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'The Golden Age'

Discussion in 'Heritage railways & Centres in the Uk' started by NAL, Jun 27, 2008.

  1. NAL

    NAL New Member

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    I am waiting to be shot down with this post, but it needs raising. I am sorry for the length of it, but I look forward to the discussion that will (hopefully) ensue.

    Are we now seeing the beginning of the end of the 'golden age' of preservation? It is all very well crowing over the completion of the restoration of one loco, or the fact that a particular loco has gone to a line on loan (no personal dig meant Danny, just examples), but are these particular, highly visual things, simply papering over the cracks that are spreading under the surface?

    Heritage railways are going to face increasingly difficult times over the next decade or so. Massive issues are going to have to be faced, whether they be financial, manpower, asset related, or all manner of other potential banana skins, and each one of them in itself has the potential to cause a crisis. Combined, they could spell the end for railways that do not apply themselves as they need to.

    Financial

    Most railways are massively undercapitalised. Most railways are desperately short of cash on a day to day basis. How many railways spend the majority of the year worried as to whether they are going to make a profit or a loss at the end of it? And this is only going to get more difficult as time goes by.

    From speaking to representatives of other railways, a lot of them are speaking of passenger numbers 'holding up' compared to recent years. That is commendable. But on the flip side, costs are increasing disproportionately. Coal, oil, raw materials, even power bills. They are all going up at a rate that is outstripping income. That £25,000 profit your railway made last year? Wave goodbye to it.

    The much publicised 'credit crunch' may start to bite soon. If the ordinary visitors finances start to get squeezed, they may well still visit. But that cup of tea in the buffet; 'better not'. That Thomas toy in the shop 'sorry little Johnny, can't afford that'. That will all impact on income, on cash flow, on profitability. And if your railway can't make a profit, then there's only so long its operation can be subsidised by its members and benefactors.

    Its not just on the operating side that finances are being tightened. We are all getting older. An obvious and potentially irrelevant statement you may think. But if we are all getting older, then that means that more members will be paying senior subscriptions. So even if the number of members stays the same, a lot of railways are finding that year on year subscription income is actually reducing. Food for thought...

    Manpower

    'Natural wastage' is a phrase that you often hear. The fact of the matter is that retirements, people being too old for front-line operational duties, and, dare I say it, death, are all meaning that people are leaving railway positions quicker than people come in. As time goes on this is only going to become a more acute problem, and railways really need to grasp the nettle soon if this is not to become a crisis.

    In addition, railways are finding that people either have less time to volunteer, or cannot afford to do so. If the credit crunch is biting on the general public, then railway volunteers are not miraculously exempt from it. That chap you used to see every Sunday working on the carriages? He can only afford to get down once a month now...and what impact is that going to have, repeated across the preservation movement?

    Assets

    Heritage railways are operating with, lets face it, life expired equipment. And even if some locos were withdrawn from traffic after a scandalously short working life, there has been an extra 40 years on that, and a life in preservation is far from easy, whether operational or stored.

    There is a nationwide shortage of suitable operational steam locomotives, which is only going to get worse as time goes on. A large number of railways have a job on to simply maintain sufficient loco availability to cover their advertised services, let alone put on a big gala. Railways are finding it increasingly difficult to bring in visiting locos for events for much the same reasons.

    And its not just motive power. Mark 1 coaches are notorious rot boxes, and add another 10, 15, 20 years onto it are going to take massive amounts of work to maintain and overhaul. And that is if we have the money and manpower to do the job! The more 'heritage' coaches will suffer similar sorts of issues, that is if they haven't already deteriorated beyond economic repair while you have been concentrating on keeping the running fleet running.

    I could continue to list such things as increased thefts, higher raw material costs, greater lead time on components meaning that rolling stock is out of traffic longer awaiting repair, but I guess that if you've reached this point, you probably understand where I'm coming from.

    I'm not advocating giving up, but we need to be realistic here.

    Most railways around the country need to take a long hard look at what they offer to their customers (and I use that term unashamedly as that it what the majority of visitors these days are; they do not come to use the railway as a genuine means of getting from A to B). How many railways offer a ride in a grubby carriage, accompanied by surly staff and the inevitable objectionable character shouting his mouth off to the guard about how crap the railway is? I have been to railways, even for official, pre-arranged attendances, where I have come away with the impression that my very attendance was an irritation to the ticket office staff, where in the whole course of my visit I didn't see a member of staff in the buffet, and where (to be brutally honest) I couldn't wait to get away!

    And if I, as someone who wanted to go there as an enthusiast, felt that I was being treated badly, how would Mr and Mrs Bloggs feel when they could have gone to the zoo, or to a theme park, or the beach? Be realistic, how many railways leave their visitors with a general impression of a bunch of people playing trains? And how many people will they tell of their bad experiences...

    Preservation groups at this time potentially more than ever need strong leadership. They need people who are prepared to address problems head on, with a can-do attitude and the ability to bring the best out of others. They need to have the ability to see the talents of others, even when maybe those people don't think they have it in them. So look around your railway; are your management providing this? Are they capable of doing so when times get worse? Do you even have people on your railway who are able to do this?

    At the very best, a lot of railways are going to stagnate. I'm sorry, but stagnation is nothing more than a stepping stone on the route to decline.

    Is the 'golden age' of preservation coming to an end? I'm sorry, but I think it is.

    Discuss...
     
  2. Thompson1706

    Thompson1706 Active Member

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    What an excellent posting - somebody who appreciates what's happening right now. This should be circulated to the management of all preserved railways.
    The one relevant comment missed from this posting is that many railways, both formative & established ,contain groups or individuals with their own agendas to the detriment of the well being of that railway. This is the major cause of volunteer loss in my experience.

    Bob.
     
  3. 50002

    50002 Member

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    An excellent summary of the problems facing the railway preservation movement. I don't think many people would disagree. But stating the problems is the easy part. The hard part is coming up with some solutions acceptable to all.

    Perhaps there are some hopeful signs that solutions can be found:

    1. Several of the major preservation lines have already been operating long enough to have survived the retirement, or loss as active members, of the people who originally set them up ( I come into that category myself - the effects of anno domini and so on) .

    2. Replacements have been found and good keen young volunteers are still coming forward to get involved and in the process learn new skills that could help them in other ways.

    3. The preservation movement is big business and has the potential to become even bigger. Ways of attracting larger numbers of visitors have worked for non-railway attractions and could be borrowed.

    4. Good publicity, promotions, staging big events etc. are part and parcel of the leisure & tourism industry. Individual railways don't always get these things right but by working together improvements are possible

    5. Sponsorship opportunities can offer big financial returns. Perhaps railway preservation equivalents for things like sports shirt branding can be found. Visitors looking for a steam train ride, which is probably the main selling point at present, wouldn't be put off just because the engine or carriages had logos similar to racing car insignia on them.
     
  4. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator Friend

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    Good points, I would think though, that the availability of quality volunteers able and willing to operate and restore is a gently downward trend; whether it is as a result of railways not being seen as cool amongst many of the younger generations, or just down to harsh economics is another matter.
     
  5. Sugar Palm 60526

    Sugar Palm 60526 Member

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    The only point I can add to this excellent debate is that there is a diminishing skills resource.

    Young lads don't train to be fitters and turners, or boilersmiths any longer (with one or two exceptions).

    A senior engineer I know, reckons it will all stop when the insurance companies no longer have an inspector able to examine and certify steam loco boilers.
     
  6. tobes3803

    tobes3803 Active Member

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    Surely more could be done to attract younger volunteers as not a lot seems to be done at the moment. How about a video by some railways or even showing the movement as a whole showing the work young people do on the railways as well as the social aspect which goes with it. Which happens to be very good from my experiences. The main thing which stops young people and indeed even older people is that a lot of people think its all old retired people who work on the railways. I can recall a passenger seeing a group of us teenagers working on the railways and saying he thought it was mainly retired people who work down their and that having seen us he wss going to seriously consider volunteering.

    Also with young people could a video be made by someone like the heritage association to portray youngsters as not all being stereotypical trainspotters which if seen by some young people might persuade them to join.
     
  7. davesrailwayphotos

    davesrailwayphotos Member

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    I think you're maybe over estimating a lot of problems.

    The position of steam railways has changed within society. Whereas at one time it was people who couldn't afford to let go of the past, or boys playing with toys, there has been sufficient gap between the end of regular steam and 2008 to now be seen as viable tourist propositions. To be satisfactory to the tourist market, the most important things are the courteous nature of the staff, and cleanliness of facilities, including coaches. As long as it is steam on the front, most of them are indifferent to what it is, especially if it is big and looks good. But the tourist will not be satisfied with 'just' an engine ride. What else can your line offer? Scenery? Walks? Other attractions such as museums or engine sheds? - Arguably more important than this is that when we say something WILL run, that it does, and hopefully to time. With pay-by-the-hour car parking, people planning multiple things in one day, delays will not be easily tolerated, indeed in my own experience i have seen irate tourists upon learning that a train will be delayed (for operational reasons) even if just for 10 minutes.

    But the 'tourist' and the 'enthusiast' must be interwoven. Without tourists, there would be no financial viability, but without enthusiasts no-one would run trains without charging for their services. The other form of enthusiast (the non-worker) is those that travel around all lines, especially if a new loco is out. Having new locos also decreases the wear-rate on older locos. How many locos have we seen flogged almost to death? My understanding is that Dame Vera Lynn on the Moors needs major boiler work done, partially because of the phenomenal amount of mileage that has been put in by this locomotive in preservation so far

    This attitude of 'the older guys are going what are we going to do' also seems outdated. There are plenty of younger volunteers on our railways, including myself, and also people who take up less physically demanding jobs in their retirement. The only thing that appears to my eyes at least to have diminished is the Ex-BR skills base. Is this essential for running preserved lines? Some could even argue that it is better to NOT have Ex-BR footplate staff, because whereas they always had 'another loco in the shed' if they broke the one they were operating, as a rule preserved railways do not have this luxury, instead having to substitute with diesels or even canceling services, thus failing in the previously outlined tourist objectives.

    Is the Golden Age ending? No. The age of 'playing trains' has ended. This now has to be reserved very much for gala days. Many railways now run the same engine(s) for many days on end, allowing that engine to get proper use, rather than hot-cold-hot-cold, leading to increased stress on the boiler.
    If the attractions we offer to the public are good, then people will come. But if (as with some railways) there is the impression of an 'old boys club' being run, then people WILL stay away.
     
  8. 61624

    61624 Part of the furniture

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    Whilst I agree with much of what has been said, I think there will still be a late flowering of this golden age, as we move into the legacy era. The railway preservation movement was really built on those who were in early middle age back in 1968 and they are now reaching the age where they are falling off their twigs in increasing numbers. Legacies are becoming an increasingly important factor in many railway's income as a result, and I think will help to keep the snowball rolling a little longer yet. Eventually, though, I think there will inevitably be a retrenchment and then it will become a case of survival of the fittest.

    To a certain extent the future is in our own hands - we need to interest and train the next generation.
     
  9. Bean-counter

    Bean-counter Part of the furniture

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    Can I add to the list of gloom:

    1. Infrastructure projects on a scale never before faced or funded. A few lines have had major bridge rebuild to undertake - the SVR have spent over £100k on Victoria Bridge more than once I believe - the last time was I think £300k plus, and there was of course their flood damage bill at between £3.5 and £4 million. More lines will have many major bridges or other items of infrastructure to renew, and we could all, with global warming, suffer flood damage of some scale.

    2. The need to purchase vital rolling stock upon which the line depends from the benefactors who first provided it, of their decendents. Even at under current value (as, fortunately, has occurred more than once), this can be a huge cost. Again, the SVR has a Rolling Stock Fund which has monies in place to cover coaches, but must lines would struggle if locos were put for sale, even diesel locos - the Llangollen is current facing the possibility (though not probability) of all its mainline diesels and some shunters leaving.

    3. A sense amongst the wider memberships of lines that all has been well in the past, so these new and far greater challenges and threats are nothing they need concern themselves about. The management of lines face a no win situation - state things too bluntly, and hence gloomily, and vital backers such as their bank, grant making bodies and local authorities will withdraw support; understate it and the members and possibility even volunteers (who generally assume that management are idiots in my experience!) will assume business as usual and not perceive any chance of a threat to their lines survival.

    Many years ago, Michael Draper (allegedly) told Steam Railway that the movement contained the seeds of its own destruction. I believe he meant by over-expanding with new projects and that still risks spreading business, financial support and especially volunteer labour too thinly for any to survivie (in a nightmare scenario) but I suspect the need to provide constant "good news" to periodicals, lack of time and people to take forward long terms plans and an attitude throughout preservation organisations of "its has always come good in the past, so it must do now" are also long standing and potentially even more fatal.
     
  10. chessie

    chessie Active Member

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    A lot of very relevant points have been raised above. I think that by far and away the biggest threat will be the pressure on peoples' shrinking disposable incomes - a trip on a preserved railway line is very much a luxury after all.
    However also lurking in the background, in this age of litigation, health and safety etc. one wonders how long we can remain exempt from the (expensive) requirement to upgrade to modern safety standards. Central locking anyone?
     
  11. ghost

    ghost Well-Known Member

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    This has already happened to the RPSI - they have had to spend considerable sums, and lose a lot of business in order to fit central locking to their rake of mainline MK2s.


    Keith
     
  12. Ann Clark

    Ann Clark Member

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    All of the above makes depressing reading. I agree that in the present climate it is difficult to see how long the current number of small lines with low turnovers will be able to continue. As highlighted previously it is more concerning that the skills needed to keep our steam locos running will gradually dwindle. To prevent this happening more railways with full time engineering departments need to be offering apprenticeships to those young men or women who show the aptitude and willing to undertake such a grueling undertaking. Without an investment in the skills needed now they will eventually be lost. I know that some railways and others working in this sector do take on the occasional apprentice but we need more of them to ensure the future of these wonderful feats of engineering. :smt017
     
  13. John Elliot Jnr

    John Elliot Jnr Active Member

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    We should certainly be concerned by present trading conditions, but I do not think there is cause to be overwhelmed by despondency. As a consequence of the current situation I think we will see the best heritage railways continuing to improve, albeit modestly, whilst we may see some at the other end of the spectrum calling it a day.

    As to the future and the lack of skills, I predict great changes, though again, not in a morbidly pessimistic way. Clearly the days are coming to an end when every railway can continue with the level of engineering self-sufficiency that they have enjoyed thus far. Instead, we will see the consolidation of 'centres of excellence' which will be playing an increasingly vital role in keeping things running. For example, the time will come when, instead of tackling ten-year overhauls themselves, increasing numbers of railways will routinely send locomotives away to be overhauled under contract. In other words, it will be about sending the work to where the skills are rather than the less viable approach of trying to attract the skills to where the work is. With the best will in the world, most railways just don't have the ability to train the new generation of mechanical engineers and other skilled staff they will need, but perhaps the more established centres might. In fact, isn't that what's emerging already?

    So, we will see railways becoming much more focused, efficient and visitor orientated. With costs spiralling, obligations such as health and safety becoming ever more stringent, coupled with the ever heightening expectations of visitors, whilst I'm not sure that "bubble's going to burst", I'm damn sure there's a big sort out on the horizon. Railway preservation will be around for many, many years to come, but in the future it will be very different from what we recognise today. It will have to be.
     
  14. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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    Whilst a good summary of the problems this thread has few solutions to offer. The above affects me as my son is desperate to get trained in mechanical engineering with the desire to work on steam traction particularly. Despite his life long interest and total commitment as a volunteer on the lines he supports not one has yet been able to offer any full-time training.

    This is the major short term problem ! With few exceptions railways are taking on volunteers with the experience they need as this saves them using resources on training up their own staff. The situation is paralleled in football where many teams use their finances to buy players rather than train young players within their own club facilities. The result in footballing has been to see the bought-in players able to move between football clubs causing the price to go up and therefore widening the gap between clubs with money ( to buy ) and those without money who lose income as supporters drift to the clubs with "named" players.


    This is reflected in preservation to the extent that railways depending on the skill of volunteers only place themselves at risk if the skills move elsewhere. The current proposal by the Llangollen Diesel Group to downsize its fleet has arisen purely because it is not able to receive the quantity of skills needed to support 5 locomotives and it is now seeking to retain a fleet that matches the skills / personnel which are available.

    How many more steam preservation projects have been suspended / cancelled / postponed due simply to the shortfall in bodies / skills that are required - and how many projects can afford to pay for the training necessary to ensure that it has the skills available ?

    Until this conundrum of paying for training / taking in skills is resolved the individual lines will have difficulty in securing a long-term future. One can only hope that the communal experience of the recent SVR flooding and the consequence for a wide area around the line has helped clarify the importance of heritage lines to an area and the need of firms within that community to support the heritage lines in the copntribution to the required skills provision.
     
  15. P&JR

    P&JR Well-Known Member

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    I have to admit one or two questions which all or most lines need to ask themselves have been posed by this thread but, as someone at the younger end of the volunteer spectrum but also one who is fortunate enough to occupy some more senior positions (manager and director) I can see both sides of the coin.

    A lot of the older people I come accross do reach the age where they start to question whether the whole world is going to end. This is not just a railway thing as far as I can see. Pretty much everyone seems to reach a certain age, starts reading the Daily Mail and ends up convinced that the whole world is rubbish and is about to fall down around them!

    Training is a fair point, it's something that gets discussed often at board/management meetings. I don't have the magical answer other than continuing to encourage younger people by allowing them to learn on the job rather than simply deciding that young people 'know nothing' and 'aren't worth the effort' or 'aren't like they were in "my" day' which are attitudes I've seen and heard of.

    However biggest point I have to make here is that right at the beginning when the Bluebell and Middleton were around and pretty much nobody else, letters were everywhere in the contemporary press saying that 'there's too much preservation' or that 'one more line will burst the bubble'. I think these people were proved wrong and I think will go on for the large part being proved wrong.

    As with all things in life sometimes some preservation sites may cease, but to say that the end of the world is nigh... sorry I just don't believe it.

    Just as a final thought, all the stuff that normally gets trotted out about a lack of steam engines, does anybody have any hard evidence to back this up? I do wonder whether its just a case that most lines are running more days than ever and therefore need more engines?
     
  16. stallis

    stallis New Member

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    One area which i have given some thought to recently is that involvement in this sector is in itself a valable educational experience. When I first started in this game I was still at school (nearly 30 years ago!) - getting involved at the railway I suffered alot of mickey taking (volunteering not being considered "cool"). But it was a valuable learning experience for life - I was trained (formally and informally) in so many skills many that have proved very useful in later life - from serving teas to mixing concrete, from rivetting to roofing, from installing telephones to painting coach roofs etc etc. I guess it was like having a general practical skills course alongside the formal education at school (as well as keeping you fit).

    Where is this relevant to this debate - well I have long held that I benefitted greatly from being involved in this sector when a youngster. Encouraging youngsters would be beneficial both to the long term viability of the sector, but is also a great life experience in its own right. Now some of the activities I took part in as a youngster may not be "allowed" in todays H&S environment - but encouraging youngsters in and getting them involved in as big a range of activities as possible is both helpful for us, and in the long term for them (though they may not realize it at the time).

    I will try to put my two-pennyworth in on some of the other subjects raised in this debate later.
     
  17. 46118

    46118 Part of the furniture

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    Other contributors have mentioned this, but it is worth emphasising, that training younger people in the skills of steam locomotive repair and maintenance is vital. How often do you see a photograph of "a railway workshop somewhere in the UK" and the chap working the lathe is well into his sixties?
    Surely with all the Government-sponsored initiatives our heritage lines can link up with some of the schemes around to ensure younger people are trained in thse necessary skills? Maybe there is Government money out there, and link-ups with technical colleges and the like? I say "younger people", but it does not have to be only teenagers on engineering apprenticeships, it could be people up to middle age who are still going to see twenty or so years gainfull employment.

    Whether every major steam railway can afford to be a self-contained unit for major steam loco repair/overhaul is open to question. Maybe the movement might need to move to "centres of exellence" at a smaller number of dedicated facilities not necessarily tied into a heritage line and its day to day running fleet as such.

    One issue we appear to be able to do little about is the contraction of our engineering base in the UK. Where do we get substantial forgings done nowadays? And dont most of the loco tyres come from South Africa now?

    46118
     
  18. Maunsell man

    Maunsell man Well-Known Member

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    What an interesting and thought provocking discussion. It is good to see some realism on this site and not lets keep the head in the clouds attitude that is prevalant usually. One of the bigger threats must be the constant dilution of human and financial resources. More lines starting, more class 47s preserved, more replicas and the list goes on Lesser available finance, less labour, less less mobility of customers through rising fuel prices and economic conditions and still the movement expands uncontollably. There are going to be a lot of casulties in the coming years. Lets hope this is limited to the badly thought out embryo schemes that keep appearing and not one of the quality visitor attractions that add value to the local economy and act as flagships for the movement.
     
  19. Nigel Clark

    Nigel Clark Member Loco Owner

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    A lot of very good points being made on this thread, the initial post by NAL was well thought out and has succeeded in provoking discussion.

    We certainly need to find ways of encouraging more youngsters to get involved, they are the future of heritage railways after all. Unless there is adequate supervision available it is often difficult to find them suitable jobs/tasks to get involved in and keep their interest, if they get bored or are given menial tasks you won't keep them. Many railways have developed 'youth groups' which are doing a sterling job in attracting the younger generation.

    There has been a lot of talk of the development of 'centres of engineering excellence' for undertaking overhauls of locos and rolling stock and suggestion that railways should move towards this method rather than tackling the work themselves. There are already capacity problems, I think many such 'centres' will confirm they have full order books and slots have to be booked well in advance. Whilst it is nice to send your poorly loco or coach away for someone else to work on it costs lots and lots of lovely money (a commodity which we are already saying is stretched). The main advantage in contracting out the work is (hopefully) a shorter turnaround due to the fact that people are being paid to work on the job 5 or 6 days a week rather than relying on volunteers turning up as and when they are available, but that mere fact of paying someone puts your costs up substantially. That has to be countered by the shorter 'down-time' of the item concerned but we are bock to cost/benefit. Many railways/owners are finding that they don't have sufficient volunteers to undertake overhauls so they look to contract-out where possible. Some loco owners have resorted to sale/transfer of ownership of their beloved possession so as not to have to go through the stress of another overhaul, this has generally been due to the increasing age of the volunteers and their reducing ability to remain actively involved with the project. I think we may see more of this happening in the future. Railways need to be able to tackle as much of the work as possible and train people in the necessary skills, however many railways also lack the necessary facilities.

    We certainly do need the engineering centres and I'm sure there will be more than sufficient work to keep them afloat and be able to develop their facilites further, as has already been mentioned overhauls (for both locos and coaches) are becoming heavier and more involved as the items see more and more use and specialist attention is ever more necessary. However, railways need to able to do a lot of the basic work themselves to both reduce the costs and avoid the 'waiting-lists' for these centres. Development on both fronts, and a need to increase the skills base. It all comes back to money though and we have to raise it somehow. This reminds me of recent discussion on another thread regarding realistic hire fees; carriage overhauls have to be paid for also and this is generally an issue for the railway itself to fund from general income (its even harder to get donations or sell shares in carriages), but if you don't have decent carriages the punters are less likely to come back for another visit!

    Yet another complication is the availability of materials (very long lead times in some cases) and the constantly rising prices of these.

    I am sure the heritage movement will rise to the challenge but it will require strong and focused leadership. Unfortunately there will be those who fall by the wayside, and the big-boys in our ranks are just as much in danger as the rest if their management isn't careful. But we have come a long way and, in most cases, adapted very well to the changing requirements year by year; we still need the old optimism, but tinged with more than a bit of realism!
     
  20. beaky

    beaky New Member

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    One thing that has been on my mind for a while with regard to this point, and I have tentatively mentioned it to my own railway project (I say tentatively because I am a newcomer) is the lack of visibility to the general public, I mean in terms of publicity. In my 20's I used to be an animal rights protester (ouch, can hear the crescendo about to descend from that one) and one thing that I used to help with and organise myself was street stalls. Normally, the done thing was to obtain the council's permission first, but often it was the case that if you weren't hassling anybody, you could just set up a pasting table with some poster boards resting against it and a load of leaflets on top. Despite the fact that Im no longer into animal rights, I quite often see similar stalls now when I occasionally go into Bristol. The advantages of this type of thing are that you perch yourself in a busy High Street shopping centre, somewhere where you are visible but not a nuisance, and just wait, and if people are interested they'll come up to you and chat and find out more.

    This is, in my opinion, a really good way to grab the attention of people, particularly young people, and if preservationists could get away with it, it would mean increased visibility to the general public in a place where the last thing they are thinking about is preserved railways. I think the only way we are going to get more young people in on the act is to be more proactive and in-yer-face with the publicity. I don't really see this happening at the moment, at least not in my area, and its no good just waiting for volunteers, I think, as with a lot of things these days, you have to go out there and 'hard sell' the idea, to go out there and grab volunteers.

    Well, I might be off the wall with this one, but it was just an idea anyway, so all thoughts on this welcome.
     

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