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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

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

  1. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Agree with @Monkey Magic and @Vulcan Works .... while adding that, from what's been posted concerning where custom originates, some investment in some accurate market research wouldn't go amiss. Success will be predicated on accurately identifying, then serving and developing available markets (no sh^t, Sherlock!), rather than the litany of preconceptions and assumptions, which have done ..... remind me, what have they been doing?

    This is a long line, with an established holiday resort at one end, a railhead readily accessible from the motorway netwok and (sometimes) by rail at t'other, plus, let's not forget, there are a couple of honeypots en-route. That presents both problems and opportunities.

    IMHO, tailoring services to match the 21st century market(s), even if that means a few sacred cows are sacrificed in the process, is far more liable to succeed than some bone-headed insistence the punters will just be grateful for whatever's offered. That way lies oblivion.

    Is this the right place to mention the QB?
     
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  2. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    In years to come - in which case I'd make it an end point as part of a 5-10 year plan that as has been argued you upgrade as part of planned renewals. Rather than give us a million or we will die and then when people say what do you need the money for saying um er, *lightbulb appears* RED ROUTE.

    It is all a bit Wile E Coyote chasing the Roadrunner. Acme instant authentic red route, just add £500,000.

    It isn't just 53808, it is also 4110, 44422 all viable, all told to sod off by the board, either because they claimed they don't want to hire in locos - but now they have to move to red route to increase the pool of hire in locos, or because of vanity driven authenticity where they may have to hire in inauthentic locos to haul longer trains to break even.

    Btw - considering authenticity was so important with Seaward Way and in getting rid of the 4F and 7F, just how many GWR branchlines to the sea were red routes? As per usual authentic is a movable feast that applies when we want it to and not when we want it to.

    Is there hard evidence on declining passenger numbers and non-reduction of costs by using DMUs or loco hauled diesel trains?

    Still a fair few 20s, 37s etc knocking around.

    Here's the thing when say the SVR or GWSR have had major infrastructure projects they have developed coherent plans and funding requests. I am not seeing this with the WSR here.

    Other things I would do, it is more what I wouldn't do. I wouldn't have wasted last year twatting around trying to kick out the S&DRT, screwing up Seaward Way crossing renewal, picking fights with the local MP, drunk texting press releases, picking fights with volunteers, getting rid of valuable locomotives. That alone would have put the WSR in a strong position instead it is reaping what it has sown.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2021
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  3. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Ask the NYMR what effect putting a diesel on the head of a train has if it is advertised as steam. People ask for refunds in significant numbers. Those advertised as diesel rarely load well. You are saving on fuel costs but Tom has often shown that this is a minimal saving in the whole scheme of things.
     
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  4. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    I think that the real issue is what has been/is the boards plans/strategy to deal with the maintenance of the line & address the decline in passenger numbers?

    From the discussion it seems that the maintenance of the line has been neglected and no coherent plan to address the decline in passenger numbers exists/existed or if they do they have not been placed in the public domain.
     
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  5. Dunfanaghy Road

    Dunfanaghy Road Member

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    It could be (not saying that it is, but) that the bridges concerned were overdue for a visit from the Bridge Examiner, and restrictions imposed as a precaution. If they were inspected and found to be OK then the restriction could be lifted. (I remember a bridge between Alton and Farnham used to have a 20mph for RA10 - Holybourne oil tanks in this case - which magically disappeared.)
    Pat
     
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  6. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    Actual numbers?

    What about passenger loadings for trains advertised as being diesel hauled - what percentage passenger decrease compared their steam hauled equivalents vs the savings. Is it poorly loading because it is diesel hauled or is it diesel hauled because it is poorly loading? When a service changes from S to D or D to S - what are the loading changes?

    At the moment the claim is somewhat evidence free.

    Have a look in the Swindon Designer Outlet and tell me what you find :)
     
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  7. gwilialan

    gwilialan Part of the furniture

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    Lots of discussions about route availability and suitable loco's which we can only hope someone might read and take note.

    My sole concern is that, right now, it is claimed the railway is in dire straits and needs a lot of money. Right now, what would be the best use of monies raised? Would it be to carry out more remedial work to get more track back to blue route status or do less work to get some track up to red route? It's the same money, just more or less line length attended to.

    Yes, I appreciate if they were to be upgrading it all to red route in the next 4 or 5 years it would be a strong argument for going to red route now but I'm looking at two points. 1.) Given the current claimed dire straits finances and the existing senior management debacle (Some may disagree but I include the WSRA and the WSSRT managements in that) I see little chance of a coherent plan for the future appearing anytime soon, and, 2.) Considering the amount of relaying work the volunteer P Way gang has been able to achieve recently (which is worthy of all our respect) do you think it would make sense for that to be re laid again to get the higher rating so soon?

    There is a lot of discussion about 'in the future...' but that would all be for nought if they can't get the railway through tomorrow or the next week, or month.
     
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  8. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    so the red route plan can be said to be based on passenger numbers not seen in 14 years now ?
     
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  9. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    Surely red route status is so a loco owner who happens to have two and is local to the WSR as well as a person of control ........

    For those who follow such things , human observation can be fascinating especially behaviour . There is a plan lurking in there ,maybe not a brilliant one , but there is an idea .To get to that goal will not be a straight road with a clear path but a widely ever changing series of diversions, some flights of fancy , some buds that will fail to flower and all the time there will be a lingering question of how all this will be paid for . A certain 4-6-0 spent more time on the back of a lorry than it did making steps towards its overhaul and maybe reality hit home finally or maybe the lure of something smaller was too strong
     
  10. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    I'm really not sure that that is a possible distinction? I suspect what Steve said is relevant:

    Other than a few bridges, this was the reason I gathered the WSR had been downgraded, because the track was knackered, and going down to blue was a short term sticky plaster to the solution. I'm not aware there's such a thing as "red route track" or "blue route track" where both are in optimal condition. It's the underlying civil engineering that sets the axle weight when the track is in good condition surely? I really do think we're making too much of this particular issue on NatPres.
     
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  11. ross

    ross Well-Known Member

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    From what I saw during my time at Railtrack/Network Rail, bridge inspection was very much an opinion based system. I recall instances where "Go back and have a better look" or "Send someone more experienced to inspect" was the instruction after an overcautious assessment had been returned. It did not seem to be a strictly scientific approach.
    At the time, there was one contractor who was qualified to put strain tests onto bridges. This was basically a fag paper sticker that spanned a joint in a structure, which if it broke, proved the structure was failing, and if it didn't break, proved the structure was sound (for the time being). These tell-tales were routinely checked by others, as it was a simple yes/no reading of the status of the tell-tale. Unfortunately, if the tell-tale were damaged, vandalised, weathered etc, it had to be regarded as a fail until the contractor could attend, assess, and put on a new sticker. One contractor, 1,000+ structures on the Great Western
     
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  12. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    As stated the key is for all organisations to work together, and for that to happen, it needs new management on all the three main players,
    The Trustees on the WSRA, and WSRST , need to work together to bring about the restructuring needed, they need to come together, so certain players have to stand down, and allow new people to take over, the PLC then need to appoint a new GM, and the present one, suspended pending an hearing into his conduct, inviting rolling round on Minehead platform for one, the present yes men, also need to go, because the first act of a new GM, Should be to re instate all the revoked staff passes, and allow a full and proper grievance procedure, against the acts of the chairman and board, with permanent exclusion if they are found to have acted outside of their remit. thats the only way to bring about healing,
    A full investigation into the state of the railway, aimed at producing a 5-10-15 year plan, to stabilise the finances and grow the railways, business, a first step should be to appoint someone who can put together a team to go after funding, and grants, to market the railway effectively, and look at new ventures with the various tourist and leisure attractions,
     
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  13. gwilialan

    gwilialan Part of the furniture

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    I think you have got things the wrong way round here. The line (by which I mean the whole infrastructure) was not downgraded to blue status, it was built to blue standards so all the underlying civil engineering is designed for the lower axle loading. Part of the line was upgraded to red in BR days so they could stable the royal train overnight. (Which seems to have been only a paperwork exercise for this 'one-off' event)

    Red route track does require more work (eg. closer sleeper spacing) and this obviously has a cost implication so, getting back to my original point, With the railway in the cash strapped situation it is currently in, is it better to spend the money on a shorter length of track to get it up to red route status (and conveniently ignore the possibility of overloading the underlying civils) or would it make more sense in the current situation to spend the same amount of money to get a longer length of track back up to blue route standards?
     
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  14. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

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    while the people who are running the PLC have attributes which we have opinions about.
     
  15. Maunsell907

    Maunsell907 Well-Known Member

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    I have in the past normally refrained from replying to your somewhat meaningless interruptions:
    but much against my better judgement here goes.

    If pax numbers were to return to ( or were predicated to pre 2007 numbers ) then to maintain a
    steam hauled service there then might be a requirement ( due to loco availability ) to utilise
    heavier locos. ( Note the use of the subjunctive )

    (There may well be other valid reasons for specifically upgrading the route, out with
    normal “good housekeeping” eg loco shortage, through running without loco change
    at BL of main line charters etc but in the current financial climate I doubt they are
    pre eminent)


    Rather than being hung up on ‘colours’ it is probably better in the future to examine individual
    loco classes i.e not just maximum load on a specific axle, but also overall weight, number of
    cylinders, configuration of those cylinders, hammer blow ( related to coupled wheel diameter
    and cylinder stroke whilst recognising 25 mph limit operation ) etc etc.

    I will return to my previous silence on this specific forum.

    Michael Rowe
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2021
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  16. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    Thank you for the response and for basically saying lalalalala we are not going to listen to you . And there in a nutshell is everything that is wrong in Somerset . A fixation with a way of progressing that every outsider and many inside (if conversations and PM's are indicative) view as a road to ruin . you may not value my observations , but there are others who make very similar observations whose experience is from a long history in other railways . A lone voice I could understand your response, so many voices on here, on the railway facebook page, in the facebook group, in letters to the railway . When will you listen ? Is the Llangollen experience not a warning shot across the bows as to what may happen to the WSR ?

    secondly , if you want people to donate , then telling them that they are meaningless interruptions is a sure fire to alienate them . I wonder how much that little outburst will cost the railway

    so I will repeat #chairout #boardout
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2021
  17. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    The above post does raise some interesting points.

    To me there seem just two obvious priorities:
    1. Ensuring that the track and infrastructure are fit for the loadings that they line was built for.
    2. Ensuring that locomotives are available of the correct axle weight to handle trains on the line.

    Given the current financial difficulties that seems to be a sensible minimum. Anything else such as using heavier locomotives and upgrading the line to accommodate them is something that a fully solvent line with no other major projects might consider.

    It strikes me that in the absence of a multi million pound investor anything different from that approach currently is unwise.
     
  18. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    Doesn't this assume that people will cough up the money.

    Oh, forgot to add on my list of things to do:

    i) Implement Coombes and Bailey ASAP to enhance the fund raising possibilities of the line.

    In short to echo @Vulcan Works point - there are a lot of things that can be done to improve the financial situation on the line that don't require a million pounds urgently. Infrastructure upgrading to red route as a focus is unicorn thinking.

    More than that, the lack of scoping and costing is unprofessional. I would not expect the Bluebell, GWSR etc to do it. It gives the air of the worst kind of facebook new build - 'here is the smoke box door handle' - scheme, rebuild branchline x plan.

    As @Pete Thornhill pointed out - in its best years the WSR used predominantly blue route locos - clearly it was able make money on train lengths that blue route locos could haul. So I am not really seeing the necessity of upgrading the track in order to survive.

    I'd have thought the lessons ought to have been learnt of the folly of uncosted, ill thought out plans that promise glorious sunlit uplands if only we do x,y,z. They are not the solution they are terrible ideas. When it has been costed properly then we can discuss the pros and cons seriously but plucking a scheme from the air makes the originator look like a joke and not a serious operator. At the moment it looks like a pet WIBN project.
     
  19. 1472

    1472 Well-Known Member

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    The Red/Blue/Yellow GWR RA classifications were conceived in 1905 well after the line to Watchet (Broad Gauge) was built and later extended to Minehead. When lines were built in the 19th century structures were built to last & often way "over designed" compared with the way they would be designed nowadays with all the benefits of better engineering understanding and computer analysis. Arch structures in particular are inherently strong & over design means that many now elderly structures still give service with loads well beyond the traffic for which they were first provided. It is quite misleading to suggest that this line was "built (down) to blue standards".
     
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  20. Snifter

    Snifter Part of the furniture

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    That may well apply in many cases however the fun starts when the structure of the bridge starts to move.
     

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