of the green MK1 carriages getting some maintenance, guess it will eventually replace the dining carriage on the 2nd rake? (no date for the return of dining trains).
     
  17. Alan Kebby

    Alan Kebby Member

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    You seem to have forgotten the Mk1s topped and tailed by 31806 and the 33 again.
     
  18. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Well-Known Member

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    A trip to the dump (just out of shot) was a good excuse to photograph the 17:00 departure.
    Just visible above the train is the Air Ambulance on approach to land in the field next to the railway. Only three days in to the school holidays and already needed. IMG_6825.JPG
     
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  19. Vulcan Works

    Vulcan Works Member

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    The Covid risk is no greater than any other bug that is likely to be found on coins and notes or door handles or seats or toilets or anything else that humans touch on a regular basis…as is often the case with Covid the perceived risks are not necessarily the same as the actual risks. Granted each organisation has to carry out its own risk assessment, and switching to cards neatly removes the need for cash handling which can be a hassle now that the banks have all but given up any pretence of maintaining their branch networks!
     
  20. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    At the risk of being barred from Purbeck for all eternity, are any (mainlineable) Pacers bouncing Swanage way?
     
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