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West Somerset Railway Operations

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

  1. 60044

    60044 New Member

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    Much of the WSR is in the middle of nowhere - and I wouldn't even call BL a secondary destination!
     
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  2. The Dainton Banker

    The Dainton Banker Member

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    There seem to be a number of assumptions being made here about where the travelling public come from or go to, and why. Have there been any recent (say, last 4 years) surveys done of your "customers" and, if so, what were the results ? If no surveys have been done how can management make informed decisions on what services to provide and how best to meet, or generate, demand ?

    Additionally, given that there is an urgent need for infrastructure repair or renewal, and despite the issue being raised by Andy and others over the last couple of years, there seems to have been little effort to approach the various potential funding bodies for assistance. This seems to have worked well for other lines so why is there an unwillingness, or at least hesitation, to do so for the WSR ?
     
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  3. jnc

    jnc Member

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    Right, but only once they had bought the land (which of course didn't happen).

    Very distressing to read this thread - especially Mr. Rowe's note. So sad that he has to see all this happening.

    Noel
     
  4. huochemi

    huochemi Member Friend

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    Was there a new loan or was it simply the security for existing loan(s) being re-executed?
     
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  5. 6960 Raveningham Hall

    6960 Raveningham Hall Member Friend

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    I think the answer to your question is contained in the following statement made by our Chairman at the EGM on August 10th 2019.

    Quote. “After analysing and identifying the peaks and troughs of WSR train services this year, the train timetables will be different in 2020 going forward so that we avoid being busy fools running empty trains”.
     
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  6. DragonHandler

    DragonHandler Well-Known Member

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    I can think of a couple of narrow gauge railways that have been built on what was a standard gauge route. ;)
     
  7. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    London (Paddington) to Penzance for instance :D
     
  8. DragonHandler

    DragonHandler Well-Known Member

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    Not quite the one I was thinking of, but quite correct. :D
     
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  9. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    I'm not sure the F&WHR is the best comparator - being narrow gauge, the cost model is somewhat different. Maybe a better comparison would be the NYMR: it has 18 (rather than 23 miles) of infrastructure to maintain; but operates services (i.e. requiring sufficient locomotives and rolling stock to meet a timetable) over 24 miles rather than 20. Of course, no two railways are directly comparable, but the NYMR and WSR ought at least to have a somewhat comparable cost base - the NYMR however is carrying somewhere in the region of 150,000 extra passengers per year. That's a lot of extra revenue, even allowing for the fact that carrying more passengers does increase costs in terms of the annual number of trains needed to be run. (That is - with close to double the number of annual seat miles, you can only go so far by filling empty seats: my assumption is that the NYMR must be running more trains, which means a higher loco and rolling stock requirement).

    The problem with length is that the running and repair costs broadly rise with length, but the tolerance for fares doesn't. A WSR day rover, bought on the day, costs only £1 more than the equivalent ticket on the Swanage Railway, but that fare income has to support maintenance of a railway infrastructure that is three times longer, and a much bigger requirement for daily operational locos and carriages to maintain a viable service.

    Tom
     
  10. michaelh

    michaelh Well-Known Member

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    Brunel died in September 1859
     
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  11. michaelh

    michaelh Well-Known Member

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    I don't think that Caernarfon catering is on anything like the same scale as Spooners - and it's rather off the beaten track. There are surprisingly few eating places in Portmadoc - the large caravan site population in the hinterland tend to favour take aways or the on site facilities, so Spooners stands out for those who want a decent experience at a reasonable price.
     
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  12. Ploughman

    Ploughman Well-Known Member

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    Regarding comparison with the NYMR.
    I think that the NYMR is at the limit as to the trains it can run during the main season.
    No easy fixes to add any extra services and the same situation for the amount of stock in use.
    8 coaches can be done but then you are over limit for most of the locos and difficulties in running round.
    Steve and Peter will be better placed to reply.
     
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  13. 1472

    1472 Well-Known Member

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    I'm always curious when NYMR passenger figures are used as a comparison. Is it actually the case that the NYMR carries 350,000 passengers per year - a clear 100,000 above the best ever SVR or 140,000 above the best WSR figures - or is the reality that these figures are being measured in different ways? If the figures really are directly comparable it seems remarkable that no other lines even come close.
     
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  14. RobHickerton

    RobHickerton New Member

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    A few random thoughts

    When looking at the issue of the length of the line, if you don't start at BL, then where? Most journeys start at that end of the line, near a large centre of population and decent roads. The delights of the A39 make MD a non starter. I do think the shuttles could have a positive effect if they became regular.

    Thinking about stop offs, I think an accessible workshop, perhaps with a decent cafe, at WN might be a good one, bearing in mind that it needs to keep people occupied for towards an hour.

    The contrast between the Turntable Cafe and Spooners on the FR/WHR couldn't be more stark. the Turntable at MD closes as soon as the last train goes, has little range of fare and is tiny. Spooners is open all day and offers decent meals at sensible prices, and is used by staff and passengers and keeps the station alive.

    I am concerned that the siege mentality, whilst understandable will have an effect on the perceived experience. It's difficult to overcome but if things are only seeming to get worse it does affect the passenger. I can't help comparing the buzz that the prospect of buying and restoring 4110 created with the situation now.

    Rob
     
  15. paulhitch

    paulhitch Part of the furniture

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    I am always curious about this obsession with passenger figures, however they are measured. It's the bottom line that matters.
     
  16. jumper

    jumper New Member

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    Absolutely - but the number of bums on seats will always affect the bottom line result (for better or worse) not only in fare take but catering, retail, donations.....
     
  17. Big Al

    Big Al Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    You have to see it to believe it but you cannot take seriously any attempt by the West Somerset Railway to be the 'go to' food and drink location for people arriving at Minehead.

    This is the set up with a massive advert on their own station building for the Hairy Dog Restaurant and Bar only a few hundred metres up the road.

    Clueless.
     
  18. Maunsell907

    Maunsell907 Well-Known Member

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    And the WSR was converted in 1882 ( not 1892, actually next Tuesday
    will be the 137th anniversary ).

    As an aside the Taunton Chard branch was not converted until 1892,
    presumably to ensure the L&SW could not reach Taunton.

    Michael Rowe
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2019
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  19. jma1009

    jma1009 Member

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    Hi Rob,

    Well, it was of course JJP who put a 'kibosh' on the 4110 fundraising.

    It would seem to me that others would be far better as prospective Chairman of the WSR PLC than JJP, if the last 11 months is anything to go by, and with delayed accounts, and insufficient raised funds to deal with the winter closure for track upgrading and maintenance, and of course a charge over the assets as evidenced by Company House records which still awaits an explanation formally from the PLC.

    It seems to me that the last person you would want to be Chairman of the WSR PLC, teetering on insolvency, is the owner of a private bus company in the same county.

    The new overdue PLC accounts now need to published. JJP's recent public statement (13th October on wsr.org) that the WSR needs £400,000 spent annually on infrastructure rather than the £250,000 via this year's appeal, would have considerable implications for the auditors and accountants preparing the accounts, and it would be welcome to see again 'Beancounter's' comments on all this, and those of the WSRA and others.

    Much as I have a fondness for the WSR, it is hampered by the M5 being very congested and subject to serious delays, and in an unfashionable part of the UK for holidays. It has poor weather compared with say Paignton and Totnes etc in South Devon. Minehead is no Kingswear or Totnes as a resort or destination.

    As Paul Hitchcock has long argued, the WSR is far too long for punters and for operating, and there is no need for 'red route' locos as evidenced this year.

    It is far too long and in the wrong location, that is also problematic at certain times on the M5.

    It currently has a very small PLC Board that appears to be controlled by JJP.

    The WSRA seems to be impotent, and has not implemented any of the Coombes Report recommendations so far.

    Cheers,
    Julian
     
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  20. mvpeters

    mvpeters Member

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    The PLC Annual Reports provide a lot of data. I suspect the WSR figures are closer to 85% +3% + 3% which is quite a bit different, but it depends on how you read the financial reports.
    The average income per passenger appears to be in the 11-12GBP area based on a 20GBP baseline ticket, which seems low to me. Catering & Shop sales add little in proportion.
    What is apparently not formally reported (or at least I can't find it) is the annual passenger count/ticket sales. Does anyone know where I can find them?
    I'd also be curious to know how many teas/coffees/beers are sold on the 'average' train buffet. Is it 25%, 50%, 75% of the passengers? Anyone know?
     

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