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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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    No marketing guru me, but I do find myself wondering how often the 'average family' can afford such days out per year?
     
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  2. Another Yorkshireman

    Another Yorkshireman Member Friend

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    Stations have coloured posters showing the route, the stations, and the highlights at each station. Many stations have tourist leaflets to pick up, maybe too many as the racks cover whole swathes of Somerset. Amongst those leaflets you might well have find one about Watchet, for example, produced by the local tourist office.
    The Railway publishes an excellent leaflet, priced originally at 10p, called Along the Line, which gives a route map with pen portraits and pictures of the places the train passes through and a bit of the history of those places. It is an excellent read as you ride the route. Some organised passengers bought one and then came back the next day having researched and planned their day. However, a lot of our passengers do not understand how a railway timetable works, not helped by the line having so many stations and problems over whether you were meant to be looking at red, blue, green, yellow, orange, purple or pink days. [Never all those colours in one year of course.]
    [One example I could quote :- "Does this mean that there is a train to Dunster at 1106 and a different one going to Blue Anchor at 1115 and yet another one leaving to go to Watchet at 1130, " etc]
    The concept of my little home made maps was that they were on a single side of A5 which also included the times of the trains leaving the destination to come back to Minehead. Besides Washford I also did one showing how to get from Dunster Station to the village and how long the walk would take - a very frequent question. For Watchet it showed wheelchair accessible routes between station and marina, in response to another common question. The point was to make the passengers feel comfortable about getting off to explore. The management were interested in taking this up but less so when they realised that every time the timetable was changed would require a fresh print run. And as Paul H says, keeping people close to the stations can boost their shop and cafe sales!
     
  3. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    With a chuckle, that sent my mind back to Tom Rolt's remarks in Railway Adventure, where he commented pointedly on the inability of the average passenger to understand the simplest of timetables, The TR at that point (Dolgoch permitting) ran a morning train (singular) and an afternoon train (singular), on five days a week, plus one on Saturday afternoon, the times chalked on a blackboard.
     
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  4. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    Not very. But they all add up


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  5. Chris86

    Chris86 Member

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    I don't know if you would call me and my family average- 2 adults 2 kids.

    An £89 day out would be a fairly rare occurrence for us, especially following the last 2 years of limited income.

    Once you factor in travel cost, its a big chunk out of the monthly budget.

    We have often visited railways in the past and had a look round then had a lunch in the cafe as a cheaper option- but still making sure we spend money to support the line.

    Chris
     
  6. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    My concern is that visiting heritage lines shouldn't be solely a privilege of the well heeled. There's a tendency across the board in this country to discount those not so well off, and to positively berate the poor as authors of their own misfortune.

    When, in a few years, we're seeking derogation from pollution controls, we'll need all the allies in the wider public we can muster. Does anyone imagine those priced out of another pastime of the wealthy will heed, let alone support any case?

    There's an old saying about being nice to people on your way up, as you'll meet them again on the way down.
     
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  7. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I agree - but when we express concern about the costs to families, let’s also remember that costs like these also reflect the cost of keeping things open.


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  8. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    True, but in the absence of anything suggestive of a 'budget option' I'd contend rather underlines my point. I certainly don't mean to imply I consider heritage railways are in any way uniquely positioned to address wider issues of social inequality, merely that there's a risk of something which may come back to bite many areas which are effectively off limits to an increasing proportion of society, of which our collective obsession is but one.
     
  9. nanstallon

    nanstallon Part of the furniture

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    Wow, someone got out of bed on the wrong side!
     
  10. martin1656

    martin1656 Nat Pres stalwart Friend

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    I found myself wondering the same, nearly £100 for a family of four if your having to watch the pennies, they would say, no its too expensive, as i see it, the only thing that may do well is things like the dining operation , as normally its a special occation, where people are prepared to pay out more, . The entire leisure market this year, i fear is going to have to fight for survival and have to re invent a lot of lower priced options , As regards the WSR, nothing stops board members from bringing their own locos to their line, I just hope that the rest of the railways members don't end up regretting it, if it very quickly turns into that board member in effect using the railway as an off shoot of his own personal empire, by forcing out other loco owning charities and only running his own locos,
     
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  11. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I’m not altogether sure I agree about having to invent lower priced options. I have two teenagers in the family, and we have to plan what we do with their interests in mind.

    A day out on a preserved railway does not come in as a markedly expensive option when compared with alternative paid attractions; looking at a trip to Alton Towers makes me weep, and that’s a profit oriented attraction. . Similarly, my other major hobby - opera going - is dismissed as expensive, yet I’ve rarely considered paying anything like as much as I hear are headline prices for Premier League football.

    What would support a concern over being too expensive would be if railways were making significant profits. In all the discussion I’ve seen, that concern has never been obvious.


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  12. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    I don't think the WSR is over-stocked with locos, even with the arrival of 9466. So I can't see a situation in which the traffic gets monopolised by one loco to the exclusion of the others - things simply don't work that way. Washouts, minor maintenance and so on all serve to take a loco out of traffic for weeks on end, and that is before you get to the "water consumption is rising and lots of steam round the front end - we really need to do a P&V, but can't because the loco is needed in traffic until September". I still think with the level of traffic planned, even at a reduced level, the WSR is tight for locos: certainly not in the luxury position where one person's locos can monopolise the daily running.

    Tom
     
  13. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    We look upon these prices and say they are unaffordable but a decent restaurant meal with wine for two will set you back more and,COVID excepted, I don’t see the restaurant industry struggling to find customers. My local dining pub was saying they were very busy and more or less back to normal when I went last week. Good job I’d booked. :)
     
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  14. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    Pubs are an 'interesting' situation at the moment. Some of those which I frequent are indeed as you describe, whilst others now have such low custom day-to-day that they stay shut for at least 2, if not 3, days a week. One of my favourite places to visit for lunch simply does not open for lunch at all now, except on Sundays. Yet all of them are places which thrived in the days before COVID, based on the quality and value of their food. As for the ever-rising cost....
     
  15. Bayard

    Bayard Well-Known Member

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    No-one is compelled to travel the entire line. A longer line can always offer the option of only travelling on part of it for those who wish to spend less. The cost to the customer of the shorter journey could easily be far more competitive when compared to other local attractions than the cost of a trip along the whole line, hence a longer railway can charge more per whole-line trip and still remain competitive.
     
  16. Bayard

    Bayard Well-Known Member

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    I didn't say it was the same, I said it was comparable to. Of course there is a fixed element that does not depend on mileage, so that the average cost to the passenger per mile can always be greater on the shorter lines, but it is not the case that the total cost per whole-line trip has to be the same regardless of mileage, which was what was being implied here, with whole-line fares being compared for lines of different lengths.
     
  17. Bayard

    Bayard Well-Known Member

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    That, really, is the only way to do it, rather than comparing one line with another hundreds of miles away. That makes sure your fares are based on what the market can bear, not on some artificial figure like cost per mile.
     
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  18. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

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    I have two young children (aged 6 & 3). We regularly visit Somerset/North Devon and are actually going that way again in the next few weeks.

    Having looked at the attractions we are likely to visit, WSR comes out most expensive of the lot. Most of the others work out at an average of £55-60 for us to get in vs the £75 cost of a family ticket.
     
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  19. gios

    gios Member

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    The worry over continuously rising fares and their implication at the farebox is certainly concerning. Equally concerning is the basic cost of simply maintaining and running a railway. Costs are increasing for consumables, materials and equipment, and these costs are unlikely to stop rising anytime soon.

    Heritage railways face a tough and demanding future and will need to be competent, competitive and resilient to survive in the best possible state.
     
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  20. 5944

    5944 Resident of Nat Pres

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    For a lot of lines, if you're going twice a year it's worth getting membership. For example, both KWVR and KESR are about £50 for a day rover for a family. It's only another tenner for a year's membership which allows another two days out.

    The wife and I are National Trust and English Heritage members, for the simple reason that after a couple of visits, you've made your money back. You then feel guilty so end up spending a fortune in the café and gift shop instead...
     

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