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Swanage Railway General Discussion

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

  1. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Quite. If the demand were there, a bus company could meet it more easily. Equally, if you wanted to test demand, that could be done more quickly and at lower risk by bus than by train.

    Tom
     
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  2. DcB

    DcB Member

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    Thanks, good it is running and earning some revenue to boost funds for heritage coach restorations.
    Guess if the non running mk1 coaches are repaired and run again, the mk 1 from the dining set will go back to the dining set and the Bullied coach will just be for special occasions, galas etc? Next time I visit will try and ride in it?
     
  3. biggles200

    biggles200 Member

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    In 1972 the reinstatement of the Swanage Branch objective was primary for locals to use as before and to travel beyond Wareham. However now the finances requires tourism.
     
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  4. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

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    When I used it I travelled from London (by train) so arrived long after the first down working. I had little choice about the up working but might have used an even later one if there had been one.
     
  5. oliversbest

    oliversbest New Member

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    2002 reasons not to run to Wareham!! What was the object of the exercise in re-connecting,paying for signals accommodation by NR., being given a refurbished heritage DMU by DCC?? Was it to allow transfer of stock(very rare) Was it allow charters to get to Swanage?(Rare).At the moment we seem to be testing the DMU on a weekly basis. For what reason?? The principals have to get together and ascertain if an amenity service is viable or we can continue to post the sign at Wareham Station.Swanage? You(still) cannot get there from here by rail"
     
  6. Sunnieboy

    Sunnieboy New Member

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    Summer only service through Harman's Cross substantially for the camping and caravan sites. Impossible to live in Harman's Cross without a car as there is no footpath to either Corfe Castle or Swanage. A351 dangerous even on a bike.

    Sent from my SM-T820 using Tapatalk
     
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  7. oliversbest

    oliversbest New Member

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    It is amazing how car-centric some contributors to this thread are. (Yes,I own and operate a car). One of the joys of a true vacation for an increasing number of people(especially seniors!) is to be without one! and still be able to travel at reasonable speed,and in reasonable comfort. Banging on and off buses with even a small amount of luggage is a nightmare.
     
  8. 80104

    80104 New Member

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    The various organisations involved: SR, DC, PCRP are being very careful in their choice of words when describing the service.

    They are avoiding giving specific details about times, operating days etc because they know that in doing so it would open up to scrutiny and debate one of the major issues of "Project Wareham" namely that Swanage Railway is not able to operate services at times which would suit the local commuter or indeed enable a passenger to go to London (or other destination more than say 90 minutes away) and be able to spend a reasonable amount of time there for whatever purpose.

    The reason it is not able to do so is quite simply the level of resources required namely staff to operate what would effectively be a 2 shift / 14-15-16 hour day is greater than their current resources.

    It is an issue in that I suspect many locals - and possibly purchasers of Premier Life Membership - have believed that the service would operate at times which would enable commuting and being able to visit London (or other destination more than say 90 minutes away) for the day. The reason I say this is because the phrase "restore the service" has been used and restore means return to a former condition or state which in this context means return to the former (BR) service which of course did provide such travel facilities.

    The feasibility study and trial service (assuming it runs) will establish a baseline level of demand and travel patterns consistent with the days and times the service it operates. It will also help establish whether or not some form of financial support is required.

    One of the key points about financial support is where the financial line is drawn. Is it DOCS - direct operating costs only- or a higher level of costs to include depreciation, a contribution towards overhead costs etc etc.

    I suspect that because the amount of money required to support a 363 day a year, 0700 - 1900 two hourly service would be very considerable indeed , the various parties have decided to limit the trial (and ambition for the foreseeable future) to operating a "tourist service." ie summer season 10:00 - 1700 approx with a two hourly frequency. Any "local traffic" which uses the service will be purely incidental.

    I still believe that such a tourist service would be viable however any extension of operating days and times would require considerable financial support to provide (pay for) the necessary resources.
     
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  9. 5914

    5914 Member

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    The business case for including the marginal extra costs of signalling Worgret Junction for passenger moves when the mainline was re-signalled was one the basis of its use for engineering/stock transfers, charter use and summer services to relieve traffic on the local road network. The business case for obtaining the DMUs originally was that, if necessary, their disposal for scrap value would cover any cost incurred in their purchase. I am not aware of the final business case, but certainly the original business case for refurbishment was not wholly dependent on Wareham services, but included their ability to support the existing Park-and-Ride function from Norden. As far as I am aware none of the business cases for regular (daily) amenity services came anywhere close to covering their direct costs without significant subsidy.

    From memory of conversations at the time the prime economic development justification for funding was (in this order):
    - promoting Swanage as a destination for steam-hauled charters (fulfilling the local plan aim to spread the season and encourage visits to Purbeck/Swanage during the shoulder season; and
    - providing additional relief measures for traffic into Swanage by providing a peak period service from Wareham (with the business case for the refurbishment of the DMUs being spread between being able to operate this service, and the ability to have a low-cost way of increasing non-peak frequencies between Norden and Swanage).

    It should be remembered that from a local authority economic development perspective the rail connection with Wareham is not the iconic item it is for enthusiasts - if connectivity can be better provided by buses then the local authority will go that way. As has been noted in other posts, by far the biggest problems for the Purbeck road network are:
    - A351 Bakers Arms to Sandford
    - The bottleneck presented by Corfe Castle village for access to Swanage
    - The bottleneck presented by the Sandbanks Ferry for access to Studland/Shell Bay
    - The low quality road from Corfe Castle to Studland/Shell Bay
    - the lack of parking capacity at Studland/Shell Bay
    Of these one is already mitigated by the Park-and-Ride service from Norden, whilst the railway cannot present a significant solution to any of the others apart from encouraging new travel options by rail via Wareham, which could provide a source for local economic growth without increasing pressure on the A351 corridor.

    By far the biggest traffic problem is presented by the Studland peninsula - which the railways cannot directly help relieve (it has been noted above that car parks at Studland are often full before 10am - though what was not noted is that there is often spare parking capacity in Swanage throughout the day - borne out by my personal observations on one of my return visits to Purbeck this week)

    So the answer to the question posed by oliversbest is that it is an established fact that without subsidy an all-year-round amenity service is not viable - and that of the objectives funding has been provided for one and a half have been fulfilled (enabling charters to/from Swanage) and providing a means for SR to increase mid-peak frequencies between Norden and Swanage. The other half objective (admittedly the headline grabbing one), would be commercially suicidal to attempt at present (i.e. this year) - but SRs commitment to it is demonstrated by the ongoing training programme for crews on the DMUs - evidenced by the regular DMU training days to retain competence (traction and route) of existing crews and expand the pool of crews trained ready to work through to Wareham when the time comes.

    I am sure that the peak period service to Wareham will happen and, if trialled when there is more confidence about travel by public transport, will stand a good chance of washing its face. Although it would be my personal dream, a year-round service will only ever be possible with significant subsidy - which I sadly suspect would be better spent on retaining the existing bus services which serve a wider range of communities at a better frequency than the railway would be able to sustain. Meanwhile, continuing a steady preparation for becoming a mainline operator and sorting out the existing business (without which the Wareham service will be unsustainable, as it would need to pick up all operating costs) must be a priority for SR (which is, I understand anticipating only 60% of normal revenue this year).



    P.S. As someone who lived in Harmans Cross for many years, it is not going to be a source of significant traffic - the bus service was never well-used and by the time you have got into a car to drive to the station (most of the housing being a least a 10-20 minute walk from the station) it is probably easier to have driven to Wareham (or Swanage). Even as someone with a free pass and a predisposition to travel by train, I have to confess that it was often less hassle (and certainly much quicker) to drive into Swanage than catch the train - especially if I was going to return with shopping that would need lugging up the hill from the station!
     
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  10. 80104

    80104 New Member

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    A couple of comments in reply to @5914 points and additional info / views.

    1. Norden Car Park is now known as Purbeck Park. The renaming was a PDC decision (to help promote the car park as being more than a car park!) which SR were against but were not able to stop. The "park and ride" tag was problematic as there was some level of customer dissatisfaction over having to pay both for the parking and the train ride. PDC and now DC have progressively increased the parking charge making it less appealing to customers.
    2. The quality of the customer experience at Purbeck Park (Norden Park and Ride) has deteriorated considerably. The withdrawal of the wardens - who ensured "compliant" parking and gave much information to customers (and indeed encouraged to catch the train) , the problems with the replacement (second hand) car park ticket machines and the degradation of the car parking surface caused by greater rainfall than previously. The problems of waste with bins overflowing have increased. Keeping the toilets clean is an unenviable task. Undoubtedly there is now inappropriate bin use which the presence of wardens discouraged. I have seen cars drive into Purbeck Park, get large black plastics sacks out of the boot and dump them in the palladin. It would be fair to say that the wardens went well beyond their official remit in keeping the place clean and tidy.
    3. Coastal erosion at Studland means that eventually the NT car parks will be abandoned. The current DC idea is to park at Norden - with a car park extension - and run a shuttle bus service to Studland.
    4. Harmans Cross Station only seems to have worthwhile passenger numbers when the nearby camp sites are relatively busy. Your points about preferring to drive to Wareham or Swanage are apposite.
    5. The costs of compliance (for mainline operation) are very considerable indeed and they impose a very high burden when spread out over a 60 / 90 days service. For example if the additional insurance premium for mainline operation is £15Kper annum this would be more than £1 per passenger when based on the 2017 60 day trial. When the likely difference in yield (average fare paid) between a Swanage <> Norden Return and a Swanage <> Wareham Return is £4 or £5 this represents 20 / 25% of the additional fare. It is precisely this sort of cost (not immediately obvious) that has to be watched so carefully.
    6. Dorset historically has spent comparatively little on public transport. From memory they have been one of the lowest per head of population for a number of years.
    7. Whilst the revenue from steam charters using the branch is useful (all money is!) it is very small beer overall. How much I wonder is spent per annum on maintaining the pway and signalling systems between Norden Gates and Worgret Junction?
     
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  11. DcB

    DcB Member

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    Is the additional insurance premium for mainline operation from Wareham, the same as, or additional, to the bond required in order to register as a TOC 5914 mentions?
     
  12. gricerdon

    gricerdon Member

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    It can be avoided by going further down the A31
     
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  13. Paul42

    Paul42 Well-Known Member

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    That's what I usually do.
     
  14. 80104

    80104 New Member

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    The insurance I was referring to was the Third Party Liability Insurance Policy which must provide cover of no less than £155M in respect of all liabilities. (The cover level is, I understand, significantly more than that held to meet the current requirements ie not operating on the mainline).

    TOCS have to prove they meet the financial fitness standard ie they have sufficient finances to meet their obligations. Sometimes, and I do not know if this is required in the SR case, a guarantee may be sought. It is quite common in other forms of transport for that guarantee to be provided in the from of a bond. In the event of a failure to meet its obligations the bond can be called to meet the liabilities. A bond effectively is a financial insurance policy taken out with a third party.
     
  15. Andy Moody

    Andy Moody New Member

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    And it was again today Bulleid hauled by 34028.
    Also spoke with one of my former Bournemouth drivers who was in the Diesel link, Apparently the drivers still sign class 158/9s with occasional work between Southampton and Bournemouth West depot for unit overhauls but the guards do not sign them anymore, I would also imagine that Salisbury crews no longer sign Yeovil Pen Mill to Weymouth either.
     
  16. biggles200

    biggles200 Member

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    Parking Problems at Studland only last for a couple of months a year - July and August.

    There were plans afoot for adding another platform at Norden to allow the interchange of Wareham passengers with the normal Heritage services. I don't know if this is still a long term plan. Of course until Furzebrook is sorted, long term plans are difficult to make.
     
  17. DcB

    DcB Member

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    There is talk on FB 31806 will not take part in Thursday's mainline London to Weymouth Dorset Express railtour https://www.railwaytouring.net/the-dorset-coast-express
    due to lack of trained steam crew, can you confirm?
     
  18. oliversbest

    oliversbest New Member

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    If i am inbound to Swanage from Wareham why would I want to change trains at Norden. The original Branch timetabled configuration of Wareham-Corfe Castle-Swanage makes most sense for an amenity service IMHO
     
  19. 80104

    80104 New Member

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    Yes the parking problems at Norden are confined to the very high season. When the wardens were employed, the use of the space was maximised but now it is a free for all inconsiderate parking reduces the capacity. Perhaps SR should consider using volunteers during the peak season to act as wardens? (Apart from giving information, keeping an eye on the toilets they could also encourage visitors to visit the excellent Purbeck Mineral and Mining Museum).

    I do wonder about the merits of using Norden as a "Wareham service interchange" rather than Corfe Castle given that Corfe Castle already has two platforms, has toilet facilities and is the first destination for some of the traffic (those who choose to visit CC the village and castle) and then go down to Swanage for the remainder of the day. Would I really wish to go to Norden (from Wareham) and then have to change and wait for the 2 minute ride to Corfe Castle?

    I do wonder also whether SRs seeming desire to have as many facilities spread up and down the line as possible is the right policy compared to say concentrating development at 2 / 3 locations. I appreciate there are very real space constraints but it seems SR is has or is planning Swanage, Herston (new carriage shed), Corfe Castle (diesel depot), Norden (Wareham interchange) and Furzebrook. Not to mention of course the non rail connected works at Purbeck Business Centre on Victoria Avenue. Any facility needs to be maintained, insured, have power and water, sadly CCTV and other forms of protection, staff facilities for washing etc and messing, car parking and road access.
     
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  20. Rumpole

    Rumpole Member

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    As someone who had to spend an inordinate amount of time planning shunting moves at Swanage before escaping to a proper job, I definitely wouldn't describe it as a 'desire' to spread facilities around the railway; quite simply there isn't the room in Swanage to do everything that is wanted.

    Either facilities end up spread across the railway, or the railway must sacrifice a few sacred cows.
     

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