A Year of mixed Achievements
Inevitably, 2017 was always going to be different and financially more challenging than 2016 when we welcomed back the Flying Scotsman after a long and protracted absence.
Having said that, we excelled in many areas right across the railway and more than held our own when compared with 2015 (our last comparable year).
Throughout the year, we have successfully run over 50 events with a record breaking Santa Season with over 40,000 visitors and again supported by a large band of working volunteers now numbering nearly 780 right across the railway.
Financially, as expected, we haven’t been able to match our financial and visitors performance when compared to 2016 where we have made a six figure loss. Revenues from pubs, buffets and retail were below target. Although, it’s pleasing to see that our visitor numbers are up by 8% when compared with 2015.
Development of Stations
Planning Permission now approved
Phase 1 – provision of a platform canopy to provide external cover for the Buffer Stops using the remaining canopy salvaged from Mumps Station.
Phase 2. Relocation of the toilets, from the station building to a new building adjacent to platform.
Phase 3. Expansion of the Buffers Stops both west into the existing toilets area for the cellar
Phase 4 Development of the station forecourt as an events area and controlled seating area for the Buffer Stops.
Phase 5 Second half of the main platform canopy which will ensure that passengers are then provided with continuous shelter from Station to train. This second canopy stretch will utilise a canopy that has been reclaimed by the ELLRCo. from Atherton Station in Wigan and has been in ling term storage.
Note: The launch of a public funding campaign is to be held off until we substantially complete the public funding campaign to purchase City of Wells.
New play area opened. Heywood Township have agreed to reopen Manchester Road junction.
Work continues in examining the feasibility of installing a power solution for the gates. Our S&T volunteers are looking at a Clamp Lock Points Hydraulics, and standard circuitry solution. Initial work consists replacing gate heels, gate tops and road stops to improve the operation of the gates in readiness for installation of a power solution. A budget of £4,500 was approved for this work. S&T Team Pictured – Colin Bowden; John White; Peter Duncan and Daniel Walker.
The Caravan club completed their expansion to 100 pitches. Over 2,000 visitors used the station in its first full year of operation.
A feasibility study is ongoing.
Horncliffe Subsidence from Boxing Day 2015 was finally completed and footpath reinstated.
Communications/WiFi – A new ‘in house’ ICT capability is being developed to help improve communications right across the railway. Work is ongoing to introduce wifi to our manned station.
Signal Boxes – These are being progressively insulated and heating improved.
A Buckley Wells Review Group has been established chaired by Roy Chapman our recently 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 AMION 2020-2030 strategy work.
Congratulations to all our volunteers and staff on being shortlisted in two categories:
- * Large Attraction
- * Dining with Distinction
Again congratulations to all our volunteers and staff who were involved in the ELR being shortlisted in two categories:
- * Food and Drink (Dining with Distinction-Winner)
- * Tourism & Leisure
More congratulations to all our volunteers and staff who were involved in the ELR being shortlisted in two categories.
- Craven 105 DMU (winner)
- Outstanding Attractions (Runner Up)
A second carriage is nearing completion and will go into traffic in the Autumn.
The wheelchair accessible carriage (pictured) is the first of three to be rolled out across the railway within the next few years.
Bury Transport Museum
The Transport museum enjoyed another record year with over 48,000 visitors and they volunteers are increasingly putting on new events for enthusiasts, families and schools, supporting major events like the 40’s Weekend; Thomas the Tank including the popular evacuee programmed. The BTM also supports the ELR Weddings and Birthday Packages.
Dining with Distinction
For over 9 months Dining with Distinction has been rated No.1 Restaurant on Trip Advisor right across Greater Manchester’s 4,500 restaurants. A 95% occupancy rate up from 90% was also achieved.
An additional 25 trains have been added for 2018.
ELLRCo Board/Infrastructure Changes
A vision for the ELR:
- Preserve the history and culture of the ELR
- Be Volunteer led and community focused
- Be a premier leisure destination in the North West
- Provide a diverse range of events
- Work with ELR Trust Board Partners
- Be Financially and Operationally successful
ELLRCo Board Positions
A number of changes have been made to Board Director Positions.
|Bury Transport Museum||Robert Bulman|
|Civil Engineer||Covered by Richard Law|
|Operations, Health & Safety||Richard Law|
|Signalling & Telecoms||Peter Duncan|
|Traction & Rolling Stock||Graham Thornton|
|Non Executive||Colin Jones|
Moving to a Single Board Structure
Following legal advice the two boards, East Lancs Railway Holdings and East Lancs Light Railway Company will become a single Board with a separate company being created to run all commercial operations.
The advantages of establishing a single operating board are:
- ELLRCo becomes a registered charity, with trading subsidiary;
- Establishment of a separate trading subsidiary (controlled by ELLRCo) – managing retails; catering; pubs etc. All profits would be Gift Aid-ed up to ELLRCo
- The new Board can raise funds from external sources in a way that is currently not possible;
- Board Directors must reapply for their positions after 3 years
- 4 nominees representing ELRPS to serve on the new Board
Engagement with Volunteers
I consider the engagement with volunteers and staff to be a key part of the role of Chair. To promote this, I make a point of getting out to meet as many volunteers and staff across the railway. I run a Chair’s blog (see front page of the ELR website) and set up a Twitter account @elrchair. In addition, I launched an annual ELR Open Forum and invite ELRPS members and Working Volunteers hear a ‘state of the ELR’ presentation and to give those attending a chance to ask questions. I also attend the monthly ELRPS Council meetings.
On my election to office (commenced 1 January 2016), a key priority was the creation of a Volunteers Charter. This document would form the ‘bedrock’ in setting out the value the Company placed on individuals who freely give up their time for the benefit of the railway and its continuing development and sustainability.
The Charter is now signed off and used in future induction sessions.
ELR Value Circle
- When you have PRIDE you have DESIRE
- When you have DESIRE you have ENERGY
- When you have ENERGY you have the WILL
- When you have the WILL you will OVERCOME
- When you OVERCOME you will ACHIEVE
- When you ACHIEVE you have SATISFACTION
- When you have SATISFACTION you have PRIDE!
30th Anniversary Re-opening of ELR
In July we celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the re-opening of the railway with our volunteer pioneers and invited guests including guest of honour Sir William McAlpine and his wife. Sir William unveiled a plaque at Ramsbottom Station. A buffet lunch was hosted by the Bury Transport Museum.
Here’s to the next 30 years!!
This year everyone put in a herculean effort as over 40,000 visitors (up 9% on 2016) enjoyed this unique ELR experience. My thanks to everyone, in particular to Gerald Atherton, our superb Santa Event organiser and all volunteers who put in a shift or two or three!!
We always welcome young people to get involved with our heritage railway. We are very grateful for the 10 students from Bury College who volunteered and added real value to the whole Santa Season experience; I know many of our long serving volunteers enjoyed being with them both to help the students get front-line working experience but also to have fun.
With such a huge organisation right on the college’s doorstep we felt that this was a great opportunity to offer front-line leisure experience to Travel and Tourism students. We visited Bury College to celebrate the students who volunteered and to say thank you but also to get the message across that there are lots of volunteering opportunities with the ELR and we want to double, triple the number of students gaining work experience with us in the future.
Final Round Up
In the spring we saw the Burrs station fully operational; works to the Trackside and Buffer Stops were completed. Castlecroft shed had a new concrete floor laid and got a deep clean. This is now a shared facility with Bury Transport Museum. Our new wedding poster (opposite) was launched and with the ELR now hosting weddings and birthdays we have opened up a new revenue streams. FXP and Dining with Distinction were virtually sold out
In July we welcomed Tracey Parkinson as our new General Manager and now TV star after appearing with Julie Walters recently, when Tracey was GM at the Talyllyn Railway.
Tracey will need all our support if we are to get to grip with the financial and resilience challenges facing us in 2018.
Manchester Arena Bomb
40’s Weekend – No one could fail to be affected by the horrific events at the Manchester Arena in May. I chaired an emergency meeting with key staff who were involved with the planning and delivery of this important annual event and decided to cancel the battle events.
Without doubt this was a most difficult time for those directly and indirectly involved right across Greater Manchester and our decision to cancel the battle events was well received by the majority of visitors to the railway.
Provisional figures indicate income to be around £3.6m down from £3.9m in 2016. . It’s clear that we would not be able to match the ‘Scotsman’ affect. Despite this we were able spend much of the money £120,000 profit earned through Flying Scotsman’s visit.
Over £2m spent with local businesses.
Note: *Pubs – 3 Full-Time; 28 Part-Time. Other Staff – 34 Full-Time; 8 Part-Time.
Overall Performance across key activities has been positive.
- Facebook Followers + 31%
- Twitter + 12.3%
- Website visits -8%
- Retail Income – 11%
- Pubs Income -16%
- On-line Bookings + 29%
- Diner Bookings + 7%
- Buffets Income -4%
- FXP + 17%
- Fares Income -20%
- Santa’s Income +11.2%