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Heritage Railways Starting To Reopen


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Without hopefully appearing to be a Cassandra in the enthusiasm to reopen some railways, unless the public are convinced it is safe to do so, they still won't come.  Railways are not up there with Disneyland, they appeal to minority of those with time on their hands, cash and the incentive to travel who have been cooped up and denied their favourite hobby.  The enthusiast however is not enough; they need Mum, Dad and the kids to buy tickets, visit the cafe and buy a souvenir from the shops.  Also that same enthusiast is besieged to contribute to this or that preservation project, new build or just maintenance of the railway itself;  how long will the money last?

     Brian.

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2 hours ago, brianusa said:

Without hopefully appearing to be a Cassandra in the enthusiasm to reopen some railways, unless the public are convinced it is safe to do so, they still won't come.  Railways are not up there with Disneyland, they appeal to minority of those with time on their hands, cash and the incentive to travel who have been cooped up and denied their favourite hobby.  The enthusiast however is not enough; they need Mum, Dad and the kids to buy tickets, visit the cafe and buy a souvenir from the shops.  Also that same enthusiast is besieged to contribute to this or that preservation project, new build or just maintenance of the railway itself;  how long will the money last?

     Brian.

The summer holidays are a month a way and those of us with kids have had them cooped up now for months. Quite frankly we will be out there supporting anything we can that's open

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2 hours ago, brianusa said:

Without hopefully appearing to be a Cassandra in the enthusiasm to reopen some railways, unless the public are convinced it is safe to do so, they still won't come.  Railways are not up there with Disneyland, they appeal to minority of those with time on their hands, cash and the incentive to travel who have been cooped up and denied their favourite hobby.  The enthusiast however is not enough; they need Mum, Dad and the kids to buy tickets, visit the cafe and buy a souvenir from the shops.  Also that same enthusiast is besieged to contribute to this or that preservation project, new build or just maintenance of the railway itself;  how long will the money last?

     Brian.

 

People are already out and about, and have been for weeks. 

 

It's just that everywhere is shut even though the resorts are packed. You can buy an ice cream or a burger from a van, but you can't go in a cafe to sit down. They are talking about the start of next month for places like cafes and pubs to open.

 

The zoos are open though. So you can look at an elephant but not a Black Five.

 

 

Jason

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So it is safe to sit in a train from Edinburgh to Bodmin Parkway for a whole day, but not safe to travel between Bodwin and Bodmin Parkway? 

 

I really think we now have to make sensible adaptations, not close whole businesses down. 

 

With so many people sitting frustrated at home this is a great time to recruit new younger volunteers who may stick with it for life if they get the bug. 

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1 hour ago, fezza said:

So it is safe to sit in a train from Edinburgh to Bodmin Parkway for a whole day, but not safe to travel between Bodwin and Bodmin Parkway? 

 

I really think we now have to make sensible adaptations, not close whole businesses down. 

 

With so many people sitting frustrated at home this is a great time to recruit new younger volunteers who may stick with it for life if they get the bug. 

I guess that those involved in running mainline services have greater resources in risk assessments, extra cleaning, etc, than a small preserved railway set up.

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If the growing pressure on Boris to reduce the distancing from 2m to 1m as per other countries and WHO. Being able to have people 1m apart will enable more use of TSOs. At the SVR we are looking at compartment only trains. From my own observation, the 2m rule is only used in ques for say B&Q and other retailers but in general circulation, hardly anybody is adhering to it.

 

Some railways have laid their cards out on the table with no services until March 2021. Others, like the SVR maintained a watching brief with a view to having some sort of service this year. 

 

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2 minutes ago, Bulleidnutter said:

If the growing pressure on Boris to reduce the distancing from 2m to 1m as per other countries and WHO. Being able to have people 1m apart will enable more use of TSOs. At the SVR we are looking at compartment only trains. From my own observation, the 2m rule is only used in ques for say B&Q and other retailers but in general circulation, hardly anybody is adhering to it.

 

Some railways have laid their cards out on the table with no services until March 2021. Others, like the SVR maintained a watching brief with a view to having some sort of service this year. 

 

West Somerset are thinking about Christmas in their latest email.

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12 minutes ago, rab said:

I guess that those involved in running mainline services have greater resources in risk assessments, extra cleaning, etc, than a small preserved railway set up.

and are presumably being subsidised by HMG to ensure services run.

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1 hour ago, fezza said:

So it is safe to sit in a train from Edinburgh to Bodmin Parkway for a whole day, but not safe to travel between Bodwin and Bodmin Parkway? 

 

I really think we now have to make sensible adaptations, not close whole businesses down. 

 

With so many people sitting frustrated at home this is a great time to recruit new younger volunteers who may stick with it for life if they get the bug. 

But on the train from Edinburgh the government are heavily subsidising the majority of that coach to be empty so you are sat nowhere near anyone else whereas a preserved line needs to fill seats otherwise it is making a loss.

 

Whilst it was very easy to lockdown the country the Government is now realising that reversing it is much harder and much more a political manouevre than they would care to admit.  In a couple of weeks the 2m rule will be gone, they've pretty much telegraphed it for weeks now so that pubs, restaurants and gyms can re-open.   What impact that will have on the rest of society we shall see in the coming weeks but the fact is that we can go to the zoo, we can go to Primark, I can get someone to make me an expensive coffee or a burger, but children can't go to school yet and my dentist cannot drill in my mouth.

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28 minutes ago, rab said:

I guess that those involved in running mainline services have greater resources in risk assessments, extra cleaning, etc, than a small preserved railway set up.

 

Plus simply it's not unreasonable to have to deal with a greater risk when keeping things going; I'm sure they'd prefer leisure travellers to not travel at all, still.

 

Looking around I don't think public reluctance will prove a massive barrier although preserved railways seem less likely to attract the sort of people who'll crowd around, get drunk, and leave heaps of litter (hopefully).

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2 hours ago, Kris said:

The Bodmin line have announced that they will not be reopening this year. https://www.facebook.com/bodmingeneral/

And they are quoting costs per passenger, in effect. Restricting access to meet the 2m - or even mooted 1m - distancing means a big cut in train capacity. Yet locos etc cost the same to run. Already well-down on budgeted income, running services at a loss is hardly prudent. And what to do when the queue is down the road and you have no way of accommodating all comers? Rock and a hard place stuff. 

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13 minutes ago, Oldddudders said:

And they are quoting costs per passenger, in effect. Restricting access to meet the 2m - or even mooted 1m - distancing means a big cut in train capacity. Yet locos etc cost the same to run. Already well-down on budgeted income, running services at a loss is hardly prudent. And what to do when the queue is down the road and you have no way of accommodating all comers? Rock and a hard place stuff. 

In theory the queue problem could be dealt with by making people pre-book, although that wouldn't stop people from turning up on spec and getting annoyed when they can't tracel. And can you imagine what would happen if a preserved railway ran a service with limited numbers and and increased the ticket prices to compensate? They'd suddenly become the evil face of capitalist profiteering, and their Facebook page would be full of spelling and grammar free outrage. 

 

 

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Wonder if heritage railways have a bit of an advantage if they've got plenty of compartment stock - one family group per compartment. Still need to deal with boarding and disembarking though.

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54 minutes ago, Reorte said:

Wonder if heritage railways have a bit of an advantage if they've got plenty of compartment stock - one family group per compartment. Still need to deal with boarding and disembarking though.

 

With non-corridor stock you can lock people in the compartments, like the Ffestiniog do, and only let them out a few at a time......

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Many heritage lines overseas require prebooking so that's not really an issue. From what I have seen on mainline railways the 2m 'rule' is being treated as not much more than a guideline, especially on two and three car regional services. Most major heritage lines operate much longer rakes of Mk1s so I'm not sure the issue is insurmountable. 

 

Where lines depend on large numbers of full time staff I suspect the furlough scheme makes it more difficult reopen. Its created a perverse disincentive to keep businesses closed until you can be absolutely 100% sure you will turn a profit. Not really what the government intended....

 

I suspect once a few heritage lines open there will be pressure on others to follow. 

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5 hours ago, pete_mcfarlane said:

And can you imagine what would happen if a preserved railway ran a service with limited numbers and and increased the ticket prices to compensate? They'd suddenly become the evil face of capitalist profiteering, and their Facebook page would be full of spelling and grammar free outrage.

 

I suspect that the vast majority of the general public would understand why it has to be done.  More to the point, I doubt that the general public compare heritage railway fares against alternative forms of travel*.  More likely they compare it to the cost of alternative forms of entertainment - and I suspect that a fair few of those will find themselves facing similar pressures to maintain revenue while being constrained in the number of customers they can service at any one time.

 

Which is not to say that heritage railways, along with many other attractions, are going to face continuing challenges to keep their businesses (a) running and (b) profitable as lockdown eases.  I suspect (or maybe that should be "hope") that many if not most such concerns will not be able to operate from day one exactly as they were pre-Covid-19.

 

* Speaking of which, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the airlines did something similar, after an initial cut-price bonanza period to get people flying again.

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2 minutes ago, ejstubbs said:

I suspect that the vast majority of the general public would understand why it has to be done.  More to the point, I doubt that the general public compare heritage railway fares against alternative forms of travel*.

Yes, but there's always a vocal minority that complains. A quick scan of the one star reviews on Tripadvisor and Facebook pages always brings up non-enthusiasts complaining about how expensive it is etc. Although, I'm sure if preserved railways offered travel for the entire family for a pound, somebody would still be complaining it was expensive and they'd been ripped off. 

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