24/11/13Winter P’way Work
The p’way gang have had another good week, completing the work at Grosmont (mentioned in last weeks post) and re-railing a quarter mile length of track at MP 14 3/4. This was mostly ‘bullhead’ rail which for some reason was supplied in 55’ lengths (as opposed to the norm of 60’). Some wag suggested that this was because Scunthorpe Steelworks had been having a sale of roll ends! Whatever the reason it does have the positive benefit of moving the joint positions.
Training of Footplate Staff
This has been an area of much discussion in recent weeks, not helped by the resignation (for wholly understandable reasons) of a key player in the ‘chain of command’. On Wednesday last, a meeting with the General Manager and all footplate trainers and inspectors took place to start to resolve some of the issues. The outcome is awaited.
On Saturday a joint meeting of the Trust and Plc Boards took place and lasted for over seven and a half hours. Matters being considered included Safety, Financial Performance and position, the post Whitby enhancement Timetable and setting fare levels for 2014. Not unsurprisingly the last two items took much time!
For the last 12 months the Railway has had the services of Mike Holmes as a safety advisor and he had been invited to address the combined Boards on what his impressions had been over the last year. Mike is a former ORR inspector and, because of his position and experience, is clearly someone to take notice of. Generally speaking he thought that we had safety about right although we needed to work on the culture of embedding safety more thoroughly in everything we do. Some aspects of managing safety issues, record keeping and inspection needed more vigilance.
Financial Performance and Position
The Finance Director, Stephen Hogg was able to report a much improved financial position, when compared with 2012 where there was a loss of over £300k on the operating account, which has now been reduced to a near break-even position this year. This is very
good news. Stephen cautioned against letting ‘our guard drop’ and reducing the tight controls on expenditure currently in place. The Boards supported this position.
2014 Post Whitby Enhancement Timetable
The enhancement works at the Network Rail station in Whitby are not now expected to be completed in time for the beginning of the new season on 5th April 2014. However completion of the works is expected in May and a provisional start date for the new timetable has therefore been set for Saturday 17th May 2014. This delay is fortuitous for the re-signaling at Grosmont North as the programme was already impossibly tight.
Between 5th April and 17th May a version of the 2013 timetable will be operated.
The new timetable, provisionally commencing on 17th May, shows five departures from Whitby and four departures for Whitby from Pickering, Monday to Saturday with three from Whitby and two through trains from Pickering to Whitby on Sundays. In the peak timetable the first train from Pickering is now to be at 09.40hrs and thereafter at 15 minutes past the hour from 10.15 to 16.15 and at 10.10 from Whitby and then at 12.15, 14.15, 16.45 and 18.00 on Mondays to Saturdays.
The Board approved the proposed timetable.
There was much debate as to the level of fares increase that should be applied from the beginning of 2014. Some Board members wanted a £2 increase on the Whitby fare whilst others wanted much less. The proposal on the table was for a 50p increase to Whitby with £1 on the Pickering to Goathland/Grosmont fare. A series of proposals and counter proposals were made and the Board finally resolved to increase the Whitby fare by £1 and the Pickering - Goathland/Grosmont fare by a similar amount.
The family ticket was considered to be too generous in 2013 being equivalent to two adult rover tickets with up to four children going free. The proposal on the table was for twice the adult rover fare plus £2. Various alternatives were suggested and the Board finally agreed to a formula of two adult rovers plus £4.
The Board was asked to consider the gift of an ex LMS ‘Black 5” locomotive from a benefactor. This was gratefully accepted.