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Wensleydale Railway - Northallerton West

Discussion in 'Heritage railways & Centres in the Uk' started by s1m0nad, Nov 10, 2014.

  1. northernsteam

    northernsteam Member

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    Having read the above Northern Echo article I think the words "Interim chair of the Board, Carl Les, said they were disappointed that someone felt they should put a confidential matter into the public domain" are worrying. As charities, the AGM's of both groups are open to the public and the railway relies upon members of the public,(members and supporters), for its funds and volunteers.
    Let us not become another WSR debate please.
    If those who are really concerned about this proposal attend the plc AGM in the morning then they can voice their concerns and offer their support to do it a different way. I am sure that the Trust AGM in the afternoon will have the decision from the morning and it will be discussed, I hope!
    Do I really want to be a member of a challenging railway project , yes, do I want to support it, yes, do I want to see it chopped off in its prime never to achieve its goal, NO.
    To see it declaring the great news about Leyburn Station and at the same time in this situation is terrible.
    I await the decision before I sign up as a sponsor.
     
  2. FearOfManchester

    FearOfManchester New Member

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    https://photos.wr-rail-link.co.uk/2017/2017-08.php?id=1504480545#nogo
    Augusts round of photos are up, a few photos of aysgarth have been included due to the potential impending sale, the station is clearly very well cared for by volunteers and has a demonstration line laid. The cafe looks well filled with punters and is probably a good revenue earner which could be lost.

    https://photos.wr-rail-link.co.uk/news/news.php?id=1504480935 Here is the link to the latest newsletter, the bit about aysgarth details the work amount of work that has been put in to restoring the site. It also shows how much of a shock the sale announcement was to the station group, who seem to have called a halt to the timeline of restoration work that they were undertaking. They seem to have had quite a good august in terms of visitors which makes the sale all the more bewildering.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2017
  3. The Dainton Banker

    The Dainton Banker Member

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    A bit of your above comment seems to have gone missing :oops: but I have to agree that it looks almost suicidal to sell / abandon the Aysgarth station. This proposal seems completely counter-productive as, as well as putting the station itself at risk, it is likely to lose the support of the Aysgarth volunteeers. As I understand it there is a little under five mile of line needed to reconnect to Redmire. Are there any particular obstacles to achieving this other than the cost of new track and, perhaps, a lack of volunteers ? Perhaps an all out project to complete this, supported by the sort of media and on-line presence demonstrated by the GWSR with their Broadway extension (for example) would bring in the financial and personnel help that is needed ?
    Is there anybody here who can give us a better idea of what has prompted the current situation ? Is it just a loss of confidence within the organisation or are there other issues which are not yet in the open ?
     
  4. FearOfManchester

    FearOfManchester New Member

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    The atmosphere I get from reading into it is just money troubles and desperation has led to this, from reading the newsletter it seems the aysgarth group had a sensible plan to convert a cottage on the site to holiday accommodation in order to make the site financially neutral or a net contributor. That's all been thrown up in the air now. I imagine this will be a real morale crusher and will lead to an exodus of volunteers if they go through with this.
     
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  5. northernsteam

    northernsteam Member

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    Yes there is an obstacle in the way of Aysgarth, namely a bridge over the river west of Redmire, see the attached link for the action taken to solve the problem. http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/13877863.Wensleydale_Railway_buy_bridge_to_allow_Aysgarth_link/
    Not a small sum raised for this, though there are 2 spans saved so one can be used elsewhere up the line. I agree with your sentiments. I wonder who is enquiring about support via the Aysgarth Blog?
     
  6. AndyY

    AndyY Member

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    And an exodus of 'armchair supporters' like myself, who became a member to give my little bit of support to the scheme to rebuild ultimately back to the S&C. I suspect the railway will be doomed to irrevocable decline and failure if this sale goes ahead, so I'll not renew my membership or give any more donations in the future in that event.

    Andy
     
  7. Railboy

    Railboy New Member

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    http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/ne...al_meeting_could_decide_railway__39_s_future/
    this is THE MEETING, where the future of the Wensleydale Railway is being decided...

    I really hope they find another way to generate income in order to reduce the heavy load of debts, which is lefts the railway stagnating. Selling Aysgarth station is not a sustainable decision and there are surely other ways to stabilize the company and the whole railway financially.
     
  8. 61624

    61624 Part of the furniture

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    They should arrange a week-long visit from Flying Scotsman!
     
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  9. AndyY

    AndyY Member

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    It certainly wouldn't do any harm!!!
     
  10. northernsteam

    northernsteam Member

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    It perhaps should be mentioned that AFAIK there are other sections of track bed between Redmire and Hawes that are not owned by WR or the County Council so purchase would have to be arranged with others. It may be that the railway should concentrate on Northallerton to Leyburn/Redmire until it can consolidate its position as a worthwhile heritage railway with a good track length and onward extension possibilities, certainly it has plenty to do to achieve that status. Hey-ho, I shall attend the AGM and see what happens.
     
  11. The Dainton Banker

    The Dainton Banker Member

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    I thought the current issue was the proposed disposal of Aylsgarth station. Given that it is already owned by the Society, and that the area it is in would make it an attractive drawcard for passenger traffic, there seems to be quite a good case for extending the rail that far. I asked above (post 123) whether there were any major obstacles, other than the cost of track, to this extension and the only item seems to be a bridge replacement for which the railway already has the spans.
    Whilst the long term target may be to get to Hawes and then the S & C connection, these lie well in the future. On the other hand, as others have pointed out, Redmire is not a particularly attractive drawcard terminus whereas Aylesgarth would be. It seems to me that some positive marketing and fundraising could get an extension underway quite quickly and, once established, this would generate extra traffic for the line with a consequent improvement in cash flow.
     
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  12. AndyY

    AndyY Member

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    Absolutely!
    I honestly believe that the decision today will be the 'make or break' point for the railway. If the Aysgarth site is disposed of the railway will be on an irrevocable decline into oblivion.
    Andy
     
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  13. northernsteam

    northernsteam Member

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    I hope not! In 6 hours we may know the answer.
     
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  14. AndyY

    AndyY Member

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    So do I, but I believe this is on a par with the issue when Nabarro planned to sell-off the Bridgnorth station site. Imagine the SVR without it.....................

    Andy
     
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  15. 47406

    47406 Active Member

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    http://www.richmondshiretoday.co.uk...ers-vote-favour-selling-off-aysgarth-station/

    Wensleydale Railway Plc shareholders have voted in favour of selling off Aysgarth Station to a private rail enthusiast to clear its debts and secure its survival.

    The vote was taken today at the company’s annual general meeting held in Leyburn Methodist church hall, with shareholders come from across the country to attend.

    The vote to sell the asset came despite concern among some supporters who felt the station should not be sold off as it could prevent the line’s eventual aim of running trains from Northallerton to Garsdale.

    Board director Steve Davies told shareholders the sale of Aysgarth Station would create capital to invest in infrastructure and significantly reduce mortgage and utilities bills.

    A development plan was outlined with objectives that included assisting the new owner to connect Aysgarth Station to the line, which currently stops at Redmire.

    The aim for a new station at Castle Bolton was discussed.

    A plan to improve Leyburn Station and make it the eastern end of a regular shuttle service to Castle Bolton and eventually Aysgarth, which is considering the most picturesque part of the line, was also outlined.

    Other objectives of improving Leeming Bar station, building a maintenance facility at Leeming Bar, improving volunteering and bringing automated level crossing equipment up to date were also included in the plan.

    Mr Davies told Richmondshire Today afterwards that the meeting had been very positive and there was now clarity over the direction of the line, with the focus now on building a successful heritage line rather than a public railway.

    He added: “We have a mandate to enact a heritage line that can hold its own against the best in the UK.”

    Mr Davies dismissed claims the sale was risky.

    “The sale will result in Aysgarth Station remaining a railway site.

    “Firstly it will release capital to invest in steam infrastructure which is what the public wants and secondly the new owner is going to lay track.”

    Former Wensleydale Railway chair Ruth Annison, who before the meeting had expressed concerns about the sale, said she still, had reservations.

    She said: “There’s no doubt it’s a strong board with a very strong aim, but the sale is still a risky strategy.

    “The intended buyer is not being revealed so we cannot check their background.”

    She said she had received more than a hundred letters from people concerned about the sale ahead of the meeting.

    “The aim has always been to have tracks running from Northallerton to Garsdale and buying selling Aysgarth Station there is a fear we are giving away control of the golden nugget.”

    But Wensleydale Railway general manager Nigel Park said the vote allowed the staff and volunteers to “crack on” building a successful heritage line.


    Documents seen ahead of the meeting by Richmondshire Today revealed that the railway is in a difficult financial situation.

    The PLC board is looking to improve its finances with initiatives including enhanced catering and more steam services.

    However, the documents say that the railway also needs to reduce costs and realise the value of assets.

    One of its few assets is Aysgarth Station, which it pays a mortgage on.

    The PLC has been looking to sell the station and an offer has been made from someone described as a “wealthy railway-focused individual”.

    They are offering to buy the station for £400,000, which is almost the valuation price.

    The sale of the station would then allow the railway to clear the £195,000 mortgage on the site and invest the rest in the running of the line.

    The report put before shareholders today states that the new owner would reinstate the track at Aysgarth Station.

    He would then operate it as a hobby railway, with public access on certain days of the year.

    The man is also interested in extending the line eastwards back towards Redmire, acting in partnership with Wensleydale Railway, and has expressed an interest in extending westwards towards Hawes too.

    The report states: “The board is convinced that this situation offers the best of both worlds: a significant capital sum for the railway, and the extensive development of Aysgarth Station and possibly reinstatement of track along the route eastwards.”

    However, the report added: “Shareholders should, however, be in no doubt of the critical nature of this sale to the very survival of the railway.”

    But not everyone backs the plan and there was a ‘Save Aysgarth Station’ banner on show at today’s meeting.

    [​IMG]

    Before the meeting shareholder Bruce Yarborough called for the station not to be sold off to a private individual.

    He told Richmondshire Today: “There has been no consultation with shareholders on this, or members of the Wensleydale Railway Association, who are major shareholders in the company.”

    He said a group of Wensleydale Railway Association members were hoping to get together enough money to buy the station themselves.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2017
  16. GWR Man.

    GWR Man. Well-Known Member

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  17. Sawdust

    Sawdust Member

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    Oh dear, I just hope they don't grow to regret this sale.

    Sawdust.
     
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  18. AndyY

    AndyY Member

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    I don't believe it actually has been sold yet - the only hope is in the last sentence of that article "a group of Wensleydale Railway Association members were hoping to get together enough money to buy the station themselves".

    If it is sold to the un-named third party then I'll not be renewing my membership.

    Andy
     
  19. FearOfManchester

    FearOfManchester New Member

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    It sounds very dubious, why are they withholding the name and details of the buyer or any background on them. It is a closed/private AGM, shareholders have a right to know. Why no talk of obtaining written agreement to safeguard running rights?. And this 'hobby railway, giving access on certain days of the year' doesn't sound like someone helping out the railway too much. What a slap in the face for those volunteers who have restored the site over the last few years.
     
  20. Tim Light

    Tim Light Active Member

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    I would love to see the Wensleydale Railway reach Aysgarth, Hawes and eventually Garsdale, but I really don't want to see it go bust. I would rather they sold Aysgarth and ran a truncated service between Leeming Bar and Leyburn than have no railway at all.

    Selling Aysgarth is a risk, but it seems like the only other option is complete closure.
     
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