Heritage Railway Extensions - thoughts (Deliberately split from similar thread)

Discussion in 'Railtours & Preservation' started by alexl92, 7 May 2015.

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  1. alexl92

    alexl92 Established Member

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    Just a thought, but in the thread about extending various heritage lines, a few people have pointed out that operating a longer line becomes expensive for both the operator and passengers, and often comes at the expense of a regular service. So here's a thought. I've done no feasibilty studies and have no experience in this sector so genuine question:

    How feasible would it be for a long heritage railway to operate its line in two halves, as if they were two separate railways, meeting at a station in the middle with timetables worked out to dovetail?

    So, as a general example (based purely from a quick nosey on Google Maps with no real knowledge of how the line currently operates), should the Wensleydale Railway re-connect to Garsdale, making it approximately 40 miles long, could they operate one service between Northallerton and Redmire as at present, with another between Garsdale and Redmire via Hawes?

    - It would require a set of coaches and a small pool of locos for each section.
    - Operated as two separate lines with separate tickets (though with possible interconnecting tickets too) except on special occasions such as galas.

    - Timetables that work together - so trains arrive at the middle at similar times to allow exchanges, or at regular intervals (say 30 mins) apart.

    - Passengers on the S&C could use it as a connection to visit Hawes and Bolton Castle, whilst those at Northallerton or Leeming Bar still get to travel to Redmire as at present with both enjoying beautiful scenery and a good trip.

    - At the moment the WR operates its midweek service on Wednesdays as that is Market Day in Northallerton. Market day in Hawes is Tuesday, so a Garsdale - Hawes Service could operate on that Tuesdays for tourists perhaps?

    - Operated as two separate charities/trusts/organisations under one owning body. If one doesn't make money, the other doesn't suffer, but with the bonus of being able to swap locos and stock and volunteers and work together.

    etc etc?

    I imagine it's not feasible, and I've literally just thrown this together as an example. I only chose the WR because I know that there has been talk of an eventual extension to Garsdale that would make it the longest (I think) heritage line in the UK.

    I'd be interested in hearing thoughts. Is there a better way to make this work?
    How do the Ffestiniog/Welsh Highland railways work - they're two longer lines joined up aren't they?

    Cheers!
     
  2. dave_wm

    dave_wm Member

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    The Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways are, for the most part, operated with separate stock. Things are complicated because the Garratts and WHR carriages are too big to fit on the FR - whereas most FR locos aren't powerful enough alone to pull a full length train on the WHR.

    However, almost all FR stock is permitted onto the WHR; there are presently three FR carriages in WHR carriage sets, and the winter services on the WHR from the Porthmadog end tend to be formed of FR locos & stock.

    Many of the traincrews (myself included) are qualified on both railways though, and the trains are now timed to connect for the most part. There is also one guard's diagram (on days when both railways have a Yellow timetable) which involves a trip up the FR to Blaenau, then a trip up the WHR to Rhyd Ddu and back - a very pleasant turn!

    There is a single rule book applicable to both railways, and management, the Control Office etc. are centralised.

    So it's all one organisation, but on a day-to-day basis, the railways are operated separately.
     
  3. alexl92

    alexl92 Established Member

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    This is fascinating, thank you. I wonder if this could be applied to other lines?
     
  4. 455driver

    455driver Veteran Member

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    You would still need the same number of staff though, so I don't see where your savings are coming from.
     
  5. dave_wm

    dave_wm Member

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    There's certainly nothing stopping it being applied, but with no restrictions on what stock can be used (presumably Mk1s / First-Gen DMUs) there isn't so much need to split - and if both trains are loco hauled and timed to connect you potentially (though not necessarily) need a more complex (and thus expensive) track layout & signalling system where they meet.

    Not sure how widespread this is on other preserved railways, but one of the most flexible aspects of the FfWHR is that the whole railway can be operated without a signalman - in practice Porthmadog box is manned when passenger trains are running, because otherwise the traincrew would have to operate it, and the role can be combined with Controller on quiet days. But for the rest of the railway, apart from at Rhiw Goch on the FR, every loop works automatically. So staff savings can come from this sort of thing.

    In theory, you could run something like that as two separate organisations - it may well be more efficient in practice to run a combined organisation, even if the two sides are marketed differently (and have different supporting charities) - with the variation in daily service catered for with different timetables.
     
  6. steamybrian

    steamybrian Established Member

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    Whilst here in the South East I would like to see the planned rebuilding of the Kent & East Sussex Railway (sorry- Rother Valley Railway ) line between Robertsbridge and Bodiam and the proposed rebuilding of the Horsted Keynes-Ardingly-Haywards Heath my biggest fear is the shortage of manpower. Many heritage railways now are struggling to find staff to cover their existing operations.
    I work on a Heritage Railway and continually hear from visiting enthusiasts that "would it be nice if the line was extended to..." but how many of those understand what is involved in making it happen or would actually work on it.? Whilst it is nice to talk about fantasy but there is manpower and plenty of £££££££££££££s to consider first.
     
  7. paul1609

    paul1609 Established Member

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    Thanks for your support steamybrian we are of the opinion that connecting the K&ESR to the National network at Robertsbridge is a question of when rather than if. We are pretty lucky with our volunteers to be honest we have a steady stream of young enthusiastic volunteers joining us.
    Thats not to say we are not always short of the odd driver or guard or booking office clerk but thats the nature of the beast in the 30 years that Ive been associated with it.
     
  8. CatfordCat

    CatfordCat Member

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    I don't think there's one simple answer.

    If both adjoining lines served a specific destination that people wanted to go to, it might work.

    While the dedicated enthusiasts would want to 'do' both lines, would the general public (who I suspect make up a majority of the income for preserved lines) want to do both, or would each dilute the other's potential market?
     
  9. Mvann

    Mvann Member

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    I agree that there isn't a simple answer. If the lines are serving seperate destinations and it's a tourist area, the general public May use both.
     
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