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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

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

  1. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Providing catering on a tourist railway, even when the staff are paid, can be extremely profitable. However I don't think it would be sensible to aim for a place in the Michelin Guide!

    PH
     
  2. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Would the Michelin inspectors know a decent bacon butty if they came across one? :D
     
  3. Copper-capped

    Copper-capped Well-Known Member

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  4. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    What a strange argument about a heritage railway. Is it another example of the 'West Somerset' effect? I would have thought that the railway does what it can with the people and the facilities it has. If something is not perfect and to everyone's personal wishes with catering then so be it. The same will doubtless be said about locomotive choices and rosters.

    I guess that all any railway can do is be clear about what is on offer and when and let prospective visitors make their own mind up.
     
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  5. Yorkshireman

    Yorkshireman Part of the furniture

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    The so called West Somerset" effect does not exist and is simply a figment of some people's over active imagination. As far as the catering is concerned some railways have ample space to provide more extensive catering facilities, others do not. In the case of BL it is simply a case of how things developed over time. For galas there is often a catering van as well as the station cafe. As others have said Minehead has a wide variety of other catering facilities close by as well as the Turntable Cafe. Again space is at a premium. A number of stations provide catering and I would argue that along with the on train buffet cars passengers needs are reasonably provided for. Those who expect more lavish facilities simply are not being realistic.
     
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  6. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I beg to differ on the "West Somerset effect"; postings on here amply demonstrate the existence of intense debate around the structure and workings of the WSR and it's components.

    The more interesting question would be whether the West Somerset is unique in this level of debate, or just in how publicly exposed it is. My money is on the latter.
     
  7. Not quite sure what route you take to Taunton, Anne, but there's a full meals service on the 8.10am from Bristol, I believe. If I recall correctly, you might be starting from Cardiff and if so, even better, the 7am from Cardiff also has full meal service. Ample time I would have thought to have brekkie before arriving at Taunton at 8.42am. And then plenty of time to enjoy the Gala. I guess I'm wildly out with that scenario otherwise you'd be doing it! Just an idea.

    Steve
     
  8. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Yes Howard, as professionals they would. See the posting by @Copper-capped .

    Paul H
     
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  9. Colin Allcars

    Colin Allcars Member

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    As someone who will be on the above service on Thursday, I usually buy a bacon butty and tea at BTM Station. However, I would prefer my money went to the WSR.
     
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  10. Anne C-B

    Anne C-B Member

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    I was hoping to keep out of this discussion. We pay a premium to attend a gala and the costs for the two of us are over £100 just to attend before . Why would be want to waste an hour or so of the gala trekking to the local pub to obtain a meal and quite frankly we want to spend our day on the railway? You miss a lot in an hour during a gala and we want to grab a quick meal unless it is on the train. It used to be possible to get hot meals at Minehead but unfortunately that facility has long gone.

    We have to allow at least 3.5 hours by road (both the M4 and M5 are prone to heavy delays which are the norm in Bridgwater or Taunton) or 4 hours by rail when ravelling to the railway from south Wales. Usually we arrive with plenty of time to spare but not always if there are delays and the only hot food to welcome us at Bishops Lydeard is a pasty or sausage roll which is not what people want for breakfast. I've spoken to others hanging about at that time and most of us seems to have travelled long distances. Not only that but the cafe is not always open by the time we arrive.

    The WSR has been running to Bishops Lydeard for 40 years and in that time the only real change to the catering is a downgrade at Minehead. 40 years is long enough to have organised proper catering at Bishops Lydeard where it has to be as that's where the majority of passengers start. I read that most people turn up and get straight on a train at Bishops Lydeard but there's nothing else to do so why would they want to arrive earlier? If you go to Sheffield Park, Kidderminster, Bridgnorth, Pickering, Dalegarth, Ravenglass, Furness Sidings, Winchcombe, and other station cafes that serve breakfast 45 minutes before the first train you'll find them buzzing with customers. We've had breakfast in all the stations mentioned and more over the last couple of years.

    The WSR has had 40 years to sort out its catering and not done so so claims of a lack of space no longer hold true. The best thing they could do in the short term is to reinstate the cafe coach at Minehead and either introduce one at Bishops Lydeard or use the Belle on days when it is not running. For the number of visitors arriving at Bishops Lydeard it is probably the least welcoming station in the country. The car park and toilet area is unpleasant and badly designed and whilst the station is pleasant enough the passenger facilities are bad.

    Unlike others I try to be restrained with my comments and not cause offence so I hope this will lead to a proper debate rather than more personal attacks.

    I find it surprising that others here think the only important thing about the gala is the trains but it's not, it's the whole experience and if I cannot get at least one decent meal during my 19 hours away from home then I'm not going. The WSR might be one of the major preserved railways but its catering is at the bottom of the league of the minor preserved railway.

    (I wasn't surprised to read about the experience at the Minehead cafe. My experience there is similar and I've often wondered if the 11am curfew is to avoid a breakfast rush from the first arrival of the day. In my opinion if they can serve breakfast they should serve an all day breakfast.)
     
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  11. Anne C-B

    Anne C-B Member

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    The 7am from Cardiff doesn't have catering until at least Bristol which is a trolley service anyway and the 8.42am only has a trolley service. Neither of the trains mentioned has a full meal service for any part of their journeys. They are both Cross Country trains. No Cross Country services have full meals Cross Country services only have a trolley service. The only saving grace with the Cross Country trolley service is they accept cards.
     
  12. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    There has to be a sense of proportion. No steam railway is likely to offer you truffled eggs or poulet aux morilles (more's the pity) and the first priority of any catering service is for it to be financially viable. As I said before, catering profits can be substantial and they need to be. However there is one line which serves as an awful warning as their catering operation has produced substantial bouts of loss making at intervals.

    PH
     
  13. My apologies - the information I was given said they were both GWR services and both with restaurant services. On that basis I believed a breakfast would be possible for you. Clearly my information was wrong.

    Steve
     
  14. GWR Man.

    GWR Man. Well-Known Member

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  15. Steve B

    Steve B Well-Known Member

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    Agreed - the "West Somerset Effect" is very apparent!

    I don't normally comment on things like this, but I'll make an exception. The level of disagreement, criticism, indignation, fault-finding etc, etc in this thread frankly does the railway no credit at all. Surely there must be a way of discussing the things that concern you WSR folks less publicly? If I was in the area would I visit the WSR? Yes - I like railways, and steam in particular. I also have fond memories of the WSR from pre-preservation days. If I lived in the area would I want to get involved? On the basis of what I read here, no I probably wouldn't - I get enough stress in the day job. Ten years or so ago I was in the position of having the time and freedom to give some time volunteering on one or other of the railways that were close to us. One was pulling itself apart with internal wars and fighting, and at another I found the volunteers rude and unwelcoming to me when visiting as an anonymous member of the public. Needless to say I didn't volunteer, and the opportunity then passed.

    There have been some valid points made along the way, but the way and the manner in which they have been discussed, and the partisanship displayed does the Railway no favours.

    Steve B
     
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  16. Colin Allcars

    Colin Allcars Member

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    ... hence the bacon butty at BTM.
     
  17. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    By the 'West Somerset effect', what I mean, and I'm only speaking for myself, is the unfailing ability of people who seem to have the interests of the Railway at heart going public in a way that generates no end of disagreement and debate. The history of the line seems to suggest that this problem can break out at any level in the system and at any time, even over what, on the face of it might be something that is relatively trivial.

    The comments in #11870 by @Anne C-B seem perfectly reasonable to me but that's not to say that the WSR should jump up and down tomorrow to provide what appears to be needed in her case. As I said back up-thread, all a railway can do is be clear about what is on offer, and by implication, what is not. People can then decide accordingly.

    Clearly the WSR has other priorities or it wouldn't have a large advertisement for the Hairy Dog "national award winning family pub" (a quarter of a mile away) plastered on the side of its own station building at Minehead. :rolleyes:
     
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  18. Anne C-B

    Anne C-B Member

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    For Christ's sake. I'm not asking for truffled eggs or poulet aux morilles whatever they are. Just hot meals that you can eat with a knife and fork which are not a hike from the railway. Why do you and others keep misreporting me? It's obviously deliberate.
     
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  19. NOTFORME_99

    NOTFORME_99 New Member

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    I would like to say sorry to Anne for all the upset on NP.
    I sometimes think NP is a bit like the drunk shouting at football down the pub.
    Lots of noise but very little sense - no impact on the real world
    Can we all try to be positive and polite ?
     
  20. Colin Allcars

    Colin Allcars Member

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    Section 6.2 - "additional catering outlets". Yes. BL needs a proper café. Full stop.
     
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