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West Somerset Railway Operations

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'm surprised at that number - looking at the last few years the Bluebell Railway Trust accounts, the cost of raising funds has consistently been lower than 1% (lower than £10k annual costs on average greater than £1m annual income). https://beta.charitycommission.gov.uk/charity-details?regid=292497&subid=0

    Different corporate structures do of course mean that costs aren't always directly comparable, and costs for similar activities may appear in different places within different "railway families". But FWIW, on the Bluebell, neither the Membership Society nor the Trust has any paid staff.

    Tom
     
  2. D1039

    D1039 Member

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    Try this, hope it works
     

    Attached Files:

  3. Glenmutchkin

    Glenmutchkin New Member

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    Doesn't work for me.
     
  4. michaelh

    michaelh Well-Known Member

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    But isn't there another thread (possibly on another forum) suggesting that the Bluebell Railway has a lot of financial and managerial difficulties following a substantial annual loss and the resignation of both the Chairman and General Manager?
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2019
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  5. brennan

    brennan New Member

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    The 2020 timetable is indeed quite a change with a radical pruning of operating days presumably to reduce train miles and the associated costs in the hope that intending passengers travel on the days when the railway is open thereby increasing the loadings. The annual report, as expected, reveals a company in serious financial trouble, something that has been apparent to anybody who's taken the time to read the reports ( easily accessible via Companies House) for the last five years as passenger numbers fall and operating costs increase. Possibly the chestnuts can be pulled out of the fire but the next few years are going to be a struggle. The simple fact is that, comparing the WSR with other heritage railways, it is just too long. Very nice for the enthusiasts but not for the travelling public and more to the point , not those with young families of the "have it now" generation. Most heritage railways would be delighted if their line ran through any one of the equivalent of Minehead, Dunster, Blue Anchor , Washford and Watchet but beyond that there is little to offer people. Pleasant lineside scenery, great fun for the footplate crews but, of course, this is the end of the line that the passengers leave their cars and get on the train ( but not enough of them). Very few heritage railways make any profit that would be recognised in the business sense. The majority rely on bailouts from associated charities, supporters groups, income from other activities or whatever. As we all know, this element has been sadly lacking at the WSR. Making matters worse have been some very bad management decisions in past years ( I wonder if anyone there actually understood the concept of having a sound business case before committing to a project? ) and a "supporters organisation" that was anything but!

    However, to use the cliché, "it is what it is" and the mistakes of the past cannot easily be undone. The current management deserves the support of all who are interested in keeping the WSR afloat because there is no alternative. The ship is taking on water and urgent action is required.
     
  6. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    Drone photography is so passe...

    drone1.jpg
     
  7. michaelh

    michaelh Well-Known Member

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    Interesting that those who were vociferous commentators and indeed critics of the management of the WSR, now only post pretty pictures. Wonder why that is?
     
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  8. rodders154

    rodders154 Member

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    Maybe the closing date for the GM job is not yet passed.


    Sent from my SM-T550 using Tapatalk
     
  9. Andy Williams

    Andy Williams Member

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    Whilst that may be true, the point that I am making is that regardless of the size of any given shareholding there is an annual administration cost which covers the keeping of shareholder registers, distribution of accounts, notice of AGM, proxy form etc. etc. Even though there is a drive towards encouraging shareholders to receive documentation via e-mail, a cosiderable expense is accrued. If, like those issued by the SVR, the shares can be bequeathed to descendents or other beneficiaries on the death of the original shareholder, it can be seen that a minimum value share purchase might cost the PLC many times its monetary value in administration costs over the life of the share.

    Whilst I accept that share issues are sometimes a necessary evil, they should not be regarded as an easier alternative to running a company in an effective and profitable manner, such that the majority of projects can be funded from revenue. I have every admiration for those in the heritage railway movement that work to obtain grant funding, or raise funds via charitable trusts, and believe those means to be far preferable in the long term to taking the share issue route. As an example, look at the success of the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway and then tell me how many share issues they have had since 1955.

    Andy
     
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  10. DragonHandler

    DragonHandler Well-Known Member

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    The PDF opens OK for me, that's a lot of small shareholdings, and some rather large ones.
     
  11. michaelh

    michaelh Well-Known Member

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    look at the success of the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway and then tell me how many share issues they have had since 1955.

    And tell me how many millions they've had from government grant funding since 1955?
     
  12. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    I’ve been archiving some photos and I didn’t want folks to have an entirely wasted weekend...

    can you get the WSR location?

    Robin
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2019
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  13. Andy Williams

    Andy Williams Member

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    That is exactly my point. They have been extremely skilful in gaining access to grant funding. They are a shining example of what it is possible to achieve without recourse to having share issues.

    Andy
     
  14. D1039

    D1039 Member

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    I'd also argue the WSR's circa £500k a year on civils and P-Way, and the SVR's £1.25m on one viaduct as evidence against your suggestion that heritage railways could fund the majority of projects from revenue.

    In recent years the SVR has received grant aid funding for 2007 Storm repairs, The Engine House, the Carriage Shed, its endowment fund and, most recently, Falling Sands Viaduct. The total by my calculation comes to more than £9m since 1999, they're not laggards.

    It has also raised £4.5m gross in two share offers. The 2016 Offer had a a parallel appeal, the Offer raised £2.5m and Charitable donations were £83k at the Offer close date. I'm afraid we shall disagree on the value of share offers to PLCs.

    I think that should be my last word on it, people will be pleased to read!

    Patrick
     
  15. Andy Williams

    Andy Williams Member

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    Patrick,

    I know exactly what happens on the SVR. I have been an active volunteer there for 52 years, and was an SVR Guarantee Company director for twenty of those years. I stand by my views, so we will have to agree to differ on this matter.

    The problem facing all heritage railways, is ensuring that their total revenue after staffing and operating costs is sufficient to cover general year on year infrastructure maintenance costs. The use of share issues or grant funding should be reserved for unexpected or one-off costs for heavy bridge/viaduct repairs, landslips, or other defined capital projects. It would not however be prudent to place too much reliance on the availability of external funding streams, as their availability ebbs and flows according to the prevailing wealth and political climate of the country as a whole.

    Andy
     
  16. MellishR

    MellishR Well-Known Member Friend

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    If a link to a PDF appears to do nothing, it's probably because of how the browser is configured. The PDF may have appeared in Downloads. Try looking there.
     
  17. unslet

    unslet New Member

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    You need to be signed in to download the file as well.
     
  18. free2grice

    free2grice Well-Known Member

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    I notice that you recently made a rather silly comment regarding main line steam and now it's a personal dig at a well known West Somerset supporter and volunteer. What is the matter with you?

    I wonder who's next in the firing line …..probably me. <BJ>
     
  19. huochemi

    huochemi Member Friend

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    Without commenting on the merits of shares v donations, which has been done to death like most things on Nat Pres, just on the Festiniog example, as a statutory company it is constrained in its ability to increase its authorised capital (it would need an act of Parliament) which means that the share issue route is not open to it (and the Trust is probably not inclined to dilute its holding anyway). You may recall the debenture (loan) issue in 1987, whereby investors were offered a £1 share in the FR Co (there were a few un-issued) along with their subscription for debentures, which was a bit gimmicky but would be attractive to some. There are other examples of railways which do not have the scope to do a share issue e.g. the NYMR (the non-voting issue which was done some time ago at its trading subsidiary seems deeply unattractive as the main incentive to buy shares v a donation is the proportionate vote). The WSR is not however so constrained, and before it goes cap in hand to the local council, it probably needs to demonstrate that it has exhausted all other possibilities. The ongoing cost issue is of course correct, which means that one needs to set a sensible de minimis subscription.
     
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  20. malcolm imps

    malcolm imps New Member

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    Nearing Quarkhill bridge up train from Stogumber.......
     
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