West Somerset Railway

Amlag

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8 Jul 2018
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Of all the preserved/ Heritage lines in the UK the WSR is proving to be one of the most, if not, the most line in a serious and precarious state, with likely no trains til next Spring and even then possibly not over the whole line.
This despite valiant efforts by mainly elderly volunteers to shift by hand many tons of surplus ballast left lying in the four foot near Doniford and hand pull thousands of weeds in stations along the line, which is mostly choked with weeds, as no Weedspraying was arranged this year.

Last weekend and next, two small living museum type events are taking place at Minehead Stn, centering on one loco in steam being turned and a diesel shunter playing with some trucks.
By various pictures posted elsewhere and anecdotal information last weekend's events were not too well supported and not helped by the poor weather.
Did anyone reading this attend and if so what was their impression of the event please .
 
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Malcmal

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This has to be one of the few preserved railways in the UK that could conceivably revert to Network Rail at some future point for a DMU based service. I would say the Paignton and Dartmouth line is also in this category though they are of course not in the same kind of dire straits as the WSR.
 

4141

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I think this is so sad - although I haven't been for a few years, I have fond memories of several gala days...and several more beers...I hope they can come back, but I'm not sure how...
 

tiptoptaff

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Leadership needs to change. And soon. He ran his buses in to the ground and he'll do the same to us.

A lot of very good, knowledgeable and skilled people are on the verge of walking away. Some already have and will be very difficult to replace.

Our Pway is in a poor state and his actions have seen the two senior infrastructure engineers leave. S&T won't be far behind at this rate.

He's managed to burn bridges faster than his willing followers can try and justify why.

It's a really sad, sorry state.
 

Cowley

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Leadership needs to change. And soon. He ran his buses in to the ground and he'll do the same to us.

A lot of very good, knowledgeable and skilled people are on the verge of walking away. Some already have and will be very difficult to replace.

Our Pway is in a poor state and his actions have seen the two senior infrastructure engineers leave. S&T won't be far behind at this rate.

He's managed to burn bridges faster than his willing followers can try and justify why.

It's a really sad, sorry state.
Is this the same guy that took over fairly recently? There was an interesting piece on Spotlight last year where he was interviewed and seemed to quite on the ball. I don’t really know much about him though and I must admit that I thought the railway had started to turn a corner before the disaster of this year.
 

tiptoptaff

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Is this the same guy that took over fairly recently? There was an interesting piece on Spotlight last year where he was interviewed and seemed to quite on the ball. I don’t really know much about him though and I must admit that I thought the railway had started to turn a corner before the disaster of this year.
Yep. By name, by nature....

He's very on the ball. Absolutely no doubt this is in part engineered. On the ball doesn't necessarily mean in railways best interest
 

Cowley

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Yep. By name, by nature....

He's very on the ball. Absolutely no doubt this is in part engineered. On the ball doesn't necessarily mean in railways best interest
That’s sad to hear. I’ve really missed going on the line this year, I do hope the railway gets through this.
 

JonathanP

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I have never visited the West Somerset Railway. Does it actually exist, or is it something invented to fill up column inches and forum threads?

At this point I think I would find it more believable if it was something invented as a parody of the financial misadventures and intra-familial infighting present to a lesser extent in other preservation organisations.
 

DavidB

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Didn't I read that the WSR has more paid staff than most ohter pres lines? If that's the case it's going to make things particularly difficult.
 

tiptoptaff

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I have never visited the West Somerset Railway. Does it actually exist, or is it something invented to fill up column inches and forum threads?

At this point I think I would find it more believable if it was something invented as a parody of the financial misadventures and intra-familial infighting present to a lesser extent in other preservation organisations.
Joking aside, it doesn't exist to visit currently. No trains, no prospect of trains. No desire by the management to run trains.....
 

tiptoptaff

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Didn't I read that the WSR has more paid staff than most ohter pres lines? If that's the case it's going to make things particularly difficult.
It's got no more than would be expected of a line of its size. A large percentage of the staff are only part time. There's only a handful of full time staff, and most are (well were) on the Pway gang. Only one full time loco fitter
 

tiptoptaff

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On a more serious note, inspecting this website does not give me a good feeling. When the line between a preserved railway and the personal business activities of it's Chairman start to blur, it usually ends badly(e.g. Sir Gerald Nabarro).
It's long been suggested that if he doesn't like a loco it leaves - and it's going to become his private railway, to an effect.
 

STEVIEBOY1

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Sad to hear all this. As has been said in an above post. It would be easy to connect to NR, although I don't know if that would happen.
 

tiptoptaff

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I highly doubt it'll be taken over for mainline use. The amount of work that would need doing to make that viable would obliterate the very fragile business case as it is.

The group who want that quote 1960s timings when the line speeds were up to 55mph, not the 25 it is now
 

Bobdogs

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I am so sad to read about the sorry state of the West Somerset Railway.
I have fond memories of talking a return trip to Minehead in 2004. Every thing was so immaculate, the carriages, every station with its various items of memorabilia and flower beds.
The staff, all volunteers I think were so friendly and took such an obvious pride in their work and the ride itself was one that I will never forget.
I hope the railway survives and hope that I can once again ride on what was a magnificent preserved railway.
 

AHoseason

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I have confidence that the management are doing the best in a very difficult set of circumstances that they inherited and which the virus doubled. Let's support and encourage them and wish all heritage lines well in the coming years.
 

tiptoptaff

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I have confidence that the management are doing the best in a very difficult set of circumstances that they inherited and which the virus doubled. Let's support and encourage them and wish all heritage lines well in the coming years.
Your confidence is either blindly following off a cliff, or you have no idea what is actually happening.

I hope it's the latter.
 

AHoseason

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Your confidence is either blindly following off a cliff, or you have no idea what is actually happening.

I hope it's the latter.
It is based on what information I have to hand Sir. i will reserve judgement on the issue for five years after which the long term assessment should be clearer to me.
 

tiptoptaff

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It is based on what information I have to hand Sir. i will reserve judgement on the issue for five years after which the long term assessment should be clearer to me.
I fail to see any of what he has done can be seen as "the best thing in this situation"

We're now the railway with a Chairman more divisive than any previous, who's turned us to the railway no one will deal with as we clearly don't honour contracts and agreements.

Furloughed everyone and then instilled himself as the acting GM. Acting as he wished and look where it's got us. Needs to go and go now.
 

geoffk

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Yep. By name, by nature....
I think I can work out who is being referred to, but I only know what I've read in the mags. The HRA has backed the current plc board, saying "back them or buy a bike" (implying that the track bed could become a cycle route).
 

tiptoptaff

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I think I can work out who is being referred to, but I only know what I've read in the mags. The HRA has backed the current plc board, saying "back them or buy a bike" (implying that the track bed could become a cycle route).
I'd be vary wary of the way he portrays himself in the mags and other media.

The restructuring recommendation that has come out of the recent report is the right way forward, but there is serious doubt as to whether he's fit to lead it.

I wouldn't trust him as far as I could throw him.
 

packermac

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A quick glance at the WSR Operations Thread and the S & D Washford eviction threads on National Preservation will provide a "flavour" of some of the issues.
No idea what is truth or lies, but feelings continue to run high for a line that has had a long history of "issues"
 

MP33

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With some of the history I always thought it strange that in Ordnance Survey motoring atlases, the line between Taunton and Bishops Lyeard had the word disused against it, No other closed line still with track had it.
 

swanhill41

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There is a certain very negative posting on the forum ref the chairman of the WSR..I must admit that I am surprised to see his age ,37 I believe..And yes he appears to have collected directorships,20 but does this preclude him from the job.?
 

UP13

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A quick glance at the WSR Operations Thread and the S & D Washford eviction threads on National Preservation will provide a "flavour" of some of the issues.
No idea what is truth or lies, but feelings continue to run high for a line that has had a long history of "issues"
I went to have a 'quick glance' at those threads the other day and that is many hours of my life that I'll never get back.

I can't understand how a heritage railway of all things has become such a Machiavellian soap opera.

Can anybody give a very quick and simple to understand explanation why there seems to be a number of different WSR organisations? (I.e. PLC, association, trust etc).
 

Flying Phil

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I went to have a 'quick glance' at those threads the other day and that is many hours of my life that I'll never get back.

I can't understand how a heritage railway of all things has become such a Machiavellian soap opera.

Can anybody give a very quick and simple to understand explanation why there seems to be a number of different WSR organisations? (I.e. PLC, association, trust etc).
Quite a few heritage railways have a set up with a PLC as the "Operating" body, A charity as a fundraising body which can also claim "gift aid" for specific objectives associated with the railway and a third body which is mainly a membership organisation. The three operate closely together.
With the West Somerset there are two main charities WSRA and the WSSRT which both hold significant shareholdings of the PLC...but not overall control. The PLC, run by a very small board of directors (3?) seems to want to operate without reference to many of its supporters.
 

Dai Corner

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Quite a few heritage railways have a set up with a PLC as the "Operating" body, A charity as a fundraising body which can also claim "gift aid" for specific objectives associated with the railway and a third body which is mainly a membership organisation. The three operate closely together.
With the West Somerset there are two main charities WSRA and the WSSRT which both hold significant shareholdings of the PLC...but not overall control. The PLC, run by a very small board of directors (3?) seems to want to operate without reference to many of its supporters.
Seven current directors, though 59 have resigned over the years.
 

UP13

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Cheers for that. So how come the WSR has gone down a path that other similarly structured railways haven't?
 

Cowley

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Cheers for that. So how come the WSR has gone down a path that other similarly structured railways haven't?
Just like the railway it’s a very long path that’s been going on for a long time unfortunately.
It’s certainly not the only railway that’s had problems like this over the years but it’s all been very public.
 

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