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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

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

  1. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Part of the furniture

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    A valid point and although I did not have a trip last year due to Covid at Swanage (we are due to go in a couple of weeks this year) I understood from friends that when the trains departed Corfe for Norden they turned the lights off so not to distarct the traffic on the A351. Do the WSR do something similar on the stretch where the line is next to the main road?
     
  2. Springs Branch

    Springs Branch New Member

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    Very patronising statement especially the 'Santa, which at most places seems to be yesterdays chip paper'.............. would point you in the direction of the biggest carrier of Santa passengers, the East Lancashire Railway, which at last report was somewhere between 40,000 & 42,000 passengers (inc. U2 on knees) with a value of a touch short of £1m, assuming that the trains are allowed to operate, this is a cash value increase of some 17.5% on 2019.
    What else would you have to boost heritage lines coffers? On the lines that run them , trains of lights seem to have a good 1st year, but beyond that the 'return visitor' is a very mixed picture, and certainly the average rivet counter wouldn't be seen anywhere near, nor making anywhere near a financial contribution to the continued existence.
     
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  3. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Part of the furniture

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    If it still works for a railway than that is good. But down south for whatever reason, I must assume as that is what railways think will sell, lights seem to have replaced Santas at P&DSR, WSR, MHR, Swanage although the Bluebell is of course backing both horses with both Santa and lights.
    If I had a suggestion of something other than these two I would suggest it to my local railway, but you only have to look back about three or four years and light trains did not exist as a Christmas offering.
    Of course if a raliway wants to run both you have to have enough station or siding space, stock and volunteers to main it all.
    Do (on the face of it) a few lights trains provide more revenue than a day of Santa's I do not know. But it is not the first year some have done it like this, so I must assume it is regarded as successful or maybe it is an easier "sell" in the current Covid world.
    Either way time will tell maybe lights will become time expired if you prefer the term to "yesterdays chip paper" and lines will revert to Santas again and maybe some will never do lights in the first place. Maybe I will no longer be alive to find out the answer!
     
  4. gwilialan

    gwilialan Well-Known Member

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    I suppose the dividing line is the age of the passenger. Children (of all ages ;)) seem to love a trip to see Santa whereas they don't seem to get so excited about some twinkling lights (with apologies to all those who have worked for however long to decorate the trains), Many "grown ups" seem more likely to appreciate the skill and effort of the decorators and might, perhaps, just enjoy a seasonal ride without the background noise of excited children everywhere.

    Whatever peoples preferences I can see no reason why the two cannot operate in harmony, Santa's during the day and lights at night. So long as it brings in the revenue what's not to like about it? There might even be a chance to get some pretty coloured photographs... :p
     
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  5. Springs Branch

    Springs Branch New Member

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    There is, with respects, one massive reason, its called (lack of) volunteer resource.
     
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  6. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    I’m not quite sure if the “of course” is meant as a compliment or not, but yes, the Bluebell is running both Santa and “Steamlights” services. Indeed, this weekend is the third weekend of Steamlights; Santa starts next weekend.

    I don’t think it has to be an either / or; my sense is it is different markets, Santa appealing more to those with very young children. There is also a midweek market for the lights trains, whereas there is less of that market for Santa due to children of the Santa age being at school during the day; the lights trains attract more adults or families with older children, in my (admittedly limited, and anecdotal) experience. On the Bluebell I think we are running over 90 lights trains (mostly two per day) from mid November to early January; they are largely sold out.

    I should also note that a local (to us at home) NT property has a huge winter lights event, so I think those railways that do it are tapping into something more widespread.

    As for running both Santa and Lights trains: there is a cost advantage in that the same Loco can do both, so you get three or four trains of passengers for the cost of steaming one loco. For the weekends in November where the Bluebell has had Steamlights but no Santa, they have run a lunchtime dining service, again minimising the loco cost. You do need the staff / volunteer base to support both, of course.

    Tom
     
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  7. Ian Monkton

    Ian Monkton Member

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    The WSR is also running Santa trains as well as lights.
     
  8. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    The NYMR have separated the two, running the lights trains during October half term, so minimising the strain on volunteers and staff.
    I’m surprised at Tom’s statement about using the same loco for other duties. Rigging the loco for the lights isn’t a five minute job. The NYMR had a dedicated loco for the lights service.
     
  9. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    We have a jolly clever electrician who rigged up a clever two position switch labelled "off" and "bling"; we use one setting by day and one by night ;)

    Tom
     
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  10. Dean Lane

    Dean Lane New Member

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    The Polar Express [TM] experience is yet another option this year, with 8 or 9 railways licensed to thrill young passengers. Never seen it myself but I suspect it's a cross between a Santa Special and an Illuminated train. I believe it involves professional actors rather than relying entirely on volunteers and regular staff.
     
  11. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    The lights on the NYMR loco go out when you unplug it from the genny. No need for one of those complicated switch thingys :) Still looks a bit of a poor show to have it on an ordinary train, though.
     
  12. oldmrheath

    oldmrheath Well-Known Member

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    Seems sensible- Blackpool has traditionally done well out of Autumn illuminations and trams.

    Jon
     
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  13. ross

    ross Member

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    There is also the added factors: Parents of younger school age children have an awful lot of demands on their time and purse already. A couple of school carol concerts/nativity plays, every pita PTA running a "Christmas Fayre", which they advertise TO THE CHILDREN, and then mums get dragged along to buy stuff being sold by members of the PTA.
    If you have children of, say 8, 6 and 4, at school/nursery, it seems like every trip to a school gate results in a "HO HO HO, give us money".
    This all on top of work commitments, deadlines, Company Christmas do ( "I don't want to go, they are all your colleagues. I won't know anyone" "You've got to come or everyone will think you are divorcing me"), trying to get an elusive and sold out lego set sent from Germany, and all the other small incidental expenses of the most wonderful time of the year.
    I suspect it is very often the grandparents who fund the Santa train ride
     
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  14. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

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    Now this is interesting, as grandad has booked a trip to the SVR steam in lights for my children with myself taking care of Santa, my kids seem equally excited about both.
     
  15. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

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    But, and partly going back to your earlier comment when you mentioned passenger numbers on the ELR Santa’s - the SVR used to operate a very Santa intensive operation, which carried around 35-45000 per annum. The operation was very labour intensive. Now they still operate Santa trains but not at quite the same level, they have upped the prices to partly offset the lower level of service, but also started offering things like the steam in lights as additional services, the wider range of services probably still are less of a drain on volunteer services while still delivering similar levels of income. Food for thought maybe.
     
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  16. Paulthehitch

    Paulthehitch Member

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    Are we dealing with exactly the same market?
     
  17. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    Having travelled on a polar express (vintage trains) I'm afraid the traditional santa pales in comparison . The theatre of it on the train is way more engaging even allowing for a slow trundle along the goods line through Small Heath. You really didn't notice nore care . This engagement is also I suspect where lighting comes in and certainly seems to capture the interest of the public

    Railways need to adapt to keep the offering interesting and current and what once worked may no longer work going forward
     
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  18. 5944

    5944 Resident of Nat Pres

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    We're off to Quainton Road in a couple of weeks to see Santa. It's only a 20 minute train journey, but there's also a 20 minute pantomime afterwards. It makes it more of an event rather than just a train ride and seeing Santa.
     
  19. 6960 Raveningham Hall

    6960 Raveningham Hall Member Friend

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    ……….. and there was so much demand that they sold out a couple of weeks ago!
     
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  20. granmaree

    granmaree Member

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