West Somerset Railway 'lost £800k last year' - BBC News

Discussion in 'Railtours & Preservation' started by alexl92, 20 Nov 2019.

  1. alexl92

    alexl92 Established Member

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    Just spotted this on the BBC News website:
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-somerset-50481869
    The reaction on facebook seems to be that the article is quite wide of the mark; anyone able to set us straight?
     
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  3. Paul Hitchcock

    Paul Hitchcock Member

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    Presumably the trading loss of £807,000 comes from the company. If incorrect they simply could have said so,
     
  4. Cowley

    Cowley Established Member

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  5. wagwan my g

    wagwan my g Member

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    This is a shame as although I've never been from the webcams and youtube videos the WSR looks like a nice line, good scenery, nice locos and stations.

    I know the article talked of issues with volunteers but from what I've seen of it the line seems fairly busy and it's in a tourist area so it must have potential.

    I mean if it were to close what would happen, would another group just start the whole preservation thing again or would it just close and the groups based there have to relocate.
     
  6. Flying Phil

    Flying Phil Established Member

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    Although the headline figure looks (and is ) bad, it must be remembered that this is a 15 month accounting period with two "low" seasons and the line shutdown. So revenue is significantly lower and expenditure significantly higher - hence much of the big loss figure.
     
  7. AHoseason

    AHoseason Member

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    Already old news with a smattering of sensationalism, methinks. It's inevitable that within 50 years some heritage lines or organisations will fail but I suspect this one will pull through.
     
  8. Bill EWS

    Bill EWS Member

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    They need a terminal station more easy to get to, such as Shepton Mallet, or Witham. Both really.
     
  9. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    The easy to get to WSR terminal station would start with a T ...
     
  10. Edders23

    Edders23 Member

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    This loss will have included a lot of unplanned expenditure on the line required by the railway inspectorate it will be a one off as there seemed to be plenty of paying customers when I visited

    I suspect that the headline figure was more about drumming up extra donations than a true reflection of the lines current finances
     
  11. Paul Hitchcock

    Paul Hitchcock Member

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    I don't know one way or another but it is in the interest of no business to emphasize financial problems but rather the reverse. The auditors' comments are rather awkward.
     
  12. Train Maniac

    Train Maniac Member

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    Thats the East Somerset Railway youre thinking about mate ;)
     
  13. Edders23

    Edders23 Member

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    Is a preserved line really a business ? The same as football clubs you don't buy a football club to make your fortune they are normally vanity projects or tax losses

    Most preserved railways are run less with profit in mind and more as a hobby for lots of people who like playing trains and often attract a lot of money invested in shares with no real prospect of a dividend but people put money in because they want to preserve a piece of history
     
  14. Dunfanaghy Rd

    Dunfanaghy Rd Member

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    That has been the traditional model of heritage railways ever since the Talyllyn got started. Times are changing, though, the leisure market is getting tougher and most supporting societies can't keep making up the shortfall. A happy few, with large memberships, can probably carry on as before, but the rest of us will have to join the real world. The WSR's problem is its recent toxic infighting, combined with some blinkered management. Not a good starting point for holding out the collection plate.
    Pat
     
  15. duffield

    duffield Member

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    Preserved railways are a hybrid. The most successful such as the NYMR work as businesses + hobby/volunteers + donations + grants + legacies. In the case of a long railway with expensive bridges etc. to maintain it's the only way to survive in the long term.

    (BTW I love the NYMR but rarely visit because it's often the case that the trains are completely full with coach parties!)
     
  16. wagwan my g

    wagwan my g Member

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    They announced their 2020 timetable, and it looks like they have made some changes to reduce running costs such as running 1 steam and a diesel on off peak season red timetable instead of 2 steams, also on their blue timetable it shows a diesel service that only does Wiliton to Minehead. Let's hope this helps them a bit. (of course as the article said there are other issues as well)
     
  17. wagwan my g

    wagwan my g Member

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    In the past couple of weeks they've now had 2 mid-overhaul locomotives leave for new lines, 4f (44422) has moved to churnet valley (which I believe was known about for some time anyway), and now the 66xx (6695) has been announced as leaving for the swindon and cricklade. both of which I believe have been to because of the WSR ending contracts due to their difficulties.
     
  18. alexl92

    alexl92 Established Member

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    The 4F was because the WSR felt the contract wasn't fit for purpose - presumably negotiated under the previous leadership but placing the railway under silly obligations or something. Didn't know about the 66xx though.

    The Swindon & Crickdale Railway are certainly ambitious though - only 2.5mi long but seem to be collecting mainline locos including big projects with a GWR Hall and Merchant Navy 35011.

    Also - anyone know why they've got a 56xx hired in whilst their own 56xx is hired out elsewhere?!
     
  19. SeaKing

    SeaKing Member

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    Most likely due to contract agreement.
     
  20. wagwan my g

    wagwan my g Member

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    Just checked them out online and yeah they certainly seem ambitious but fair play to them. They aren't the only ones, the northampton and lamport have a hall and a 2884 class under restoration. and I think some little railway somewhere has a 9f under restoration. Some of these little lines do have big ambitions.
     
    Last edited: 9 Dec 2019
  21. alexl92

    alexl92 Established Member

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    You might be thinking of Wensleydale which, despite not having a resident steam loco (the closest is the NELPG’s J72 ‘JOEM’) has an ex-Barry 9F no.92219 on site under long-term restoration.

    Having said that, the WR is currently hosting S160 no.5197 and also was home to the NELPG’s J27 over summer, as well as being a sort of ‘Home from home’ for 60163 Tornado.
     
  22. Maybach

    Maybach Member

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    Guest editorial by Jonathan Jones-Pratt, Chairman of the WSR, in the latest ‘West Somerset Railway Journal’:

    “In a few days, we have our AGM. The annual accounts have now been published for the 15-month period up to the end of March 2019, and, as expected and in line with advice to shareholders at our earlier EGM, we have sadly reported a significant loss for the period of over £800, 000.

    When I took over as Chairman in September 2018, I found a very poor financial position. Our safety regulator had real doubts about our capability to operate a safe railway and we had to take some very hard business decisions. These actions mean we have now reached a point where we are trading profitably again. We have not needed to touch our bank overdraft and we have started to build up a cash reserve again.

    Is the job done? Not yet, and there remain some big challenges: we still need more funds; we must bring in more active volunteers so we don’t have to rely so heavily on just a few, and we still need to improve the way we all work together. But we are making real progress for the good of the WSR…

    I do feel so positive about this great railway which has now come back from the brink…We have moved from a position where our Auditors were questioning our survival to one now where we have our accounts signed off, and we can move on.”
     
  23. Cowley

    Cowley Established Member

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    Well that’s good to hear. Let’s hope things carry on improving.
     

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