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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by gwr4090, Nov 15, 2007.

  1. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    I see that that there is now a new, more detailed statement on the web from the PLC. This states, among other things....

    "....The Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust seems governed in such a way that it meant they felt unable to assist us financially other than by allowing the WSR to hold and retain the modest profits from a Real Ale Festival last year. They wished to pursue their own specific charitable aims......"

    IMHO that would seem not unreasonable given that they are a Charity which has to abide by its MoA.

    "...... and, in our crisis period, acted rather like a 'cuckoo in the nest' which the plc found unacceptable....."

    Eh ????

    "....as a result of this and other concerns, they have been served with a year's notice to remove themselves from the Washford site completely...."

    So, there is more to it then than just the non-contribution of funds ?

    "..... the rent they pay for this land is much lower than any other organisation occupying space elsewhere on the railway, and none of the monies that they raise there comes to help the WSR directly, but it is raised to help their own site and other causes they support...."

    So, is the S&DRT deemed therefore not to contribute to the WSR in any other way other than by handing over cash?

    "....we now plan to develop the Washford site to better meet our needs which we hope will include additional PW vehicle and equipment storage closer to the middle of our long line to ease future trackwork programmes; workshops for restoration works, and covered winter accommodation...."

    So, some information at last.

    "...We also plan to expand the Museum facility there and are looking into possibly further developing the site as a visitor attraction....."

    But - if the S&DRT leave and take all their stuff with them, then any ongoing Museum will have to start from scratch. Given that there is already BARM and the Gauge Museum, I wonder whether a third museum is either necessary or supportable? Unless you are a PW vehicle enthusiast, or going to (say) Cleeve Abbey etc, who would want to make a PW depot at WD a 'visitor destination'?

    "...Currently, Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway 7F Class No. 88 (53808) is owned by the S&D Railway Trust and is operated on a separate contract. As a railway, we are committed to this popular engine, and we propose to honour this contract as a separate and free-standing hire agreement and it is hoped this will be unaffected...."

    Some reassurance there.
     
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  2. jnc

    jnc Well-Known Member

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    Anagrams have lots of possibilities; try doing a Web search for 'anagram search' and see how many you can get out of 'aldfort'. Is there any evidence that the one you mention was the intended one? If not, it just gives your whole comment a tendentious air; which is a pity, because without that, the rest of your comment was reasonable.

    Noel
     
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  3. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    I'm afraid that reads like "we don't really have a plan for Washford", with a wishlist of possible items being presented. Disappointing.
     
  4. DragonHandler

    DragonHandler Well-Known Member

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  5. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Part of the furniture

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    So that’s the plan, currently a nice, well restored tidy station site looked after by a group of long standing S&DRT/WSR supporting volunteers who have developed it and if another paragraph in the statement is true also planned to develop it further being replaced. It generates an income through rent consistently (perhaps for a cash strapped PLC something is better than nothing) and is a stop off point for customers as the part of the string of pearls. Its museum was already being extended and improved by the S&DRT (at no cost to the PLC) and adds customer variety to the GWR theme, the facilities have been used by the WSR often (wagon group restoration for example) and the S&DRT is also a popular source of additional rolling stock for galas, high days and holidays. They have thrown open and staffed the site as a part of the 1940’s weekend and every gala which the WSR got the profit from…. I could go on but you will get the point., it will all be gone.

    To be replaced by, another eye sore of a p/way dept. right opposite the platform for all to see, no income at all, no staff, no volunteers, no visitors spending money in the station, just another cash drain.

    By default a p/way base has to be a bit messy of course, the plan I put forward, with the support of others within the WSR and external funders who would have paid for p/way to move as a part of the Dunster Goods Yard project was for p/way to go to either Sherrings yard out of sight of the public or the spare land at BL or 33 acres of land at Norton. It could of course be said that the latter two are too far toward one end. However I calculated that the reduction in costs for the transport of materials, track, sleepers etc. coming from ‘the rest of the world’ through Taunton to Norton/BL rather than all the way to Dunster or Washford would more than outweigh the inconvenience/cost of running a p/way train back along the line.

    Washford also has no road access for artic Lorries delivering long rails, it would be a brave artic driver who would drive up the slope off a busy A road on a blind corner and then try and turn in the site at the narrow point opposite the entrance. You must also say that due to the signalling sections, Dunster is an issue because any p/way train in the winter when the line is closed needs a Signalman at Blue Anchor to move a train due to the level crossing, then the Blue Anchor to Williton section (which Washford sits in the middle of) is long so moving p/way trains from Washford is more complex and path removing than the Taunton end.

    All of this is the practical stuff before we talk about the people effected, broken contracts, reputations and the personal cost for the S&DRT and many WSR Volunteers on the ground (my phone and email has been ringing/pinging off the hook this weekend after this announcement). This means a Washford p/way dept. doesn’t cure anything other than ruin another good station and cost more money. A cynical person may think that the value of the land when the freehold is bought is worth more to sell without sitting tenants !!!!

    Customers view of Dunster p/way yard below taken from the platform.

    20181012_124537.jpg
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2020
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  6. gwilialan

    gwilialan Part of the furniture

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    Thanks for the link. It's good to see it all rather than just selected extracts.

    The way I read it is this:-

    If we ignore all the 'mud slinging' it appears as though the basic problem is that the Plc wanted to raise the site rent and the S&D didn't want to pay any more so the Plc has given them notice to quit. Fairly typical landlord/lessee negotiations and outcome one might think and if this is the case the Plc is well within its rights if the lease agreement allows for rent renegotiations.

    What confuses me is why now and why such draconian measures. The Plc is currently strapped for cash and this would appear to be an ongoing situation for the foreseeable future. They want more money for the site, the S&D don't want to pay so the Plc evicts them. Therefore the Plc loses all the income they currently get for the site (cutting off your nose etc?).

    The Plc says it has plans for the site for P Way vehicle storage, covered storage etc but where is the money going to come from to pay for that? As a Plc facility it won't generate any income at all and savings in equipment movements etc would appear to be minimal so it would appear to be an overall loss of income to the company.

    In the current financial situation I just don't understand the Plc's reasoning, and the thought of S&D leaving a bare site which will just be left for (how many?) years until the Plc has the funds for the conversion of the site just seems to be of no benefit to "the railway" at all.
     
  7. Alan Kebby

    Alan Kebby Member

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    They can hope all they want. The S&D trust own 53808 so it will be entirely their decision whether the agreement continues and is renewed.
     
  8. jma1009

    jma1009 Well-Known Member

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  9. Grumpy gramps

    Grumpy gramps New Member

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    Oh dear everything I read about WSR suggests that it is like a company owned and run by one man who does not like any dissent, I wonder why?
     
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  10. 007

    007 Member

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    Its just astonishing that the PLC has used this line in an official statement 'They wished to pursue their own specific charitable aims and, in our crisis period, acted rather like a 'cuckoo in the nest' which the plc found unacceptable'

    That is some of the most unprofessional language I have seen in a company released statement. Of course they cover their own aims, they are bound by charity law to do so. They also probably felt most at ease doing so having signed a 50 year lease in 2018! Ridiculous state of affairs.
     
  11. ikcdab

    ikcdab Well-Known Member

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    I had in my head that it was 25 years! Memory and tricks etc. I think now they needed a long lease to support the lottery bid they were doing. I guess that's long gone now.
    Ian Coleby
     
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  12. misspentyouth62

    misspentyouth62 Well-Known Member

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    Would it not be fair to say that if perceived as treated poorly over their lease agreement for Washford, wouldn't there be a feeling of wanting to take their key asset in 53808 to another railway where they may be treated less poorly?
     
  13. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    If I felt that I couldn’t trust an organisation over a contract in one area, I’d be reluctant to trust them to uphold another contract for my prime asset.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  14. Alan Kebby

    Alan Kebby Member

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    Surely a statement thanking the S&D trust for their hard work and contribution over the last forty years, but unfortunately Washford is now needed for purposes XYZ, would have been much more professional and burnt less bridges.

    Instead the WSR have created another PR disaster and virtually guaranteed that they will lose 53808 one day.
     
  15. Forestpines

    Forestpines Part of the furniture

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    I have to agree - that is a terrible choice of words, likely to just inflame things.
     
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  16. 1472

    1472 Well-Known Member

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    Looking past the hand wringing, statements of individual displeasure & general searching for conspiracy theory stuff surely the concerns regarding SMS compliance, as expressed below, trump all other considerations in 2020?

    There may be those who still wish to operate their own bit 1970's style but the days of that have to be long gone now.

    From todays announcement:

    "The S&D Railway Trust had also suggested that they might seek a change to our Light Railway Order at the Washford site and so operate the rail lines there as a separate entity. This would be not only expensive for them, but also is not acceptable to the WSR as we would have to object since the plc has some concerns about how they [S&D Railway Trust] have operated the site, and we must also obviously protect our own operational Safety Management System with the ORR so that everyone on the line complies with it."
     
  17. huochemi

    huochemi Well-Known Member Friend

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    Why do you say the PLC is not "upholding " a contract, and why do you think trust comes into it? While English law contracts can be verbally amended (bilaterally of course), I doubt you would get very far by running a "trust" argument (which is why one tries to draft contracts to be independent of trust). It sounds like the lease includes an option to terminate early on 12 months notice, probably on both sides i.e. it is perhaps a rolling 12 month lease, with a long stop date. The involvement of a lawyer in serving notice may simply be company policy when it comes to communications involving exercise of rights under an agreement. While there are highly likely to be positive and negative covenants on the lessee, breach of which would be a potential termination event, a lessor would probably not agree to draft this remedy with a 12 month waiting period. The suggestions made up thread that the PLC has no right at all to terminate and that this is some sort of capricious action seem unlikely (and if there is no right, then such notice would have no effect).
     
  18. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    Maybe it is me but i don't get why you would kick out a society that is paying rent and contributing to the wsr in favour of having something owned by the plc on site which won't generate any rent and potentially less income than the SDRT contribute.

    It strikes me as disingenuous to say the least and more about a power grab. And a useful warning to any other groups. If you don't tug your forelock you'll be getting the same treatment.

    Now back to the photos of all the positive developments and ignore what is hiding in plain sight.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2020
  19. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    >>>... the plc has some concerns about how they [S&D Railway Trust] have operated the site, and we must also obviously protect our own operational Safety Management System with the ORR so that everyone on the line complies with it..."

    Could that not be done by discussion and mutual co-operation, rather than the current draconian measure, or is it a case that it has been tried already and failed for some reason?
     
  20. BrightonBaltic

    BrightonBaltic Member

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    No, I have never been banned from this forum.

    The Cranleigh proposal died for want of interest from the heritage railway business - there was a possibility of a site being made available but in the absence of any help... anyway, that's the best part of a decade ago. The individual concerned is still fighting his case but what, if any resolution he will reach, I cannot predict. I no longer live in the south-east - I'm in NW Devon, just outside Halwill.

    Anyway, back to the WSR. It is (in terms of its route) a publicly-owned amenity, but it has been underperforming for years as a result of this internecine squabbling. Its P-way is knackered and most of the volunteer base has left in disgust. SCC need to think very carefully about how their property best serves their residents, and I can't see that this nonsense, sowing division and resentment, is helping anyone.
     

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