Philip Benham to retire!

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The 'Old Gentlemans' saloon from the Railway Children film nears Levisham in May 2013
Train Running

Without the trains running it has been a quieter week. However services opened up again for the weekend with an all-steam service on both days. Both Black 5s (44806 and 45428) were out and on Sunday they were joined by SNG 60007 which was working a special train for over 300 ukulele players (yes, thats right ukulele players!) from Pickering to Whitby and back. Great to see a party as large as this at this time of year.

60532 Blue Peter

My speculative post last week about the sale of this former NYMR Class A2 Pacific proved to be correct. An announcement has been made that the owning Drury family have agreed a sale to Jeremy Hoskings Royal Scot and General Locomotive Trust to both buy the locomotive and carry out the overhaul needed to return the engine to mainline operation. Perhaps one day we will see it back on the NYMR as a visitor.

Winter Pway work

Some details emerged this week of the sites where remedial work to the track will be taking place. These include:
Relay and re-ballast from Newbridge Crossing to the depot turnout,
Re-ballast and lift track at Farwath from south of Bridge 10 for 30 chains
Re-rail with FB rail from Northdale to Bridge 20 (and erect the new ‘Summit’ sign)
Partial re-rail and re-ballast from Beckhole to Esk Valley

Santa Special Bookings

Bookings are going well for the Santa Season which starts at the end of this month. Most trains are now fully booked.

Open Forum Monday 10th November

Held in the Memorial Hall in Pickering and very well attended by both staff and working volunteers. Must have been over 100 present and it was standing room only for latecomers.
The meeting was ‘hosted’ by Andy Mead, Plc Chairman and after a brief introduction he handed over to Philip Benham, Managing Director.

PB gave a comprehensive run-down on the year to date and said that despite a slow start to the season, income had very nearly achieved the targets set for the year which allowed for the enhanced Whitby service to start at the Spring BH weekend. As the enhanced service didn’t start until mid-August (12 weeks late) this is very creditable.
He projected what the year-end results might look like:
Passenger Carried 330,000
Income £5.6m
Expenditure £5.51m
Trains operated 3,500
Train miles 70,000
Pullman Dining trains operated 150
NYMR owned locomotive mileage had exceeded 50% of all locomotive mileage for the first time.
Some bad points:
1 in 4 diesel substitutions during August
Too many carriages awaiting repairs; doors, lighting, toilets and heating were problem areas and major investment in coaching stock is needed
1 in 5 trains were more than 10 minutes late
Overcrowding was a problem on some trains in the peak season

On the motive power front:
We had been fortunate to acquire 44806 but
76079 had failed to enter traffic, as planned.
34101 had also originally been targeted to enter service by 09/14 but was now expected by 04/15.
80135’s firebox was said to be close to completion and expected by 12/14.

On Carriages:
Only two overhauls had been completed against a target of five, demonstrating the need for investment in new facilities.

Some sound achievements in 2014 with some 1½ miles of track relaid,
Grosmont signaling completed
Flange lubricators installed at various places.

Looking forward to 2015, we should see:
the entry into service of Thompson coach 1623
Timetable largely as post August 2014
Improved Business Development and Marketing
Mulberries Bistro at Pickering in full operation
Improved service quality and delivery of what we offer
Implementation of the HD link scheme providing key token operation between Goathland and New Bridge
Pickering South ground frame installation
Relaying at Beckhole, Northdale, Farworth and Grosmont MPD
Sadler House slip stabilisation work
Completion of 34101 & 80135
Big inroads into carriage overhauls

6th March 2015 will be the 50th anniversary of the lines closure. It is hoped to commemorate it with a special train double headed again by 61994 & 62005 and hold an appropriate gala weekend.

Philip concluded his summary by announcing that as he is coming up to his 65th Birthday it was his intention to retire at some time in 2015. In addition two other members of the management team will be retiring early in the New Year.

Trust Chairman John Bailey presented a paper on Moving Forward. He said:
There would be co-ordinated, and consistent leadership of both boards (Plc & Trust);
Two companies but one shared vision with agreed Key Performance Indicators.
There would be a new agreement clearly saying who does what.
Delivering a quality service was a fundamental to providing a quality heritage/nostalgic day out.

Key targets are to:
Increase traffic FROM Whitby
Preserve our Railway
Attract volunteers for specific tasks
Listen and learn from visitors, volunteers and staff
Deliver what our customers want - focus on delivering a steam service
Provide a 'best of class' heritage experience
Update 'Steaming On'
Accelerate our fundraising
Improve communication

Tyro Training gave a short presentation on training courses for customer care. Funding is presently available for all to go on these two day courses and everyone is encouraged to do so.

There followed a Question and Answer session. Some of the points raised were:
The lack of 5 Whitby departures on Gala days is not mentioned in timetable leaflets and platform overcrowding at both Whitby & Pickering.
Pickering is an important destination point for passengers starting from Whitby and accounts for 55% of tickets sold. Could do with a slightly later first train at about 10.15hrs.
Diner trains should all start from Pickering or Whitby to maximise loadings.
High number of unpaid vouchers in use give the impression of excessive discounting.
Booking Offices need to be better briefed on marketing offers.
Poor condition of S&T and Pway motor vans
Provision of a layover loco at Pickering to speed up turn rounds and provide interest for waiting passengers
Water treatment at Pickering needed to avoid further locomotive failures
The continuance of a 'clock face' timetable rather than one that is better matched to our resources as a means of improving timekeeping.
Lineside clearance of vegetation
Lack of Capital expenditure at Grosmont MPD and in particular with regard to the wheel lathe and mess room accommodation
Keeping Grosmont tea room open over the winter to provide a service for staff at Grosmont.
Whitby Platform 2 is only the start watch out for further improvements in years to come!

At the conclusion of the meeting an excellent buffet lunch was provided by Mulberries for all that wanted it.

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