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Too much stock, not enough railway


newbryford

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Although I have every respect for preservationists and the efforts they put in to repair/restore/maintain our railway heritage, I'm beginning to wonder if we're near the point at which the preservation movement is reaching saturation?

 

By this, I mean that "we" are continually saving locos and stock from the current railway, but there are very few extra preserved lines opening as the current trend is not to close the "real" railway and in recent cases, re-open previously closed routes.

 

Just like the average model railway, will there be too much stock and not enough room to run and/or store it? Will we just end up with large sheds full of rotting stock?

 

I can't pinpoint the solution, but my suggestion would be to pool resources to preserve 2 or 3 good examples of a loco, rather than 1 good one and 10 tatty lumps.

 

Cheers,

Mick

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Behind the scenes on most preserved railways there are members asking just that question of do we have too many locos?

 

The difficulty arises when you have a site that the locos (etc) are not owned by the railway. Some lines are on a thinning down process which is why others are gaining some of the cast offs.

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  • RMweb Gold

Meanwhile people are pouring shedloads of money into building replicas. Locos with no provenance whatever, but Joe Public apparently adores them, while ignoring your appeal for funds to restore that rusting hulk. Each to his/her own, I suppose.

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The problem will only get worse I think as enthusiasts preserve more diesel locos that don't have the same appeal as steam to the general public. As such these locos tend to run less and are more likely to become tatty but still take up space. Going down the route of putting preserved electrics on a heritage line without the potential of using them seems to be an even greater folly (this is not saying that members from electric classes are not worthy of preservation, just that I don't see the point of them being on lines where they can't run the same applies to having steam or diesel locos on a line that can't run as they have to higher axle loading).

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In my (probably incorrect) prediction of the future, the expansion of private railways onto the mainline network (Okehampton - Exeter being a recent proposal, I've also heard Dereham/Holt - Norwich proposed) is likely to provide a home for some ex-mainline diesels. I'd love to see MCR using 56s and 58s on freight to Cauldon Lowtongue.gif, KWVR could host peak trains to Leeds... Maybe not, but that's how I'd like to see the future.rolleyes.gif

 

Not to mention the cycles some classes seem to be going through, with ex-preservation 73s, 56s etc going into use with spot-hire or mainstream operators.

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In my (probably incorrect) prediction of the future, the expansion of private railways onto the mainline network (Okehampton - Exeter being a recent proposal, I've also heard Dereham/Holt - Norwich proposed) is likely to provide a home for some ex-mainline diesels. I'd love to see MCR using 56s and 58s on freight to Cauldon Lowtongue.gif, KWVR could host peak trains to Leeds... Maybe not, but that's how I'd like to see the future.rolleyes.gif

 

Not to mention the cycles some classes seem to be going through, with ex-preservation 73s, 56s etc going into use with spot-hire or mainstream operators.

 

Sadly I beleive we will see quite the reverse, as the sheer costs of maintaining both infrastructure and boilers plus the ever more expensive and onerous Health and Saftey requirements, means railways are going to close and engines will probably be cut up in the future.

 

Lets take the Severn Valley as an example, its well established, but having run for 40 years is now having to invest serious sums in its infrastructure to keep it in sound condition. This winter over £300,000 at Arley and £200,000 on water proofing Sandbourne viaduct at the south end of Bewdley. Taw Valley once completed will be the signle most expensive repair on the railway, yet as an engine in truth apart from high days and holidays burns too much coal. The railway has said it carried less passengers last year yet is having to invest collosal sums. I know the SVR are having to think much more carefully about how money is spent so others must also be feeling the strain.

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Sadly I beleive we will see quite the reverse, as the sheer costs of maintaining both infrastructure and boilers plus the ever more expensive and onerous Health and Saftey requirements, means railways are going to close and engines will probably be cut up in the future.

 

I think thats an overly pessimistic view of the future. Health and safety demands can be managed if people take their responsibilities seriously i.e. preventing the general public wandering unsupervised round loco yards, ensuring drivers / firemen / guards / signalmen / etc undergo proper training and records of said training are kept up to date - Hardly onerous things to do whatever the enthusiast grapevine may say. At the end of the day running a heritage railway is not simply a case of “playing trains†these days (and rightly so). Heritage railways, like all railways are dangerous places and must be managed accordingly – all that modern H & S rules are intended to do re-enforce that requirement

 

Yes as locos age we will get more and more of them relegated to static display and providing they can be kept under cover they will remain objects the public will want to come and visit. After all get any child to draw a "train" and 90% of them will draw some form of steam engine.

 

Diesels are however a different matter as the general public by and large do not appreciate them in the same way as a steam loco. This is important because 90% of heritage railways revenue comes from family groups of one form or another, i.e. not enthusiasts. Indeed in terms of total spend families will tend to spend more on stuff from catering outlets and gift shops than enthusiasts.

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Perhaps we need a ruthless, hard-headed look at which preserved railways can be considered viable propositions, and concentrating resources on those, and let the rest go to the wall. This is not to denigrate in any way the hard work of the volunteers, but as there seems likely to be less spending power around for the foreseeable future, concentrate that on those lines which can generate a surplus for maintenance and restoration purposes.

 

Dennis

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The problem will only get worse I think as enthusiasts preserve more diesel locos that don't have the same appeal as steam to the general public. As such these locos tend to run less and are more likely to become tatty but still take up space. Going down the route of putting preserved electrics on a heritage line without the potential of using them seems to be an even greater folly (this is not saying that members from electric classes are not worthy of preservation, just that I don't see the point of them being on lines where they can't run the same applies to having steam or diesel locos on a line that can't run as they have to higher axle loading).

 

The preserved class 81-85 AC electrics will probably never run again but they are unique and well looked after, instead of alot of diesels which are brought "because someone wants to be a loco owner" but underestimates the time and cost involved. And to balance these locos, there are two preserved AC's earning revenue on the mainline, which must be the pinnacle of any society that doesn't have a couple of millionares to back them up. It'd be a tragedy if a preservation policy meant something that couldn't be used shouldn't be preserved, as then we wouldn't have a case for preserving freight wagons, most Aircraft, and Warships.

 

I'm quite fond of replica or rebuilt locos, if it means a society (such as the GWS at Didcot) can present a more varied loco stud at the expense of well represented classes then that can only be a good thing. Future generations really won't care that the Saint used to be a Hall or the Railmotor wasn't as such for a while, or Tornado was newly built. But surely the biggest omission we're forgetting is not leaving an ex-Barry loco in exactly that condition, as a reminder to the condition that alot of these locos were in.

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Perhaps we need a ruthless, hard-headed look at which preserved railways can be considered viable propositions, and concentrating resources on those, and let the rest go to the wall. This is not to denigrate in any way the hard work of the volunteers, but as there seems likely to be less spending power around for the foreseeable future, concentrate that on those lines which can generate a surplus for maintenance and restoration purposes.

 

Dennis

 

I think this is a bit of an illogical aspiration.

 

They are all independant organisations, not nationalised. Each one will survive or otherwidse dependant on how they adapt and manage their operation. If they survive, they are viable, if not, then they were not viable. Simples!

 

Im sure some will feel pain in the future. As already suggested, infrastructure costs id say are the big risk. Cant say i know that, but looking in from outside it would seem likely.

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I think thats an overly pessimistic view of the future. Health and safety demands can be managed if people take their responsibilities seriously i.e. preventing the general public wandering unsupervised round loco yards, ensuring drivers / firemen / guards / signalmen / etc undergo proper training and records of said training are kept up to date - Hardly onerous things to do whatever the enthusiast grapevine may say. At the end of the day running a heritage railway is not simply a case of “playing trains†these days (and rightly so). Heritage railways, like all railways are dangerous places and must be managed accordingly – all that modern H & S rules are intended to do re-enforce that requirement

 

 

 

Absolutely right Phil - in reality there is very little in recent legislation that should have put any additional costs onto any well managed railway, they should have been doing the job themselves long before someone decided to make a law about it. The trouble of course is that quite a number of them weren't and some have been caught out while others have not had anything happen to draw attention to themselves so might, or might not, be up to scratch. Speaking from the experience of auditing such stuff the usual problems are poor management of training & qualification records but from what I've seen putting such shortcomings right is usually a simple task. In other cases which I know of the problem has been lack of proper procedures and those are simply procedures which in most cases should have been in place since the Railway opened and in all but a few areas are little more than basic commonsense.

 

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Waiting for a project to fail is a bit of a hard lesson to learn, as surely that resource could be put into something that is more likely to suceed and would be of more benefit. I don't want to mention any by name but it seems for every embryonic preserved line, there is one nearby that would have benefitted more from this effort. Friends from abroad, particuarly the US, think we are absolutely spoilt when it comes to the number and quality of preserved lines in the UK, and seem a little confused when I say i'd be happy to drop a third of them if it meant the others would be better off once the limited volunteer labour and public ridership revenues are taken into account.

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A small point - 34027 Taw Valley is privately owned and the overhaul is being funded by the owner, contracted out to Bridgenorth.

 

Regards,

 

Dan

 

Dan your correct the engine is privatley owned, however under the SVR rolling stock agreement the engine is put back into running condition. This is partly being financed by the owner and part by the railway.

 

As for increasing costs in the past someone could be internally trained on plant or equipment, today to meet legislative requirements to be deemed competent on plant those same individuals now have to have external training courses that cost additional money.

 

Perhaps I am being over pessimistic ( I will happily be wrong) , however the comment we have never had it so good is a very true one.

 

The comment railways that run on a commercial basis will survive is an interesting one, what though is the definition of commercial? - Again looking at the business model of quite a few their staff costs account for upwards of 35 to 50% of all turnover, compared with the average commercial buisiness at about 15 to 20%.

 

I guess the way to look at replica engines is that providing they are an appropriate size for the line - then you have got an engine that has brand new frames, etc rather than even a BR standard that is getting on for 60 years old.

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As for increasing costs in the past someone could be internally trained on plant or equipment, today to meet legislative requirements to be deemed competent on plant those same individuals now have to have external training courses that cost additional money.

 

 

That depends entirely on the plant. I know of one railway where virtually all of its line extension work (and all the perway work) is being done by volunteers using various sorts of hired and purchased plant and all correctly trained and certificated within the railway plus the risk assessments and method statements done (although they have paid for some of the latter work because they lacked the expertise). Provided a Railway has got the necessary internal competencies and qualifications (extreme example - a boilermaker) there is nothing to stop them taking on apprentices or using their qualified staff to train others under a properly organised training scheme - and legislation provides for them to do exactly that.

True there are some instances (e.g. mains electrical work) where an external qualification and assessment is needed but not all that many.

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That depends entirely on the plant. I know of one railway where virtually all of its line extension work (and all the perway work) is being done by volunteers using various sorts of hired and purchased plant and all correctly trained and certificated within the railway plus the risk assessments and method statements done (although they have paid for some of the latter work because they lacked the expertise). Provided a Railway has got the necessary internal competencies and qualifications (extreme example - a boilermaker) there is nothing to stop them taking on apprentices or using their qualified staff to train others under a properly organised training scheme - and legislation provides for them to do exactly that.

True there are some instances (e.g. mains electrical work) where an external qualification and assessment is needed but not all that many.

 

That's very true.

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The preserved class 81-85 AC electrics will probably never run again but they are unique and well looked after

 

I have to confess, the thought of having preserved electrics and the need for the accompanying catenary never occured to me until now. Maintaining not only the loco but all that additional infrastructure too would be a big investment for any preservation group, and as Kris said, diesels just don't seem to have the same resonance with the public as steam. Electrics would seem to be an even bigger problem - I can just imagine Joe Public thinking 'Why am I paying money to go see an electric loco? I can go down to my local station to see that'. And as for getting planning permission to plonk down a few miles of new catenary...

 

 

Are there any preserved lines with overhead power out of interest...?

 

 

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Guest dilbert

Sounds like the preservation movement has much in common with the RTR 4mm modelling world - far too much focus on locos. I find the multitude of coach and freight rolling stock more interesting than loco classes (and their sub-classes) - in the end without the the rolling stock baseline, locos would have had nothing to haul.

 

So, who's up for another 4mm RTR Class 47 ?..... dilbert

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I can't pinpoint the solution, but my suggestion would be to pool resources to preserve 2 or 3 good examples of a loco, rather than 1 good one and 10 tatty lumps.

 

Cheers,

Mick

 

Tough, but from a detatched viewpoint, the logical answer at least where there is more than one of the type surviving (Black 5s; Bulleid Pacifics, most diesel classes). Problem comes when each loco is owned be a different individual and each believes their's is 'the one' that should represent the class...

 

I know from a little inside information about the current on-going dispersal of the Blackpool tram fleet there are at least two individuals who have reserved 'their favourite' tram but have no where to store them... It didn't go down well when I pionted out on another web group that actually it might be a good thing if a couple of the basket cases were broken up to provide a source of spares to aid the others...

 

Paul

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I have to confess, the thought of having preserved electrics and the need for the accompanying catenary never occured to me until now. Maintaining not only the loco but all that additional infrastructure too would be a big investment for any preservation group, and as Kris said, diesels just don't seem to have the same resonance with the public as steam. Electrics would seem to be an even bigger problem - I can just imagine Joe Public thinking 'Why am I paying money to go see an electric loco? I can go down to my local station to see that'. And as for getting planning permission to plonk down a few miles of new catenary...

 

 

Are there any preserved lines with overhead power out of interest...?

 

There is always alot of beard scratching when electrifed (overhead or third rail) is mentioned, despite the fact that museums with Tramways and working Trolleybuses somehow manage it. But there is this thing called Network Rail, I can't remember the exact facts but 86101 and 87002 hold the highest annual mileages, speed records, etc of any Preserved locos and keep filling railtours, not bad considering it was somehow percieved a few years ago that saving them would be a waste of 60' of track whilst yet another dreamer started work on a scrap class 50.

 

Joe Public really doesn't have a valuable opinion, they either want to see a famous steam engine or are happy with an Austerity and a couple of Mk1's, which won't bring valuable enthusiast revenue in.

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To me, this sounds like a good problem!

 

Over here, in Canada, we have very few preserved steam locos. My guess is that there are only around 5 to 10 operating in all of Canada. At the moment, I don't think there are any in working order in my part of Canada (Ontario)! We do have preserved railways, but currently they're either diesel or electric powered.

 

Maybe, instead, railway enthusiasts could raise the funds to ship them over here, even though they would be running in a foreign country! There is already a Swedish steam loco operating in Quebec.

 

Rob

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It'd be a tragedy if a preservation policy meant something that couldn't be used shouldn't be preserved, as then we wouldn't have a case for preserving freight wagons, most Aircraft, and Warships.

 

 

I quite agree with that sentiment, it's a case of looking where they are preserved though. If it's not going to run again then the place for it is in my view a museum rather than an operating heritage line (unless that line also has a museum attached).

 

 

 

 

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To me, this sounds like a good problem!

 

Over here, in Canada, we have very few preserved steam locos. My guess is that there are only around 5 to 10 operating in all of Canada. At the moment, I don't think there are any in working order in my part of Canada (Ontario)! We do have preserved railways, but currently they're either diesel or electric powered.

 

Maybe, instead, railway enthusiasts could raise the funds to ship them over here, even though they would be running in a foreign country! There is already a Swedish steam loco operating in Quebec.

 

Rob

 

There's probably enough daft people over here who'll start a campaign to swap somebody else's locos for a certain A4...

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To me, this sounds like a good problem!

 

Over here, in Canada, we have very few preserved steam locos. My guess is that there are only around 5 to 10 operating in all of Canada. At the moment, I don't think there are any in working order in my part of Canada (Ontario)! We do have preserved railways, but currently they're either diesel or electric powered.

 

Maybe, instead, railway enthusiasts could raise the funds to ship them over here, even though they would be running in a foreign country! There is already a Swedish steam loco operating in Quebec.

 

Rob

 

 

BTW, I said this kind of tongue-in-cheek! Although it does get you thinking!

We have lots of Canadian preserved locos, including the Dominion of Canada (which came over here in 1967 -- there just doesn't seem to be the money to get them steaming again.

 

Rob

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