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Trawsfynydd and Blaenau Ffestiniog Railway

Discussion in 'Heritage railways & Centres in the Uk' started by WickhamofWare, Aug 21, 2009.

  1. Reading General

    Reading General Part of the furniture

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    I'm not saying a line of a couple of hundred yards is desirable. It surely is common sense though that there is point where a line becomes too long and the law of diminishing returns comes into play.

    What passengers are these that disagree with me? Hypothetical ones presumably.

    Whilst not berating me as I'm not a cyclist, you then challenge me to come up with details I obviously will not have. If you want to further your arguement, it's you needs to come up with the statistics and facts.

    I find your posting style strange.I'm not sure what the "neither" is that most of Wales does not have and I'm at a loss to know why this should bring shame on the UK.

    CAn I repeat a qqyuestion I asked earlier. Are your supporters predominantly Welsh?
     
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  2. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Part of the furniture

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    This notion that there should be x amount of miles per square kilometre of a country I find very bizarre. You get heritage railways where they can be sustained - if lots can be sustained in a small area you get lots, if few can then you don't get very many, it's not a basic human right to live within 20 miles of a heritage railway you know! As it stands, I struggle to see how the area which is sustaining the longest heritage railway in the world (?) can stand any more in terms of money and volunteers.

    I can't see how it's going to attract any more people into the area either. How many people currently don't visit that would with another steam railway in the area? If you're interested in steam trains the first place you'll go is the one with the slightly narrower tracks. This may be an advantage to the T&B as it would attract visitors to the line who wouldn't travel the same distance just to visit the T&B, but actually generating new visitors? I can't see it.

    Oh, and being facetious I could point out Didcot, Barrow Hill etc. in response to your first point, but I do agree with your general drift, most passengers will want a decent length ride. But everyone's idea of the perfect length will vary, and may depend on who they've got in tow with them!
     
  3. Tuska

    Tuska New Member

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    @ Rosedale, congrats, both Scotland and Wales bring shame to the UK in how disproportionate their heritage standard gauge railways are compared to England's.

    @Reading General, I take it then you haven't volunteered much and had angry customers in your ear, attacking you as if you are the entire organisation shouting "was that it!?!" Well, I have. It's not pleasant. And with all due respects, you want statistics? Google is your friend, my friend. If you want to research the decline of cycle hire shops etc, do that in a separate thread, or in your own time, don't derail the subject further here.

    I fear you are all not in touch with customers here. They want distance, more so if they spent half the day commuting to your attraction.
     
  4. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    There's also Welsh Bicknor, Welsh by name but firmly in Herefordshire.
     
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  5. 35B

    35B Part of the furniture

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    Why does gauge matter so much?

    If I were staying near Blaenau Ffestiniog, with a restored Trawsfynnydd branch, I’d have a choice of 30 miles (main line), 15 miles (Festiniog) or 7 miles (Trawsfynnydd). If distance wins, why would I choose Trawsfynnydd?


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  6. Tuska

    Tuska New Member

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    You touched upon an interesting point here. And I suspect this is where the majority of the "hostilities" come from.

    Let us look at the facts: Blaenau Ffestiniog and Trawsfynydd, are not in competition with each other.

    Both offer different experiences and different histories. There is no justification for feeling threatened here. Blaenau Ffestiniog is an unrivaled historic line. And Trawsfynydd is part of the British rail network, and will be part of that network for another 100 years. We'll all likely be dead and gone, but Trawsfynydd will still be around as the decommissioning of the nuclear site proceeds. The team simply want it getting some use other than moving the garbage to Sellafield.

    Wales would like to see Standard Gauge return, because its part of its rich history. A deprived history that has been scrapped, sold and shipped off to England and god knows where. You know what's really sad? There are children in South Wales that don't even know what a Great Western locomotive is. Ironic, considering the GWR standardization program and cretin inspectors condemned all the working Welsh valley locomotives from multiple companies to make way for their machines. We've lost so darn much... We're not taking your Didcot away from you or anything like that. But at least allow us to have a few working examples of engines and proper classes that actually belonged on the main line of these eras. At least permit us to have a few lines scattered around the place.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2017
  7. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator Friend

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    Saying its a fact does not make it one. There is not an unlimited pool of visitors with an unlimited amount of time and cash. Of course there will be competition.
    You seem to be conveniently ignoring the fact that there are standard gauge preserved railways in Wales, including in North Wales.
    Additionally if you are advocating preservation of a standard gauge line in North Wales, why are you giving as an example "children in South Wales that don't even know what a Great Western locomotive is"?
     
  8. Forestpines

    Forestpines Member

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    I am fairly sure the majority of children in Bristol, Swindon, Wolverhampton or Westbourne Park wouldn't know what a Great Western locomotive is or be able to recognise one. I would say "shame on you, England!" ... except that would be ridiculous hyperbole.
     
  9. 35B

    35B Part of the furniture

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    Thank you for your reply. I have no axe to grind, nor any issue with the idea that a preserved railway to Trawsfynnydd might be of interest, nor any vested interest (my last rail trip in the area was in 1998 on the last rail tour to Trawsfynnydd). My question was rather about why this scheme is desirable, and what lies behind.

    Your answers, sadly, do nothing to encourage my support. Having made the point about distance, you simply ignore my question about the impact it would have on a visitor to Blaenau faced with three options.

    You then fail, utterly, to provide a convincing answer on the relevance of gauge to a visitor. So I’ll ask again; why would the gauge make a difference to a visitor?

    I make no comment on the level of railway preservation in Wales, or why Wales has sustained fewer, typically smaller, schemes than England.


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  10. Matt78

    Matt78 Active Member

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    @Tuska, I can certainly agree with the point about the lack of copper caps in South Wales. With my enthusiast hat on it's been a long time bug-bearer of mine. However with my commercial hat on I know in my heart of hearts that the Gwili is barely now long enough to justify one and that it remains financially more prudent to run the Austerities. I expect the P & B would probably take a similar view at the moment.

    I hope that this will change but a good start would be to focus on the two that we do have (9629 and 28) and get them operating. Both seem some way off at present however.

    It is by no means impossible though, one only has to look at the reputation that the East Somerset is now getting. The biggest issue in South Wales is a split focus on so many levels, both with new starter schemes in mind and even on the individual railways themselves.

    Regards

    Matt
     
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  11. Reading General

    Reading General Part of the furniture

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    i was volunteering before you were born in all likelihood, surely you can see the point that a line can get so long that the extra expenses outweigh the extra benefit received.

    You brought sustrans into this.



    So , how many of your supporters are Welsh, ball park figure would do.
     
  12. DisusedBranch

    DisusedBranch Active Member

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    What 'problem' (the correct English is 'me' BTW)?
    Which is precisely my point. You chose to accuse them of being 'negative' towards extending your house, yet chose not to explain why, to give us the opportunity to make a fair assessment about the merits of both sides of the argument - which rather accurately reflects your approach to the topic at hand. You say 'consider that' and then only offer your side of the argument to 'consider'. And then start calling people names, which is very grown up. Oh and please don't go down the 'sir' route: You don't know if I'm male or not (ironically at the same time berating me because 'I know nothing about you!') and we're people on a 21st century internet forum, not characters from a Jane Austen novel.
    In fairness, Paul, if someone had responded to one of your comments like that you'd be claiming 'personal attack' ;)
    May I ask how well you know Scotland? We have miles and miles of disused railways. The WIBN brigade would no doubt love all of these scenic routes to be reopened. However they are disused for a reason... because they run through many miles of very sparsely populated rural landscape.
    I have said it before and I will say it again... the issue with many such rural routes is not 'why these railways closed' but 'why were they ever built in the first place when, even before the advent of the motor car, they never had a snowball in hell's chance of ever turning a profit.'
    The 'Railway Mania' was very aptly named. It seems nowadays there is a small-but-vocal element of the railway enthusiast fraternity that has WIBN Mania.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2017
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  13. DisusedBranch

    DisusedBranch Active Member

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    I am usually reluctant to quote Wikipedia, however for once I think there is a passage in the Railway Mania entry which is very apt...

    As with other bubbles, the Railway Mania became a self-promoting cycle based purely on over-optimistic speculation. As the dozens of companies formed began to operate and the simple unviability of many of them became clear, investors began to realise that railways were not all as lucrative and as easy to build as they had been led to believe.

    Sound familiar?
     
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  14. Forestpines

    Forestpines Member

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    The reason the T&BF route was built - some 25 years after the main Mania - is pretty clear from history. Samuel Holland, Blaenau quarry lease-holder, thought the Festiniog (to use the contemporary orthography) were abusing their monopoly position and charging him too much. The original plan was for a 2ft gauge line from Blaenau to Talsarnau: the first stage was built as the Festiniog & Blaenau Railway and the remainder was passed by parliament as the Merionethshire Railway; however the FR's response, to open Minffordd station and yard (which happened a few months after the Merionethshire Railway Act was passed) made the plans of somewhat doubtful purpose. Holland therefore threw his lot in with the Great Western, who were looking to use the Ruabon-Dolgellau line as a jumping-off point to access the Blaenau slate traffic, particularly that heading northwards. In the event, as the line to Bala took ten years or so to build, they didn't get to Blaenau before the LNWR did and therefore their line was never the best route to anywhere.
     
  15. paulhitch

    paulhitch Part of the furniture

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    We correspond reasonably frequently OP, most recently last night. Most things we agree on.

    PH
     
  16. 30854

    30854 Well-Known Member

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    Indeed we do .... and note that Paul's cold showers are invariably aimed at ideas.

    Can anyone here claim not to know of some 'grand design' somewhere on our heritage lines which couldn't have used one of those before rose tinted folly swallowed hard won funds? Some lines are still working round frankly unnecessay operational problems resulting from questionable (diplomatic version) decisions made which ignored rational objections made at the time.

    We're all grown ups here (well, for the most part!) .... and this is a discussion forum after all. Unless things get unduly personal, there's no occasion to become aireated. My credo is always review .... preview .... amend, preferably before hitting the 'Reply to Post' button and sometimes I even manage to stick to it! As the old engineering dictum has it "Measure twice, cut once".

    From my own perspective, I'd be very worried if we did all agree on everything. If that happened, we'd be less a forum and more of a cult!

    We accept you ... one of us ... we accept you ... one of us ... None too attractive, Eh, folks?
     
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  17. Rosedale

    Rosedale Member

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    This is nonsensical. If you don't count miniature railways there are more heritage railways and railway museums in the Snowdonia National Park alone (just over two thousand square kilometres) than there are in North, West, East, and South Yorkshire put together (about eleven thousand square kilometres). Wales is not starved of railways.

    As to one of your other points, if you live in Cardiff and you wish to see a working GWR engine then it's about forty miles to Norchard and seventy to Cheltenham. If you live in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and you wish to see a working LNER engine then it's ninety miles to Pickering or one hundred and forty miles to Bo'ness. Nobody in Wales is uniquely deprived of access to regionally appropriate steam.
     
  18. Steamage

    Steamage Part of the furniture

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    So, to sum up... the BFf&Th route is protected, at least as far as the power station. No one is going to be allowed to build on it nor turn it into a relief road. It will be many years before it's actually needed for the decommissioning work. In the mean time it's just sitting there. Trees are growing through the track-bed, water is seeping into buildings and bridges, and any portable vaguely-valuable items have long since vanished into the low Welsh clouds.

    Along come a few highly motivated souls who think it's a shame to leave a "perfectly good" railway to decay like this. There are many reasons why they might get more reward for their efforts supporting an existing scheme or just doing something completely different, but no, resurrecting this particular piece of line is their sort of challenge. Fair enough and good luck to them.

    This isn't just an FB group. There are people out in the wet Welsh weather grubbing up trees, digging ditches and re-roofing a goods shed. They raised several thousand pounds earlier this year to buy some machinery. Small beer compared to some other schemes, maybe, but not nothing.

    Many of us will think they are misguided, fool-hardy or worse. We can, and should, point out the many difficulties they'll have to overcome, though I suspect they'll be aware of most of them. Better still, we can offer advice and constructive criticism. We shouldn't make the mistake of thinking we can persuade them to stop what they're doing for themselves and go and do it for someone else instead. If the project really is too big and too unrewarding to complete then they'll discover that for themselves. Who knows what uses the experience they've gained might then be put to?
     
  19. DisusedBranch

    DisusedBranch Active Member

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    Thanks FP - a very interesting account.
     
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  20. DisusedBranch

    DisusedBranch Active Member

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    Unfortunately there is a type of WIBN-er to whom experienced preservationists on this 'ere forum have many times tried to do exactly that, but who have not had the slightest interest in listening. These WIBN-ers invariably seem to be the type who respond in an overly aggressive fashion to anyone who says anything that is in the slightest bit below "Wow, what a brilliant idea" on the scale of responses.
     

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