How many of our Heritage Railways are in trouble?

Discussion in 'Railtours & Preservation' started by Maybach, 27 Mar 2019.

  1. Nunners

    Nunners Member

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    In my view, the heritage railways that will do well are the ones that are selling both travel and an experience. For example, the reason that the GWSR, where I volunteer, opened to Broadway, is that it is already a tourist destination and so people do not have to make the railway their whole day out so will do the railway and broadway instead of just broadway. Also the NYMR, where Whitby is already a massive tourist destination, and the steam railway is just part of a trip there. Most people will not just go somewhere for a day out purely to travel on the steam railway, and those that can encourage people already "touristing" will do much better
     
  2. Ken H

    Ken H Established Member

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    dont forget the area was where they did heartbeat. Goathland was Aidensfield. Must draw the people in. And they featured steamtrains on the title sequence and in the actual programs.
     
  3. reddragon

    reddragon Member

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    The GWsR also runs an operating profit, with plentiful volunteers rather than paid staff and only needs donations for expansion / additional facilities.
     
  4. Njal

    Njal Member

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    I understand that a lump has just dropped off Stanway Viaduct so they may be looking for some cash to fix that! Trains not running to Broadway at present.
     
  5. option

    option Member

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    Isn't it the weight restricted road bridge at Stanton?
     
  6. reddragon

    reddragon Member

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    Probably as the viaduct just passed its principal inspection & had lots of work done.

    Maybe its fallen down! Bridge 8 not the viaduct!!
     
  7. Njal

    Njal Member

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    I was told it was the viaduct, I may of course have been told wrong!
     
  8. 4141

    4141 Member

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    Apparently so...
     
  9. reddragon

    reddragon Member

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    GWsR says bridge 8 Stanton. I guess another HGV ignored the weight limit & it finally gave way!!
     
  10. Killingworth

    Killingworth Established Member

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    See; https://www.gwsr.com/userfiles/documents/BRIDGE%208%20GWSR%20WEB%20MESSAGE%2004.03.19.pdf

     
  11. 33117

    33117 Member

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    The only 3 I think struggle are:

    Rushden Transport Musuem - There's really at present only about 1 mile of running line & going towards higham ferrers the trackbed has been wiped out by a dual carriageway. So unfortunately doesn't go anywhere.


    Peak Rail - They've got a good destination with matlock & despite being a fairly short line have a good setup. They did or still do have expansion plans but I think with the current battle to get new management is holding them back.

    Battlefield Line - A belting railway with mega friendly volunteers & a good atmosphere plus a decent length running line. Their only holdback being in a very rural location makes them mainly only accessible by people who drive.
     
  12. Alanko

    Alanko Member

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    They may well not be in trouble at all, but I've been reminded a few times that the Whitrope Heritage Centre/Border Union Railway/Waverley Route Heritage Association is a thing. And I live in Edinburgh so it almost ticks the 'local' box.

    They seem to tick all the wrong boxes, from my perspective:

    - A confusing hierarchy of who-does-what in terms of which group is responsible for which bit of it (which in turn smells of 'pet project').

    - One mile of track, located in the middle of absolutely nowhere, which runs from nowhere to nowhere.

    - A small, random selection of rolling stock.

    Their own website has the caveat "If the train is unavailable the minibus will run to Riccarton Junction hourly." What do you do for an hour at Riccarton Junction exactly?

    It feels like a very long way to go to see a couple of Mk1s, an ex-Virgin Mk2, a diesel shunter, a Leyland railbus and a Class 26 under a tarp. Their small collection has no central theme or logic to it; it feels like a pet project for magpies whose master plan is to accumulate a siding's worth of peeling mk1s and other scrap metal to tinker away on. All they need is a rusted out Hunslet Austerity or Andrew Barclay offering to complete the look. They have nothing on offer (beyond the railbus) that can't be seen at Bo'ness in a far more readily accessible manner. Maybe there are people out there who try and 'bag' every preserved 26?

    Plus, there is always the very minor risk that it will all get over-built if they ever decide to extend the borders railway line down to Carlisle and restore the Waverley Route properly.
     
  13. Meole

    Meole Member

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    This operation is clearly currently a hobby for a small number of devoted enthusiasts who are developing within their means, they don't bother anyone and don't appear to fit the "in trouble" criteria, I suspect they would be delighted if the entire line was reinstated, the limited and diverse stock is presumably what you can pick up with a restricted outlay.
     
  14. Alanko

    Alanko Member

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    Fair play to them! As a business it seems a non-starter, but it is good that they are keeping a corner of history alive and remembered for just now at least.
     
  15. duffield

    duffield Member

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    There's an hourly bus service from Leicester to Market Bosworth, also if you like canal walks you can walk from Hinckley station along the Ashby De La Zouch canal to Shenton (about 8 miles).

    I caugh the train to Hinckley, walked the canal, enjoyed the railway, got the bus back to Leicester, a very pleasant day. However, if you just want a quick visit it probably has to be by car.
     
  16. AndrewE

    AndrewE Established Member

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    It's also quite easy to get there by bike from Nuneaton station - as I did for their rail, beer and steam festival a couple of years ago because the Hinckley connections off the WCML were crap. A surprisingly large proportion of the UK is reachable by train if you can manage 20 or 30 minutes on a bike for the final leg.
     
  17. underbank

    underbank Member

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    Me and my family enjoy the "experience" rather than the travel itself. Some of our most enjoyable days out have been on ridiculously short lines. They've been more enjoyable because of the "add-ons" such as being able to see (and walk around) the engine sheds, watch engines being turned on a turntable, various "hands-on" exhibits for children, decent gift shops, model railway, miniature railway, picnic areas with view of the engines, etc. Also, "novelty rides" such as short rides in a brake van or truck. My view of preserved railways changed massively when I took my family and particularly young children. Simple things often mean so much, such as the ticket inspector letting children punch the tickets, or the guard letting a child wave the flag, or even something as simple as the driver blowing the whistle specially for a child or letting a child climb into the cab or a signal box where people can climb the stairs and look in. Similarly, the use of DMUs that let people (especially children) see the line ahead which is remarkably popular!

    By contrast, the more professional, longer lines were pretty boring to children, where the staff acted "properly" (stuffily!), and some are even boring to me as a lifelong railway enthusiast. Looking out of a dirty window for mile after mile doesn't really hold much interest for children (nor adults really!). Even worse, when the engine sheds and turntables are down the tracks away from stations and are out of bounds and can't even be seen.
     
  18. Journeyman

    Journeyman Established Member

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    In terms of being a preserved railway that will ever attract crowds in sufficient numbers to allow it to develop, I think they've got no chance at all. I think it was all born out of the group that attempted some restoration at Riccarton Junction, before they all fell out with each other extremely acrimoniously - apart from a replica BR sign at Riccarton, the whole site is returning to the wild. It has no road access, and there's nothing actually there, so even if the group manage to lay track to it, the area has absolutely no draw for tourists whatsoever, and it will be extremely difficult to provide even the most basic facilities.

    Good luck to them, but I really don't feel it will ever get anywhere, and is a classic example of the preservation movement spreading itself too thin.
     
  19. jumble

    jumble Member

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    Can I ask if this is comparing apples with oranges
    I imagine the Council paid out £300,000 in hard cash
    As I understand it a guess is that NYMR generate 30 Million in turnover for the local economy ?
    As you do not quote the profit we can make no judgement as to whether this the council got good value or not
    The old business truth turnover is vanity profit is sanity could well apply here
    I suspect the council have done nicely out of business rates etc but it is all guess work
     
  20. option

    option Member

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    Getting somewhat specific for this thread, but;

    The news reporting shows that that £300k was not the full cost of the works, it was match funding
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/north_yorkshire/8384098.stm

    Continuity of income is important for businesses, especially small ones that won't have reserves to cover months with reduced income. Local authorities, especially those in tourist areas, are reliant on those to bring in the mass numbers of tourists, & some of those tourists will be spending money directly with LA operated stuff, eg car parks, museums etc. (The bridge funding was pre retention of business rates by LAs) Those businesses create employment, which leads to housing demand, which leads to people paying council tax.

    The new bridge will be cheaper to maintain, freeing up funds for future bridge & maintenance works, & making the railway more financially sustainable, & therefore hopefully there will be less need in future for public funding.
     
  21. underbank

    underbank Member

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    NYMR accounts show gross income of £8m (that's income, not profit) and £6 million income (income, not profit) of a trading subsidiary, so the £30m must also include other income (not profit) on the back of the railway, such as other tourist related businesses in the area. It made £1.6m profit on which over a million was spent on buying assets (equipment, plant, track, land, rolling stock, etc).

    £300k is a small price for a local council to pay for an attraction that brings in so much money and provides jobs to so many people in the local economy.
     
  22. Alanko

    Alanko Member

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    I found a website (yours?) outlining some of the acrimony within the ranks there. The whole project sounds pretty Sisyphean.

    Oddly I keep going back to photos of what there is at Whitrope and I quite fancy a visit just to say I did. Something about the remoteness of the site appeals. I might roll it into either a hike down to Riccarton Junction, just to admire the sheer remoteness of the site, or a visit to Hermitage Castle.

    As per the Waverley Route Heritage Association website, they were there last Saturday shunting stock around, so something is still happening down there. I'm not sure if the 26 runs at all, but it looks reasonably clean?
     
  23. Journeyman

    Journeyman Established Member

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    The 26 looks pretty rough close up, it's corroded as hell!

    I've only ever been there when the heritage centre is closed, but it's so remote they don't bother securing the site, and you can wander about as much as you like. The walk to Riccarton Junction is absolutely worth doing, the place has an incredible forlorn creepiness to it, especially the ruined house overlooking the remains of the station. Next time I'm in the area, I want to do the walk to Steele Road as well.
     
  24. Alanko

    Alanko Member

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    That is a shame. I assume it is stored outdoors in all weathers?

    Like other struggling museums of different types, I have admire their tenacity in trying to make something work (even if it is playing toy trains in the middle of nowhere). On the other hand, it probably isn't too much of a stretch to imagine the 26 could be in better hands (Bo'ness or the outfit in Brechin who seem to be stockpiling them?) elsewhere.

    Is there track now between Whitrope and Riccarton, and is hiking it the simple task of following to the track and not getting blatted by a railbus or diesel shunter?
     
  25. Journeyman

    Journeyman Established Member

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    Yes, they have no covered accommodation. Pretty much everything there is in a dubious-looking state, to be honest.

    No, the track only extends a couple of hundred yards or so, from fairly close to the tunnel to a short distance south of Whitrope. There was once a short length of track at Riccarton, but that's long gone, and any restoration work there has largely disappeared under bushes, apart from the sign on the platform. The Riccarton project really did descend into absolute chaos, and apparently the Whitrope project was born out of the saner members who didn't beat the crap out of each other! I kid you not. The generator building at Riccarton has some interesting graffiti etched in the windows, and gives you a good idea of how acrimonious it all got!

    Whitrope and Riccarton have not had track between them since it was removed in the early 70s.

    If you park up at Whitrope, you can walk along the heritage centre site and beyond the end of it. The old trackbed belongs to the Forestry Commission, and is used for their purposes (public access by motor vehicle is prohibited). It's a couple of miles to Riccarton, and the terrain is pretty easy.
     

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