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Llangollen Railway Its short term future?.

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swanhill41

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I was looking at its website today and noticed that its whole events calender has been obliterated bar one event.This includes the Santa Season.
This must be a terrible drain on its finances on top of the engine building problems of earlier in 2020
I was wondering how it can get through this terrible period,or is there a chance of serious financial problems.
Time will tell.
 
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alexl92

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I'm sure you're aware but even before Lockdown 1.0, the railway had to issue an emergency £150k appeal to stay afloat. This was in part met by a generous donation from Jeremy Hosking (of LSL/Icons of Steam). Before the railway decided to close down their contract engineering business, Mr Hosking had also promised them the contract to overhaul his 9F, 92212, which I'm sure was worth a fair bit too.

Every railway has struggled over the past 8 months or so but you'd imagine those which started in a poor position - the WSR and Llangollen being two - will feel the long-term effects the most.
 

Titfield

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Contract Engineering or indeed any form of locomotive / carriage restoration business appears to have become a high risk business. Fixed price contracts seem to have been underpriced thus the business incurs a loss, open price contracts seem to have resulted in the final price being far far higher than the "payer" was hoping for resulting in significant financial strain on the payer placing the work.

Some heritage railways have defied financial gravity through donations / grants / legacies but one does wonder how sustainable this really is.
 

alexl92

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According to the most recent Steam Railway magazine, a new board has taken charge at Llangollen who have set out a plan for financial recovery. It sounds like although their contract engineering business has closed, they are still running contract carriage and wagon restorations; apparently MK1s are their speciality. I'm not an expert but I can't see MK1 restorations as being a particularly lucrative offering as most railways seem to be pretty damn good at looking after htem when they have the time and money.

You've only to look at the work the team at Embsay have recently done on their fleet - a couple of years ago most of their operational mk1 fleet looked like it had been dragged off the scrap line, but they've embarked on an extensive restoration project and they look fantastic now.
Likewise, Wensleydale are renovating both their MK1 and MK2 fleets and the results are very satisfying! Neither of these are what most people would consider to be in the 'premier league' of railways but they've cleary got great teams of volunteers who do a fantastic job.
 

leezer3

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According to the most recent Steam Railway magazine, a new board has taken charge at Llangollen who have set out a plan for financial recovery. It sounds like although their contract engineering business has closed, they are still running contract carriage and wagon restorations; apparently MK1s are their speciality. I'm not an expert but I can't see MK1 restorations as being a particularly lucrative offering as most railways seem to be pretty damn good at looking after htem when they have the time and money.

You've only to look at the work the team at Embsay have recently done on their fleet - a couple of years ago most of their operational mk1 fleet looked like it had been dragged off the scrap line, but they've embarked on an extensive restoration project and they look fantastic now.
Likewise, Wensleydale are renovating both their MK1 and MK2 fleets and the results are very satisfying! Neither of these are what most people would consider to be in the 'premier league' of railways but they've cleary got great teams of volunteers who do a fantastic job.

Whilst making no accusations, remember that it's easy to do a skin deep cosmetic restoration & leave significant unresolved issues under the surface.

Case in point is the Gresley brake we bought at the NNR a few years back. This was supposed to be structurally and externally largely complete, but we've ended up doing a full strip and overhaul due to the absolute mess it was in under the surface.
 

swanhill41

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My concern if I was running the Llangollen is the following.
1..Total lack of income,as no santa specials etc
2..The fixed costs.Wages which can be a very relevant cost.
3..Borrowings of any kind,and repayment schedules
From what I can see Point 1 is near nil,till mid 2021
Points 2&3 I would need to see railway's accounts.
The big heritage lines are now relatively big operations,that have paid staff as well as volunteers.
Where they get involved in outside work for reward that is where in a number of cases,financial issues arise.
Even the biggest of Heritage lines the Festiniog,have had to make a number of staff redundant,as part of a
financial rethink due to Covid.
Is Covid going to start a rethink on how heritage lines are going to operate.?
 

Titfield

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Swanage Railway have already announced a rethink on how they are going to operate Post Covid though they do also reference that the work devising a new forward operating plan had commenced in Autumn 2019 when it was clear that there was a significant shortfall in revenue compared to costs.
They have made 8 paid staff posts redundant. There has been much talk of a greater reliance on volunteers.
Time will tell if this will be sustainable or they will "rediscover" why they hired paid staff in the first place.
IMHO taking on external work is high risk: are heritage railways good at managing third party work. The reports in many of the heritage railway magazines would suggest not.
It is also somewhat illogical that some heritage railways are seeking to do more (whether that is operate more services on more days or extend the line) when they are already struggling to deliver what they are already committed to.
Many volunteers believe that if push came to shove no heritage railway would fail. They used to say that about football clubs......
 

trebor79

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Case in point is the Gresley brake we bought at the NNR a few years back. This was supposed to be structurally and externally largely complete, but we've ended up doing a full strip and overhaul due to the absolute mess it was in under the surface.
Just out of curiosity, where did it come from?
 

geoffk

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It is also somewhat illogical that some heritage railways are seeking to do more (whether that is operate more services on more days or extend the line) when they are already struggling to deliver what they are already committed to.
The Llangollen Railway's Corwen extension made perfect sense as means of attracting more passengers and therefore revenue, now that there is a "destination" at both ends of the line. Likewise the planned Bala Lake Railway extension into Bala. But I agree that some other extension plans are probably doomed now.
 

swanhill41

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Joined
8 Nov 2016
Messages
253
Location
Fleetwood
My concern if I was running the Llangollen is the following.
1..Total lack of income,as no santa specials etc
2..The fixed costs.Wages which can be a very relevant cost.
3..Borrowings of any kind,and repayment schedules
From what I can see Point 1 is near nil,till mid 2021
Points 2&3 I would need to see railway's accounts.
The big heritage lines are now relatively big operations,that have paid staff as well as volunteers.
Where they get involved in outside work for reward that is where in a number of cases,financial issues arise.
Even the biggest of Heritage lines the Festiniog,have had to make a number of staff redundant,as part of a
financial rethink due to Covid.
Is Covid going to start a rethink on how heritage lines are going to operate.?
Did I know something back then ?
 
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