19/10/14It’s been an ‘interesting’ week. There was a Trust Board meeting on Friday evening (more later) and I was in the booking office at Pickering all day on Saturday.
Taking the Booking Office first, the ‘Green’ timetable was in use. I arrived at the station, signed on at about 08.20 and walked from the signing on point to the booking office. My partner for the day was Dick Thornton who is a very regular and conscientious volunteer putting in about 2 days a week in the booking office (puts my two days a month to shame but he does live closer!). Dick had already arrived and was getting set up. He unlocked the door to let me in and I set about checking my float and getting the ticket machine into action.
Dick brought me up to date on the train situation and it seemed that a sudden loco crisis had resulted in 4 steamers all being failed at once. As a consequence the 09.30 was to be diesel hauled to Whitby and back, the 11.00 was cancelled and a bus replacement service from Grosmont to Whitby was to be provided for the 13.00 departure. This meant that the first steam hauled departure would be the 13.00 to Whitby. Just to add to our difficulties the telephone system had failed so we were well and truly cut-off.
I opened up my window at about 08.35 and started explaining to the intending passengers as they came to book, that a diesel was hauling the first train and in some cases their intended return. This caused some disappointment and some people decided not to travel if there was no steam at all. In spite of this a good number of people stayed with us. The next twist to our fortunes occurred at about 09.00 when Q6, 63395 brought the empty stock for the 09.30 into the platform, so much for the diesel! Selling tickets suddenly became easier.
After the train had left, we had to deal with disappointed intending passengers who were coming for the cancelled 11.00 departure. Not only was their train not running but the next train, the 12.00 was to be diesel hauled. As already noted, this made the next steam departure the 13.00 with a replacement bus at Grosmont, too late for many who went away disappointed. For those who remained there was a general view expressed that they would wait for the 13.00 to get the steam ride.
In the event, just before 12.00 the 10.30 from Grosmont (which was to form the 12.00 to Whitby) arrived behind ‘Black‘ 5, 45428! This brightened up our intending passengers considerably, even though it left 20 minutes late.
But for every silver lining there has to be a cloud and our next cloud was the arrival of the stock for the 13.00 to Whitby - behind a diesel. More irritation amongst our intending passengers who, having been told by us earlier in the day that the 13.00 was to be a steamer, found that they were now to be hauled by the dreaded diesel. Well nobody said it would be easy!
The rest of the day went fairly smoothly (at Pickering) but there was some significant late running into Whitby. Dick and I put the shutters down after the 16.10 had left (nearer to 16.30) and set about balancing our tills. Fortunately for once we both had no trouble with this.
It wasn’t by any means a typical BO day, but takings were good for mid-October. Now that we are at the tail end of the season we are starting to see price resistance that hasn’t been apparent since April, where intending passengers, on hearing the price, decide not to bother and walk away. Clearly a seasonal thing.
Turning now to Friday evenings Trust Board meeting. A number of interesting items were up for discussion and approval and, as is the way of these meetings, we seemed to get ‘bogged down’ in the ‘matters arising’ from the minutes of the last meeting held in August. Nearly the first hour had passed by the time we were able to move on to the ‘meat’ of the agenda and in the next hour we agreed the timetable for 2015 and a modest fares increase without excessive debate. This contrasted well with last year when we had two separate meetings to deal almost exclusively with these items.
There was an election to the Plc Board and Andrew Scott and Jim Dedicote were elected. The terms of reference for a communications committee were agreed and I have been asked to form this and become the Chair. A number of other reports were received and noted, covering Objectives, Risk, Finance and Fundraising. The review of our strategic plan ‘Steaming On’ was rightly considered to be too important to ‘shoehorn’ into an ordinary Board meeting and we decided to hold a special meeting to debate this important document. By the time we had covered all the items plus AoB the clock was approaching 11pm.
Last weekend was Wartime Weekend and proved to be its usual immense crowd draw and our busiest weekend of the year. Takings were up on last year by a significant amount and I think that the tremendous effort that is put in by so many people to support this event has once again paid off.
Finally, news this week that the Railway is to be used for part of the filming of the new Dad’s Army movie with the railway scenes being shot in December and Bridlington becoming ‘Warmington-on-Sea’ for the event. A stella cast has been announced and details can be found HERE