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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

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

  1. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Because their minutes of meetings that happen to be made partially public, not press releases. Seems reasonable to me, the WSRA can't just go round funding overhauls for locomotives not benefitting the WSR, and it can't just plug financial holes in the Plc either. Although it might take inspiration from the M&GN society who bought some items of rolling stock off NNR Plc during the last lockdown as a nifty way of providing some financial support with zero loss to the railway.
     
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  2. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    My feeling is that, perhaps not for the first time, positions are getting entrenched to the detriment of what people presumably want to see, i.e. a successful WSR running a reliable steam service and with 53808 overhauled and in service.

    To my eyes, it is not inappropriate that the owner of a locomotive should bear some of the financial burden of overhaul, for reasons I have set out before, i.e. they are themselves getting something of value from the railway: a place to run their asset. Equally, for an organisation that is the Support Charity associated with a particular railway, I can't see any inherent reason why they shouldn't help fund the overhaul of a loco owned by an independent group, subject to their charitable checks and balances - not the least of which is, as they have stated, a commitment for the loco to run for a length of time on the railway so as to justify the financial input. As the prime support body for the WSR, it would be inappropriate to put a significant figure into the overhaul just for the loco to immediately decamp elsewhere.

    (Thought experiment: suppose the NRM made a historically appropriate loco available to the WSR for overhaul, but with the NRM retaining ownership. Would anyone bat an eyelid if the WSRA helped fund the overhaul? I doubt it, but they would realistically want sufficient tenure as to justify the expense - hence on those railways where NRM locos are based, they tend to be long term arrangements).

    So in the current case, I see absolutely nothing wrong with a deal in which the loco is overhauled primarily at Minehead, funded by the plc but with additional financial support from both the WSRA and S&DRT. In the current climate, show me a railway elsewhere that is meeting its overhaul commitment entirely from company revenue with no external support? It would feel a perfectly natural deal to me, but is of course absolutely reliant on a high degree of mutual trust between the various parties.

    The problem with loco overhauls is that some are very expensive and some less so. On the old railways, that didn't matter too much since it tended to balance out. But on any railway with an operational need of just a handful of locos (and that basically means every heritage railway in the country) that means you get peaks and troughs in cost. Reading between the lines, my sense is that the next overhaul of 53808 is predicted to be very significant - but in the way of such things, get over that hump and you may have a fairly speedy overhaul next time round in the late 2030s - if we are still around then. That is not necessarily an easy thing to price: if I were associated with the railway (from a funding point of view) and put money into, say, a substantially large boiler repair, I would be disappointed not to get at least two, and maybe three, periods of operation out of the loco. So on the railway side, rather than the owner side, I would be looking for a suitably long deal in order to commit the resources for a significant overhaul. If that was not forthcoming, it might be possible to do the smallest possible amount to meet the contractual overhaul terms in the expectation that the loco would be leaving soon after overhaul, but that I would suggest would not be in the interest of the loco owner - playing hardball over the letter of the contract may end up a case of cutting off one's nose to spite one's face.

    Tom
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2021
  3. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    We are not in disagreement here that the WSRA can't go around funding overhauls and can't plug financial gaps. I wouldn't expect them to and they shouldn't have to. This is the PLC's agreement not the WSRA's.

    My point is simply if the reason is as simple as 'we are not allowed' then why not say so and instead why does it talk about 'in return for running'? That just muddies the waters. Or are we saying that in return for running nullifies all the previous reasons why the WSRA can't fund the restoration?
     
  4. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    To answer your question, I think yes. I don't see a problem with the WSRA spending money towards overhauling a locomotive for use on the WSR. That seems to me a perfectly good use of WSR supporters' money and in line with their charitable objectives. Overhauling the same locomotive only for it to leave after only getting, say, a few months' worth of operation out of it would not be a good use of WSR supporters' money and would probably not meet their charitable objectives.
     
  5. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    I agree, but it means that all the arguments about this have been correct. The WSRA leverages itself by putting the emphasis on the PLC to get a deal with the SDRT that includes running as a pre-requirement of funding (because the PLC needs the WSRA's money), but it also leverages the SDRT by making running a pre-requirement of funding (because the SDRT need their engine overhauled).
     
  6. Alan Kebby

    Alan Kebby Member

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    The WSRA have 4561 under overhaul, and a Manor at Swindon awaiting overhaul. Surely any funds they have for loco overhaul would be better spent on these two locos that they own, rather than bailing out the Plc.

    Unless of course not bailing out the Plc means the end of the WSR. No point the WSRA overhauling their own locos if there is no railway to run them on.
     
  7. Aberdare

    Aberdare Member

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    Sorry for the delay in replying.

    Previous practice has been to shot blast all surfaces of the tank plate work, both inside and outside. Following shot blasting all surfaces to be spray painted with a suitable 2 pack epoxy primer and a specialist 2 pack water tank lining coating.

    The difficulty with this process is that tenders generally have a mass of internal baffles. These support the sides and back against the static pressure of the water, they also prevent the water sloshing about. Most importantly they support the front, back and each other from the considerable forces generated when a tender full of water is started, or worse still stopped, suddenly by a heavy shunt.

    These baffles make it difficult to move about inside a tender, even worse with shot blasting personal protective equipment (PPE) on. To over come this our tank well, which is usually riveted to the tank top in this design, will use a bolted (and sealed) joint so that the two sections can be blasted and painted individually, then assembled after.

    For those interested attached is an early copy of the Churchward tank drawing 41429, which change little over the years.

    Andy.
    41429 Tank for tender Lots 79&80.jpg
     
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  8. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    That presumes (a) that the S&DRT are the primary target of the WSRA attention, and (b) that the decision is being based on an exercise of leverage. Change the dynamic to "you want us to fund this - is it of benefit to the WSR", and you get a very different conversation.

    As I said earlier, it's all getting too conspiratorial.
     
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  9. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    It can be all of those things at the same time. Leverage isn't a conspiracy, it is just reality, everyone wants something for something and wants the best for themselves.
     
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  10. Miff

    Miff Well-Known Member

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    It also perhaps gives S&DRT some leverage of their own to renegotiate a fresh deal to replace 'run and then overhaul' (which is clearly a discredited type of agreement for all the reasons discussed in this thread) to one which would give them a future income in exchange for a more conventional hire agreement. Again, only from the discussion in this thread, I'm getting the impression that the current contract might not be legally enforceable until (if at all) very near the end-date. Only then could it be shown that the host railway had failed to start or complete the overhaul in time. The worst thing the S&DRT could do is agree to extend the existing agreement on the same basis as before.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2021
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  11. ross

    ross Well-Known Member

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    Is it possible that you are taking a worse view of this than necessary (I can understand why people might). PLC says "we are obligated to overhaul 53808 at the end of this contract, but sadly find ourselves skint. Please WSRA, can you help?"
    WSRA knows that it is meet and right for the WSR to honour its agreement regarding 53808, but is restricted to WSR projects. WSRA replies "we would help if we could, but that could only be if 53808 carried on in WSR service"
    What is the worst possible outcome for them? They raise a six figure sum towards the overhaul- which would be a lot of money not going to GWR/WSR projects. 53808 gets overhauled. Someone, inspired by cuckoo comments, concludes that big money has been spent on a locomotive, and its ungrateful owners then took it away from the sainted holy GWR, and off to the Southern. Complains to charities commission who start asking questions. It has the potential to turn very bad
     
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  12. Alan Kebby

    Alan Kebby Member

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    I don’t think honouring a legal agreement is something anyone needs to be grateful for! Rather something that is expected of any decent person/company.

    As it stands the SDRT are perfectly entitled to permanently move their loco elsewhere as soon as the WSR have finished overhauling it.
     
  13. Alan Kebby

    Alan Kebby Member

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    At least there now seems to be a realisation from the Plc that this problem isn’t going away, and they need to do something about it. Continuing to simply say ‘we don’t have the money’ isn’t going to wash.
     
  14. jnc

    jnc Well-Known Member

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    But the loco needs an overhaul, in large part, due to past use at the WSR. (Some of the current wear is due to use at the MHR, but they are paying steaming fees, so their wear and tear is being funded.) So money going to the next overhaul is being spent on having it "run for a length of time on the railway". Why should a temporal offset (past, not future) make a difference to the logic of 'we'll pay for the overhaul if we get to use it'? It's the exact same trade.

    Noel
     
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  15. John Palmer

    John Palmer Member

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    I agree with @Monkey Magic about this. If the WSRA's charitable objects don't permit it to contribute to the expense of a 'run and overhaul' arrangement after the 'run' component has been completed so that only the expense of the 'overhaul' component remains then the only proper response to a plc request for funding support is “we cannot, because our charitable objects don't permit it.”

    But apparently this is not the view of the WSRA trustees, as they have not excluded the possibility of providing fundraising support if the S&DRT is willing to let the Seven continue to run on the WSR. I cannot see how that can be regarded as anything other than an inducement to the S&DRT to form a fresh hiring agreement with the plc.

    I have difficulty in seeing how the WSRA's objects can permit payments towards the plc's expenses under a locomotive hiring agreement of future benefit to the WSR, but preclude payments to meet those expenses after the benefit of such an agreement has been received. And I would have thought that if the WSRA's objects do permit it to make a payment that will assist the plc in discharging contractual obligations it is otherwise incapable of performing then it would be in the Association's interest to do so, in order to prevent the loss of reputation and creditworthiness the plc is otherwise likely to suffer. Such losses would surely affect adversely the future fortunes of the West Somerset Railway, and by extension its support Association.

    I sense that I am at odds with most other contributors on this subject but, without making any suggestion that some form of conspiracy between the WSRA and the plc is afoot, I maintain my distaste for the WSRA trustees' response to the plc's enquiry about funding support.
     
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  16. Miff

    Miff Well-Known Member

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    I see this differently to you. From reading the minutes I get the impression WSRA would like to help - if a way can be found that is permitted by the objects of the charity, which would mean the loco continuing to run on the WSR therefore benefiting the railway which the charity supports.

    I think your question almost answers itself. There would be no benefit to the objects of the charity if the benefit to the railway it supports has already been achieved, even though not paid for. Paying this debt would benefit the 'plc' but it should be noted that the WSRA charity exists to support certain aspects of the 'railway'. It does not exist to support the 'plc'. As we all know from this thread this poorly defined yet over-complicated relationship between the plc; the WSRA and other stakeholders has long been one of the greatest weaknesses of the current West Somerset Railway (lack of) structure.
     
  17. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    The difficulty though is that it is impossible to define a standard "condition" of a loco that it should be returned to. For example, you might have a boiler tube plate that was 15mm thick when new, and which the boiler inspector will be happy to see wear down until it is 12mm thick, after which he will require the boiler to be stopped. Suppose it was in places 13mm thick at the commencement of the last overhaul, and is now 12.5mm. Would you replace it? Just turning it back out into traffic would meet the requirement to overhaul the loco, and who knows, it may at current wear rate last another ten years. Or it may end up needing to be stopped after two years. Or you may decide that now is the time to replace with new material, back up to the full 15mm thickness, and have a reasonable expectation of 30 years more in traffic. Or take another example: I seem to recall discussion saying the loco would need a new tender tank, which is likely to be tens of thousands of pounds. Doing that will probably result in a tender in better condition than it was at the start of the last overhaul, i.e. beyond the minimum requirement to overhaul the loco. On the other hand, if you did nothing - the loco would still work, it would still be safe, but you'd likely have fitters cursing you because they'd be on for an endless round of trying to weld up small holes and cracks while the tender merrily watered the line sides of some heritage line or other.

    The point is, there is no absolute standard. People are treating this discussion as if there is some absolute condition that the loco has to be overhauled to, with a precisely defined scheme of work. But actually that varies between the minimum required and a full Rolls Royce job. Which you do will inevitably be dependent of discussions about the long term future of the loco. The risk for those advocating "force the plc to meet their requirement then take the loco away immediately" is that you would likely get the minimum overhaul: the smallest amount possible to meet the contract to finish up with an operational locomotive. That, I suggest, would not necessarily be in the interest of the loco owner. But going beyond that must involve discussion about the future when deciding on the scope of the repairs to be carried out. If you did what you might call a full "conscientious" overhaul, the likely situation would be that in some respects the loco would be in better condition than it was last time, and in some respects worse.

    In short: what looks black and white on paper is I would suggest far from it, and taking absolutist positions isn't necessarily helpful.

    Tom
     
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  18. ghost

    ghost Part of the furniture

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    In the interests of a 'clean break' the SDRT might be better to consider coming to an agreement with the WSR for a (reasonably large) cash contribution, add this to the steaming fees from the MHR and launch a public appeal for the remaining money required for the next overhaul. Admittedly, the WSR would benefit from this arrangement by paying less than the overhaul will cost, but it would give the SDRT a clean break from the WSR, the SDRT would get an overhauled loco that they can start a fresh deal with the MHR (or whoever), based on steaming fees so that this situation doesn't arise again. The WSR could also spin it as a 'generous' deal allowing each party to concentrate on their own locos. Just a thought...
     
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  19. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    I agree completely - timing is absolutely critical. If the question had been asked x years ago, and WSRA had been asked to underwrite the arrangement, then it would be reasonable now to call that debt in and any discussion about the status of the locomotive would be between plc and association, given what's happened in the last year or two. But this is about a future commitment, which may or may not benefit the WSR. I can see an argument that could be made for the association to provide support, but it would be tenuous and move very close to making the association a supporting body for the plc, rather than for the railway.
     
  20. Lplus

    Lplus Member

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    Seems a sensible way to proceed.

    I do wonder if the WSRA is trying to put pressure on the Plc to come to terms with the SDRT.

    That said the whole affair has become so toxic, I really think the SDRT should be looking for a long term home elsewhere for their loco - even if there is a break between end of ticket and overhaul.
     

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