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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 Member

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    Thing is, the WSR were doing as well for passengers as most comparable railways, but numbers have fallen away in recent years and that lost income, combined with lack of maintenance, is the root of the problems, compounded by its company structure which makes it very difficult to apply for relatively soft money from bodies like HLF. The types of locos and lengths of trains are virtually incidental in comparison with those issues, but I support trying to match the motive power and train lengths to traffic demands where possible, which I'm so surprised that 6695 has been dropped.

    Cost cutting is all well and good but its the start of a potentially downward spiral. I'd be more impressed by seeing imitiatives to reverse and improve on the falling passenger numbers.
     
  2. martin1656

    martin1656 Part of the furniture Friend

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    The problem though with the WSR is that unless it finds an good income stream, it won't ever balance its books, running 8 coach trains half empty over 22 miles of worn out track with the income not matching expenditure is the way to eventual closure, I think the eventual answer will be to mothball the line beyond say Willington , and to reduce the rakes to something that's manageable, or if mothballing isn't possible, then run DMU only on that section.
     
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  3. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    The heart agrees with you on this. Loose couple goods trains, loose shunting and using a toothpick are all things I've been brought up with, along with opening droplights and slam doors. However, the head says that the H & S has to be foremost in the things we do and shunting is one of the most dangerous things on any railway, big or small.
     
  4. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    Why not?

    I can understand that the SVR finds it a lot easier given its location to draw in the punters but if the NYMR can do it why not the WSR?
     
  5. free2grice

    free2grice Well-Known Member

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    This is a wind up. Who on earth wants to spend their day at a preserved railway and end up travelling on a train to Williton? <BJ>
     
  6. martin1656

    martin1656 Part of the furniture Friend

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    In theory it should , its in a holiday attraction area , Taunton is not exactly a sleepy village either, So I would say its down to maybe not having the right approach publicity wise, and of course an structure that works against joined up thinking, to many support organisations, one of which, was actively working against the company running the railway, at a time, a lack of trust, which I suspect has not fully gone away, on both sides, and of course such a long line might put off some travellers, start times, times of last trains etc, so in effect the railway is its own worse problem As to the answer, it depends on how much reality bites, in a worse case scenario, this could mean possibly closing the line, making all paid staff redundant, and re opening only running a much shorter line based on income, and selling off what is no longer needed, with a new structure and one supporters organisation, but as the railway doesn't own the track bed, there will be no guarantee that once closed, the track bed won't be sold, or part turned into a cycle path, it will of course mean no main line connection, but will enable the railway to reduce costs to match income .
     
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  7. 6026 King John

    6026 King John Member

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    "Williton by Nowhere" as I once heard a member of the railway staff describe it!
     
  8. Forestpines

    Forestpines Well-Known Member

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    That's slightly unfair - the Bakelite Museum is excellent
     
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  9. ruddingtonrsh56

    ruddingtonrsh56 Member

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    The problem is you cannot always predict when the extra demand will come. By all means, in low season run with shorter rakes, but if you're running a 5 coach train in the middle of August, and you suddenly get an unannounced coach trip that has enough passengers to fill a carriage, by some coincidence 100 extra passengers all turn up to take a train in the middle of the day, or it suddenly tips it down and every holidaymaker decides a ride on the steam train where they'll be kept nice and dry is a good use of their day, and you don't have the ability to make up the rake from a crowded 5 coaches to a well filled 7 or 8, you'll have plenty of grumpy passengers! And, as has been pointed out, a shunting manoeuvre is one of the most H&S liable things you can do on a heritage railway. Then you have to ensure you have somewhere to keep the coaches out of the way, and quite possibly another engine to move them to said place once the passenger service has departed so it's not in the way for when the next train comes in.
    Besides, how much difference will taking 1 or 2 coaches (each at about 35 tonnes) make in terms of fuel economy, wear and tear and the like, especially if a loco like 53808 is at the front? My suspicion is if the difference it made was significant enough to make the faff of chopping bits off a train or adding bits on pretty much every time it came into a terminus, more railways would be doing it...
     
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  10. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    I agree, and having seen from my armchair the shockwaves following a death in shunting on the NYMR, I don’t take those risks lightly.

    But that doesn’t alter my view that the requirements of running the railway should come first, and then the ways or working fitted to them, not the other way round. If the WSR could be more efficiently operated with shunting I would support that wholeheartedly; as it is, I suspect it would add complexity and risk without gaining in efficiency.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  11. granmaree

    granmaree Member

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  12. bishdunster

    bishdunster New Member

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    Err, the Bakelite Museum has now sadly closed down:(
     
  13. DragonHandler

    DragonHandler Well-Known Member

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    And I don't think it was within reasonable walking distance of Williton station anyway.
    Shame it's closed, it was somewhere I wanted to visit but never quite got there. Guess I'll have to wait for their new location to open now.
     
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  14. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    Williton's not that big - I think it would be walkable
     
  15. Another Yorkshireman

    Another Yorkshireman Member Friend

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    If you knew how many visitors -particularly the elderly and those with children, who comprise a lot of our clientelle, will take the bus to Dunster rather than 'face' the walk from the station, you might understand why the Bakelite museum was never going to get much custom from WSR travellers.
     
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  16. DragonHandler

    DragonHandler Well-Known Member

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    Looking at the map I'd guess the museum was just under a mile from the station. Which is probably fine for some, but not I suspect for the elderly and those with children.
    All irrelevant now of course.
     
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  17. ruddingtonrsh56

    ruddingtonrsh56 Member

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    I decided to do some further number crunching (and will continue to do so, I'm finding this quite interesting) regarding the small vs medium vs large loco debate. This time try to make a judgement of what steam locomotives are actually available. Basically if a loco is currently operational, or expected to be operational within 5 years, it's deemed available. If it's a mainline loco (not including NYMR or NNR mainline), in a museum, stored, or undergoing overhaul not expected to be completed within 5 years time, it's deemed not available. I've also divided locos into Very Small, Small, Medium, Medium Large and Large, based on BR power classifications but accounting for differences in boiler size etc (for example, most class 6 locos are deemed 'Medium', but the V2 is deemed 'Large'.). It does not take into account where locos are currently based, and assumes every loco is as available to every heritage railway as the next. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet...iIstsCeWDRNVuNRzu91xy7GRzw/edit#gid=570668211
    One (perhaps to be expected) discovery is that more small or medium locomotives are available than medium large or large. But the Medium Large and Large (Class 7 and above, plus V2 and Q6) still make up nearly a quarter of the locos 'available', so if every loco design was evenly spread, you would expect to see at least one Class 7 and above loco on every railway with an operational fleet of 4 or above.
    However, this is a very incomplete and flawed analysis of availability, because what this does not take into account is the fact that certain locos are more tied to railways than other. It is unlikely that, for example, the SECR H class will ever be based anywhere other than the Bluebell Railway, or that the B12 will ever leave the North Norfolk. Once you factor that into account, and the fact that smaller, shorter railways with shorter trains are more likely to want smaller engines (which tend to have smaller water capacities, making them less suitable for longer railways), for a number of reasons including fuel demand and lower steaming fees. Therefore, if these railways are able to exercise their demand for smaller locos and 'snap up' the available smaller locos first, larger railways like the West Somerset will be 'left' with a pool of locos that features more larger engines.
    I think basically what I'm going to end up doing is provide some data that is open to interpretation, and will therefore be taken to support whatever personal agenda each person has. But I hope a few people will find this interesting!
     
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  18. mdewell

    mdewell Member

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    You seem to be going to an awful lot of trouble to 'prove' what many people would regard as obvious (No offense meant and whatever makes you happy, but . . . :))
     
  19. ruddingtonrsh56

    ruddingtonrsh56 Member

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    It’s not a case of proving anything anymore. I’m now just at a point where I’m curious as to what the reality actually is, and so I’m undertaking research to try and find it out. I’m enjoying doing the research and getting some answers and am making my findings available for those who would likewise be interested to find out.
    At the end of the day, I’m a geek at heart and I’ve found a new way to geek out. So I’m happy!
     
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  20. Maunsell907

    Maunsell907 Well-Known Member

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    6695 has been discussed on this forum previously ie the 56xx 0-6-2 tanks are very hard on the track
    and the overhanging smokebox represents a safety issue wrt ash disposal.

    ( They were a rushed hybrid design: effectively a Rhymney R Class with a Swindon standard No.2
    boiler. After an initial 200 were built it was realised that a a 57xx pannier performed as well and
    rode the tight curves better. Valleys footplate crews if possible drove the 56xx tanks bunker first ie
    so that the pony truck was leading, indicative of instability ? )

    I agree with your last paragraph. The reduction of overheads, pairing out some operating days and
    securing sufficient reserves to overcome the difficulties were necessary and I trust appropriate.
    However this is not I suggest a recipe for long term survival, rather the classic means to run a
    business down. I trust at Saturday's forthcoming AGM we Shareholders will hear plans to
    increase revenue which presumably will include reversing the fall off in passenger numbers
    observed over the last few years.

    ( It is perhaps worth remembering that before the recession annual pax numbers were
    c.207,00 at which time the WSR was well to the forefront of the 'Heritage Railway'
    sector. )


    Michael Rowe
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2019

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