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West Somerset Railway Operations

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

  1. Yorkshireman

    Yorkshireman Part of the furniture

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    Actually the Combes report was commissioned by, and primarily was about, the WSRA not the WSR PLC.. certainly autocracy was was NOT the intention.
     
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  2. 61624

    61624 Well-Known Member

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    As a lifelong (well 45-year) volunteer on the NYMR I of course welcome the news of the grant from the NYMR and the improved financial position, but I do feel that it has come with a steep price tag. The NYMR has, sadly, become much more of a UK-standard tourist railway than the heritage line I would prefer. A lot of the problem lies with the last few miles to Whitby over network rail which will see, for example, central door locking mandatory over that section of line, and I for one cannot see NYMR Guards not using it beyond Grosmont, in the interests of operating consistency - we have already seen the same in lesser examples, such as the use of flashing tail lamps and fluorescent door strips - and if the NYMR fit central locking and use it over the NYMR I wonder how long it will be before other lines are called upon to fit it? Similarly, window bars. The NYMR is also trying to eliminate compartment coaches, despite their customers liking them, because they cost more to clean and maintain and because they are trying to standardise trains on open stock for ease of online booking.

    I could go on but the picture, in my view, is a line focusing relentlessly on commercialism over heritage. It should be the top NER/LNER line, but there is no mention of that heritage in its advertising and what is emphasised in its advertising is largely stuff that can be seen anywhere.

    I don't think it has to be like that. I look to Beamish as a yardstick of what can be achieved - very commercial but with an overwhelming heritage influence. So, although I recognise the need for the WSR to change and reorganise itself, do please keep the heritage objectives in sight.
     
  3. Yorkshireman

    Yorkshireman Part of the furniture

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    Ed
    However it is CRUCIAL that ALL supporters volunteers AND shareholders. Are treated with respect. The current management don’t do that. Autocracy will not work and MUSt stop now!
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
  4. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    I'm in sympathy with your view of the NYMR, especially with regard to the loss of compartment stock. However, I do think that running to Whitby is critical to the success of the railway. Cutting back to Grosmont will return it to a railway from nowhere (Grosmont) to relatively nowhere (Pickering).
    Back to the WSR, though. Except for the enthusiast, it is arguably too long to be a destination in its own right so probably does need to become more of a mode of transport, taking people to places they want to visit. The GWSR was, IMHO pretty mediocre in terms of a family day out with nothing exciting about the scenery and nothing to see and do. Opening to Broadway has transformed it, however, as it has now become a transport link, providing a reason to travel.
    There are some good places to visit along the WSR and, perhaps the railway needs to market this fact more, just like the NYMR did with Goathland before it went to Whitby. Visitors/passengers don't have to travel the full length of the line. It perhaps also needs to expand its range of family events to give reasons to travel.
     
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  5. Herald

    Herald Member

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    NYMR was lucky to benefit from the Heartbeat effect. Could we get a script writer and production company to turn this thread into a successful TV series filmed in Watchet?:)
     
  6. 61624

    61624 Well-Known Member

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    More recently the NYMR has benefited from the Channel 5 "documentary", which someone estimated was worth ca. £30M of free advertising. A new, longer, series is about to start. Perhaps something similar on the WSR would provide some gripping viewing??!!
     
  7. dunghill1

    dunghill1 New Member

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    The West Somerset Railway is a Share limited Company. A share limited Company can be turned into a Community Interest Company. I have done this myself in one instance.
     
  8. Miff

    Miff Well-Known Member

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    What happens to the existing shareholders in this scenario (I presume they would first need to vote in favour of converting to it) ?
     
  9. AnthonyTrains2017

    AnthonyTrains2017 Member

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    Does the WSR have conpartment stock
    New series of habour lights maybe
     
  10. 6960 Raveningham Hall

    6960 Raveningham Hall Member Friend

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    I’m sure that @Barrie the Beer or @West Somerset Wizard can give a specific answer.

    I think I travelled in one from Blue Anchor to Bishops Lydeard last year behind Braunton.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
  11. Ian Monkton

    Ian Monkton Member

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    Currently the WSR has 3 SKs, 1 is on hire to another railway. Another, 25454, which was languishing under tarpaulins at Minehad for many years, has been sold to the Battlefield line and moved North just a couple of days ago. BSK 35257 has been painted maroon and should make its first appearance this weekend. Finally BCK 21174 which used to be part of the QB set is now in regular use.
     
  12. Yorkshireman

    Yorkshireman Part of the furniture

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    Fine but unless the shareholders are vigilant a small number of people can gain DE Facto, dominance. This is exactly what the EX 6 + 1 did with the WSRA. Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
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  13. daveb

    daveb Member

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    I wondered what you were referring to until I realised that the WTT for the 40th Anniversary weekend had been published. So I will add "... and it's an evening train". Even better.

    Now, do I visit the WSR that day or attend the Wimborne Folk Festival? The Folk Festival is also on the Friday and Sunday, so no contest!! Going to be a busy weekend.
     
  14. dunghill1

    dunghill1 New Member

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    Yes the shareholders have to agree and they remain as the shareholders with full voting rights
     
  15. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    Goathland is still a popular destination and various places maintain the Heartbeat theme.
    What's needed at the WSR is for one for the TV channels to repeat the children's series called the Flockton Flyer or, better still, make another series. Or, dramatise the saga of the WSRA. It was riveting stuff when it unfolded on Nat Pres! Now who is going to draw up a cast shortlist?;)
     
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  16. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Was just about to suggest that myself!

    I wonder whether people are focusing a little too much on what three letters come after a railway operating company's name. Whether it's a Plc, Ltd company or wholly or partly owned by a charity/non-charitable society or whatever is surely all just a means to an end, which may be more commercially focused or more heritage minded depending on the direction set.

    You want an organisation that people can be members of, which will probably do things like produce a magazine and normally supply volunteers to the operating company. You want an organisation in possession of a TWO, LRO or whatever it's called this week that actually runs the trains, and you want an organisation that can accept gift-aid, grants etc. that will probably want to be a registered charity. Finally, however you decide this should be achieved, be it 1, 2 or more separate organisations, it should be decided which organisations should own the assets for best protection, how they interact legally (ownership of various companies, directorships etc.) and most importantly how they are accountable to volunteers, members, and if applicable, shareholders (who, for the purposes of heritage railways where no dividends are paid, are just members in a different way).

    How you move from an existing position to an ideal position is the difficult bit! Personally I'd hit delete on all the pan-railway organisations and start again, which might finally bring an end to "so-and-so's a Plc man" or "They're Association folk" but I accept that might be a little drastic!
     
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  17. Yorkshireman

    Yorkshireman Part of the furniture

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    The problem is that unless the shareholders are vigilant then changing the company status wilill not make any difference.
     
  18. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    Blood on the Tracks? I Tried to Run a Railway? Remake The Flockton Flyer?
     
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  19. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    It does have compartment stock
     
  20. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    On the question of shares, from the records on Companies House it appears that the WSRA owns 9% of the allocated shares of the plc; and the WSSRT owns 8.5%. Although, combined, that is still not a working majority, in practical terms if those shareholding’s combined in how they voted, it would be quite hard for the remaining shareholders - who are mostly very small - to defeat that interest.

    Hence, if there is a difference in vision that @Andy Norman seems to suggest, between a more commercial or a more heritage-focused railway, then the two charities would seem to have considerable influence on the direction. Indeed, since both are charities, there are only two reasons for those organisations to be holding shares in the plc. One is as an investment to provide income to be spent on the charitable purposes, which demonstrably they are not. The other is to directly influence the company to act in a way that advances the charitable purposes. I would suggest that were the plc to move decisively in a direction that wasn’t about preserving the heritage character of the railway, but the WSSRT and WSRA didn’t use their shareholding to vote against that direction, one might question why they held the shares at all.

    Tom
     
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