The Question & Answer
1. We have 26 locos but we will have to hire in this year.
2. Current state of negotiations with loco owners:
SVR Holdings must and will continue to remain viable.
We are looking to establish the most efficient way of supporting overhauls of locomotives for Owners and the SVR.
Counter proposals from loco owners will be looked at. There is a meeting on 19th February. All needs to be fair and transparent.
Other heritage railways have also been through this, but the Holdings Company wants to retain all 26 locos on this line, and most other railways have more limited fleets, i.e. operate on a more commercial basis.
Other railways have typically 5 or 6 locos able to run.
3. Spending on infrastructure is important and continuous because of the geographical location of the SVR.
4. A new marketing and communications manager post will be advertised, with job spec drawn up with advice from a qualified volunteer.
5.There is a shortage of volunteers training for the Road Railers. These people would be able to assist with work if trained. With the reorganisation of the Loco Department this training should improve, Roger Norfolk is the main contact.
There were questions concerning the recruitment of new staff at additional cost in these difficult economic times for the country. The answer was given that this was a requirement to hand on knowledge. It was recognised that the recruitment process takes some time.
6. There was discussion over the use of paid staff for emergency cover for signalmen, guards etc. It was recognised that it is important to have this cover but that when this happen the paid member of staff is taken away from their core activity.
7. The DMU Group are not included in the current Rolling Stock discussions. Will their agreement be changed?
A diesel committee, under the chairmanship of Gus Dunster, has been set up to consider how best to serve the interest of the groups.
8. How is the value of SVR at £5 million calculated, and is this the true value?
The accounts of SVR are stated at Historic Cost, with no revaluations included. The bank appointed an independent valuer last year, and this valuation was also £5 million.
9. Questions were asked to how the locomotive overhaul queue was determined and if the smaller locomotives would be included.
Class 4 and bigger are a priority currently because of the small size of the operating fleet, but in the future a fleet of over 12 working locos is possible.
10. SVRG (the 'Guarantee Company') is now responsible 'only' for providing volunteers to operate the line. SVRH (the 'Holdings Company') takes the ticket money and is therefore responsible for safety.
11. The structure of the Boards is confusing, which one is responsible for the Light Railway Order?
SVR Co Ltd is responsible for supplying volunteers not for operating the railway.
The new Rolling Stock Agreements will be the responsibility of SVR Holdings.
The Light Railway Order was originally held by SVR Co Ltd, but transferred to SVR Holdings.
12. There was a concern that a number of the projects on the shareholder list and charitable giving should be funded from annual profits.
There are a large number of signifcant projects on the list including developments and initiatives, even with an annual profit of £250k, to fulfill our project objectives would take over 40 years.
13. There are differences between now and 10 to 20 yrs ago:
Staff are much older.
Locos are older (and need more work).
Infrastructure is failing.
The storm was terribly bad luck.
We have no novelty value any more.
There is massive competition.
Travel costs are high for volunteers. The recession is hitting everyone.
14. The going rate for paid staff means new entrants will cost more, paid staff of the future will not consider the railway a vocation like many of the current staff do. It was recognised that pay scales will need to be reviewed to allow the SVR to remain competitive with other heritage railways and organisations.
15. It is recognised that volunteers need training, access to tools and equipment, encouragement, and interesting jobs to do. We have to get better at this, as we cannot afford many paid staff.
16. The 'Skills Register' is regularly used by management; it is a vital tool. The Company would welcome more offers of help.
17. HRA pass holders were allowed free travel on SVR, but are now charged. This is not reasonable.
There is no consistent approach as to the treatment of HRA pass holders amongst the Heritage Rail movement. The HRA are to be contacted to suggest they implement a consistent policy for the members.
18. Rover fares are sold for trains departing where it is too late to rove!
The pricing of tickets is constantly reviewed, and this point will be considered.
19. Opportunities are being missed to run trains at some times of the year, for example at the start of the season.
The railway is more effectively maintained when a complete shut down is implemented. Work takes longer and is more expensive if there is a requirement to stop works over the weekends to allow trains to run. The current tunnel works would not be possible without a shut down.
20. £450 per steaming day is considered very good value for a loco hire.