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Swanage Railway General Discussion

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

  1. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Resident of Nat Pres

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    A new offering from the railway which I guess fits in with its seaside location.
    https://www.swanagerailway.co.uk/events/view/the-fish-chips-special

    I had never heard of Fox & Edwards but a swift Google tells me they do things for the K&ESR as well.
    Having received an email on the MHR dining train which seems to also be run by a third party, is this the way things are going now? Must be difficult to get enough volunteers to guarantee catering needs.

    As Eric Cantona would say "when the seagulls follow the steam train:)"
     
  2. 80104

    80104 Member

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    I am somewhat intrigued by this given, I understand, that Swanage Railway employs a full time chef for the Wessex Belle and also a full time Catering Manager who looks after the Kiosk in the booking hall at Swanage Station, the kiosk at Norden Station and the Buffet Carriage (static) at Corfe Castle Station (was the Birds Nest Buffet relocated from Swanage Station). The Wessex Belle operates between C60 - 70 times per annum and the static kiosks etc are open on train running days (say approx 240 days per annum)

    Catering on the Swanage Railway has been staffed by a mix of paid staff and volunteers for the past few years.
     
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  3. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Not sure the Wessex Belle (if you incl "The Dorsetman") has got anywhere near 60-70 a year in the last 3 years. From memory the Belle itself only ran 3 or 4 times in 2022 and one of those was a wine tasting event in conjunction with wine specialist
     
  4. 80104

    80104 Member

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    Thats correct it hasnt.

    It ( I was referring to the Wessex Belle as the dining set rather than the dining option brand names) was running c60 - 70 times per annum up to and including 2019. If anything the reduced running in the past 3 years further calls into question why, I am led to believe, the SR is employing a full time chef for this offering. Chefs arent cheap so even if they were employed for example helping out in the kiosks / nest buffet it seems a less than optimum solution.

    One of the most popular dining trains was the Sunday Luncheon train but I am not sure how this can operate in 2023 if the Wareham service will be operating on many Sundays throughout the season.
    (NB I should add the Sunday Luncheon train didnt (couldnt) operate in the peak season as all the paths were taken up by the service trains operating every 40 minutes).
     
  5. DcB

    DcB Well-Known Member

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    Cheaper than the Wessex Belle, also operates from Norden station return, seems to pick up the fish and chips at Swanage, half way, so presumably have local fish and chip shops cooking the food rather than on board?
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2023
  6. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Resident of Nat Pres

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    I hope it would be for fish and chips compared to a 3 or 4 course meal with bar facilities. The mention of only tables for 4 implies this is not the dining set being used.
    Nothing wrong with trying out a new product, the sort of things most lines need to be doing in these difficult times, although the end of February/early March perhaps seems a little early in the year to get feedback on a new product. However without knowing the commercial arrangement it may well be at no risk to the railway for those 4 days anyway.
     
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  7. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Resident of Nat Pres

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    It seems tome to be the sort of offer that is both competitivley priced while - I hope having little commercial risk.
     
  8. D7076

    D7076 Well-Known Member

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    Also advertise fish and chip trains at Ecclesbourne and recently Peak Rail .At EVR they book seats from the railway ,source food from Chip shop in Duffield who deliver to the train .
    Win ,win as the railway and local business get additional custom and F&E charge more than it would cost to catch train to Duffield and fetch own food (and hope to not miss the train back ).
     
  9. Alan Kebby

    Alan Kebby Well-Known Member

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    Competitively priced compared to what? Tickets are £37.50. It sounds like it’s a return trip on a normal service train (usual cost £18), and then being handed a box of fish and chips to eat on the way back to Norden.

    So basically £20 for fish and chips. You can get them much cheaper at one of the many establishments in Swanage. You can then take your time eating them and enjoying the sea air, rather than having to stay on the train and immediately being whisked back to Norden and your car.

    It remains to be seen how successful it is.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2023
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  10. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Nice to see the railway briefly burst into life today with three charter trains for the Jurassic Express half marathon, a trail run from Swanage to Corfe.
    Trains appeared to be roughly 11:00, 12:00 and 13:00 from Corfe.
    A few images of Manston the first train at Corfe and approaching Afflington, and the second on arrival at Swanage with its rebuilt WC sister and finally later in the afternoon on the shed. DMU was also out I assume crew training on the extension?
    I can understand why HR lines keep locos clean (and of course the MNLPS) but at the moment Manston takes me back to 1966 or 67. Should look really good by Christmas if nobody spoils it by cleaning her.
     

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  11. 61624

    61624 Part of the furniture

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    If the railway doesn't make money on the fish & chips as well as the train fare, then why bother doing it? As has been pointed out to me recently, when the NYMR tried this on Whitby services there was significant extra work involved cleaning up after and so on, all largely for the benefit of the fish shop!
     
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  12. Alan Kebby

    Alan Kebby Well-Known Member

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    Indeed, it would be interesting to know what the financial arrangement with F&E is. Perhaps the SR even sells them the travel tickets at a discounted price below the normal £18, on the premise of it bringing in extra business that they wouldn’t otherwise get.
     
  13. Richard Roper

    Richard Roper Well-Known Member

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  14. Andy Moody

    Andy Moody Member

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  15. DcB

    DcB Well-Known Member

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  16. Tom02

    Tom02 New Member

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    • British Railways Standard Class 4MT - 76084 is coming to the STEAM GALA
    Now wouldn't it be amazing if they ran that with the U class top and tail to Wareham with the set of 5 mainline mark 1s!!! I beleive the mark ones can go mainline with people but need staff on every coach as there's no electronic door locking but I understand they could use them for 'one offs' ?
     
  17. Tom02

    Tom02 New Member

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    "4TC Group
    Duncan Jones Hi Duncan. We’re waiting to get our brake coach back to Swanage so we can carry on with getting that ready. All delayed by various infrastructure works on the railway."

    From the 4TC facebook page from a week ago, anyone know if its made its way back to Swanage yet. Hopefully we can have a 3 TC set running this year
     
  18. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Resident of Nat Pres

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    My understanding is that the ORR want to see the diesel service operate for a couple of years before allowing steam. I think it has also been mentioned before that extra work would be needed on the coaches to allow them to go on the mainline with passengers.
     
  19. Johnb

    Johnb Nat Pres stalwart

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    I’m sure that the only reason they are doing it is because they have had Council money and are tied into it. From what I can understand the average loadings were poor and it’s not what you want when the finances are looking a bit shaken.
     
  20. 80104

    80104 Member

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    It is my understanding - and someone please correct me if I am wrong - that SRC are obligated under the terms of the 2014 lease (for the trackbed between the Network Rail Boundary and Northbrook Road Bridge) with Dorset Council (successors to Dorset County Council) to operate two trial service periods between Swanage and Wareham. One of 60 days (which was fulfilled in 2017) and one of 90 days (which is outstanding). The requirement is for four round trips per day. The Class 117 and 121 DMUs were purchased by Dorset County Council and loaned (may be gifted I do not know) to SRC for this purpose. They were refurbished and brought up to mainline standards funded (in the main) by a grant of C£1M. The units were not available for service in 2017 hence suitable rolling stock was hired in. The track between Norden and Worgret Junction (and the signalling system*) was brought up to the required standard with a grant of C£3M though these monies included the inclusion of the branch signalling (onto the mainline ) within a much bigger scheme (Poole to Wool). As far as I am aware no licence has been granted by the ORR yet and this may / may not include restrictions on the use of the DMUs anywhere on the mainline except between Worgret Junction and Wareham thus potentially precluding going further afield.

    The 2017 trial demonstrated that there was a level of demand for the service; most of which was first train down and last train back. Some 13,000 passengers were carried over the 60 day trial. The loss on the trial was c£70k but this included the cost of hiring in the mainline certified rolling stock and traction.

    No-one can be sure of the level of demand which is why the running of two sets of trials was decided upon. There are so many factors which may influence demand which may make drawing conclusions very challenging indeed. It is somewhat unfortunate that the second trial year did not take place prior to Brexit, Covid, Cost of Living Crisis as undoubtedly these three factors alone will have some bearing on demand / passenger numbers.

    I am not aware of any 2023 Wareham revenue and cost forecast but it would be very different in composition to the 2017 account as on the one hand rolling stock and traction does not need to be hired in but on the other hand station and track access charges, and insurance are now "separate items" (whereas in 2017 they were rolled into the "hire" fee).

    If steam traction was desired, then self evidently all the requirements have to be met (mainline certified loco and carriages etc etc) plus there is the added complexity of having to top and tail the loco as there is no turn around facility at Wareham.

    Hopefully by the end of February more definitive information about the second trial period will be made public.

    *It is just over 8 years since the signalling system which reconnected the branch to the mainline was commissioned and formally opened by Claire Perry MP.
     

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