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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

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

  1. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    I can't help thinking that service would benefit from a "less is more" approach. (It seems to be a WSR dining thing that they seem to feel the need to keep feeding you all the time the train is running - and it is running for a looooonnnng time ...)

    So you get a 40 mile round trip, fish and chips and a cream tea for £42.50 each, based on two people sharing. You leave at 12:35, so I guess you get back to Minehead somewhere in the late afternoon.

    How about offering two services? A Minehad - Williton and return Fish and Chips at lunchtime; then when it gets back mid afternoon, the same train hauls a new set of passengers on a Minehad - Williton and return cream tea service? Same loco mileage, same carriage mileage, same food, same crew duty length so basically the same cost to deliver the service - but you get two bites at the cherry for fares. You could do each for £25 return but make £50 per seat per day, rather than £42.50 per seat per day with the same costs.

    The advantage is higher gross income per seat-mile, without in my view fundamentally diminishing the attractiveness of the service. Both sets of passengers get their meal and get their steam train ride. There comes a point where the additional duration doesn't actually add much to the attractiveness on offer; and if I've just eaten fish and chips for lunch, I'm not sure I'd be up for cream tea almost immediately after with no time to stretch legs in between.

    The line runs from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard(*), but that doesn't automatically mean that every train has to run over the full line.

    (*) Current Seaward Way caveat accepted, before anyone says "oh no it doesn't".

    Tom
     
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  2. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Part of the furniture Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

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    It certainly seems a cream tea on the way back is a WSR obsession. I can remember the same discussion about the QB who were offering a three course lunch one way with a cream tea on the way back. It seems unnecessary to me and no other railway seems to offer both as part of the same service, splitting both would probably be more profitable as you say.
     
  3. oliversbest

    oliversbest New Member

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    accents in Zumerzet??. Adge can teach ee a vew!!
     
  4. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    I would agree. After any sort of half-decent 'fish and chips' lunch the last thing that I want - or would have stomach room for - is a cream tea as well later in the afternoon, however scrumptious it might be.
     
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  5. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    We usually stop for ice cream on the way back on our evening Fish and Chip trains which usually goes down well, I agree, a cream tea on top does seem a bit too much.
     
  6. Bayard

    Bayard Part of the furniture

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    The specials are, however, all sold out, despite the lack of proofreading.
    Given the popularity of the service, that would seem a no-brainer.
     
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  7. Downline

    Downline Member

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    I still would of thought it would have been good practice/professional or similar to turn up, so those in the room or online can ask you questions about what you can bring to the table, and participate in discussions so people can get to know you, even if the votes in the room or online were never going to make a major difference to whether you were voted in or not.

    Still, if a potential trustee was not to turn up to the AGM of a railway related charity, I would rather it be for unforseen circumstances (or rather not depending on the circumstance), or be out carrying work for said charity or railway. Shows your intent much better than not bothering to turn up and going on a personal jolly to a beer festival, for example.
     
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  8. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    Perhaps just a waaaaafer-thin mint......?
     
  9. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    ...but after 2000 hours...:)
     
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  10. jma1009

    jma1009 Well-Known Member

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    I've now got a copy of the WSR plc accounts to 31st March 2021.

    Makes interesting reading - took me 1 hour 30 minutes to digest.
     
  11. ross

    ross Well-Known Member

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    Well, if you are going to challenge the "all the way to the end" mindset....How about an early turn with a breakfast? Tip the customers out at Blue Anchor or Washford so we can waddle back to Minehead whilst the train runs down to BL to form the first proper train of the day.
     
  12. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    Where did you manage to get them?
     
  13. ghost

    ghost Part of the furniture

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    Julian I do wish you would stop telling us about documents in your possession that others cannot get or at least not for some time. It comes across as saying "I know stuff and you don't" It's unnecessary.
     
  14. ikcdab

    ikcdab Well-Known Member

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    It's not difficult, secret or clever to get hold of them. Accounts have been posted out to all shareholders as part of the shareholders pack for the AGM.
    Ian C
     
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  15. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    So they will be in the public domain shortly but in the meanwhile what did you deduce from them
     
  16. RichardBrum

    RichardBrum Member

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    So because other lines don't give decent details, means that no-one should be expected to???
    They're not competing with other heritage railways for this type of product, they're competing with other local food venues.

    Here's the menu descriptions from my local pubs;
    HADDOCK & CHIPS
    Hand battered in pale ale, served with seasoned chips, mushy peas, chunky tartare sauce and fresh lemon.

    BEER BATTERED FISH & CHIPS
    CRUSHED PEAS, TARTARE SAUCE, ROASTED LEMON, TRIPLE COOKED CHIPS

    or there's the one from the recommended pub in Bishops Lydeard https://www.thelethbridgearms.co.uk/Menu.php

    Cream Tea - you've copied a menu description that tells you what it is, & is using the 'homemade/handmade' to sell it. Also tells you what drinks are included.

    If I google 'railway cream tea', one of the results is this; https://eastsomersetrailway.com/experiences/cream-tea
    Note how they use local products as a selling point, that they aren't going on about t&c's before you get to the product, that they're not mentioning stuff you can't book...


    Nothing to say about the rest of my post?


    ---

    Others have a good point about the 2 servings of food on one service.
    Looks like you get about 2 hours in Minehead between your fish & chips & then a cream tea.
    (I should point out that I went on the Shakespeare Express a few weeks ago, & that gives you 5hours between breakfast & afternoon tea)


    There's something odd with the pricing of the WSR food services as well.

    Fish & chips + cream tea is £85 for 2
    Cheese & cider + cream tea is £42.50 each (so same price for 2)
    Surely the second is/should be cheaper to provide, so could be sold for less. When you compare them, it looks bad value for money.

    I note the ESR are doing a Cream Tea (including a day rover) for £21. (Day Rover is £11, so £10 for the Cream Tea. A look at other railways & £10 is the going price for the Cream Tea bit)
    A Sparkling Afternoon Tea is £31, which again makes the WSR cheese one look bad value for money.

    GWSR do a fish & chip service for £24. A Toddington-Cheltenham return ticket is £16, so the meal is £8.

    (Yes, I know the line lengths are different, but that's not what's being sold)

    So, a quick bit of maths;
    F&C per person is £43
    -10 for the Cream Tea = £33
    -25 for the train ticket = £8 for the meal

    C&C £43
    -10 for the Cream Tea = £33
    -25 for the train ticket = £8 for a cider & some cheese (!)



    Suggestions time;
    I would split the 'catering' products into 3; Fish & Chips, Cream Tea, Cheese & Cider.

    WSR need to look at their ticket prices. £25 for a return trip is what others are charging for a Day Rover.
    (It's making not just the trip, but the catering services expensive. It would make a cream tea £35 per head!)
     
  17. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    My 'pet hate' is eating establishments (mostly pubs, sometimes cafes) who have a range of options, but only list one on the menu. For example, they quote (say) "Fish, chips and mushy peas" without saying that you could also have 'garden peas' or 'mixed salad' as an alternative if you wished.

    If an item is NOT listed on a menu, then IMHO it seems fair to assume that it is not offered, so if I don't see what I want listed then I don't go there and they lose a customer.
     
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  18. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    If the GWSR can do it for £24, Of which £16 is train fare, then clearly unless its a high class offering , ie Pullman coaches, served on silver platters, with fine wines, ports etc, how can the WSR justify their prices, If i were the commercial manager, luckily i'm not, , but if i were, i would only run the fish and chip special in the evening, and not over the whole line, only as far as Watchet, with a break so people can explore Watchet in the evening, whilst the train runs ECS TO the nearest looop where the engine can run round, crew have a break etc, take water, the cream tea i would run as an add on to an afternoon service, using the QB coaches, pre book, or turn up and offer it as an add on, if its not fully booked, and possibly make it one way dining, return in the rest of the rake, to free up the dining cars for people who want to have a cream tea from the other end, so two bites at the same cherry, Minehead to BL, and also offer it BL -Minehead,
    The cheese and wine special, i would run in the place of a fish supper, acouple of times, with the same working timetable,
     
  19. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Hang on Martin, let's not just completely pile on. The current offering was saying sold out on the WSR website, so clearly they are doing something right, and at an apparently attractive price point. We do, after all, want the railway to make money - right?

    My suggestion was just more modest: if people are prepared already to pay £42.50 for a somewhat long and gluttonous ticket, could you actually get a greater yield by running two services? Changing the times of those (for example, moving F&C to an evening train) is a different question: clearly there is a train-load of people willing to eat F&C at lunchtime, so why change? My query is that if people pay £42.50 for both, could you find two separate groups to pay, say, £25 for each separately for a half-line journey? If so you get a greater revenue per seat mile for no additional operating expense.

    On pricing: you can justify any price that fills a train! I'd suggest the WSR's price for what they are offering looks low rather than high (but to me at least also an unattractive offering: I'd be more inclined to pay £25 for a half-line journey and half the food than I would £42.50 to have more food than I can realistically eat in one go).

    Tom
     
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  20. Bayard

    Bayard Part of the furniture

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    What something costs to produce is irrelevant when it comes to setting the selling price, which is determined by what people are prepared to pay. However, in this case, I would expect that people are not prepared to pay as much for a simple cold meal as they are for a simple hot meal, although the difference is not as much as you make out, as you will be paying at least £3:50 for the cider, which leaves £4:50 for the bread and cheese, expensive for what is essentially a cheese roll, but not particularly so. One expects on-board catering to cost more.
     

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