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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

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

  1. Hirn

    Hirn Member

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    Out of high season driving lengths to and fro and the full journey from Taunton to Minehead I found it a slow and- to get from x to y efficiently - rather frustrating road. It is certainly a contrast to the M6.
    If it were possible to run the West Somerset faster I think the passenger traffic would respond - possibly by running some shorter trains non stop and minimising speed restrictions.

    Immediately I do agree with the points about what the Festiniog is getting right - there is apparently some consensus.
     
  2. DragonHandler

    DragonHandler Well-Known Member

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    :Morewaitingisrequired:
     
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  3. free2grice

    free2grice Part of the furniture Friend

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    Some welcome news from the WSSRT. Well done to all concerned. <BJ>

    On 17 August 2020, the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust was advised by the National Heritage Lottery Fund that their recent application for support from the NHLF Emergency Fund has been approved in full. The Trust will get details from the NHLF in the next few days on timing.

    Trust chairman Chris Austin welcomed the grant, saying,

    ''This will allow us to be Covid secure when we are able to reopen the museums again, and to resume work on carriage restoration while also protecting the unrestored carriages with covers. The application was carefully crafted, and the result is great for the railway and an important step towards welcoming visitors again''.

    18 August 2020
    Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust /
    wsr.org
     
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  4. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

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    You obviously missed the two green laughing faces at the end of my original post Alex. It was supposed to be a joke, but I guess any comment here can be misconstrued given how sensitive WSR things can be.
     
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  5. nine elms fan

    nine elms fan Part of the furniture

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    A tad risky putting that in print, you never know who is reading this. :rolleyes:
     
  6. ghost

    ghost Part of the furniture

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    I assume the plc will be looking for its cut? Otherwise more cuckoos may be cited?

    Keith
     
  7. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    Judging from the coaches at WN, more likely to be seagulls than cuckoos :)
     
  8. 242A1

    242A1 Well-Known Member

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    It was the experience of visiting the WSR and hearing people working there talk that made me think. The railway is one thing, and the unwillingness of the various groups attached to it to engage in the much overdue reforms is another. And then you have those who view the railway identity in their own way, have an idealised vision of how they believe it ought to be. You could call this an exclusive vision rather than an inclusive one. So for those who have a GW vision of the railway, how obsessive are they about this? And what do they express when they believe that they can talk and be listened to and perhaps have their view validated by agreement?
    The eviction notice issued to the Trust did come as a surprise but not a total one. What people say can make you aware.
     
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  9. martin1656

    martin1656 Nat Pres stalwart Friend

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    In reply, I do make it clear, that it could be a possible future scenario, that a future PLC board may have to consider . Somerset CC have already had thoughts about seaward way, removing the level crossing would allow them to improve the road and access to Butlins.
     
  10. D1039

    D1039 Part of the furniture

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    Upthread it was mentioned on the SVR the Emergency Fund made the grant direct to the PLC. Whether that will be the case here I don't know.

    Patrick
     
  11. ghost

    ghost Part of the furniture

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    I was being a bit sarcastic as the grant seems to be specifically to the WSSRT for their museums and carriages. It just wouldn't surprise me if the plc was looking on with envy, and asked the trust to cough up.

    Keith
     
  12. martin1656

    martin1656 Nat Pres stalwart Friend

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    How many shares does the trust have in the PLC? It would be unwise to upset the WSSRT, because, then, they might find common ground with the WSRA, another shareholder, who together, can gather enough votes to call for an EGM, that might unseat the current board , with this in mind, the plc would be very unwise to get heavy right now. the last thing the cabal that runs things needs, , if it wants to remain running things is to give two large share holders common ground against the PLC.
     
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  13. Triumph 2500S

    Triumph 2500S Well-Known Member

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    Was Robin paying you a visit then?
     
  14. Piggy

    Piggy Member

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    Absolute rubbish !
     
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  15. nine elms fan

    nine elms fan Part of the furniture

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    Not sure about what you say although a lot makes sense, the impression i got from previous posts was that the WSSRT were trying to distance themselves from the WSRA.
     
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  16. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

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    Not just the WSRA but the PLC as well, as they do not want, apparently, to participate in the Bailey rodeo.
     
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  17. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    I had a visit to another heritage railway today - somewhat different from normal, in that the trip was out and back on the same train, with no intermediate stops for passenger purposes and a fairly limited time at the destination, really just enough for a leg stretch. It might seem constrained, but passengers seemed happy enough despite the rather grim weather.

    I was struck by a comment from a volunteer (and I offer this uncorroborated) that the railway was carrying almost as many passengers as normal for the time of year, but with only two round trips (one loco and train) rather than the normal five round trips (two locos and trains). I suspect that in the past, a very common itinerary was out in the first or second train of the day, visit the major tourist attraction at the far end on foot; return on the last train. The middle trains would be fairly quiet. Now, you get the choice to take a morning out and back and then if desired visit the major tourist attraction by car in the afternoon; or the other way round. Result may not be to everyone’s taste, but if you plan properly, you still get your ride but the railway is delivering the same passenger-miles as before at much lower cost (lower seat miles, lower engine miles for the same passenger miles). Which begs the question as to whether things would necessarily go back (especially in respect of the timetable) to normal even if the Covid restrictions no longer applied?

    What has that got to do with the WSR? Clearly it is a longer line, about double where I was today. There has been a lot of talk of the tidal nature of traffic; the attractions of the beach; and also the need to provide shorter journeys particularly from the Minehead end. There is also the point about ruthlessly bearing down on cost.

    At which point: how about a single departure from BL round about 10:30am, arriving at Minehead non-stop at 12:00ish. Passengers disembark for a day at the beach; meanwhile the loco and same carriages (cleaned) or new carriages run to Williton and back, with Watchet the only stop (and primary destination that is marketed), leaving around 12:30. You’d have a quick run round at Williton and stop at Watchet on the way back to pick up the passengers, giving about an hour in Watchet, then return to Minehead. Finally depart with the first set of passengers leaving about 4pm ish to BL.

    That gives one train of passengers BL to Minehead return with four hours on the beach; one train Minehead to Watchet (train reverses at Williton) with an hour at Watchet; but only one loco diagram of around 60 miles each day, which could if necessary be covered by one crew. (I’d estimate about 11.5 hours duty; alternatively a Minehead relief crew could do the trip to Williton and back and the BL crew then work the return). 150 socially distanced passengers on each paying £30 return from BL to Minehead or £20 return Minehead - Watchet or Williton (one fare regardless of destination, since you have exclusive use of the seat) gives £7500 gross income per day for only one engine day and 60 traffic miles.

    It might not be to everyone’s taste and is a long way from a day rover; it also essentially bypasses any intermediate station except Watchet. OTOH, that is pretty much what every other line is doing, and it is to my mind a commercially viable service offering that serves two distinct markets: the all day crowd starting at BL wanting a day at the beach; and the captive Minehead market looking for something to do.

    Tom
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2020
  18. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    A typically excellent idea, and not dissimilar to what the SVR are doing, preserving as much as possible of the stuff beyond just having a round trip on a steam train.
    However, I don't think it's for lack of ideas on what services to run that the WSR remains closed. Way back early in the lockdown, the Plc board themselves said they were working out various different operating scenarios for how they could run trains once the re-opened, I think 3 were briefly outlined, only one of which was trains running along the full line. For whatever reason, since then they've decided that they don't want to run trains after all. From what can be gathered here, a combination of being happy to watch the furlough money come in and lack of personnel available to complete P'way wrks and crucially sign it all off as done seem to be the biggest drivers of that. I simply refuse to believe that they have done the sums and decided it doesn't add up, if that's the case, I don't think they've started with the right numbers, given how many other railways, often in worse locations and lower passenger numbers than the WSR (even if it didn't go to the beach) think it does add up.
     
  19. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    True, but sooner or later the railway has to start running trains again! I’d offer the above as a possible service pattern that ruthlessly cuts down on cost while still maximising the line’s unique selling point of its length and “whole line” ethos. I suspect that outside of enthusiasts, very few people probably do more than a single round trip anyway even if in possession of a rover, so really all you lose is the amenity value of being able to get on and off at intermediate stations; and only having a single possible departure time. My hunch is that consumers are, even if through gritted teeth, become accustomed to the concept of booking a specific itinerary rather than just “turn up and go” as in the past.

    Possibly for another thread, but I do wonder if more “itinerised” ticket types will become the norm, giving passengers essentially a Cook’s tour of the railway and its attractions. The SVR Covid offering seemed really well thought out in that regard but I suspect what many individual passengers probably would have ended up doing anyway given a free choice. Essentially railways might try to spoon-feed half-day and whole-day packages, rather than what we are used to with a timetable with a number of departures each way and passengers left to their own devices. I wonder if a combination of pre-booked itineraries and some clever timetable design could lead to a more efficient ratio between passenger-miles and seat-miles.

    Tom
     
  20. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I doubt that the plc have been "happy to watch the furlough money come in"; rather, I suspect a focus on costs has led them to underestimate their audience and therefore the impact of not earning. The personnel issues won't have helped but...
     

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