If you register, you can do a lot more. And become an active part of our growing community. You'll have access to hidden forums, and enjoy the ability of replying and starting conversations.

West Somerset Railway General Discussion

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

  1. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2015
    Messages:
    6,774
    Likes Received:
    4,961
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Thorn in my managers side
    Location:
    72
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Given that there are proposals afoot to restructure SCC, SCC wants to be a unitary like Wiltshire while the Districts want to form two Unitaries, it seems to me, apart from anything else SCC may wish to wait until a final decision is made on the form it will finally take.
     
  2. nick813

    nick813 Well-Known Member Loco Owner

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,342
    Likes Received:
    1,159
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    poole dorset
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Change of tack.

    Any ideas of increasing the annual turnover?
    What is missing from the current mind set?

    To start some r&a don ides to attract the public:

    A 7ft 'Broad Gauge' PW between BL and NF.
    Two locomotives at Didcot plus stock not currently in use. Opportunity for a new set of rolling stock/ signally/buildings ....plenty of scope to attract visitors.
    A 10 & 1/2 inch gauge railway for big and small children.
    The loops reinstalled to have greater flexibility in the running service.
    Great use of stock for the charter groups, goods, small locomotives , unusual locomotives.
    Attracting privately owned locomotives.


    There must be more ideas out there........?


    Nick
     
  3. Bayard

    Bayard Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2015
    Messages:
    1,338
    Likes Received:
    2,852
    Gender:
    Male
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    I do appreciate that, what I meant by "owning a railway line" was "owning land currently occupied by a leaseholder operating a railway line", not just the long thin strip with ballast, rails and sleepers on it. Also yes, I realise that the land has a value, it's just that its value is considerably reduced by what is effectively a sitting tenant. SCC were quite happy to sell off the farms that they owned to sitting tenants and others, so why not a railway line?
     
  4. ross

    ross Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2017
    Messages:
    736
    Likes Received:
    1,728
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Titfield
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    On Friday, so about 20 pages back, someone mentioned that in 1990ish, 200,000 + passengers rode the railway. Last year for which numbers were quoted was nearer 100,000.

    So, I asked Mrs Ross, she is not a railway enthusiast, but is a mum. If she didn't have me in the equation, her views on things like diesels on a heritage railway. She said that if she were taking children, Steam traction is the whole deal. She then went to the WSR website. First reaction "there isn't a picture of a train". scrollscrollscroll. Oh , okay, engines. The mogul looks quite good. OH, THAT'S NICE. That's the one they should use for the advertising(Kilmersdon) its pretty and colourful.

    So, she would be looking for a colourful steam train, and good reviews on trip adviser

    Is it worth pointing out that this period of declining passenger numbers coincides with the BR black era in rail preservation? Authenticity counts for nothing with the general public, and I suspect dull authenticity is a positive deterrent
     
    maddog, free2grice, tom-bex and 6 others like this.
  5. Bionic_Woman

    Bionic_Woman New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2020
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    47
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    North of Somerset
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Keeping the WSR running rather than selling off the land is very much in SCC's interest.
    The WSR brings the tourist pound into shops and businesses all along the line, which in turn means jobs both directly and indirectly connected with the railway.
    SCC might, of course, consider turning a quick buck and disposing of the land, but after such consideration they would realise that the negative consequences on the local economy which would arise from such an action far outweigh any immediate financial benefit. And once it's gone, it's gone.
     
  6. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2014
    Messages:
    10,150
    Likes Received:
    5,781
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Never you mind
    Location:
    31A
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Sorry but I think the colour of the locomotive at the front of the train means nothing to the casual visitor, certainly from when myself and the missus have had days out at various railways with our normal friends they haven’t been too bothered
    And despite what some might think when you explain the history behind diesel classes and their history some members of the public can get rather interested.
    Rather surprised it’s taken this long for a livery debate to show up in this thread though.
     
    Paulthehitch likes this.
  7. D1039

    D1039 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2007
    Messages:
    3,143
    Likes Received:
    1,837
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    North Somerset
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    The year from 1 April 2018 was 142,000 in the 2019 accounts. I can't recall if there was a more recent figure in one of the trading statements?

    I picked a year at random for comparison, 2013 was 197,000 (a reduction of 1.5% on the previous year). The 'earlier years' estimate' of around 200,000 therefore seems about right.

    Patrick
     
  8. Bayard

    Bayard Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2015
    Messages:
    1,338
    Likes Received:
    2,852
    Gender:
    Male
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Sorry to be negative, but all those ideas would require funds that the Plc hasn't got, except one, the miniature railway, which might be attracted lock stock and barrel, complete with its own track, locomotives, rolling stock and volunteers, but given what happened to the last group that had their own track, locomotives, rolling stock and volunteers, perhaps that might be a little hard to do.
     
  9. bluetrain

    bluetrain Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2019
    Messages:
    583
    Likes Received:
    804
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Wiltshire
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Just to clarify, WSR passenger numbers (from Annual Reports) only topped 200K during the years 2005-11 inclusive, with a peak of 226K in 2009. The trend has been down since 2009, with a collapse to 142K in 2018. Clearly one source of the WSR's financial difficulties.
     
  10. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2013
    Messages:
    9,406
    Likes Received:
    14,892
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Cheltenham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    The 142K was exceptionally low because the WSR had an unusually long close season. 2017 was around 180k IIRC.
     
  11. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2013
    Messages:
    9,406
    Likes Received:
    14,892
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Cheltenham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    The last 2 points wouldn't necessarily cost money either. But I really don't think the WSR needs to be spending big bucks to get things it hasn't already got. It seems to me there's plenty of mileage to be gained purely by making better use of what they've got.
     
  12. ross

    ross Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2017
    Messages:
    736
    Likes Received:
    1,728
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Titfield
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    They might not care too much once they are on site, but when choosing which line to visit, it might make sense to have an attractive locomotive on the advertising
     
  13. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2013
    Messages:
    9,406
    Likes Received:
    14,892
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Cheltenham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    I'm not sure the general public really choose which line to visit, that's how I pick what galas to go to, but it's not how our family holidays are chosen. Once you're *somewhere* then you either visit the nearest steam railway, or you don't, and go to a National Trust estate or the beach or whatever instead.

    The WSR has many an varied problems, but I'm not sure the colour of the paint is one of them. How fresh the paint is might be, the WSR's coaches always used to look quite matt and dull to me, but I haven't visited properly for a couple of years now and I understand that is beginning to change. Swing too far away from authenticity and you struggle to get the donations, where you're relying on enthusiasts as a higher proportion of your potential audience than general passenger numbers.
     
    crusader612, johnofwessex and ross like this.
  14. jma1009

    jma1009 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2013
    Messages:
    1,237
    Likes Received:
    1,446
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    ynysddu south wales
    To buy the freehold off SCC seems to be incurring more debt which is just what the WSR ought to avoid.

    I recall all the financial problems of the WSR around the early 1980s. Lessons learned - perhaps not.
     
    nanstallon, MellishR, tom-bex and 2 others like this.
  15. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2008
    Messages:
    3,558
    Likes Received:
    3,417
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    South Hams
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Given the recent proposals and bids regarding closed railway lines maybe HM Government may have a view about local councils retaining closed line freeholds for any future demographic changes in their areas.
    I am not suggesting another 100 pages about trains running to Taunton, just the possibility that other influences may be in play.
     
  16. bluetrain

    bluetrain Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2019
    Messages:
    583
    Likes Received:
    804
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Wiltshire
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Don't think there was an unusually long closed period in 2018. Steve Edge's picture galleries show a full service of trains from February half-term through to December, including both Spring & Autumn galas. Were you thinking of the closed period at the start of 2019?

    After the high passenger numbers of 2005-11, it was 190K+ in 2012-14 and 180K+ in 2015-16. I cannot find a figure for 2017 but the figures for that year would have been boosted by the Flying Scotsman event of Sep 2017 - a mixed blessing for the WSR, which had to spend heavily on track repairs to allow the visit to take place. I can offer no explanation of why the 2018 tally was as low as 142K. We wait to see the next PLC annual report to tell us the 2019 total.
     
  17. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2013
    Messages:
    9,406
    Likes Received:
    14,892
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Cheltenham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Oh, apologies, I think you're right, I saw the anomalous number and my brain patched it in with the shut-down! Sorry for the confusion.
     
    bluetrain likes this.
  18. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2015
    Messages:
    6,774
    Likes Received:
    4,961
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Thorn in my managers side
    Location:
    72
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Wasnt there an issue with a change in how the numbers were counted?
     
  19. 5944

    5944 Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2006
    Messages:
    5,805
    Likes Received:
    3,110
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Train Maintainer for GTR at Hornsey
    Location:
    Letchworth
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    I didn't think Blue Anchor was too much of a problem now? Doniford on the other hand...
     
  20. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    May 30, 2009
    Messages:
    16,769
    Likes Received:
    15,295
    Location:
    1016
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    All this talk about passengers numbers, what brings people to the railway, what they spend their money on and how they feel about what they see - facilities, quality of rolling stock, locos etc - is just the kind of thing that should exercise those in charge. Without those insights, the money won't flow and it just won't be possible to maintain the line to the necessary standard or even make decisions about the 'best' locos to have on the line.

    I would worry if any line wasn't focused on such things and was getting bogged down too much on 'heritage authenticity' such as getting the locos to run on the line that used to run on the line.

    You do wonder whether the WSR has lost its way at any number of levels and whether this has been because a small group of people have genuinely 'lost the plot'. That's why I would personally favour quite a significant change in personnel leading the set up....provided of course that they have a clear understanding of 'what works' in 2020.
     
    David R, MellishR, jnc and 2 others like this.

Share This Page