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The Talyllyn in trouble ?

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Railways' started by Baldwin, Jan 11, 2013.

  1. Meiriongwril

    Meiriongwril Member

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    Ah, bureaucracy - the death of innovation.
    I'm afraid the huge sums are already spoken for - but a modest few squids will be on their way eventually (especially if I can spend 'em on TR stamps in the online shop!!)
     
  2. Baldwin

    Baldwin Guest

    "bureaucracy - the death of innovation" in this case though i think it's the other way round, innovation - the death of bureaucracy ! Too many people afraid of losing their jobs instead of facing up to the truth.
     
  3. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Ellis - I can understand the complexity of collecting donations when you have separate charitable and commercial wings of the organisation.

    But a "Council of 20" having to take a simple decision about online donations? Really? Surely you have a fundraising officer (you); a finance officer; a webmaster; and a publicity officer (also you) and between you three, you should have the autonomy to just get on with your jobs and put whatever scheme between you you see as most suitable into operation? We have one of our directors with a specific remit for fundraising, but I am not aware (from reading board papers) that he needed to do anything formal beyond liaise with the webmaster to set up online payments, or any other online scheme. Unless the board are having very tedious un-minuted conversations (which I doubt), I'm not aware that he ever needs much more authority than getting agreement into what his overall funding strategy is, and then periodically reporting back as to how it is going!

    As for separating funds collected through an (online) shop between different bodies: you can buy Bluebell memberships (with money going to the Society) via the Online Shop (which is controlled by the PLC). So while I agree that some process of audit and control needs to be put in place, it is certainly not a problem that hasn't already been solved in many other places already.

    Tom
     
  4. ellisteph12

    ellisteph12 New Member

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    Tom, I didn't go into much more detail and perhaps my comment was too literal on here, but we have separate committees with 'devolved powers' to get on with such things. Council rubber-stamping suggestions or making alternative recommendations. The idea is that we don't have people who may be a little over-ambitious actioning things that don't sit well with the members who effectively they must answer to. It could turn quite chaotic. The other side is that effectively no one person/people has 'control' over the railway.

    As you suggest above I would worry that as a volunteer, there would be no accountability. Having a Council and Board ensures there is control.

    It may not be ideal, I wouldn't claim it to be. As ever Im always interested in how other railways run things and perhaps we can learn from each other.
     
  5. Baldwin

    Baldwin Guest

    Ellis, i must give you credit for this posting, i think the problem with the running of the TR is to be found here. Out with the old and in with the new.
     
  6. ellisteph12

    ellisteph12 New Member

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    Thanks, but you can also see my initial reluctance on posting it as it is immediately seen as an issue. I must say again Baldwin - I don't see the 'problem' you keep alluding to.
     
  7. Talyllyn07

    Talyllyn07 Member

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    they greater public not involved with the TR in anyway must know more than us Ellis hey!
     
  8. Baldwin

    Baldwin Guest

    I think if i am alluding to anything in particular relating to this subject it's the overall impression that the TR is stuck, this is the feeling i get and it comes out in this discussion. Without having to go back through the tread i am sure i mentioned a complete change of management was what was needed, now i think the problem is even deeper than that with the railway now being obliged to re-look it's total structure from top to bottom.
     
  9. Baldwin

    Baldwin Guest

    Well it's the greater public that's not going to your railway anymore !!
     
  10. ellisteph12

    ellisteph12 New Member

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    In that case I can only apologise as reading through this thread with total interest (amazement at times) I have read lots of opinions on what is happening at the TR, I apologise but I don't know who you are or whether you are involved at Tywyn in any capacity, if you are then you are entitled to your opinion. But if you are not involved at the TR I seem to have failed in assuring you that is not the case.

    I do hope you visit, speak to the staff and volunteers who spend hours of their own time working for the railway and hope they convince you that this is not the case, as I have tried.
     
  11. Baldwin

    Baldwin Guest

    ... Whatever you do don't get me wrong, i am 100% for the TR but that is not a reason for me not to say when something is wrong and i'm sure you will agree. I am very attached to the TR and this goes back a long way so if i happen to be negative about the running of the railway it's because i have every reason to be (going by some of your very own declarations). At the end of the day it's far better the problems are out in the open, better that than to of been too late.
     
  12. pete2hogs

    pete2hogs Member

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    It's amazing how little mention has been made of the fact that it many ways the situation the Talyllyn is in is the result of circumstances beyond their control.

    Yes, I personally think they have misunderstood their market to some degree, but let us not forget that there is a long term downturn in people's financial position, the weather in North Wales has given us something like 6 or 7 poor to dreadful high seasons in a row, this last year being perhaps the worst, and the general decline in the area in which the Talyllyn is located and its relative inaccessibility are all things that the Talyllyn management can do little or nothing to address. I doubt that their situation is in any way connected with, say, their signalling system or whether there are faces on the engines.
     
  13. guard_jamie

    guard_jamie Part of the furniture

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    Bear in mind that the Talyllyn has seen a decline in visitor numbers since the 1980s - so the recent credit crunch and poor weather can only be exacerbating circumstances rather than causal. You've hit the nail on the head, however, in highlighting the general decline in the "north mid-Wales" (or "south north Wales") area, and it is that which the TR should be looking at combatting - a challenge, but not insurmountable. My personal recommendation would be closer work with other local attractions and tourist board to sell the area more widely - bring people in. I think you're right too in discounting some of the more esoteric issues raised as causal factors. I think the most valuable suggestion in terms of cutting costs is - cut the coat according to the cloth. Fewer visitors should equal fewer trains.
     
  14. Anthony Coulls

    Anthony Coulls Well-Known Member

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    There have been local initiatives and partnerships in the past, such as Dyfi Valley Days, with King Arthur's Labyrinth etc and joint marketing with the main line railway etc. The cost of getting there with petrol is a major factor - when we go for a week now, we try not to use the car as much as possible, whereas once, we'd have driven to Dolgellau, Machynlleth or Aberystwyth. It's much easier for us to get the train or bus, or just walk from Tywyn and the TR.

    I was part of the group that used to run the Tom Rolt vintage rally from 2003-2008 and saw the marked fall off in visitors and exhibitors due to both distance and the weather. The trend appears not to have abated.

    The closure of Tywyn Tourist Information Centre and others in Merionydd will not have helped in getting the word out either.
     
  15. age4047

    age4047 New Member

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    I'm a volunteer, and I feel there is some mileage in what Baldwin and others have been saying. I think there could be big problems in sustaining the TR operation as it is now. Not just in the short-term but thinking ahead to 20 years time, when all the ageing supporters who are sending in these extra donations are no longer walking this earth. Unless passenger numbers miraculously double overnight, it really is an over sized train set for the revenue it generates. The minor train service cuts and mothballing of loco No.3 hasn't even scratched the surface and I'm thinking maybe it is time to look long and hard at the organisational structure as well.

    Regarding the website, I think it's very out of date. It needs to be simplified; bold and bright, have online booking, an online shop, and online membership renewal too. Time to remove all the clutter that's only appropriate to volunteers and focus on the passenger audience. Unfortunately though it's a very 'TR thing' to be defensive about the work of any volunteer, but in this case I think it needs much improvement by someone with their finger on the pulse (I notice it still has a snowy picture on the front page, hardly appropriate for the upcoming spring service the railway should be promoting?). Countering Ellis' comment I would suggest the website, being the number one marketing tool in this day and age, would be money well spent for a professional job.
     
  16. ellisteph12

    ellisteph12 New Member

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    I agree the picture isn't perfect and could be better, although there's lots to be optimistic about.

    Speaking personally I sent in what 'skills' I thought I had and where I could help beyond my normal volunteering, and I'm now doing what I can to help, trying to stay positive on here is one of those things among others. If people do have the skills and internet knowledge to help with the website or offer assistance, please get in touch with Tywyn, or if you have an idea that you really feel strongly about also get in touch.

    age4047, As you are a volunteer I wont say anything else, as I can't tell who you are and wouldn't want to insult your experience :)
     
  17. Baldwin

    Baldwin Guest

    ...if there is going to be a new web site then think about an large easy to find, easy to understand map in colour with roads and directions clearly marked. I would of liked to of seen something like this on the new film, maybe at the beginning as a way of leading the viewer into the subject. One of the things about bringing in new customers is that you have to put yourself in the place of someone who dosn't even know the railway exists and work from there.
     
  18. Talyllyn07

    Talyllyn07 Member

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    sounds like you should be volunteering to make this happen then

    Firstly, there is a Online shop...

    in November I had thought about sending in a Christmassy picture, so I sent a few for our webmaster to decide which he would like to use. then again I could of waited until December the 24th and complained on a forum that the TR website wasn't showing a Christmassy pic, instead I did something about it. those that know me are well aware I will criticize fellow volunteers when necessary so its not 'a TR Thing' at all.

    cheers

    Andrew T
     
  19. Meiriongwril

    Meiriongwril Member

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    Andrew T
    I eventually found the online shop, but it's not surprising that age4047 didn't! As I posted above you need to click on facilities, then on shop, then on online shop... duh! The link to the online shop should be on the front page - direct!
     
  20. Talyllyn07

    Talyllyn07 Member

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    are you on the same website as I am? Talyllyn Railway | The World's First Preserved Railway right hand side of the screen a list of items which goes:

    places to stay

    things to do

    Duncan days

    Refreshments

    Shop

    after clicking shop link after the introduction piece a Purple backround piece is visible which gives a direct link to the online shop not necessary to go via any other link or option...

    so members of this forum would like the timetable, fares, online shop, online ticket sales, online donations, online bookable DE's and Weddings etc Events etc etc to all be on the front page? or at least links to all of these. does this not make it all the more confusing?

    whilst learning IT at school I was taught that the users expect a introduction to the attraction (in this case) and to be able to navigate to the major sections of your website FROM your homepage, which they can do with ease. the purpose of a homepage is not to have all major sections of the website ON the homepage.
     

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