Article from ELR News (January 2018)
I am writing this article just after we completed another marathon Santa events. This is also the end of my second year as Company Chair.
Throughout the year, we have run over 50 events and in the course of we have been blessed to have the commitment and passion of an ever increasing band of working volunteers now numbering 780.
Financially, as expected, we haven’t been able to match our financial and visitors performance when compared to 2016. Although, it’s pleasing to see that our visitor numbers are up by 8% when compared with 2015.
As we look out to 2018 and beyond, I do this with great confidence and anticipation as we have a number of exciting and unique opportunities emerging right across the railway. Whilst I am saying this, we also have got to do the ‘basics’ right. Like any charity we have to be mindful of managing our costs, mindful of what, when and how we spend our hard earned revenues. Of equal importance, is the need for the ELR, at all levels, to achieve consistently safe, efficient and effective operational performance? For example, if we had of just saved 5% on our expenditure we would have broken even in 2017.
Our General Manager, Tracey Parkinson and her management team are a key component to improving in these areas and Tracey will need all our support and understanding as we improve our financial, operational capacity and resilience.
The East Lancs Railways is, quite rightly, highly regarded as an award winning premier heritage railway and the second highest paid leisure attraction in Greater Manchester. Of course, with those accolades and recognition comes huge responsibilities to protect the heritage and culture of the ELR but we must also provide a consistent quality experience for our many thousands of our visitors. As they say we are only as good as our last performance. Customer review sites like Trip Advisor are great when we are being praised but equally they can damage our reputation when we fall short of the high standards we set. These must continue to be our priorities when we make informed choices going forward.
How Does the Future look?
As the Company Chairman, along with the Board we are responsible in ensuring we plan for measured and managed growth; develop new revenue streams to make the organisation sustainable and make the railway ‘fit for purpose’ not over just one year but at least over the next 10 years.
We have all seen and experienced the success of the current 2009-2020, known as the ‘Locum’ strategy. Whilst everyone associated with this strategy can be very proud of what has been achieved we now need a new strategy which will be commissioned by the ELR Trust Board early in 2018 and will set out the Trust Board’s key development priorities to sustain the infrastructure and development of the hheritage railway. The ELR will be fully involved in developing and progressing the new strategy.
These sites are of huge importance to the railway’s future. To develop these, we must do all we can to produce a master plan to ensure we correctly locate all our services and restoration operations within the site but also provide suitable storage space for locos and carriages, in particular our premier revenue generating Diners.
To progress this, a Buckley Wells Review Group has been established Chaired by Roy Chapman our newly appointed Director of Development. The first task for the group will be to draw up a master plan in consultation with service and operational users to ensure there is wide understanding of plans; priorities; funding requirements (internal and external) and timescales.
This work will be cross referenced with the development of the 2020-2030 strategy work.
Castleton Cross Platform
We have seen over the past 12 months a strong commitment from Rochdale Council to examine the feasibility of creating a new cross platform at Castleton and separate main line access for use by the ELR.
As a railway, we have to examine how a mainline connection will impact on our operations, infrastructure; logistics and volunteer cohort. Part of the work will be to look at other heritage railways who have achieved a similar mainline connection and what their experiences have been.
Rawtenstall Station Facilities
We have now received confirmation that our planning application has been successful. This is an ambitious £600,000 development which will be spread over five phases and will require a huge public funding effort and a lot of patience as this campaign is likely to run for many many years.
- Phase 1-Platform Canopy
The erection of an ‘L’ shaped canopy to existing station buildings
- Phase 2-New Station Building
Construction of a 37 metre fully accessible building, accommodating a café, kitchen, activity/community room, tourist information centre and toilet and baby changing facilities.
- Phase 3-Completion of Canopy
Spanning entire length and width of the station buildings.
- Phase 4-Alterations to Existing Station Building
The expansion of Buffer Stops Bar and relocation of current toilet facilities.
- Phase 5-New Station Forecourt.
The attractive remodelling of existing outside space, including landscaping, sheltered cycle stands and picnic areas.
However, Phase 1 if we are to secure public funding of around £40,000 we could proceed late 2018, early 2019.
Succession Planning/Youth Group
It is interesting to observe that 30 years ago (25 July 1987) our great volunteer pioneers re-launched the railway and helped make the ELR the success we enjoy and are proud of today. The challenge for this generation is to find new volunteers who can similarly look back with pride when the ELR celebrates future anniversaries like our 50th Anniversary in 2037.
The creation and recruitment of volunteers to a new Youth Group is becoming crucial to replenishing lost volunteers and sustain future resources. We have a small number of volunteers who will support young volunteers on a project by project basis. What we are lacking is a Youth Group Leader who would oversee the creation of projects, allocate youth leaders to manage projects and manage all appropriate administration. If you are reading this, could you be our new Youth Group Leader? or you know of someone who would be able to take on this important leadership role. Please contact David Wilson firstname.lastname@example.org
Please help the ELR to raise £340,092 to help purchase this fabulous loco. Can you help us? can you tell your friends? every contribution, however small will be greatly appreciated – https://www.preservationforgenerations.co.uk/a-home-for-wells
Check out the range of rewards in return for a one off donation or a monthly donation.
|Name of Package||One-Off Donation||Monthly (p/m for 12 months)||Reward|
|Taw Valley||£20.00||N/A||Exclusive “A Home for Wells” Badge|
|Braunton||£30.00||N/A||Exclusive “A Home for Wells” Keyring|
|Sir Keith Park||£50.00||N/A||Exclusive “A Home for Wells” Mug|
|92 Squadron||£75.00||N/A||Exclusive “A Home for Wells” Polo Shirt|
|Manston||£300.00||£25.00 p/m||Seat on the “Welcome Home Wells” Train|
|1949||£600.00||£50.00 p/m||4 x Freedom of the Line Tickets for 2018/19|
|Brighton Works||£1,200.00||£100.00 p/m||2 x Dining with Distinction Tickets for 2018/19|
|Southern||£1,800.00||£150.00 p/m||Footplate Ride on “City of Wells”|
|West Country Class||£2,400.00||£200.00 p/m||4 x Dining with Distinction Tickets for 2018/19|
|Pacific||£4,800.00||£400.00 p/m||Bronze Footplate Experience on “City of Wells”|
|Bulleid||£7,200.00||£600.00 p/m||Private Hire of Observation Saloon behind “City of Wells”|
|Golden Arrow||£14,400.00||£1,200.00 p/m||Gold Footplate Experience on “City of Wells”|