Llangollen Railway appoints receivers

WesternLancer

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I didn't appreciate the mistake when I posted it!

However, you'd be well advised to view before buying, so I doubt that this kind of mistake would happen ... well, I hope not!
I rather think you are absolutely correct!:lol:
I have walked away from an auction with a second hand loco I didn't expect - thanks to a photo error on the auctioneers catalogue. But it was a Hornby loco so the financial hit was not much of an issue.... I put it down to experience, and indeed the need to view before buying!
 
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35B

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What an interesting post. My impression of the Llangollen is of somewhere that could use diesel traction to advantage as that rat hole of a tunnel made keeping things clean a losing battle. Probably the bulk of the clientèle preferred steam. The Isle of Wight Steam Railway experimented with a diesel Gala a little while ago but it was not lucrative and was discontinued. In other words you stick with your particular strengths. With the IOWSR the unique selling point is ''no blasted boring Mk.1 carriages'' whilst that of Llangollen is the Deeside scenery.
I suggest that you confuse the selling points to enthusiasts with those to the general public. When I last looked at the IOWSR website, it was very positive about a day out for the general public, with no negativity on what it doesn't have; the Llangollen's was also focused on the day out. I suspect both then need to contend with the public's expectation of steam when setting their motive power policy.
 
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I suggest that you confuse the selling points to enthusiasts with those to the general public. When I last looked at the IOWSR website, it was very positive about a day out for the general public, with no negativity on what it doesn't have; the Llangollen's was also focused on the day out. I suspect both then need to contend with the public's expectation of steam when setting their motive power policy.
You would be surprised at what non-enthusiast visitors, particularly female ones, notice. I can recall remarks like ''look there's a real old carriage door'' or ''I'm having an Eric Ravilious moment''. Both were prompted by the sight of a grained wooden door with strap controlled droplight. Another one observed to me ''much better than my local line.,'' Sorry Llangollen supporters but the inevitable question produced the reply ''Llangollen''.

There is no way the LlR can have a whole train of Victorian four wheelers but a DMU would enable great river views
 

Spartacus

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Personally who spent too much of their life as a youngster rattling round on first generation DMUs - I find the Llangollen's extensive DMU fleet one of the attractions of the line and actually can wallow in 1960s and 70s nostalgia. Can always remember my first on DMUS to Chester, Ormskirk whilst on home territory and on the St Ives branch when on holiday. What is more the LR's DMU fleet always appears better turned out and cleaner than the Mk1 stock. I think for many visitors sat up near the front or rear of a DMU with the scenery of the Dee Valley would be a major attraction. It is almost as good as an FWHR observation car!

Their DMU fleet very much came to the rescue a few years ago, I went down with a mate for a diesel gala around Easter time, and like this Easter it was rather cold, not getting much above freezing all day in that part of the country. Trouble is all the stock was steam heat, and all the locos ETH! DMUs saved us, one at Carrog acting as a shop, and one substituting for a failed diesel, people going to the DMUs to warm up between freezing on Mk1s!
 

JonathanH

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Trouble is all the stock was steam heat, and all the locos ETH!
More 'no heat' than ETH I think - 47449 is ETH but 26010 and 31271 there now are no heat. 37240 has gone now and also had no heat.

The DMU was certainly a welcome retreat from the cold when I went there in December 2017, as was the waiting room at Berwyn.
 

Titfield

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Their DMU fleet very much came to the rescue a few years ago, I went down with a mate for a diesel gala around Easter time, and like this Easter it was rather cold, not getting much above freezing all day in that part of the country. Trouble is all the stock was steam heat, and all the locos ETH! DMUs saved us, one at Carrog acting as a shop, and one substituting for a failed diesel, people going to the DMUs to warm up between freezing on Mk1s!

It never ceases to amaze me how many Heritage Railways do not seem able to provide heated stock and some means of keeping the windows condensation free. It may be authentic but the fare paying public wont forget a cold day or one where they couldnt see out of the carriage windows. Back to the basics of meeting the real public expectation.
 

Bletchleyite

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It never ceases to amaze me how many Heritage Railways do not seem able to provide heated stock and some means of keeping the windows condensation free. It may be authentic but the fare paying public wont forget a cold day or one where they couldnt see out of the carriage windows. Back to the basics of meeting the real public expectation.

Like with buses, unless you fit air conditioning or a very powerful (and noisy) forced air system, you aren't going to stop single glazed windows steaming up. Even on the air conditioned 195s, the single-glazed door windows steam up.

The only way to prevent that is to seek out some early fresh air Mk2s, all Mk2s were double glazed.
 

JonathanH

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The only way to prevent that is to seek out some early fresh air Mk2s, all Mk2s were double glazed.
As were some Southern Region Mk1 vehicles. It is a shame their windows weren't procured.

Unfortunately, there is no ready source of either early Mk2s or Southern Region Mk1s for preserved railways (or charter operations) to source double glazing from.

Fitting double glazing isn't likely to make an immediate return on investment for any preserved railway. It certainly wouldn't be an objective for the Llangollen Railway.
 

35B

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You would be surprised at what non-enthusiast visitors, particularly female ones, notice. I can recall remarks like ''look there's a real old carriage door'' or ''I'm having an Eric Ravilious moment''. Both were prompted by the sight of a grained wooden door with strap controlled droplight. Another one observed to me ''much better than my local line.,'' Sorry Llangollen supporters but the inevitable question produced the reply ''Llangollen''.

There is no way the LlR can have a whole train of Victorian four wheelers but a DMU would enable great river views
I wouldn't - but I was talking about advertising, not what they experience on a visit. As for the DMUs, I can think of arguments for and against; tastes vary significantly but my (non enthusiast) wife is consistently robust on her disdain for DMU seats.
 

alexl92

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I'm surprised more railways don't use 1st gen DMU driving vehicles as loco-hauled observation cars, like BR on the West Highland Line. Would that be an option for the LlR?
 

Titfield

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Like with buses, unless you fit air conditioning or a very powerful (and noisy) forced air system, you aren't going to stop single glazed windows steaming up. Even on the air conditioned 195s, the single-glazed door windows steam up.

The only way to prevent that is to seek out some early fresh air Mk2s, all Mk2s were double glazed.

A much simpler solution, and seen on the Swanage, is a) a stack of disposable paper towels b) the TTI using a Karcher hand held window vac to remove the worst of the condensation.
 

6Gman

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I am a single person who doesn't drive and wishes generally to make at least one return journey when visiting a heritage railway.

Therefore, my plans always centre around how easy is it for me to get to the main departure / arrival point (which isn't always one end) of the railway. For the Llangollen, it would be Llangollen; for KESR, it would be Tenterden and so on. This sometimes (as now) means that some railways are inaccessible (i.e. the GSWR, because it's virtually impossible to get to Toddington by public transport), but this is, I know, a temporary thing and I'll be back there once the Racecourse station has reopened.

I don't generally take coach tours in the UK, but I do in France and Belgium when visiting the Battlefields because, although I could do some of these visits myself, the transport would be a problem in some areas. In addition, these are guided tours with very good guides, which is part of the trip and very much a bonus.

My other experience of coach tours comes from my work with Cadw, the Welsh Historic Monuments body. It was noticeable that the priority of many of the "senior" visitors on these tours was firstly a toilet and secondly a cafe; in fact, many of the visitors never actually visited the monument in question if we didn't have one or both of these! There wasn't much we could do about it, so we didn't try; it was something that we had to accept.

Another consideration was the amount of time that tours allocated to visiting a specific place. Generally, unless they were booked into an event at a monument, they didn't actually have very much time there, as they were travelling around a fairly large area each day.

These are just a few random thoughts, but I hope that you'll find them useful (and not too far off topic!).
If Llangollen (or any other heritage railway) wants to harness the coach market they need to handle it properly - perhaps they do.

Contact the operators and offer them a package that interests them (and their customers) and fills otherwise empty seats. It can bring in a valuable base income but takes work.

Imagining that random coach passengers turning up at the station are going to be a valuable market is fantasy.
 

Baxenden Bank

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A much simpler solution, and seen on the Swanage, is a) a stack of disposable paper towels b) the TTI using a Karcher hand held window vac to remove the worst of the condensation.
I recommend newspaper. I can't give you the science behind it but on a bus it does the trick beautifully. I've been on a bus through the lakes enjoying a full panoramic view whilst others repeatedly wipe a small patch with their hand.
 

Dunfanaghy Rd

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I had a ride in the Wickham DMU 2 years ago. Smashing machine. Art Deco interior and the seats were tip-top and comfortable. An absolute credit to the DMU people, who run a pretty tight ship, judging by their base at Pentrefelin.
Pat
 

EbbwJunction1

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If Llangollen (or any other heritage railway) wants to harness the coach market they need to handle it properly - perhaps they do. Contact the operators and offer them a package that interests them (and their customers) and fills otherwise empty seats. It can bring in a valuable base income but takes work. Imagining that random coach passengers turning up at the station are going to be a valuable market is fantasy.
I mentioned earlier about my experiences with Cadw and especially the coach parties visiting the monuments.

As far as I can remember (it's a long time ago!) many of the coach parties were booked in for a visit. This would have been at a set time and for a agreed number of people. However, it still didn't mean that everybody on the coach visited the monument and, if they did, a lot of people went to the cafe or the shop - if there was one - and didn't look at the actual monument at all. If there wasn't either, or both, and the monument was in the middle of a town or village with a cafe, they often went there. As the old saying goes: "You can take a party to a railway, but you can't make them visit it!".

I have visited a lot of heritage railways on my own and seen pre-booked parties travelling, so it does work if it's done well. However, what I've never known is how many in the overall party are actually travelling. This is especially the case if the railway journey has to be there and back ... if the party is only making a one-way journey and picking up the coach at the other end of the line to go somewhere else, they don't have an option.
 

Bletchleyite

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I recommend newspaper. I can't give you the science behind it but on a bus it does the trick beautifully. I've been on a bus through the lakes enjoying a full panoramic view whilst others repeatedly wipe a small patch with their hand.

Stagecoach do a lot of things right in the Lakes, but they really do need to use double-glazed buses or buses with forced-air ventilation (as required by TfL spec) on scenic routes in places like that where looking out is important.

Much easier to solve than a Mk1 coach.
 

LowLevel

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I'm sure they'd attract in loco preservation societies if they found themselves short of locos, and I doubt there is a shortage of people who would volunteer to be drivers, firemen and guards (as that's the fun "playing trains" bit), and Mk1 and Mk2 fresh-air coaching stock is hardly rare, either. The main thing of concern is the infrastructure, as once a housing estate gets plonked on any part of it it's gone for good.

Good quality coaching stock is very rare. They require a lot of looking after and between the 80s and relatively recently most places just, well, didn't.

I'd be hoping that none of the serviceable vehicles leave.
 

Titfield

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If Llangollen (or any other heritage railway) wants to harness the coach market they need to handle it properly - perhaps they do.

Contact the operators and offer them a package that interests them (and their customers) and fills otherwise empty seats. It can bring in a valuable base income but takes work.

Imagining that random coach passengers turning up at the station are going to be a valuable market is fantasy.

Most tourist attractions have packages they offer coach operators including group fares (reduced rates) , free seat for driver and courier, reserved seating, deposit and balance payment arrangements with a deadline to declare final numbers.

Many offer free tickets for so call fam trips / inspection visits so coach operators and group organisers can visit in advance and get the measure of the place.

Adverts are placed in group travel publications and guides both hard copy and online.

Stands are taken at trade fairs including British Travel Trade Fair in Birmingham, Group Travel Show and others.

Many are members of the Coach Tourism Association so they feature in the handbook. go to the annual conference. etc etc

There is a lot that is and can be done.
 

paul1609

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I'm surprised more railways don't use 1st gen DMU driving vehicles as loco-hauled observation cars, like BR on the West Highland Line. Would that be an option for the LlR?
Im not a dmu expert but I understand that there are long term issues with having heavy trailing loads on the drawgear and underframe on at least some dmu classes.
 

david1212

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Looking back over ~ 25 years while there may have been some from my area I don't recall coach day trips specifically to the Llangollen railway or with Llangollen as the destination for 5 hours so time for either an optional or independently booked return journey. The most common tour is some time in Llangollen and a canal cruise to include the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

Generally not least to keep the cost down railway trips are only one way and sometimes only part of the line e.g. NYMR Pickering to Goathland, ~45 mins at Goathland then rejoin the coach on to Whitby for ~ 3 hours.

As already commented coming from anywhere in the Midlands on M54 then A5 a single journey requires going through Llangollen to Carrog / Corwen for the train back. It would work better if there was another scenic route that did not add too many miles. Regarding booking with the railway I think the coach company make a nominal booking for say 50 then confirm the exact numbers about 5 days before with the breakdown of adult, senior and child.

Over the years the number of coach day trip operators has declined. Within the last 5 years three that I have used without driving too far to a pickup point have ceased. After last summer I suspect that most tours this year will be kept to a destination town or city with free time as easier to plan, change or cancel rather than include something that has to be booked e.g. railway, stately home.


Generally while 1st generation DMU's and any train of MK1 or older stock even if diesel hauled have an appeal beyond enthusiasts many want haulage by what they see as a proper steam engine with a tender even if only actually a BR 2MT rather than say a Jinty or ex-industrial tank.
 

bramling

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It never ceases to amaze me how many Heritage Railways do not seem able to provide heated stock and some means of keeping the windows condensation free. It may be authentic but the fare paying public wont forget a cold day or one where they couldnt see out of the carriage windows. Back to the basics of meeting the real public expectation.

Ain’t gonna happen unfortunately. The only way to stop the condensation is either to have air conditioning, which a heritage railway simply isn’t going to have, or run the heating and keep windows open at the same time - which might be okay for enthusiasts, but will probably upset your average coach-tour crowd!

Heating on with windows open is quite good for old buildings and vehicles, but isn’t exactly efficient!
 

topydre

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I'm surprised more railways don't use 1st gen DMU driving vehicles as loco-hauled observation cars, like BR on the West Highland Line. Would that be an option for the LlR?

I went on one on the Spa Valley Railway once (steam hauled hooray). Outwards I could see the tracks whilst still hearing the engine hard at work; return I could marvel at the mechanics and sheer might of a steam locomotive at work, watching the pistons and wheels and so on. Amazing experience; much more fun than a SR/Mk1 carriage (though perhaps not authentic)!
 

37114

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Re the use of DMUs as hauled stock, they aren't really designed to be used as hauled stock and to do so regularly would require removal of the drive shafts to avoid damage to the gearboxes.
 

Bletchleyite

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Re the use of DMUs as hauled stock, they aren't really designed to be used as hauled stock and to do so regularly would require removal of the drive shafts to avoid damage to the gearboxes.

I've certainly known the Wensleydale do it, their Mk2s are air braked so they use the DMUs if a vacuum brake loco is in use, e.g. visiting.
 

mpthomson

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I have visited a lot of heritage railways on my own and seen pre-booked parties travelling, so it does work if it's done well. However, what I've never known is how many in the overall party are actually travelling. This is especially the case if the railway journey has to be there and back ... if the party is only making a one-way journey and picking up the coach at the other end of the line to go somewhere else, they don't have an option.

Very common on the Lakeside and Haverthwaite. Most parties get the train at Haverthwaite and then onto one of the boats at Lakeside to either Bowness or Ambleside where they're picked up by their coach(or do it the other way round). L&H also sell Rail and Sail tickets.
 

paul1609

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On the Kent & East Sussex coach parties were a big part of our business pre-covid. Most of the domestic ones travel one way and take a catering package (ploughman's lunch, cream tea etc.). The companies range from the big nationals to small family run affairs some of whom have been coming half a dozen times a year for 40 years! The two companies that sell excursions from the cruise liners were also big business to the extent that we would run special trains for them and even open the railway on days we were closed in the autumn or winter if a ship was expected.
 

Titfield

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On the Kent & East Sussex coach parties were a big part of our business pre-covid. Most of the domestic ones travel one way and take a catering package (ploughman's lunch, cream tea etc.). The companies range from the big nationals to small family run affairs some of whom have been coming half a dozen times a year for 40 years! The two companies that sell excursions from the cruise liners were also big business to the extent that we would run special trains for them and even open the railway on days we were closed in the autumn or winter if a ship was expected.

Very much driven by the location of the heritage railway and proximity to large population centres and other heritage attractions.
Many group organisers if asked will explain that when looking for tourist attractions to visit they have to consider:
1) journey time - there is a tolerance to how long people would want to be on a coach
2) where breaks and lunch can be taken
3) attractions that appeal to all though this may mean visiting one attraction which appeals to some and a second attraction which appeals to the others. For example this could mean visiting the South Devon Railway and Buckfast Abbey.
 
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Very much driven by the location of the heritage railway and proximity to large population centres and other heritage attractions.
Many group organisers if asked will explain that when looking for tourist attractions to visit they have to consider:
1) journey time - there is a tolerance to how long people would want to be on a coach
2) where breaks and lunch can be taken
3) attractions that appeal to all though this may mean visiting one attraction which appeals to some and a second attraction which appeals to the others. For example this could mean visiting the South Devon Railway and Buckfast Abbey.
Indeed so. Osborne House and the Steam Railway have often been a pairing inducing visits by parties to the IOW
 

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