End of Season 'Round Up'

1. End of Main Season

By the time you read these notes the main operating season will have come to an end with the exception of the winter running (mentioned later). So what sort of a season has it been? Well, after the super success of the visit by ‘Flying Scotsman’ in March, the early season was characterised by slow demand not helped by the shortage of steam engines that we have become used to in recent years. The results for April and May were disappointingly below budget, but June and July were better and the budgeted income was exceeded in both months, despite the shortage of steam. This was helped by new marketing initiatives aimed at boosting group bookings. The shortage of steam engines ran on into the beginning of the Gold timetable in July. But then something amazing happened – all the work put in by so many people at the MPD suddenly payed off. In quick succession 44806, 61264 and 80136 became operational and the situation was transformed. Brexit and the ‘staycation’ entered our vocabulary and suddenly we were almost overwhelmed by people wanting to travel. By the end of September General Manager Chris Price was grinning like a Cheshire cat and reporting an income line about £100k ahead of budget. Encouragingly on the other side of the equation we are assured that expenditure is being kept to Budget. A lot of hard work by a lot of people has, this year, paid off.

2. Santa Specials and the Winter Timetable

Christmas is just over seven weeks away and soon we will be forgetting the balmy days of our Indian Summer and focussing on the last major event of the year, the Santa Specials. Already much work is underway in a series of secret locations to prepare the gifts for Santa to hand out and as the season gets closer this will move up to full regulator. This year services run between Pickering and Levisham each December weekend from 3rd December and on Tuesday and Wednesday 20th and 21st. Between Grosmont and Goathland they will run on Saturdays 3rd and 10th, the weekend of 17th and 18th and on Tuesday and Wednesday 20th and 21st December. Finally, they will run from Whitby to Glaisdale on Sundays 4th and 11th December.

The Winter Timetable will operate this coming weekend, 5th and 6th November; between Christmas and New Year December 27th to January 1st and then for the February Half-Term from 18th to 26th of that month.

On New Year’s Day there will be an excursion from Pickering to Whitby and return, to ‘blow away the cobwebs’ and give a chance to walk off some of the Christmas over-eating in the bracing sea air. All seats are reservable and I’m told that, at the time of writing the train is fully booked.

3. Special Events just finished

October has been a particularly busy month for galas and special events. Following on from the very successful, Welsh themed Autumn Steam Gala and Beer Festival (September 30th to October 2nd) came the Railway in Wartime weekend (October 14th to 16th) and then the NELPG 50th Anniversary Gala (October 29th and 30th).

It is always difficult to decide on what is a good measure of success for events of this nature. Some things stand out – Britomart running through the horse tunnel at Grosmont and carrying over 3,000 passengers to and from the shed has to be one such thing and the way Pickering is given over to recreating the 1940s is another. From a financial point of view, turnover from ticket sales on the three days of the Autumn Steam Gala at around an on-budget £51k and a below budget £70k for the 3 days of the Railway in Wartime gives another clue, especially when you compare it to a non-event weekend (3-days) of around £27k to £30k.

NELPGs celebratory gala this last weekend (October 29th – 30th) included all NELPG owned locomotives plus B1 61264 and Standard 4 76084. What a joy it was to see such a line-up of (mostly) ex – LNER locomotives. In connection with a photo-charter (I believe) 62005 and 63395 were turned to face north so it was good to see large engines running ‘chimney-first’ out of Pickering.

I’ve always had a soft spot for 69023, so to see it running light engine and on the short goods train and on the Great Northern Saloon was a great treat. Perhaps the most atmospheric sight was 69023 double heading the American (6046) out of Grosmont on the 16.35 to Pickering on Sunday. Dusk was well advanced the air was cooling and the whole train was wreathed in steam. On starting from the platform with both of them blowing their cylinder cocks my memory went back to the old Birmingham New Street Station in the early 60s where such sights were commonplace. Sights and smells, the very essence of nostalgia!

LNER themed weekends are, sadly, a niche market. We took about £5k more through the booking offices than we would normally have done but, hey, we had a good time and it was a smashing way to round off the season!

4. Locomotive Update

Unusually for us we finish the main season with a surfeit of available steam engines, so much so that this has allowed to early withdrawal of Black 5, 45428 and the overhaul is now well underway with the boiler already lifted from the chassis.

Steam Engines available for traffic at the end of the season included:
6046,
44806,
61264,
80136,
76069,
62005,
63395,
69023,
76084.

Steam engines under overhaul with their likely completion dates:
30825 – Estimated to be mid 2018
30926 – February 2017.
34101 – Estimated to be early 2018.
45428 – Estimated to be early 2018.
60007 – Mid 2018
80135 – Awaiting results of arbitration, completion date unknown.

Steam Engines in store pending remedial work:
5,
29,
3672,
61994,
75029.

5. C&W Update

4921 - In the workshop for re-commissioning and overhaul after a period of storage.
24804 - Repaint completed, now stored.
9225 - Wheelset repairs under way.
9235 - Wheelset repairs under way.
4198 - Wheelset repairs underway

The Board has been concerned for some time that we seem to have a ‘bottleneck’ in C&W that prevents bogies and wheelsets to be overhauled in a timely manner. A cursory examination of the lineside at the Pickering end of the line shows that it is littered with carriage bogies and wheelsets awaiting attention. The backlog seems to have come about by the non-availability of a suitable crane capable of loading wheelsets to lorries for dispatch to tyre turning facilities.

Fortunately, a solution to this problem has been devised and this involves leasing premises to set up a bogie overhaul facility with the wheel lathe, recently swopped for the old Grosmont wheel lathe, permanently installed so that wheels can be turned and re-profiled ‘in house’. The Trust Board has approved, in principle, the leasing of suitable premises for this purpose. Further news of this innovative solution will be brought to you over the coming months.


6. Cutting Back Working Parties

Ian Wallis has asked me to draw to your attention the restarting of the Winter Vegetation Management Project and the work of the dry stone walling group as follows:

On Thursday 3rd November the first session of the Winter Vegetation Management Project will be held around Goathland Summit meeting from 09.30 onwards. This is a Volunteer Project which takes place every Thursday throughout the period of closure. Please bring your own food, hand tools and Personal Protective Equipment. This is an excellent day out in the open air which is relaxing and enjoyable. Parking available beside the A169 Eller Beck Bridge. PTS required. Please contact Ian Wallis for more details. 07773598694 ian.wallis@live.co.uk. The following two weeks, 10th November and 17th November the work is at Pickering Long Siding. Meet at Trout Farm Car Park and on 24th November and 1st December the site will be Moorgates.

In addition, the dry stone walling group is active throughout the winter. If anyone fancies trying it and acquiring a really old countryside skill they should first contact Ian as above and he will put them in touch with the group.

7. Infrastructure update

On Tuesday 1st November the first meeting of the group that will be putting together the new lottery bid took place. High on the list for discussion were the four bridges at Goathland and the proposed Pickering Carriage Depot. The most important thing to remember, the participants were told, is to understand that just asking the HLF for a few million pounds to deal with our needs would get ‘short shrift’. The skill in putting the bid together is to meet all of the HLF objectives, but at the same time cover our own in the process. The next few months will be interesting as this bid comes together.

On a more ‘down to earth’ level here are extracts from Nick Carters P’way newsletter for September:

Progress Report
The first week of the month involved hand jacking and packing at a variety of locations, principally at MP 17, the newly extended siding at New Bridge and at the MPD at Grosmont.
On the evening of Monday 12, tamper 73250 and crew headed north to perform a maintenance tamp at the site of the two regular trouble spots at Fen Bog and Sadler House. This was, in essence, a ‘light duty’ test run, following the recent technical problems with the accumulator. A return to full activity, awaits a complete hydraulic oil filter change. The substantial quantity of components for this operation was delivered at the end of the month.
On Tuesday 13 September visiting 28XX steam locomotive number 2807 and tender were unloaded at New Bridge yard. During the same week, further wooden sleepers were renewed at Grosmont and vegetation was cut back at the carriage sidings there.
Tuesday 20 September saw the unloading of the visiting 78XX ‘Manor’ class tender with the locomotive itself, arriving the following day. On the Thursday of the same week, an early morning works train was run to Kingthorpe to recover a further wagon load of redundant BH concrete sleepers. On its return, our 360 excavator, by now fitted with the brush cutter attachment, was driven onto and strapped down to an empty LORIOT wagon. On the following morning, this vegetation clearance train was working north of New Bridge. A quarter of a mile stretch from MP 8 ½ was cleared, the new equipment proving very effective if moved slowly and carefully enough. The only real problem discovered was the spraying of the propelling diesel shunter with chippings. The insertion of a barrier wagon into the train should help in this respect.
On the Tuesday of the last week of the month, the LNERCA’s (newly overhauled at Shildon), fish van chassis, was unloaded in the yard. The road transport returned to Shildon with two Gresley pattern bogies, destined for overhaul at the same location.
On the Thursday of the same week, Peter and Martyn took the opportunity of an afternoon lull in the timetable, to run a further vegetation clearance train. This time the location was south of New Bridge level crossing.
Other work that week included cutting trees from the abutments at Bridge 8 at Pickering and from the adjacent river, and also from underneath Bridge 37 at Grosmont.
During the month, the Sunday fishplate oiling gang worked through from MP 7 ¾ to MP 9 ½. They were able to leapfrog quite a large section of this, because they were able to miss out last winter’s long relay section at Kingthorpe.


Trackside Furniture
Two new LNER pattern whistle boards have been installed at Kingthorpe, one at either side of the foot crossing. In anticipation of the imminent lifting of the 15 mph PSR to 25 mph line speed, they have been moved an additional forty yards out. The original modern image ‘W’ boards at this location took some removing as they had a metal plate foot at the base. All previous removals of this type just lifted straight out as they were just hollow tubes. There are now only eight modern ‘W’’ boards left to replace

Lineside Fencing Team Report
The new fence north of bridge 25 has been completed and vegetation in front of it, cut back.
Fence lines between Moorgates and Sadler House and between Beck Hole and Darnholm, have been inspected.
Five rotten posts south of Bridge 29 have been replaced and vegetation cut back in preparation for renewal of the fence just north of Bridge 28 on the up side. In addition, the fence on the down side embankment to the south of Beck Hole bridge, has been tidied up. (RPS)

Vegetation Management Team Report
The main effort this month has been north of Bridge 33 at Beck Hole, particularly the dry stone wall at the foot of the embankment, where it adjoins the fence which runs along the west side from the bridge, before descending steeply out of view. The wall is about 750 yards long and is in a mainly collapsed state. It is hoped to achieve a repair of the first 80 yards by the end of November.
During Family Volunteer Weekend, the 9.75, 10.75 and 14.5 mile posts were replanted, following refurbishment by the Levisham Station Group. Vegetation was cut back around Bridge 18, in the vicinity of Kidstye farm and south of Farwath. (IW)


8. Fundraising Update

The major fundraising news is the quantification of our likely contribution to the HLF bid. The overall cost of the project is estimated to be just under £9m and we will have to find match funding of around £4.75m. In anyone’s terms these are huge sums of money and the steering group will need to make bids to other funders in addition to quantifying the value of our volunteer input. Even then we will need to provide some hard cash and this will have to be a main focus over the next few years.

The splendid response to the appeal to provide the £20k deposit on the mortgage for 5, Bridge Street produced £38k (including Gift Aid) which was a tremendous result from our members and supporters. Similarly, the appeal for Pullman Parlour Car ‘Garnet’ has reached about £40k on top of the £60k grant from DfT.

The yellow pages insert in Moors Line 192 will give more detail on the other appeals that are current. Also in the next edition of Moors Line is an article by Murray Brown on the history of ‘Garnet’.

9. Moore Line Issue 192

The Autumn edition of Moors Line was due to be published at the end of October and in recent years the production team have aimed to have it ‘dropping on member’s doormats’ on the last day of the publication month. Unfortunately, this hasn’t happened with Issue 192 for a variety of reasons. Partly it is because copy is submitted to the Editor, long after the copy date, delaying the layout of the magazine but this time it is due to the turmoil created by the future arrangements for designing, compiling and editing the publication touched on briefly in the August Moors Express.

Printing has been taking place this week and despatch should take place on Monday or Tuesday next week meaning that copies will be ‘dropping on doormats’ towards the end of next week. Please accept our apologies for the delay.

10. Goods Trains in 2017

My piece on Goods Trains in the last Moors Express raised a number of letters of support, two of which are reproduced below:

Bernard,

I would like to take time to respond to your article in Moors Express on behalf of the Wagon Group.

You raise an interesting point regarding training staff, we struggle to find enough turns for our goods guards to maintain their competence and we are currently exploring with the railway the possibility of running the goods set on the green and silver timetables next year.

It also gives the wagon group vital income as the NYMR allocated budget of £1200 (that's about £70 per wagon under our care) goes absolutely nowhere as we can carry out fundraising off the back of it.  However extra running also means extra wear and tear which we currently cannot afford to rectify and income from charters and fundraising doesn't really cover.

Many of our Goathland/Levisham signalmen rarely do anything beyond pass trains and (they) struggle with shunting and the kind of operations the goods train requires, so whilst it may be a good idea to improve their competency there is also a risk of silly things happening… David Hilton is taking this issue in hand though.  

I would love to see the goods train out more, but there also needs to be a recognition that were we to do so regularly there would need to be a serious increase in the maintenance budget.

We are looking at 4 days next year to compensate for the lack of a Spring gala at the moment, but this is still in negotiation with the railway.  In addition, we are going to attempt to organise a brake van special for late May bank holiday.

Regards

Alastair Dalgleish

Bernard,

Just read your e-publication. Very interesting...well done!
With regard to Goods trains, which of course I love to see...as I well remember the clash and clank of wagons moving while hanging over the fence at Cherry Tree crossing, Beverley. You could hear the shunting and clank of goods trains all the way to our house in Schofield Avenue ...off Grovehill Road. While from the opposite direction the riveting from the shipyard was quite loud ...given wind direction! The sounds of a goods train are something of the Heritage scene that I think you omitted from the comments, but very important in my opinion.
But I digress...

It seems to me that given the Goods train has two brake vans ...front and rear...would it not be possible to sell premium tickets for brake van riding on these trains. Brake van rides...A little money spinning ruse used in the early days. Some/right publicity being key to success for this. Staffing/ supervision may be an issue I suppose. The inclusion of a PW riding van like the old one near the water column at Goathland or the newer one...being lived in (?)... in the shed sidings would give extra space...or add an extra brake van.

I was part owner of NER 1111, having found it on isolated track at Bishop Aukland and arranged its transport to the NYMR. Pete Brumby and I recently signed it over to LNERCA for the purpose you mention. I was also an early member of the H&BRSF, and have been concerned for those 2 coaches’ futures...not to mention the Engineers Brake, which is an important artefact ...surviving in good condition by being undercover at Springhead, I believe. Goods train...brake van rides? Surely a premium ticket for an H&BR van!
I also remember trips with my mother to Hull on shopping expeditions in compartment stock...noting Quad art stock from the shared bogie on one such trip. Therefore, the emergence of such a heritage train from several points of view would be fantastic...but a few years away I fear. Possible a large Lottery bid?... to speed matters up.
A covering for coaching stock...and heritage stock! ...is much needed. One day the Bellwood Centre at Grosmont might cover locos? Hope I'm still around to see these things...

Keep up the good work.

Regards,           Graham Holt.  NYMR/NELPG life member, Durham.



11. Trust Board and officer changes

At the Trust Board meeting held on 7th October the Chairman, John Bailey, announced that Steven Hogg had resigned from all his NYMR Officer posts in order to concentrate on his accountancy practise. In a closed session at the end of the meeting the Board resolved to co-opt Steven on to the Trust Board until the next General Meeting of the Trust.

Richard Jackson also resigned as a Trustee and Director.


Moors Express is published every 4 weeks and the dates for the next four issues are:
 
1st December 2016, 5th January, 2nd February and 2nd March 2017.

The final date for inclusion of items is 4 days in advance of these dates. Remember if you are sitting on a newsworthy story why not share it with the rest of us!
 
Contact me on Bernard.Warr@nymr.co.uk

Bernard Warr, 31st October 2016.

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Bernards' Blog - A regular digest of things happening on the North York Moors Railway